History and Traditions
John Wesley (1703-1791) was a Christian Reformer. He was also the founder of Methodism, was born at Epworth, in Lincolnshire, was the son of a rector, and was educated at the Charterhouse School and at Lincoln College, Oxford, of which he became a Fellow. While there he and his brother Charles, with others, were distinguished for their religious earnestness, and were nicknamed Methodists. In 1735, he went on a mission to the colony of Georgia, and had for fellow voyagers some members of the Moravian body, whose simple piety made a deep impression on him. And on his return in two years he made acquaintance with a Moravian missionary in London, and was persuaded to a kindred faith; up to this time he had been a High Churchman, but from this time he ceased from all sacerdotalism and became a believer in and a preacher of the immediate connection of the soul with, and its direct dependence upon, God's grace in Christ alone. In this gospel accordingly he went forth and preached in disregard of all mere ecclesiastical authority, riding about from place to place on horseback, and finding wherever he went the people in thousands, in the open air generally, eagerly expectant of his approach, all open-eared to listen to his word. To the working classes his visits were especially welcome, for it was among them they bore most fruit; “The keynote of his ministry he himself gave utterance to when he exclaimed, 'Church or no Church, the people must be saved.'” Saved or Lost? was the one question, and it is the one question of all genuine Methodists to this hour.
Along with William Wilberforce, Wesley spoke out against slavery. Wesley was considered to have been an Arminian.
David Beidel wrote in his article The Bloodless Revolution: What We Need to Learn from John Wesley and the Great Awakening
|“|| In the 18th Century, most of Europe was on fire. Bloody civil wars and revolutions were decimating nation after nation. Unrestrained injustice, government and Church corruption, slave trade and the oppression of the poor created a powder keg for violence. Miraculously, Great Britain escaped the horrors of civil war and the brutal savagery that revolutionary anarchy engenders.
Few ancient monarchies are still in place today. The mystery of the UK’s capacity to honor the old guard, while raising up a more democratic system without a revolution, is a sociological wonder. Many credit the Great Awakening, in particular the Methodist movement, launched by John Wesley, for this extraordinary and peaceful transition.
Methodism unleashed an army of “little Christ’s” all over Europe. They cared for the poor, took in unwanted and abused children, fought unjust laws and labor conditions, visited prisoners, and battled against slavery; They joined hands with the Apostles and “turned the world upside down.” Eventually compassion became fashionable...
America is in desperate need of a Christ-infused revolution of compassion. We are a land of churches, who are well positioned to hear and answer the cries of our struggling communities. If a critical mass of congregations committed themselves to radically sharing the Gospel and passionately serving under-resourced/at-risk communities, we will see peace powerfully rise in these times of trouble. This will also enable, as in the days of John Wesley, wise reformation to take place because the true Christian Church is theologically hardwired to bring about peaceful, meaningful change that benefits all. I have written much about this in my book, Samaria, The Great Omission, and treasure every opportunity to strategize with churches who have a heart to minister in this way.
Let us stand in the gap as cultural/community peacemakers and healers in this season of sorrow and division. May our magnificent obsession be Jesus, the everlasting, ever loving, rescuer of the oppressed and Father of all.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Nuttall Encyclopedia of General Knowledge, article on Wesley, John originally published in 1907 written by Reverend James Wood
- ↑ http://gbgm-umc.org/umw/wesley/wilber.stm
- ↑ http://wesley.nnu.edu/wesleyan_theology/theojrnl/21-25/22-06.htm
- ↑ The Bloodless Revolution: What We Need to Learn from John Wesley and the Great Awakening by David Beidel