Identify the major influences on Wesley that fed into his insistence throughout his life that he was a “Reformed Anglican.”
The phrase “the middle way” (or via media) is found often in a discussion of Wesley’s theology. He deeply loved what the Reformation had done to correct many of the excesses of late medieval Catholicism. But he was also equally convinced that the Early Church had not been totally devoid of spiritual truth. With the advantage of theological hindsight, Wesley became an expert in joining the best theologies of the past while meeting the present day needs of his culture. Every student of Wesley ought to follow his example. This assignment will not only hone your skills as a theologian, but will help you re-think how we might do theology in our day without getting caught up in either narrow perspectives or meaningless ecumenism.
Learning Activity: Summarization Chart
Read the following:
Oden, p. 277-295.
Locate the following readings by searching the site: http://wesley.nnu.edu/
Sermon VII, “The Way to the Kingdom.”
Sermon XXXIX, “Catholic Spirit.”
Sermon VI, “The Righteousness of Faith.”
Produce a 1 page chart that summarizes the main theological emphases of Reformation theology and Catholic theology that you discern from your reading. Then in the middle of the chart show where you have found in Wesley a way of joining the two positions together. Look for 3-5 major issues. How one is conceived as being “made righteous” would possibly be a starting point. Why would a “catholic” (or more universally Christian) spirit be something that Wesley would need to spend time dealing with?
Oden, T. (1994). John Wesley’s scriptural Christianity. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
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