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Recapturing the Wesleys' Vision: An Introduction to the Faith of John and Charles Wesley Paperback – January 28, 2004
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A challenging but manageable book, which many fellowship groups ought to obtain and make a mirror of self-examination. (David Tripp, Rolling Prairie United Methodist Church, Rolling Prairie, Indiana, Sacramental Life, Spring 2007)
"Paul Chilcote writes a highly readable book that focuses and synthesizes the essence of Wesleyan theology. He presents experiences of the Christian life--including personal and social salvation, a person's inner relationship with God and the rituals of the church, and a renewed heart and outward good works--to demonstrate that they are not opposed to each other but are complementary for a mature faith in Christian community. Sermons of John Wesley and hymns of his brother, Charles, provide examples and grounding for Chilcote's themes. Questions at the end of each chapter make this an excellent individual or small group study resource. Both laypersons and professionals in the church who seek to get to the heart of Wesleyan theology--and their own--will find this book useful." (Rosemary Keller, Academic Dean and Professor of Church History, Union Theological Seminary)
"Paul Chilcote provides significant insight into the 'creative tensions' that existed in the theology of John and Charles Wesley and which often occur in the church of today. The Wesleys skillfully taught and lived a 'both/and' approach rather than an 'either-or' approach to the issues of faith vs. works, personal vs. social holiness, religion of the heart vs. religion of the head, acts of piety vs. acts of mercy, etc. This book brings to life the Wesleyan genius which strikes a balance between these potentially divisive points. Readers will understand why the Wesleyan movement is alive and growing worldwide today!" (Dr. George H. Freeman, General Secretary, World Methodist Council)
"Paul Chilcote has given us a wonderfully symmetrical introduction to the Wesleys' theology. Anyone interested in discovering or rediscovering the theology that shaped the heart of the movement known as Methodism would benefit greatly from this clearly written, lively and balanced book. Chilcote covers all the essential themes with grace and brevity. Recapturing the Wesleys' Vision is not only an excellent reminder of what Wesleyan theology was in the past, it is also a powerful plea for embracing the Wesleys' vision of the Christian faith as a reliable guide into the future." (Kenneth W. Brewer, Assistant Professor of Religion, Spring Arbor University)
"Recapturing the Wesleys' Vision intentionally focuses on the truths of both Christianity and the life of Christians within the context of the central gospel message of the love of God. This book well develops the Wesleys' grand vision of the Christian life lived within a knowledge of God in Christ, and challenges the believer dynamically and creatively to live out the truths of that knowledge in an active faith. Here is indeed a masterful and compelling book by Paul Chilcote, building on his previous studies of the Wesleyan tradition and basing his writing on the Scriptures and on key Wesleyan texts. This work encourages the reader to embrace the Wesleyan balance of knowledge and vital piety, and makes readily available the joy of doing so." (Roger J. Green, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of Biblical and Theological Studies, Terrelle B. Crum Chair of Humanities, Gordon College, Wenham, Massachusetts)
"John Wesley and his brother Charles are often portrayed as a kind of footnote in church history, representatives of an overly emotional religion that came along to counterbalance the excesses of dry, Protestant scholasticism. Paul Chilcote blows open this pigeonholing by showing the depth and balance of the Wesleys' theological apprehension of the gospel. This book will help a new generation of Christians appreciate the power and scope of that often underrepresented side of the Christian tradition, where human freedom is taken seriously as God's initiating grace is celebrated." (Gregory S. Clapper, Professor of Religion and Philosophy, The University of Indianapolis, and Lecturer in United Methodist Studies, Christian Theological Seminary)
"Paul Chilcote has given us a readable and inspiring introduction to the heart of the Wesleyan vision. His account of the Wesley brothers' 'both/and' approach to theology and practice has direct implications for the contemporary church. This book will not only inform but enable readers themselves to be drawn closer to God and neighbor and to grow in God's love." (Henry H. Knight III, E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism, Saint Paul School of Theology)
"This is an excellent introduction to the theological convictions and spiritual emphases of John and Charles Wesley. Chilcote captures faithfully the deep concern of the Wesley brothers to hold together dimensions of Christian faith and practice that are all too often cast in opposition, and he presents it in very accessible form. There is no better starting place for those who have been reminded by recent anniversary celebrations of the vital contributions of the Wesleys to begin to explore the beliefs and practices that undergirded their ministry." (Randy L. Maddox, Ph.D., Paul T. Walls Professor of Wesleyan Theology, Seattle Pacific University)
About the Author
Paul Wesley Chilcote (M.Div., Ph.D., Duke University) is Visiting Professor of the Practice of Evangelism at Duke University. He previously taught at Africa University (Mutare, Africa), Asbury Theological Seminary (Florida), Wesley College (Bristol, UK) and the Methodist Theological School (Ohio).
A clergy member of the North Indiana Methodist Church Conference, Chilcote has served parishes in both North Carolina and Indiana and has been active in global Methodism through his work with the World Methodist Council sponsored Oxford Institute of Methodist Theological Studies and the global Theological Education Committee. With his wife he served as a United Methodist missionary in Limuru, Kenya. He co-chairs the World Methodist Council/Salvation Army Dialogue, serves on the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America/United Methodist Church Bilateral Dialogue and is a Benedictine Oblate of Mt. Angel Abbey in Oregon. He serves as president of The Charles Wesley Society.
Chilcote is the author of Praying in the Wesleyan Spirit (Upper Room Books, 2001), Her Own Story: Autobiographical Portraits of Early Methodist Women (Abingdon, 2002), Recapturing the Wesleys' Vision (IVP, 2004), Changed from Glory into Glory: Wesleyan Prayer for Transformation (Upper Room Books, 2005), Wesley Speaks on Christian Vocation (Discipleship Resources, 1986), John Wesley and the Women Preachers of Early Methodism (Scarecrow Press, 1991), She Offered Them Christ (Abingdon, 1993; Spanish translation, 1995) and An African Journal of Hope (GBGM, 1998). Chilcote also serves as a unit editor for the definitive edition of The Works of John Wesley, having responsibility (with Randy Maddox) for volumes 12 and 13 on doctrine and theology.
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He has been able to recover the both/and in the theologies of John and Charles Wesley. In other words, there are many places in which Wesley keeps differing concepts in tension, but holds them together. This tension or both/and is what makes Wesley unique and so deep as a theologian who has a lot to say about our theological thinking today.
So often in the past Wesley has been explored to find only one of the poles and written as if he were only thinking about one, rather than doing the work necessary to find that Wesley realy is holding concepts in tension and a creative tension at that.
This is a solid work that should be kept close at hand for the scholar.
J. Robert Ewbank, author "John Wesley, Natural Man, and the 'Isms'"
Chilcote identifies four characteristics of Christian discipleship in which the Wesley's sought to restore balance:
1. The Message (Kerygma)
2. The Community (Koinonia)
3. The Discipline (Paideia)
4. The Servanthood (Diakonia)
Each of the four characteristics are broken down into two complementary parts. For example, The Message is composed of Free Grace and Inclusive Love. Within the proclamation of free grace the Wesleys sought to maintain a balance between faith and works. Within the preaching of God's inclusive love they sought a balance between word and Spirit.
Seeking to find and maintain balance between seemingly opposing ideas is one of the important hallmarks of Wesleyan theology and practice. Chilcote says "This synthetic or conjunctive approach is one of the most relevant aspects of Wesleyan theology for the contemporary church. I describe this approach as synthetic because it attempts to find a third alternative to opposing points of view that often tear people apart. This does not mean that you compromise the truth in order to walk an easier middle ground that is offensive to none; rather it means holding on to the truth you find on the left hand and on the right. This Wesleyan method can also be called conjunctive (as opposed to disjunctive) because it seeks to join things together, rather than permitting them to be pulled apart" (page 16). Given these polarized times in both The United Methodist Church and the world, in which either/or thinking seems to be the norm, Chilcote helps all who claim to live within the Wesleyan family of the Church that such behavior is contrary to their tradition. Professor Chilcote reminds us that the Wesley's consistently struggled to hold such things as faith & works, personal piety & social justice, heart & head, Christ & culture, and piety & mercy together rather than viewing them as in opposition to one another. When such balance is forsaken for the sake of gaining power or winning an argument, the church does damage to its relationship with Christ and its witness in the world.
Chilcote summarizes the Wesley's approach to Christian faith and life:
"Everything begins with the message (kerygma) of God's good news in Jesus Christ, the story of his death and resurrection. The experience of the gospel immediately draws us into a community (koinonia) where we can learn how to love. In the context of this new family, those who learn of Chirst receive the discipline (paideia) that is necessary for them to be nourished and grow in their faith. All Christians, however, find their ultimate purpose in servanthood (diakonia). Just as in Jesus' image of the vine and the branches (John 15), we are gathered together to learn how to love and are then sent out into the world to share that love with others. Or to use another familiar image, think for a moment about a whell and the forces that make it spin. The centripetal force, which persistently draws in toward the hub, is joined with an opposing centrifugal force that thrusts out toward the rim. The wheel of the Christian life turns as we are both centered in Jesus and sent in his name into the world in mission. You need both forces in your discipleship in you are going to live out an abundant life in Christ" (page 21).
This little volume (only 125 pages) needs to be required reading for all pastors and leaders, both lay and clergy, in The United Methodist Church. The end of each chapter includes pertinent quotations from Scripture and both John and Charles Wesley along with questions for personal or small group reflection and discussion. Paul Chilcote has given the people who claim the Wesleyan tradition as their home another wonderful gift. I pray that we will read, study, and learn from this gifted teacher.
Most recent customer reviews
Using written word and song is really great in understanding the Weslian Vision