“Christus Victor: A Wesleyan Appraisal of sub-Saharan Power Christology”
In the first part of the paper, I’m looking at primary sources, and will be focusing particularly on the sermons of John Wesley and his New Testament Notes as well as the hymns of Charles Wesley. In my doctoral research, I was looking at his hymns in relation to another theme, so this time around with new eyes on the material, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to uncover some amazing verse on the theme of the conquering Christ. Here are stanzas 5-7 of a hymn based on Rev. 2:8-9:
We then the power of faith shall prove
Nor shrink from persecution near,
But more than conquer in thy love,
Thy perfect love which casts out fear.
Tho’ earth and hell at once engage,
And fiends, and formal saints conspire,
The synagogue of Satan rage,
And threaten us with racks and fire;
Bold shall we stand in thy great might,
For Jesu’s sake count all things loss,
With beasts, and men, and devils fight
Beneath the banner of thy cross.
There’s much more of that kind of stridency laced throughout the 1742 collection, Hymns and Sacred Poems. This is a far cry from the effete hymn “Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to thy bosom fly.” Here is Charles Wesley in fighting form! Stanzas 13-14 in another hymn continue the theme, a hymn based on 1 Tim. 6:12, Paul’s admonition to Timothy to “fight the good fight”:
With holy indignation fill’d,
When by the prince of hell withstood,
Firm I resist; I grasp my shield,
And quench his fiery darts with blood.
Single a thousand foes I chase,
I turn, and blast them with my eyes:
Trembles the world before my face,
Their prince with all his legions flies.
My concern is to see whether the 21st century emphasis in Africa on “Jesus power” is justified from a Wesleyan standpoint. From the viewpoint of many pastors on this great continent, the power that Christ gives to His followers is not only power over sin – as important as that is – but also power over Satan and sickness. I’ve just begun my Charles Wesley reading, so have not come across hymns touching upon physical healing as such, but the tone of triumph over Satan is clearly strong.
More to follow…