John Wesley and War: Guidance for Modern Day Heirs?

Stephen Wendell Rankin

Abstract


Among the numerous contentious issues with which United Methodists struggle, statements in The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church exemplify tensions within the denomination regarding war. Outside the doctrinal standards in the Articles of Religion and Confession of Faith, changes in The Book of Discipline each four years show how the denomination is subject to the historical and political circumstances associated with a given General Conference.  Although John Wesley had no developed theory on the ethics of war, one can find in his writings occasional references, that, taken cumulatively, provide helpful guidance.  This article reads Wesley's comments through the lens of his doctrine of Christian perfection and finds a trajectory that calls for qualification of what is commonly considered Wesley's practical just war stance.

Keywords


John Wesley; War; Just War; Pacifism; The United Methodist Church; The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church; Christian Perfection

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Methodist Review, ISSN: 1946-5254 (online), copyright © 2009-2017 by The Methodist Review, Inc.