Wesley and the Wesleyans/Her Own Story: Autobiographical Portraits of Early Methodist Women

By Glen, Robert | Anglican and Episcopal History, March 2004 | Go to article overview

Wesley and the Wesleyans/Her Own Story: Autobiographical Portraits of Early Methodist Women


Glen, Robert, Anglican and Episcopal History


JOHN KENT. Wesley and the Wesleyans. Cambridge, England: Cambridge Univesity Press, 2002. Pp. vi + 229, select bibliography, index. $50.00.

PAUL WESLEY CHILCOTE, ED. Her Own Story: Autobiographical Portraits of Early Methodist Women. Nashville, Tennessee: Kingswood Books, 2001. Pp. 301, introduction, select bibliography, index. $25.00 (paper).

Readers of John Kent's Wesley and the Wesleyans will be disappointed if they expect the book to furnish a survey of the two topics mentioned in its title. Instead, Kent, an emeritus professor of theology at the University of Bristol, has written five linked essays on miscellaneous aspects of Methodism and religion in the eighteenth century. These essays are, to say the least, idiosyncratic. Readers will get a good preview of the book's tone in its first sentence: "One of the persistent myths of modern British history is the myth of the so-called evangelical revival." There cannot have been a revival, Kent believes, because the "primary religious impulse" that leads "people to seek some kind of extra-human power" is constant throughout history (1). Kent's basic argument can easily be refuted. Most "constants" of human existence (say, the need for food or companionship) can vary in degree from person to person at a single point in time and can also vary in the same person over time. Thus, these "constants" are in fact changeable, and this paradox certainly applies to the primary religious impulse. Kent himself discusses the myth of the evangelical revival in his first chapter entitled "The Protestant Recovery." When informed that there could not have been a religious revival, but that there was a religious "recovery," many readers will correctly conclude that they have entered a world of semantic legerdemain.

The three central chapters deal with Wesleyanism in the mid and late eighteenth century (1740-70 and 1770-1800 respectively) and with early Methodist women. Kent is wise to distinguish between the earliest Methodists and their successors in the much larger, and much more bureaucratized, connection of the century's last decades. Yet his miscellaneous observations are sprinkled with obiter dicta, many of them debatable or dubious, that are offered with little evidence or explanation. "There was no question of Methodism preventing revolution," he asserts in one place (100), and in another he claims that there "was no apparent 'feminisation' of religion in late eighteenth-century Wesleyanism" (139), a claim not supported by Clive Field's careful statistical studies of the gender of early Methodist members. Other statements are simply hostile to the early Methodists and their role in the religious "recovery." A "group of aggressive men" led the Wesleyans (119), for example, and these men "controlled the words which limited the women's behaviour [and] were sometimes aiming at the virtual destruction of human personality" (106).

In chapter 5, "Anglican Responses," and in the conclusion, Kent reveals his true colors by presenting Anglicans and Wesleyans as virtual opposites. "Wesley was not stupid, but he was steeped in an inadequate tradition..." (142, emphasis added), and he was consequently able to create only a "secondary theology" (182). This is not surprising for a man who had dropped out of the mainstream of British society (190-91) and was at once authoritarian and frequently uncertain about his own religious faith. Here and elsewhere, Kent supports these extreme views in part by reference to anti-Methodist works, perhaps not the most satisfactory type of evidence on these matters. Anglicans, by contrast, benefited from a "primary" theology, "valued tolerance more highly than 'revival'" (154), and were fifty years ahead of Wesleyans in providing day schools for children (178). This latter, of course, ignores the Wesleyan concentration on Sunday school education, the means by which Methodists may have educated more children than the Church of England in the half century after 1780. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Wesley and the Wesleyans/Her Own Story: Autobiographical Portraits of Early Methodist Women
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.