A Historical Survey of Methodist Preaching

Authored by: John Munsey Turner

The Ashgate Research Companion to World Methodism

Print publication date:  February  2013
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9781409401384
eBook ISBN: 9781315613789
Adobe ISBN: 9781317040996


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Recently the transatlantic Evangelical Revival has come into the centre of research. It was well under way before John and Charles Wesley began their ‘second journey’ in May 1738. 1 1

G. O’Collins, The Second Journey (London: Paulist Press, 1987), 21ff.

The Revival in Europe and America had a fascinating ‘network’ of styles. 2 2

W. R. Ward, The Protestant Evangelical Awakening (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992 ).

Professor David Bebbington 3 3

D. W. Bebbington, Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s (London: Unwin Hyman, 1989), 15–17; John Walsh, ‘Methodism and the Origins of English-Speaking Evangelicalism’, in Mark Noll, David Bebbington and George Rawlyk (eds), Evangelicalism 1700–1900 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994).

sets out a ‘quadrilateral’ which can be applied across the rift between the ‘Arminians of the heart’ – the Wesleys and John Fletcher – and the ‘Calvinists of the heart’, like George Whitefield and, later, the Countess of Huntingdon. New birth or conversion was an ever-present focal point. This was the ‘religion of the heart’. Activism was a second characteristic leading to evangelism, missionary endeavour and social action, not least the campaign against slavery. The third feature was a fervent preaching of the cross as the heart of devotion with, fourthly, a stress on the Bible as the final authority. John Wesley said that he was ‘a man of one book’ but that did not imply that the Bible alone mattered. In his advice to preachers the Bible was the source of authority and teaching, endorsed by tradition, not contradicted by reason and confirmed by experience in the fullest sense. 4 4

Scott J. Jones, John Wesley’s Conception and Use of Scripture (Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1995); Richard Heitzenrater, ‘John Wesley’s Principles and Practice of Preaching’, in R. Sykes (ed.), Beyond the Boundaries: Preaching in the Wesleyan Tradition (Oxford: Applied Theology Press, 1998).

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