Posted in missions & evangelism, The Wesleys and Wesleyan theology

Three Wesleyan Reasons Why We Send Missionaries

“If you take missions out of the Bible, there is little left but the covers.” This statement from Nina Gunter captures a central theme in Scripture, the theme of the Church moving out into the world in response to the missio Dei, the “mission of God.”  Indeed, all that we do cross-culturally in the name of “missions” arises out of our understanding of God’s “mission.” God’s mission refers to God’s plan through Christ to save all of creation but especially the peoples of the world that are creation’s crowning achievement.

Because of the missio Dei, the Church moves out in missions. We do missions in a variety of ways, from preaching to teaching, compassionate ministry among the poor and oppressed and medical work with the sick and dying. But whatever form missions takes, we will not be able to sustain the work over the long-term if we lose sight of the reason why we send missionaries.

Theologians from various Christian traditions have emphasized different aspects of God’s mission. In this lesson, we will look at three biblical themes that apply to a Wesleyan view of mission: God as loving and holy, prevenient grace, and the need for humans to respond to God’s salvation offer. By looking at these themes, we will be reminded of the rationale for the sacrifices we make as a church. In times of discouragement and economic hardship, we will be encouraged to keep giving of our prayers, time and resources.

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Posted in The Wesleys and Wesleyan theology

Charles Wesley’s masterpiece, “Wrestling Jacob”

At the time of his brother Charles’ death in 1788, John Wesley praised him for his keen poetic talent. Specifically, he mentioned Charles’ masterpiece, “Wrestling Jacob.” The fourteen stanza poem is a reflection on the character of God as summed up in a single word: love.  The poem appears below. Leave your reaction in the comment thread. Do you agree that God’s nature can be boiled down to love?

Wrestling Jacob

1) Come, O thou traveller unknown, 

Whom still I hold, but cannot see,

My company before is gone,

And I am left alone with thee,

With thee all night I mean to stay,

And wrestle to the break of day.

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Posted in The Wesleys and Wesleyan theology

Charles Wesley in battle mode

I’ve been researching a paper for the upcoming meeting of the Wesleyan Theological Society, to be held at Trevecca Nazarene University in early March. The paper is titled:

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.

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Posted in The Wesleys and Wesleyan theology

John Wesley said that? Maybe not…

John Wesley, 1703-91

A colleague sent me a fascinating article about quotations wrongly attributed to John Wesley as well as “facts” surrounding his life and ministry, so called facts that actually are either plainly false or else unverifiable. An example of such a pseudo-quotation is:

Do all the good you can, by all the means you can. in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.

Another example is the term “social holiness.” In Methodism today, the term has come to mean any social project engaged in by the people of God.  Now, that doesn’t mean we can’t use the term that way if we want. We need not follow John Wesley slavishly, but at very least we should explain what Wesley meant by the term, which Heitzenrater agrees is a reference to Christian community, and I would add, especially the class meeting and bands.

Read it all by clicking here.