Wesley John Wesley Was a Brilliant Theologian Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1411 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion


John Wesley was a brilliant theologian who lived from 1703 to 1791. He lived his life as an Anglican minister and was an early leader in the Methodist movement, first while he was at Oxford University, then while he was a parish priest in Savannah, Georgia, and finally in London after Wesley returned to England. The movement really took form in the 1740s preaching his message in the field, which led to the founding of religious societies. The movement was evangelical and widely successful. Methodists, under Wesley's tutelage and guidance, became active in the social justice issues of the day. His strength as a theologian was in combining seemingly opposing theological stances, and his greatest achievement was the promotion of what he termed, "Christian perfection," or holiness of heart and life. Wesley's insistence was that, in this life, a Christian could come close to a state where perfect love reigned supreme in his or her heart. Originally considered a renegade, he did remain within the Church of England for his entire life. By the end of his life, however, he was widely respected. One thing that Wesley was not good at, and which has attracted the attention of modern-day theologians like Randy Maddox, was providing a structure for his theology. In his book, responsible Grace: John Wesley's Practical Theology, Maddox provides a reflective overview of Wesley's theological concerns and the practical-theological dynamics of his work. Maddox goes on to suggest implications for the pursuit of contemporary theologians who are working to recover the theology as a practical discipline. Maddox also examines Wesley's consistency of thought, or lack thereof, through his life's works. Wesley is such a complex figure, and his theology so scattershot, that taking on the task of explaining it is a huge endeavor. Maddox, as one of the preeminent Wesley scholars, is well equipped to take on the task, and he does so with an engaging style that transmits scholarly-level information in an engaging, accessible manner.

Term Paper on Wesley John Wesley Was a Brilliant Theologian Assignment

Maddox divides Responsible Grace into broad chapters that cover human knowledge of God; the God of responsible grace; humanity's need and God's initial restoring grace; Jesus as the initiative for responsible grace; the Holy Spirit; the nature of human salvation; the way of salvation; the means of grace and response; and the triumph of responsible grace. This is an incredible process of synthesis undertaken by the author, since he acknowledges that, in dialectical terms, there are three different Wesleys, so to speak. Young Wesley (thesis), middle Wesley (antithesis) and mature Wesley (synthesis) (Maddox 20). Thesis emphasized "moral rectitude," which was characterized by radical obedience to God and commitment to holiness. Antithesis stressed a deeper application of Protestant emphasis on salvation by grace, and synthesis moved to seek balance of faith initiated by divine grace and confirmed by works (Maddox 20). This last Wesley shows an integration of the primacy of grace into Christian holiness, including Christian perfection related to social concerns (Maddox 20). Maddox traces Wesley's doctrine of God through these various evolutions. Wesley affirmed the Anglican doctrine of God as spirit, eternal, omniscient and omnipotent, loving, forgiving, pure, holy, and gracious. Wesley's theology fits within the long history of Christian thinking about God, and he defined God's goodness in terms of love (Maddox 55). God's holiness isn't just a moral attribute; it is tied up inextricably with the redemptive acts founded on "responsible grace" (Maddox 55). Theologically, Wesley's real interest is focused on the restoration of the fallen humanity into the likeness of God through God's restoring grace (Maddox 67).

Maddox points out that Wesley's restoring grace is "prevenient grace," which implies God acts first in the restoration of fallen humanity. In this way, Wesley synthesizes ideas from Eastern Christianity and its "uncreated grace" (Maddox 86). Prevenient grace is responsible for and inspires our response, but it does not coerce that response (Maddox 87). In terms of Christology, Wesley's theology of salvation by grace is related with the person and work of Jesus Christ. Maddox argues that another synthesis takes place in Wesley's theology when it comes to salvation. He mixed together the Western idea that atonement is juridical (pardon/forgiveness) and the Eastern idea of Incarnation -- humans partake in the divine nature (Maddox 114-115).… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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