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Wesleyan Wisdom: Continuing to mine the Aldersgate experience

On May 24, 1738, John Wesley experienced what became a key moment in Methodism, when he felt his “heart strangely warmed” during a prayer meeting on Aldersgate Street in London. Sadly most interpreters have found in Aldersgate evidence to document and justify whatever theological premise they bring to their studies. Wesley was not so precise […]

Wesleyan Wisdom: J.B. Phillips stands as writer worth remembering

I am showing my age and the younger generation’s loss when I ask if they have read J.B. Phillips, and hear them say no. For a half century nearly every preacher and many laity had read the books of the Anglican New Testament scholar and parish minister. Indeed, his books sold more than 6 million […]

Wesleyan Wisdom: Christianity is all about Easter—and risen Christ

Beginning with Augustine and in contrast to Eastern Christianity, Christianity of the West has seen the meaning of our salvation primarily through the cross. We are engaged in a perennial debate over theories of the atonement, asking, “What does it mean to be saved by Jesus’ death on the cross?”  Was it that blood must […]

Wesleyan Wisdom: Tracing John Wesley’s journey: His final years

Editor’s note: This is the last in a series of columns tracing the footsteps of John Wesley. I noted previously that John Wesley’s itinerant ministry covered a geographic triangle: from London west to Bristol on the Wales border, then northeast to Newcastle upon Tyne, and south back to London. He also went southwest into Cornwall, […]

Wesleyan Wisdom: Back on the trail of Methodist roots, 1738-1784

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of columns tracing the footsteps of John Wesley. Let’s take a look at Wesley in the spring of 1738. Back in London since early February after his difficult pastorate in Georgia, he first met with trustees to explain why he was breaking contract and coming home […]

Wesleyan Wisdom: Back to roots – Touring Methodist historical sites

A number of people have written to tell me they plan (or wish) to go on a Methodist heritage tour, retracing the steps of John Wesley from his birthplace in Epworth to his grave on City Road in London. This is a very rewarding experience; I have made the trip seven times, always learning something […]

Wesleyan Wisdom: Bad news can be good, if it stirs faithful courage

Something about a recent editorial by Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal caught my eye. To me, it suggested a parallel between the state of the Republican Party and the state of our denomination. Ms. Noonan began: “Viewed a certain way, the 2012 election can be seen as a gift to Republicans wrapped in […]

Wesleyan Wisdom: Aldersgate – a playbook for revitalizing the UMC

This is the sixth and final column in which we explore John Wesley’s spiritual journey toward Aldersgate. We are not doing this to idolize Wesley. Rather, our mission is to provide a playbook for individual readers and for local churches to study in small groups as they seek to help their congregations become more vital.In […]

Wesleyan Wisdom: Must the old order fade, or can we embrace the dawn?

Recently I saw the film version of Les Misérables, a moving portrayal of the fading of the old order and the rising of the new. At the barricades in the streets of Paris, the young and restless lost and the old order prevailed for another day. But the forces for change had a battle cry: […]

Wesleyan Wisdom: Finding assurance: John Wesley at Aldersgate

This is the fifth in a series of columns intended to inspire renewal in local UM churches, through a study of John Wesley’s own spiritual journey in the years leading up to and following his experience at Aldersgate. Our primary concern in United Methodism is how to convert “survival mode” or “maintenance mode” congregations into […]