This paper explores the similarities and dissimilarities between the psychological type and temperament profiles of Methodist local preachers and Methodist circuit ministers in the British Methodist Church. New data provided by 80 male and 62 female local preachers who completed the Francis Psychological Type Scales were compared with the profiles of 693 male and 311 female ministers published in 2010. The most important significant difference between the two groups concerns the higher proportions of the Epimethean Temperament (SJ) among both the male (69% compared with 44%) and female (66% compared with 43%) local preachers. The SJ temperament brings a more conservative and conserving approach to ministry.
This article reveals the complex dimensions which make it impossible to speak singularly of ‘the Reformation’. Martin Luther's reforming activity gave rise to conflicting visions of the Church, which are impossible now to resolve. The article traces the trajectory of the English Reformation through the figures of Thomas More and William Tyndale. Although both convinced of the need for reform, More was opposed to Tyndale's approach, which he perceived would lead to the breakdown of order into anarchy. The outworking of this signals the end of Christendom, and has led to continuing mutual incompatibility.
This article explores the connection between social holiness and social justice. It accepts the view of Andrew C Thompson that ‘social holiness’ in Methodist history has a distinctive meaning which was not linked to, and quite different from, the notion of social justice. However, it argues that encountering grace was not restricted to the gathering of Christians in Wesley's theology or practice and that missional engagement opens another channel or means of grace. Acts of mercy are themselves expressions of and encounters with holiness, so that holiness will lead us to justice and justice to holiness. Social holiness and social justice are, thus, part of a divine ecology where one follows the other in the rhythm of discipleship.
This article has been developed from a conversation held and recorded at the Wesley House community in January 2018, as part of its regular Thursday evening Methodist Studies sessions. The session used Roberts’ and Sims’ recently published book Leading by Story to consider how leadership is embodied in ministry. Sharing stories of leadership in Wesley House's cross-cultural community led to significant insights, which arose as one particular leadership story was explored using Roberts’ and Sims’ central concept of ‘curating stories’. This article offers the conversation as a reflective review of the book. Staff, students and friends of Wesley House present at the conversation represented many different contexts, including Methodist churches in the USA, Britain, Fiji, Hong Kong, Kenya, South Korea and Zambia.
Leading by Story: Rethinking Church Leadership, Vaughan S. Roberts and David Sims (London: SCM Press, 2017), 256 pp, £25.00 pbk
The following article was delivered as the annual lecture of the Methodist Sacramental Fellowship at the 2016 Methodist Conference in London. Beginning with the original context of John Wesley's well-known phrase, ‘the world as my parish’, this article explores the digital aspects of our global parish today. Putting the digital age on the agenda of the Church's mission is seen as a similar response to Wesley's decision to become ‘more vile’ and enter the world of field preaching. The lecture concludes by offering a fresh approach to Methodist identity magnified by aspects of digital culture, calling for the creation of digital Arminianism, digital field preaching, digital creativity and, ultimately, a digital parish. The article proposes that Methodism embrace a digital social holiness to spread scriptural holiness throughout the geographic and digital landscape.
This article examines Karl Barth's earliest engagements with Pietism, rationalism and liberal Protestantism against the backdrop of the theologies of Albrecht Ritschl and Wilhelm Herrmann. The analysis then follows Barth through his rejection of liberal theology and his development of a dialectical theology over against Wilhelm Herrmann and with particular reference to Martin Luther's theologia crucis. The article concludes by examining Barth's comments on religious experience to a group of Methodist pastors in Switzerland in 1961.
The concept of ‘sin’ is rarely expressed in today's popular culture. When the word does appear it is frequently in ironic quotation marks and often used in terms of ‘naughty but nice’, minor misdemeanours, something disapproved of, an outmoded Catholic shame culture, Islamic oppression or fundamentalist extremism. Rarely is it used in the way the Church understands it. By analysing the use of the word in recent news reports and examining its use and absence across the range of twenty-first-century media, this study draws some conclusions about how UK secular society understands the word. It then goes on to explore how some twentieth-century cultural changes have impacted on its understanding, and concludes with some observations on how twenty-first-century Western culture still senses the underlying problem and yearns for a way to express it.
This is a transcript of the 2016 Fernley-Hartley Lecture, which was delivered during the 2016 British Methodist Conference at the Lambeth Mission, London, and is published here with acknowledgement to the Fernley-Hartley Trust. It stands largely unchanged from its first delivery in the hope that the texture and tone of the lecture might also be retained. The article argues that answering the questions ‘Why four Gospels?’ and ‘Why only four?’ provides a clear picture of the character of the gospel of Jesus as ‘the same yet different’, as well as a challenge to today’s Christians to retell the good news in their own contexts with equal or equivalent effect. The article discusses the context in which the four canonical Gospels were recognised, pointing out that the term ‘gospel’ was coined in the process. The distinctive emphases of the Synoptics and John show how the same story can be told differently, an essential restatement of the same message for new and changing audiences.
The article tracks the development of a new ecclesial strapline for the British Methodist Church in the period between 2007 and 2014 and assesses the initial impact of the identity on education and ecumenism. It argues that the theme and practice of holiness has been underplayed and underdeveloped in the discourse to find a fresh expression of Methodism’s calling but that there are surprisingly creative elements latent in the expression, especially in a new era of ecumenical relations.
This article invites reflection on the theological purposes of the education of church leaders. It is conceived as a piece of practical theology that arises from the challenge to the Wesley House Trustees in Cambridge to reconceive and re-articulate their vision for theological education in a time of turbulence and change. I reflect on Wesley House’s inheritance as a community of formation (paideia) and rigorous scholarship (Wissenschaft); and on the opportunities offered for the future of theological education in this context by a serious engagement with both the practices and concepts of phronēsis and poiēsis and a dialogical understanding of biblical wisdom, as Wesley House seeks to offer itself as a cross-cultural community of prayer and study to an international Methodist constituency.