THE WESLEY FELLOWSHIP QUARTERLY
The Wesley Fellowship – Founded 1985
Hon. President: Rev. John Lawson, M.A., B.D.(Cantab.), B.Sc.(Agric.)(Lond.)
Chairman: Rev. Dr Herbert McGonigle
Secretary: Mr Paul S. Taylor, M.A., Stonebridge Cottage,
Back Lane, Shearsby, Lutterworth, Leicestershire, England, U.K. LE17 6PN
Tel/Fax: 0116-247 8679. E-mail: email@example.com
The Executive Committee includes the above officers together with:
Book Sales: Rev. Tony Tamburello, 106 Burnley Road, Colne,
Lancashire, BB8 8JA
Tel/Fax: 01282-859014. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Publicity Officer: Mr Ian Lockhart
Editor: Mr William T. Graham
See the new Wesley Fellowship Web Site (under construction) at:
Before looking forward to our April 2003 meeting, I want to make some observations on our October 2002 residential Conference at Swanwick, Derbyshire, England. While it was disappointing that a number of people dropped out at the last minute, this did not distract from the very rich experiences of our three days together.
With a menu that included five Papers, three preaching services, one Love Feast, and much else, there was general agreement that the Conference was certainly value for money. All the papers were informative and stimulating – and, as you will see from the free copy enclosed for all members with this mailing of the Quarterly - our WF committee has decided to publish Dr John M. Haley’s fine work, John Wesley: The Means of Grace and the Holy Life Today. As always the fellowship and camaraderie of the gathering was very infectious and, in particular, the times of open discussion following the reading of papers and the general question times were enlightening and enlivening! It was particularly good to have our esteemed President, the Revd John Lawson, with us, and his wide knowledge of most things Wesleyan lent much to our discussions. Following on from the suggestions made in our ‘Open Forum,’ the committee has already made initial plans to have another such Residential Conference, as the Lord enables us, in the autumn of 2004.
Our next meeting of the Wesley Fellowship will be on Saturday, April 26th in Birmingham. We have two Papers planned for the programme. The Chairman will read a Paper on ‘Epworth - the Cradle of Methodism,’ a celebration for this tercentenary year of John Wesley’s birth. The second Paper will be the annual Maynard James Memorial Lecture, given by Dr Sandy Roger, Principal of the Faith Mission Bible College in Edinburgh. Make sure that you have Saturday April 26th 2003 reserved in your diary!
Question: One of our WF members has asked about the claims made that John Wesley’s preaching often produced hysterical reactions among his hearers and that Wesley encouraged these responses.
Answer: Well, of course, it all depends on what we mean by ‘hysterical.’ In Acts we find that the Spirit-anointed preaching of Paul caused Felix to be fearful (24:25) and Festus was so moved that he suggested the apostle was mad (26:24). We should not be surprised that a gospel that deals with sin, judgement and the world to come will provoke strong reaction when the Spirit applies it to our hearts. Certainly in the early days of John Wesley’s preaching, there were occasions when men and women reacted with strong emotional outbursts, falling down, weeping, screaming and shouting. These scenes were not typical of the responses to Wesley’s preaching but they happened now and then. What is important is how John Wesley regarded them. He did not welcome such emotional scenes and much less did he encourage them. But he well knew that the gospel produces a deep sense of guilt and that in turn produces strong emotional responses in some people. His attitude to what he witnessed in the revival at John Berridge’s church in Everton, Bedfordshire, in 1759, is a good summary of what he thought about these phenomena. They were not essential to the work of God but they sometimes occurred when people were convinced they were 'lost sinners,' and their response was 'sudden outcries and strong bodily convulsions.' He was convinced that sometimes 'nature was mixed with grace' and that sometimes Satan mimicked this work to discredit it. (See Journal, 4:359, 360).
Editor’s Note: Dr McGonigle is willing to consider questions on Wesleyan theology, history and experience for answers in this Newsletter, also locating Wesley quotes, etc. Such questions should be sent in the first instance via the Secretary.
1. The Spring 2003 Meeting of the Wesley Fellowship will be held (D.V.) at the usual venue, Zion Church of the Nazarene, Brearley Street, Handsworth, Birmingham, on Saturday 26th April 2003. The day will begin from 10.30 am, when drinks will be served by our friends at Zion, before the meeting begins formally at 11.00 am. PLEASE PUT THIS EVENT IN YOUR DIARY AND PLAN TO BE WITH US! Two papers will be presented at the meeting. The first paper will be to celebrate the tercentenary of John Wesley’s birth in 1703, and will be given in the morning session by our Wesley Fellowship Chairman, the Revd Dr Herbert McGonigle, with the title ‘The Epworth Influence’. This will be followed by a break for lunch when drinks will again be provided – but please remember to bring your own food! The afternoon session will include the presentation of the 14th Annual Maynard James Memorial Lecture, which this year is to be given by the Revd Dr A.M. Roger, Principal of the Faith Mission Bible College, Edinburgh, with the title: ‘Revival – The Revelation of a Holy God’. The meeting should end by about 3.30pm. If you are planning to travel (from outside the Birmingham area) by car to the meeting, the best route for most people is to leave the M5 motorway at West Bromwich (Junction 1) and then follow the main A41 road towards the centre of Birmingham. After passing the West Bromwich Albion Association Football Club stadium (“The Hawthorns”) and several sets of traffic lights, continue to proceed along the A41 (Holyhead Road). About two miles after leaving the motorway, look out for the Murco Petrol Station on the right hand side of the road and turn sharply right at this traffic-light controlled junction into Booth Street. After a few hundred yards along Booth Street, the Zion Church of the Nazarene should be seen on the right, at the junction with Brearley Street. If you travel by train to Birmingham New Street Station, buses 74, 78, and 79 travel north from the city centre and drive along Soho Road and Holyhead Road where they will stop, on request, near the Booth Street junction. From here it is a short walk, of several hundred yards, along Booth Street to Zion Church (on the right) at the junction of Brearley Street. It is also possible to travel from Birmingham city centre (Snow Hill Station) to Zion Church by means of the West Midlands light rail Metro tram system (which runs between Wolverhampton and Birmingham). Book to “Booth Street, Handsworth Station”. This leaves just a short walk along Booth Street, to the Zion Church, situated at the junction with Brearley Street.
2. The Wesley Fellowship Autumn Meeting will be held in Birmingham from 10.30am on Saturday 18th October 2003. Further details about speakers and subjects will be available later.
3. Wesley Fellowship Residential Conferences. The Chairman has already mentioned the very successful WF conference held at The Hayes last October. The Executive Committee have taken note of the helpful comments expressed by members attending this conference and a provisional booking has now been made for the next WF Conference, planned again at The Hayes, Swanwick, Derbyshire, from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon, 17th to 19th September 2004. We hope soon to provide more details.
4. Membership Subscriptions 2003-2004. Annual membership subscriptions are due on 1st April 2003. A subscription renewal form is included for your use with this mailing. Although the finances of the Fellowship are in good order (due to the kindness of members and friends) it always helps if subscriptions are paid when they are due. Once again, all members are thanked for their generous financial support and valued continuing fellowship. If you would like some spare Membership Application Forms, perhaps for distribution to colleagues or church friends, please contact the Secretary, who would be delighted to supply you with all you require. If you have any particular thoughts on how we may increase Wesley Fellowship membership – especially from younger persons – please inform the Secretary!
5. Wesley Fellowship Web Site. Members may be interested to learn that our new dedicated WF website is now in the early stages of construction - and can already be found at the web address given on the front page of this edition of the Wesley Fellowship Quarterly. Amongst numerous other items, it is hoped to soon include on the web site an electronic copy of the Wesley Fellowship Book & Audio Catalogue, prepared by the Revd Tony Tamburello. The site will also have numerous links to other web sites available on the World Wide Web that may be of particular interest to Wesley Fellowship members. It would be appreciated if members who have influence on the content of other web sites (for example at a church, society, library, or college) could arrange for a link to the Wesley Fellowship web site to be included - as a means of making the WF more widely known. Mr Mark Bolton is acting as the WF web master - but contributions, suggestions, and queries should be sent either to the WF Secretary or (particularly if they contain e-mail attachments with items for possible inclusion) directly to the WF Quarterly editor, Bill Graham, at his e-mail address: email@example.com.
The Wesley Brothers: A Reformed Tribute and Assessment, [CD Format] by Dr Alan C Clifford. (Norwich: Charenton Reformed Publishing, 2003. ISBN 0-952671646. £4.95. Available directly from: C.R.P., 8 Le Strange Close, Norwich, NR2 3PN. Tel: 01603-452387 / 01953-453803).
This fine work is a CD, written and presented by Dr Alan C. Clifford. He devotes 45 minutes to the life and work and theology of John Wesley and 50 minutes, including hymn tracks, to Charles Wesley. Dr Clifford published his outstanding treatment of the long-running Calvinism versus Arminianism debate in his 1990 book, Atonement and Justification: English Evangelicalism 1640-1790 – an Evaluation. On this CD you can hear his two carefully researched lectures on the Wesley brothers. Dr Clifford’s delivery is both easy listening and very informative.
Wesley Papers: Papers Presented to the Wesley Fellowship Conference in 2000, edited by Paul Taylor (Ilkeston, Derbyshire: The Wesley Fellowship in Association with Moorley’s Print & Publishing, 2002. pp. iv, 98. ISBN 0953747301, pb, £11.60, incl. Postage. Obtainable direct from WF Book & Audio Purchases, c/o Revd Tony Tamburello, 106 Burnley Road, Colne, Lancashire, England, BB8 8JA).
These are the four Papers from the Wesley Fellowship conference held in 2000. Dr John Colwell compares the teaching of John Wesley and Thomas Aquinas on the extent to which Christians are able to love God and their neighbour with ‘perfect love’ in this world. Bill Graham examines the education of John Wesley’s preachers and his 36 pages, together with some 272 Endnotes, provide a wealth of carefully researched information on this topic. Geoffrey Fewkes provides us with a brief biography of Reader Harris (1847-1909), the founder of the originally named ‘Pentecostal League of Prayer’, and a comparison of John Wesley’s and Harris’s views on regeneration and sanctification. The fourth Paper is by our late, and highly esteemed, co-founder of the Wesley Fellowship, Bill Parkes. Bill outlines the life and ministry of the American Methodist camp-meeting preacher, Lorenzo Dow (1777-1834). Dow was prominent in the early days of Primitive Methodism and preached with great power and conviction. Sadly in his latter years he fell away into Freemasonry and died apparently in spiritual darkness. All four Papers provide a wealth of information on the subjects dealt with - and Wesley Papers is very good value at £11.60, including postage. Obtainable directly from Revd Tony Tamburello, W.F. Books & Audio Dept, 106 Burnley Road, Colne, BB8 8JA.
Selina Countess of Huntingdon: [Her Pivotal Role in the 18th Century Evangelical Awakening], by Faith Cook (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2001. pp. xv, 478. £19.95, hb. ISBN 0851518125).
Faith Cook has brought together from a wide variety of sources a valuable assembly of facts and evaluations of the Countess of Huntingdon (1707-1791). The author writes from a ‘Reformed’ perspective. In some ways this latest biography of the ‘elect lady’ counterbalances the mainly historical works of Edwin Welch (Spiritual Pilgrim, 1995) and Boyd Stanley Schlenther (Queen of the Methodists, 1997) and does not shirk making assessments of the theological tensions that existed amongst the leaders of the Eighteenth Century revival in Britain. The biography is generous in spirit towards those who did not always value the work of the Countess as, perhaps, this biographer would have wished. Indeed, the work is written with admirable objectivity. This is not a eulogy but rather a serious attempt to deal fairly with all the issues involved in the intertwining of the lives of the people who were used by God in that remarkable period of revival. The portraits of John and Charles Wesley as secondary figures in this biography are always recognisably fair. Faith Cook deals at length with the intricate relationships between the Countess and other revival leaders and gives interesting insights into the lives of George Whitefield, Howell Harris, Benjamin Ingham, and John Fletcher. More importantly, she examines with particular care the Calvinist-Wesleyan tensions set up by the doctrines of election, predestination, perseverance and scriptural holiness as expounded by the two main streams in the Methodist movement. There is, of course, underlying these well-known controversies, the unresolved tension between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility; a problem for the mind that craves for finite answers to infinite questions and which is uncomfortable with unresolved paradox.
To return to Faith Cook’s portrait of the Countess, the book presents the reader with a multi-coloured character, often working harmoniously with her contemporaries, but often at odds with some of them. Blended in, so to speak, are informative sketches of the lives of those who shared her vision for the evangelisation of her fellow countrymen. So we meet again men like Martin Madan, John Berridge, Thomas Haweis, Henry Venn, William Grimshaw, Thomas Maxfield, Philip Doddridge, and members of her own quite extraordinary family circle. The writer retells in her own way the events surrounding matters such as: the exclusion of six students with ‘Methodist convictions’ from St Edmund Hall, Oxford; the establishment of her college for the training of evangelical preachers at Trevecca; and the unfortunate missionary enterprise across the Atlantic - ‘This opening in America’ as Selina described it - as she unstintingly and bravely took up the difficult challenge inherited from George Whitefield’s will. Alongside these endeavours the author describes events surrounding the building of new chapels for the Countess of Huntingdon in London, Tonbridge Wells, Bath, and many other strategic centres throughout the country. The forty pages of valuable appendices include an assessment of other biographies of the Countess, including an important and balanced evaluation of the - sometimes unfairly - criticised early account by A.C.H. Seymour (1839). There are well presented family trees of the Shirley and Hastings dynasties and a fascinating account of the subsequent service of some twenty former Trevecca students. For readers interested in the history of the Countess of Huntingdon’s Connexion, the book includes the Fifteen Articles of Faith drawn up in 1783 in an effort to establish and stabilise the churches within the Connexion. The biography is well researched and yet written in an easily readable style, very well printed and bound, and warmly recommended.
The Quotable Mr. Wesley. Compiled and edited by W. Stephen Gunter (Candler School of Theology: Atlanta, Georgia, 1999. US$ - ?, pb, pp. 63).
This attractively printed
and delightfully compiled little book came to me recently as a gift from a friend,
so I am not sure of its purchase price. As it happens I had been, for some weeks
earlier, trying (unsuccessfully) to purchase a copy. Even using the Internet
it had proved impossible to find any bookstore around the world that could help
– so its cost and ISBN remained a mystery! However, my kind friend had taken
a different course and contacted the author, Dr Gunter, directly at Candler
School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, 30322, and so obtained
copies of the book without using a bookshop. I can recommend this approach,
as it procured this very handy source book of carefully selected quotations
from the published writings of John Wesley (with a couple added from brother
Charles and mother Susanna). The quotations are arranged alphabetically using
an indexed subject list. The sources are each given a clear bibliographical
citation - and it is the author’s expressed intention that readers will be tempted
to follow up references and investigate the writings of Wesley in their original
context. Two typical quotations of John Wesley, as selected and recorded in
this collection by Dr Gunter (the first under the subject heading ‘Grace’,
the second under the subject heading ‘Holiness’) are:
“The grace or love of God, whence cometh our salvation, is free in all, and free for all” (Works III [Bicentennial Edition], p. 544); and:
“But we must love God before we can be holy at all; this being the root of all holiness” (Works I [Bicentennial Edition], p. 274).
I understand that this private publication is an inexpensive little book – and this makes it all the more well worth the extra effort that may be required to track it down!
Wesley Fellowship 2003.