THE WESLEY FELLOWSHIP QUARTERLY
The Wesley Fellowship – Founded 1985
Former Hon. Presidents:
Rev.Dr Arthur Skevington Wood (1986-1993);
Rev. John Lawson (2000-2003)
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Executive Committee includes the above officers together with:
Book Sales: Rev. Tony Tamburello, 13 Charles Street, Colne,
Lancashire, BB8 0LY
Tel/Fax: 01282-859014. E-mail: email@example.com
Publicity Officer: Mr Ian Lockhart
Editor: Mr William T. Graham
Please visit the Wesley Fellowship on the Web at:
Since our last Newsletter, we’ve had two well-attended meetings of the WF. The first, in Birmingham, was on Saturday 3rd April 2004, when Col. David Guy reminded us that, for John Wesley, the doctrine of salvation was all-important. While Wesley consistently preached, explained and enforced all the doctrines of the Christian faith, soteriology - the doctrine of salvation - held priority in his work. That doctrine comprehended repentance, faith, new birth, sanctification begun, and the witness of the Spirit. Also in Birmingham, Paul Taylor challenged us with his expose of the dangerous threat that post-modern thinking poses for the gospel. Postmodernism reduces God to the level of man and makes the gospel of Christ nothing more than one of the world’s many religions. Every Christian ought to read Paul’s enlightening and very challenging Paper, soon to be published by the WF. The second meeting was on Saturday 8th May in Belfast when the Chairman, together with Bill Graham and Paul Taylor, travelled to Ulster for a WF meeting. We are very thankful to the Minister and the good people of Lisburn Road Methodist Church, Belfast, for being such kind hosts. Three Papers were read to a very appreciative gathering; Paul speaking on John Cennick, the Moravian missionary in Ireland; Bill outlining the ‘what and why’ of John Wesley’s 50 vol. Christian Library (1749-1755), and the Chairman emphasising that, pre-eminently, John Wesley was a gospel preacher. Altogether a great day of fellowship and study and learning in Ulster.
Now I need YOUR help! As we’ve been advertising, our Residential Conference is planned for September 17-19 at the Hayes Conference Centre in Swanwick. A really excellent programme is planned with Dr Ian Randall as the guest lecturer. Ian, a lecturer and Vice-Principal at Spurgeon’s College in London, will bring three Papers on ‘Wesley and Evangelical Spirituality.’ A Love Feast, a preaching service and much more is in the programme. BUT IT MAY NOT HAPPEN! Unless at least 10 more people plan to attend, almost certainly we will have to cancel the Conference. In a week or two Paul Taylor needs to confirm with the Conference Centre that we are booking the rooms. WE DO NOT WANT TO CANCEL THIS CONFERENCE. This is where I need the help of all our WF members. If you have not yet confirmed that you are coming, please reconsider and join us for what promises to be three great days together. If you are coming, I am delighted to know that; please talk to some of your friends about coming with you. With this Newsletter you will receive a Conference booking form to enable you to make a quick reply.
The Question and Answer column that is normally a part of this page is being held over until the next issue of the Newsletter. Making sure that our September Conference takes place is very urgent; join us and encourage someone else to come as well.
1. RESIDENTIAL WEEKEND CONFERENCE, AUTUMN 2004. As our Chairman has reminded us, the next Wesley Fellowship residential conference will (we hope) be held once again at The Hayes, Swanwick, Derbyshire. The dates are Friday afternoon 17th to Sunday afternoon 19th September 2004. Please make this a priority entry in your diary! The theme will be ‘WESLEY AND EVANGELICAL SPIRITUALITY’ and the main speaker will be the Revd Ian Randall, MA, MPhil, PhD, FRHistS, Deputy Principal of Spurgeon's College, London. Full details, including costs for residential or day visitors, can be found on the enclosed booking form. There are still places available, so, if you have not already done so, PLEASE BOOK THE DATE NOW and make this Conference as widely known as you can. More details and further copies of the booking form can be obtained from the Secretary on request.
2. MEMBERSHIP SUBSCRIPTIONS 2004-2005. Once again the members who have already paid their subscriptions for the current year are thanked for their generous financial support and valued continuing fellowship over the years. Members are respectfully reminded that current annual membership subscriptions were due on 1st April 2004. In case you need it (or can use it to encourage someone else to consider joining us) another subscription renewal form is included for your use with this mailing. It always helps (and is very much appreciated) if subscriptions are paid when they are due.
3. THE SPRING 2005 MEETING OF THE FELLOWSHIP will be held at the usual venue, Zion Church of the Nazarene, Brearley Street, Handsworth, Birmingham, on (probably) Saturday 29 April 2005. During the second part of the meeting the Revd. Gordon A. Thomas, ThB, MA, Lecturer in Biblical Studies at Nazarene Theological College, Manchester, will deliver the 16th Annual Maynard James Memorial Lecture. Further details later.
4. PATERNOSTER PRESS has recently sent us details of a new publication in their series of ‘Studies in Evangelical History and Thought’. A full review should appear in a later edition of the Wesley Fellowship Quarterly but it appears to be a book well worth looking at by anyone interested in issues concerned with the successes and failures of early nineteenth-century Methodism - or on religious revival movements in general. The book, with the intriguing title: Itinerant Temples: Tent Methodism 1814–1832 (Paternoster Press, 2003, xix + 268 pages, ISBN: 1842271512), is based on detailed and well documented academic research, by John K. Lander, on an almost forgotten offshoot of Wesleyan Methodism that flourished for a time in several parts of England and South Wales. More details of this and other books in the series can be obtained from Mr Jeremy Mudditt, 3 Longlands Road, Stanwix, Carlisle, Cumbria, CA3 9AD; Tel. 01228-545937, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web: www.paternoster-publishing.com.
NEW POST FOR WESLEY FELLOWSHIP CHAIRMAN
At the end of July 2004, when he retires as Principal of Nazarene Theological College, WF Chairman, Revd Dr Herbert McGonigle, will fully take up his new role as the first Director of the Manchester Wesley Research Centre (MWRC) which was inaugurated last year to coincide with the Tercentenary Celebrations of the birth of John Wesley. An account of the recent well-attended valedictory service to celebrate his twenty-eight years of work at the Manchester College is due to be published in the next issue of The Flame magazine (details from Revd Dr P.W. Gentry, 14 Milton Road, Weston-Super-Mare, England, UK, BS23 2SB; Tel. 01934 636880). The MWRC is an international partnership between Nazarene Theological College, the University of Manchester John Rylands Library, the University of Manchester Department of Religions and Theology, the International Board of Education of the Church of the Nazarene, and Nazarene Theological Seminary, Kansas City, USA. It has been established to promote research scholarship in the life and work of John and Charles Wesley, their contemporaries in the eighteenth-century Evangelical Revival, their historical and theological antecedents, and contemporary scholarship within the Wesleyan and Evangelical tradition. The unique Methodist Archives, housed alongside the incredible wealth of other primary source materials to be found in the special collections division of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester will provide an outstanding world-class resource for students in this field. The MWRC will be based on the Nazarene Theological College campus, an affiliated College of Manchester University - which, in October, will become the largest single site university in the United Kingdom. Dr McGonigle can be contacted at MWRC, Dene Road, Didsbury, Manchester, England, M20 2GU; or by e-mail MWRC@nazarene.ac.uk.
SPECIAL HONOUR FOR WESLEY FELLOWSHIP CHAIRMAN
The Wesley Fellowship Chairman had the considerable honour of being invited to present the 2004 Annual Lecture of the Wesley Historical Society. The meeting was held on Monday 28th June (during the time of the 2004 Methodist Conference held at Loughborough University) and chaired by the Wesley Historical Society President, and former President of the Methodist Conference, the Rev Dr John A. Newton, CBE. The title of Dr McGonigle’s illuminating Paper was ‘William Bramwell: A Reappraisal’ and the full text will be published later this year in the Proceedings of the Wesley Historical Society.
WEBSITE REVIEWS OF WESLEY FELLOWSHIP PUBLICATIONS
Some members of the Fellowship, particularly any without easy access to the Internet, may like to see the following sample of a few of the numerous reviews (mostly written by Herbert McGonigle) of various WF Publications that now appear on the Fellowship Website. The WF has been, since its formation in 1985, active in promoting the serious study of Wesleyan history, theology and experience. In the eighteenth century, John and Charles Wesley were themselves prodigious publishers of Christian literature - so that their own original writings, together with their many extracted and edited works, amounted to more than four hundred published titles in thousands of editions. These were made up of compositions and translations such as sermons, letters, hymns, poems, journals, Biblical commentaries, periodicals, biographies, dictionaries, school text books, and theological treatises, with some single titles – such as John Wesley’s monumental A Christian Library – amounting to up to fifty separate volumes. With less than 30 titles published so far, the Wesley Fellowship cannot compare its published outflow with that of the Wesley brothers - but it has been disseminating Newsletters, Occasional Papers and more substantial works for over eighteen years. The Wesley Fellowship also has available for sale an extensive range of audiocassette tapes of many lectures when they were first presented to meetings of the Fellowship – including some that have never been printed and published. A full catalogue is available, on request, from the Wesley Fellowship Book Sales Officer Rev. Tony Tamburello, 13 Charles Street, Colne, Lancashire, BB8 0LY. Tel/Fax: 01282-859014. Please note that Tony now has a new e-mail address email@example.com and that postage and packing is EXTRA to the marked bargain prices on all these publications. All cheques and International Money Orders should be in pounds sterling and made payable to ‘Wesley Fellowship’.
Paul Taylor &
Howard Mellor (Editors), Travelling Man: A Tribute to the Life and Ministry
of the Reverend Dr Arthur Skevington Wood. Moorley’s Print & Publishing,
Ilkeston, 1994. ISBN 1 898362 05 X. p/b. pp.126. £1.00.
Dr Skevington Wood (1917-1993) was a Methodist minister, preacher and scholar. For seven years he was Principal of Cliff College in Derbyshire and he was the Wesley Fellowship’s first President. This is the only substantial account of his life, work and scholarship that has been published to date. The work is well done and it introduces us to one of the most significant evangelical voices in British Methodism in the second half of the 20th century. As well as the interesting and very readable account of Dr Wood’s life and ministry, the book also contains two of his important theological writings. The first is his fine analysis of Martin Luther’s hermeneutics, ‘Luther’s Principles of Biblical Interpretation.’ The second is his, ‘Love Excluding Sin: John Wesley’s Teaching on Sanctification.’ The latter paper was the Wesley Fellowship’s first publication and a fine example of Dr Wood’s Biblical and theological scholarship. Running to some ten thousand words, and with one hundred and thirty-one references to John Wesley’s writings and important secondary authorities, ‘Love Excluding Sin’ is, quite simply, the best and most convincing short exposition of Wesley’s ‘grand depositum’ that has been written. At the very special low price of just £1, this biography of Dr Skevington Wood is a remarkable bargain.
John Lawson, The Conversion of the Wesleys: 1738 Reconsidered. Moorley’s Print & Publishing, Ilkeston, 1987, pp.37. £2.50. A former President of the Wesley Fellowship, John Lawson (1909-2003) was a life-long student of the writings of John and Charles Wesley and this brief discussion of what happened to the Wesley brothers in 1738 is a fine example of his internationally recognised scholarship. Much has been published on the evangelical ‘heart-warmings’ experienced by Charles Wesley on May 21st 1738 and by his brother John on May 24th. In what sense can their experiences be labelled ‘conversions’ or would it be more accurate to describe their spiritual discoveries during that 1738 Pentecost season as new certainties of the witness of the Spirit? Mr Lawson examines the evidence very carefully and in the process looks at how the events of 1738 influenced the Wesleys’ subsequent teaching on Christian experience in general and Christian holiness in particular.
Herbert McGonigle, The Arminianism of John Wesley. Moorley’s Print & Publishing, Ilkeston, 1988. pp.36. £2.50. Church historians, biographers and theologians in the last two centuries have labelled John Wesley an ‘Arminian’ in his doctrine. In 1778 Wesley launched a monthly magazine entitled the Arminian Magazine, with its emphatic emphasis on Christ’s atonement for the sins of all mankind and the possibility of salvation for all. This study summarises the rise of 16th century Dutch Arminianism and its spread to England in the next century. John Wesley is shown to have imbibed Arminian teaching from his parents, Samuel and Susanna Wesley and he went on to make it the vehicle of his impassioned evangelism for half a century. He removed from it the various humanistic accretions it had acquired in the seventeenth century and transformed it into what might accurately be called ‘Wesleyan Arminianism.’ This evaluation of John Wesley’s doctrines gives special attention to his many anti-Calvinist publications. This small book has sold more copies worldwide than almost any other Wesley Fellowship sponsored publication.
William M Greathouse, John Wesley’s Theology of Christian Perfection. Moorley’s Print & Publishing, Ilkeston, 1989. pp. 24. £2.00. In this short study Dr William Greathouse, a former General Superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene, argues very convincingly that the height and depth of John Wesley’s often-controverted doctrine of Christian perfection is the love of God and neighbour in the heart of the Christian believer. He demonstrates that the Greek term teleios, translated ‘perfect’ in the King James New Testament, carries the meanings of ‘full-grown,’ ‘mature,’ or ‘adult.’ When employed to describe Christian sanctification it means ‘heart purity or singleness of intention; it is blamelessness before God, wholeness or completeness of devotion to him’ (p.6). With sixty-one references, mostly to John Wesley's writings, this is a very valuable contribution toward understanding what Wesley called Methodism’s ‘grand depositum’.
Oliver A Beckerlegge, Charles Wesley: Poet. Moorley’s Print & Publishing, Ilkeston, 1990. pp.29. £1.00. The late Rev.Dr Beckerlegge (1913-2003) was an acknowledged expert in the hymnody of Charles Wesley and this is a study of Charles as a poet. The author is not attempting to examine the theology or the infinite number of scriptural allusions in Charles’ verses or the wide range of Christian experiences he deals with but concentrates on his gifts as a great poet. He points out that Charles Wesley’s 9000 poems (a generic term for all his poetical writings) makes him the most prolific poet in the English language. With many appropriate illustrations from the hymns, he discusses metre and rhyme in Charles’ verse. The second half of this fine analysis deals with the sources of Charles’ verses, his vocabulary, his literary allusions and his rhetoric. What a little treasure house is here of Charles Wesley’s poetry – and all for the special price of £1!
Sydney Martin, John Wesley and the Witness of the Spirit. Moorley’s Print & Publishing, Ilkeston, 1990. pp.37. £2.50. As well as the doctrine of Christian holiness, John Wesley’s emphasis on the witness of he Spirit was a distinctive part of his evangel. He was convinced that it is the privilege of every believer to know the Holy Spirit giving witness in his heart that he is born of God. This was his understanding of Romans 8:16, ‘The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.’ In Dr Martin’s carefully researched paper, this doctrine is outlined in the earlier centuries of the Church. John Wesley’s own spiritual experience is analysed with reference to assurance and then Dr Martin proceeds to show how Wesley made this doctrine an essential part of what he often called ‘the great salvation.’ This study examines what John Wesley taught about the direct witness of the Spirit, the indirect witness, degrees of assurance and how the Spirit bears witness to both justification by faith and sanctification by faith. With its 133 references to Wesley’s writings and important secondary sources, this is a fine study of a doctrine that is not only biblically defensible but is equally pastorally relevant.
Barry Bryant, John Wesley on the Origins of Evil. Moorley’s Print & Publishing, Ilkeston. 1992. pp.26. £1.00. From as early as his Oxford days, John Wesley was deeply interested in the origin of moral evil. He discussed this problem in letters to his father, Samuel Wesley, in 1730. In addition, later, in 1757, he wrote his single longest theological treatise on this subject. Dr Bryant examines Wesley’s interest in man’s free will and how evil entered the good world that God had made. With some very important quotations from Wesley’s sermons, Dr Bryant argues that Wesley saw evil as the direct consequence of man’s abuse of his God-given liberty. God did not decree the inevitable fall of Adam but He did create him capable of making moral choices. Human sinfulness is not located in the physical body but has its origins in our rebellion against the will of God. This is a subject of profound importance for Christian theology and this Paper is a good summary of John Wesley’s teaching on it.
Edward Houghton, Handmaid of Piety and other papers on Charles Wesley’s Hymns. Quacks Books, York, in Association with the Wesley Fellowship. 1992. pp.125. £4.50. This is a study of Charles Wesley’s hymns and it is both a delightful read and very, very informative. It is enjoyable because almost every page has quotations from Charles’ prodigious output of hymns and the late Mr Houghton knows them well. Here are extracts from Charles’ best known hymns, including ‘Arise, my soul, arise,’ ‘Spirit of faith come down,’ ‘O love divine, what hast thou done?’ - and many more. But there are also citations from many of Charles’ lesser-known hymns and our delight in his poetic genius is thereby deepened. In addition, this book is so very enlightening. Here are some of the chapter titles: ‘What we have felt’, ‘Lo! He comes’, ‘In all the Scriptures’, ‘Wrestling Jacob’, and ‘To serve the present age’. One particularly engaging chapter is: ‘With Wesley through the Church’s year’. The late Dr Skevington Wood wrote that this book illustrated Mr Houghton’s ‘effervescent enthusiasm for his subject’ - and this is clear on every page. In a study of just 125 pages, this can be fairly described as the best short introduction and guide to Charles Wesley’s hymns that has been published to date.
Wesley Fellowship 2004.