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John Wesley (Biography) Paperback – April 17, 2003


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Paperback, April 17, 2003
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Product Details

  • Series: Biography
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Lion Books (April 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745950787
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745950785
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,167,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The tricentenary of the birth of Methodism's founder could bring no finer introduction to his life and work than Tomkins' synthetic biography. Drawing upon the best previous biographies, Wesley's letters and published journal, and the writings of Wesley's closest associates, Tomkins presents a keenly engaging portrait of a great man full of contradictoriness. Wesley (1703-91) insisted he was loyal to the Church of England yet consented to his followers setting up establishments and engaging in practices that flouted Anglican authority. Perhaps he just didn't see himself as a leader, in which case it is odd that Methodism was legally a sole proprietorship for most of his life; there were frequent general conferences, but Wesley held the purse strings and organizational reins. He was no hypocrite, especially about money; he allowed himself only the meagerest of livings, giving the rest of what became substantial earnings to evangelism and the poor, and preaching to the end against wealth. His steadfastness against riches stands in stark contrast, however, to his stance about marriage, which vacillated between affirming celibacy and approving conjugality. Of course, his relations with women and his late marriage were fraught with ambivalence and misunderstanding. For all of his Janus-like behavior, he altered the face of Christianity in the West by inspiring modern evangelicalism and Pentecostalism. A fascinating figure, fascinatingly limned. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

STEPHEN TOMKINS has a PhD in Church History from London Bible College. He is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to the Ship of Fools website and Christian History Institute in the USA.

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78 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan A Blevins on June 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is not the type of Christian biography I generally care for. The facts are all there (I hope), but the author's psycho-analytical comments on Wesley's relationships with women and subtle (and often not-so-subtle) mocking of John Wesley's characteristics, beliefs, choices and friends served to undermine the historical narrative rather than to support it. I hesitated in giving this book a 3-star rating, because it is (sadly) the best biography currently available on John Wesley. To that end, if you are primarily interested in his life and the origins of the Methodist church, then you could consider this a 4 1/2-star book instead. However, if you are interested in Christian biography for the sake of strengthening both your understanding and your spiritual fervor, this may not be the book for you. I'd like to comment briefly on the distinctive areas that comprise (in my opinion) a good Christian biography.

1) Historical Accuracy: As far as I can tell, the book sticks to the facts fairly well. If you have read Dallimore's biography of George Whitefield, you will notice that Tomkins' treatment of figures other than Wesley himself is somewhat lacking, but it is not the facts that cause the lack in this book. History-buffs will find what they are looking for here as long as they can distinguish between 21st century commentary and the true historical account. If anything, no one could accuse this biographer of candy-coating Wesley's life.

2) Spiritual Character Development: Do we get to see into Wesley's heart and glimpse the passion for God that drove him forward? At times you almost feel like the writer has accomplished this, but he quickly follows it up with discouraging, mildly-sarcastic statements that tear that feeling away from you.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Wale Adeniyi on July 20, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wanted a thorough insight into the doctrines and life of the John Wesley, the great English man, and founder of the Methodist Church. I wanted it presented through a very objective pair of lenses. In choosing to read about Wesley, I recognized that history already passed its judgment on him, I sought only to examine the facts on which this judgment is based.

In selecting a biography, I pointedly tried to avoid biographies from star struck fans of Wesley who could fall into the temptation of purging their subject of the many human foibles that make extra-ordinary lives attractive to me. I definitely wanted to stay away from those hacks who feel a deep duty to cut greatness to size, and dampen the auspicious aura that history casts on the present with their irreverent pen. After carefully reviewing many, I decided that ROY HATTERSLEY's "John Wesley: A brand from the Burning" fell in the later category, and Paul Wesley's "Recapturing the Wesleys' Vision: An Introduction to the Faith of John and Charles Wesley" may fall too far into the later rank. Stephen Tomkin's John Wesley: A Biography was my unfortunate choice.

John Wesley - A Biography comes across more as a critique of Wesley's life than a biography. The book provides a lot of information in its two hundred pages; only, the information is time after time introduced merely as prelude to many scathing psychoanalysis of the man. Mr. Tomkins seems to prod into his subject's mind (centuries after the fact) for the singular purpose of finding reasons to question the motives behind many of the decisions taken by Wesley (see what the writer wrote about Wesley's ability to distinguish between biography and hagiography in Chapter Seven: The Wilderness Georgia, as one example in a book froth with cynical editorializing.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By K. Jump on January 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
Stephen Tomkins has written a highly engaging and thoroughly informative book that shines a shimmering spotlight on the man who was the founder of Methodism and one of the greatest religious reformers in Western history. Linear, concise, and lively, Tomkins's book takes the reader from Wesley's fiery near-death as a child through his formulation of a stringent code of self-discipline (which, strict as it was, failed to protect Wesley from a string of unfortunate romances) and tireless days and nights of hard riding and preaching through his death and far-reaching influence. The Wesley who emerges is a fascinating individual, flawed as all men inevitably are but one who answered the unique call God had upon his life with an admirable resolve. Tomkins has a clear command of the facts and his analysis is uniformly logical and not without humor. Highly recommended not only to Methodists but to any student of Christian history.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nathan R. Knowles on January 9, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
John Wesley's whole life is on display, from his time at Oxford to his marriage later in life.

You will learn about his friendship with george whitefield, the sermons he preached, the passion he displayed, his missionary work in the usa with his brother, and his evangelistic preaching in his homeland by horseback in britian.

A Must get for the bible school student.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By K. Burkhardt on August 29, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Used this book for a class on John Wesley. The author had some good information, but makes reference to modern things such as a Toronto incident, without explaining what it was. If using this book, you have to be ready to do a lot of supplimental research. Also, the author refers to Wesley's wife as Molly, yet every other biography, as well as Wesley's journals, refer to her as Mary. Tompkins seems to want to make his own twist without doing extensive research or referencing.
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