John Wesley was not a systematic theologian and therefore never expounded a systemized eschatology. Nevertheless, his soteriology and eschatology were inseparably linked. His belief in the possibility of entire sanctification in the present life of the believer meant that Christians could be perfected in love on earth as preparation for their eternal presence with God. Therefore, end-time events were already occurring now. Additionally, Wesley was an optimist of grace. He envisaged an extensive conversion of mankind throughout the world before Jesus' second advent, through the preaching of the Gospel. This led naturally to his belief in a future millennium, for it was during this period that this spiritual utopia would take place. However, Wesley adopted much of the strange millennial eschatology of the German Lutheran Johann Albrecht Bengel, who believed in a double millennium. Furthermore, Wesley seldom wrote overtly about the millennia, especially the second 1000 year period. Thus as an 18th century evangelist, Wesley should not be so readily labelled using the familiar post-19th century millennial language which exists today, as previous scholarship has so often done. It is the conviction of this thesis that Wesley can only be described with any safety as a 'millenarian' in the broadest definition of that word.
|Date of Award||3 Jan 2012|
- The University of Manchester