This paper argues that Christian antiquity is one of the means of grace Wesley used to enrich his description of the divine-human relationship. It contrasts with the study of Christian antiquity in Wesley's texts identified by Ted Campbell who concluded that Wesley used Christian antiquity in polemical, conservative, and programmatic ways to advocate his wish for Christian revival. Wesley's appropriation of Christian antiquity was influenced by his High Church background, and those experiences received from the Moravians. The Moravian influence coupled with Wesley's High Church identity, led him to build a theology which treats Christian antiquity similar to the Anglican pietism established by Anthony Horneck. Similarly, by appropriating antiquity, Wesley was seeking for ancient Christian virtues which represented the Christ-like characteristics that help Christians to receive the ''spiritual senses' for knowledge about God. Wesley was educated during the period when British empiricism was at its peak. He adopted the views of John Locke and Peter Browne for his epistemology dealing with physical knowledge, but referred to the long history of Christianity and philosophers such as John Norris, to insist that spiritual senses are needed for spiritual knowledge. It should be noticed that ''knowing' for Wesley was always relational. In other words, he argued, appropriating Christian antiquity would help people receive spiritual senses for true and relational knowledge about God; and this relational knowledge about God is in fact implicating an increase in the relationship with God. For Wesley the means of grace was a channel God used to interact with people. By this interaction, people could become conscious of and even know God. Wesley also proposed the concept of the general means of grace which he argued was instrumental in facilitating Christian self-examination and self-correction. In Wesley's view, humanity could use Christian antiquity as a means of grace to know God thus enabling the divine-human relationship to be enriched Moreover, when a person acquired ancient virtues by appropriating Christian antiquity, they were in fact exercising self-examination and self-correction in their life. This paper therefore concludes that the appropriation of Christian antiquity is a means of grace in the works of John Wesley.
|Date of Award
|3 Jan 2017
- The University of Manchester
|Stephen Skuce (Supervisor) & Steven Emery-Wright (Supervisor)