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Assess the theological influences on the development of John Wesley's thought.

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Introduction

Assess the theological influences on the development of John Wesley's thought. John Wesley continued to develop his theological ideas throughout his life. "Wesley was himself an eclectic theologian, weaving from the diverse sources of the Christian tradition a theology and practice appropriate to his own situation". 1 His theology drew on four sources of authority 2, in that he saw the essence of Christian life as being revealed in Scripture, illuminated by tradition, vivified in personal experience and confirmed by reason. Scripture In his commentary on the New Testament, Wesley looked at the actual Greek text and he was prepared to alter the Authorised Version. This reflects to some extent the Dissenter background of his family. Although his father turned his back on Dissent 3, Samuel Wesley had been brought up a Dissenter and the family came from a long line of Dissenters. John's maternal grandfather Samuel Annesley had a house in London that became the centre of a large network of Dissent. 4 Therefore, although John Wesley had an Anglican upbringing, there was an atmosphere of questioning and intellectual debate in the family household. Wesley looked at the plain sense of Scripture departing from the tradition of allegorising Scripture. However his questioning background led him to not only look for the literal meaning of the text, but also to understand the spiritual meaning of the passage. ...read more.

Middle

They taught him to question and ensured that he received an excellent education both at home, school and at Oxford. It is interesting to consider which influenced Wesley most, the Dissenting family background, or the Anglican ministry of his father, himself and his brother Charles. It could be argued that the Dissenter background gave Wesley the impetus to move beyond the boundaries of Anglican thought and practice, but it can also be seen that Wesley was a traditional Anglican in many ways and this is particularly evident in his insistence to remain within the Anglican church. Certainly the fact that his parents disagreed on many issues, their strict discipline, their emphasis on education and their struggle against debt 34 had a great influence on how John Wesley behaved as an adult and gave him some of the tools to develop his thoughts. It is difficult to assess whether the hymns of his brother Charles influenced John Wesley's theology or if it was vice versa. It can be judged that the hymns were an important manner of expressing and teaching his developing theology. 35 John Wesley was a great reader and even read whilst travelling on horseback. 36 He had a systematic method of studying, a highly educated and intelligent mind and an openness to ideas and reflective thought, which all helped him to read widely and interpret fully. ...read more.

Conclusion

52 1 Clutterbuck in Marsh et al, 2004, 59. 2 Tabraham, 1995, 16. 3 Waller, 2003, 3. 4 Waller, 2003, 5. 5 Tabraham, 1995, 17. 6 Wesley, Epworth translation 1944, Sermon XII, 144. 7 Tabraham, 1995, 19. 8 Tabraham, 1995, 17. 9 Waller, 2003, 34. 10 Tabraham, 1995, 18. 11 McGrath, 2001, 228-229. 12 McGrath, 2001, 89. 13 Tabraham, 1995, 19. 14 Tabraham, 1995, 21. 15 Langford, 1998, 5. 16 Hattersley, 2002. 17 Langford, 1998, 5. 18 Langford, 1998, 5. 19 Waller, 2003, 49. 20 Waller, 2003, 46-47. 21 Waller, 2003, 62-68. 22 Wesley, Epworth translation 1944, Sermon I, 6. 23 Langford, 1998, 7. 24Tabraham, 1995, 35. 25 Wesley, Epworth translation 1944, Sermon XXXV, 457-476. 26 Langford, 1998, 10. 27 Langford, 1998, 7. 28 Waller, 2003, 45. 29 Waller, 2003, 34. 30 Pollock, 1989, 66. 31 Pollock, 1989, 85. 32 Heitzenrater, 1995, 82-85. 33 Waller, 2003, 57. 34 Waller, 2003, 2-13. 35 Waller, 2003, 65-66. 36 Hattersley, 2002. 37 Waller, 2003, 22. 38 Waller, 2003, 37. 39 Pollock, 1989, 161. 40 Langford, 1998, 9. 41 Langford, 1998, 9. 42 Langford, 1998, 10. 43 McGrath, 2001, 26. 44 Hattersley, 2002. 45 Langford, 1998, 12. 46 Tabraham, 1995, 32. 47 Langford, 1998, 12. 48 Torrance in Hastings et al, 2000, 363. 49 Waller, 2003, 59-61. 50 Enger, in Hastings et al, 2000, 541. 51 Mason, in Hastings et al, 2000, 41. 52 Mason, in Hastings et al, 2000, 41. Josette Crane TM105 Methodist Studies Assignment 1 ...read more.

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