The Way of the Wesleys: A Short Introduction

The Way of the Wesleys: A Short Introduction

The Way of the Wesleys: A Short Introduction

The Way of the Wesleys: A Short Introduction

Synopsis

Engaging, accessible survey of major Wesleyan theological themes

The Wesley brothers -- John (1703-1791) and Charles (1707-1788) -- are famous as the cofounders of the Wesleyan tradition and the Methodist family of churches. Their impact and legacy have been huge: what began as the excited outpouring of their conversion experiences grew into a transatlantic revival and became a vibrant and significant theological tradition. But what exactly did they believe and teach?

In this book John Tyson, an acknowledged authority on Methodist studies, offers a helpful introduction to the main teachings and practices of both John and Charles Wesley. The first book to show how Charles, the younger and lesser-known brother, contributed in particular to Wesleyan theology, The Way of the Wesleys takes readers through main theological points thematically. Tyson also includes suggestions for further reading and questions for reflection at the end of each chapter.

Lavishly documented from the Wesleys' own writings, this engaging, accessible book shows why the Wesleys remain relevant to the faith journey of Christians today.

Excerpt

John (1703-91) and Charles Wesley (1707-88) are famous to most modern readers as the co-founders of the Wesleyan tradition and the Methodist family of churches. Their impact and legacy has been huge. What began as the excited outpouring of their conversionment was shaped profoundly by the unique gifts and graces of the Wesley brothers. But the staying power and popularity of the movement, as an expression of what the Wesleys called “vital Christianity,” had to do with the theology and practices they crafted. It is to that inheritance that we turn our attention in the present volume.

Various historical depictions of the Wesley brothers are available to us. There is the evangelical and experiential view of them, as people whose hearts were “strangely warmed” in May 1738. the diminutive Oxford dons soon turned mass evangelists, and their prodigious efforts at addressing people who stood at the margins of eighteenth-century English society offer a second evangelistic depiction of them that is often measured in sermons preached (more than 40,000) or miles traveled on horseback (more than 250,000) or hymns produced (more than 9,000). in this vein, Albert Outler rightly styled John Wesley a “Folk Theologian,” since Wesley described himself as one who “spoke plain words to plain folks,” and prided himself in speaking ad populum (“to the common people”). the irony of John using a classical Latin phrase to describe his popular preaching style should remind us that he, like Charles, was a highly educated Christian minister who used his considerable gifts to translate complicated theological discourse for the common people. It was in this sense that Outler . . .

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