John Wesley and The Twenty-first Century: A Realistic Future


John Wesley
Methodist Church

How to Cite

Wimberly, E. P. (2009). John Wesley and The Twenty-first Century: A Realistic Future. Methodist Review, 1, 93–107. Retrieved from




This essay is a response to the plenary addresses given at the “The United Methodist Church at Forty” conference, which have previously been published as essays in Methodist Review. The basic question to be addressed is: How should we frame the future work in The United Methodist Church (UMC)? More precisely, what should be the relationship or balance between reinventing our heritage of faith or recovering it? This essay responds specifically to Mary Elizabeth Mullino Moore’s essay and the notion she sets forth there of the reinvention of our Wesleyan heritage. My view is that recovering key emphases from our Wesleyan faith heritage is more realistic when recent economic and social setbacks in the United States and the world are considered. First, I will argue for a more realistic view of our future based on the continuity of an “already and not yet” eschatology revealed in Scripture and in the sermons and writings of John Wesley. Second, I will argue that there is more ambiguity in the assessment of the success of accomplishments with regard to race, gender, and other social issues in our church and culture than is acknowledged in Moore’s essay. Third, I will argue for a recovery of selected dimensions of our Wesleyan and Methodist heritage that have been lost in North America, but which have proven to be quite helpful on the global scene. In short, the major concern of this essay is to answer the question, “In what sense can Wesley be claimed as a source for theology today?”


Authors who publish with Methodist Review agree to the following terms:

  • Authors retain copyright ownership and all intellectual property rights to their work, and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal but prohibits modification or commercial use of the work without the permission of the author.

  • Authors are free to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), in whole or in part, on the condition that its initial publication in this journal is clearly acknowledged.

  • Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work.