Mr. Wesley on Power

Wesley produced two tracts– one on ‘The Origin of Power’ and another on ‘Liberty’. Wesley ultimately uses both essays to lay precepts against the circumstances of the American Revolution. In ‘Thoughts concerning the Origin of Power’ (1772), Wesley mainly tackles the notion if ‘power is derived from the people’, ridiculing the idea of ‘popular consent’ or democracy generating governing authority. Rather, “there is no power but from God”. However, this doesn’t make Wesley altogether anti-Republican. Instead, Wesley (can be read) as wanting political claims to be based upon right Reason. And, even if he is, more often than not, an non-egalitarian, Wesley is finally of the benevolent sort. In this series we will look his tract “On Liberty” later along with other Letters, but all the above need to be read together.

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Wesley on Female Ministry

I found this nugget in a 1748 letter to a Quaker where Wesley delineates some differences Christianity (as well as methodism, of course) has with most Quakers. This underlines the point that Wesley was largely conservative in his theological and social opinions. This is likely true whether we are speaking about his loyalty to the Church (the “Old Plan:”) or women in ministry. On a related tangent, I’ve written about classical methodists views, for example, respecting Miriam, sister of Aaron & Moses which is a similar bent. Nonetheless, here Wesley gives us a very succinct or convenient explanation respecting women’s ordination. Continue reading

Miriam the Lay-Prophetess

The snippets of Miriam in scripture have apparently been enlisted by modern-day “Methodists” to prove women’s ordination. While Wesley himself allowed women preachers in exceptional and rare cases (note: among hundreds of preachers there was only a small handful), Wesley understood preachers as a lay-office, apart from the Temple. The use of brief scriptural accounts to make Miriam like Aaron, hardly passes mustard with classical methodist commentators such as Clarke and Benson. Indeed, these esteemed commentators understood Miriam as serving women in the congregation rather than having a universal leadership or sacrificing priesthood.  Continue reading

Article-Seventeen’s Omission

A while back, I debated with a friend about the Wesley’s omission (from the Thirty-Nine Articles) of Article 17, On Predestination. My major point was classical Arminians, like Wesley, had no quarrel with Predestination or Election (given God’s foreknowledge). Rather, their omission owed to the sharpness of party division making Predestination an, all to often, occasion for controversy. Wesleyans agreed with the Article, though emphasizing particulars related to ‘calling’–“they through grace obey the calling”– rather than assuming too much about “decreed by his counsel secret to us”.  Accordingly, when Wesley sent his Abridged Version of the Articles to America, aka. the 25-Articles, with his Sunday Service and Collection of Hymns, he kept only what he believed essential to doctrine and preaching.  Continue reading

The Earnest & Farther Appeals

Wesley’s two tracts, An Earnest Appeal & A Farther Appeal, both defend methodists from common charges of enthusiasm and schism. Indeed, John Wesley produced a multitude of apologetics, found nearly in all his writings, against these accusations, especially when blamed for separating from the church. Probably the foremost evidence that Wesley intended the methodists to stay within the Church is found in his 1743 General Rule where the Society is expected to be diligent in attending all public services, especially Holy Communion. Given Wesley’s example was for all his preachers, we can assume he was talking about the Established Church. In both Appeals, Wesley would rather have detractors judge his people by their fruit rather than by hearsay, crediting increased attendance at parishes as proof that Methodism benefited the common weal. Continue reading