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

Edward P. Wimberly




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?”


John Wesley; Methodist Church

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