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Oden on Wesley
on December 25, 2012
Thomas Oden has long been known for his work in Systematic Theology, particularly in his interests in patristics and desire to ground evangelical theology in the theology of the early church showing their compatibility. Oden himself hails from a Methodist background and so the teachings of John Wesley form an important component of his thought. Wesley is no doubt an important figure in evangelicalism who is responsible for both good and bad things seen in evangelicalism today. While I write this review from a Reformed background, and thus disagree with many of Wesley's perspectives, nevertheless, these volumes by Oden are very helpful for understanding the teachings of Wesley.
Oden does a good job of taking the reader through the various elements of Wesley's theology culled from his sermons and other writings to give a systematic introduction. The reader will be impressed by the depth of thought contained in Wesley's writings and the catholic nature of much of his thought. He was a man of his time and his influences are obvious in some ways but Wesley still taught much that was clearly basic to Christian orthodoxy.
The first volume that Oden has provided covers such theological topics as revelation, Scripture, the doctrine of God, providence, creation, and man in sin. The second volume deals more in-depth with the work of Christ and his salvation applied to the believer. Oden's work is quite scholarly interacting with other Wesleyan scholars. Oden desires to read Wesley as a man of his own time and avoids anachronistic readings of Wesley that promote various new theologies such as liberation theology or feminism.
Wesley is seen to be what you might expect. An Anglican with strong heritage in English theology, the theology of the early church, and influences from Arminius. Oden's work helps one to understand how Wesley taught and what he taught to those whom he preached in England, Scotland, and America. This is a first-rate work of historical theology focusing on the teachings of John Wesley with a view towards their application today.
Thank you to Zondervan for providing me with a review copy!