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An International Journal of Wesleyan Theology

Abstract

This article addresses the relationship between experience and belief, focusing on the role of science in the debate between secular Humanism and Christianity. It suggests that the possibility of appropriating experience to belief – taking action to bring experience into line with belief – distinguishes spiritual belief from systematic belief (in which the object is independent of beliefs about it); but that the boundary between these two forms of belief is itself a matter of (metaphysical) belief. Understanding science and religion, Humanism and Christianity in relationship to systematic and spiritual belief-structures helps to bring clarity to the debate.

Abstract

Many of the sixteenth-century Reformers were pastors before being anything else. Despite this, it can be easy for us to miss the extent to which practices of piety dominated their personal and theological lives. In this article we will briefly detail the emphasis early Reformed authors placed on piety and pastoral care. We will identify this trait in the works of Ursinus and Bullinger, after which we will focus specifically on Calvin's treatise On the Christian Life.

Abstract

This article addresses the important elements of presence and power in the pastoral supervisory relationship. It is based on qualitative research, which used a questionnaire methodology with six Methodist ministers, all of whom had taken part in group pastoral supervision for a period of two years. The aim of this research was to gain insight into their experience of the supervisory process. The article explores how an open, authentic and trusting environment can be created within the pastoral supervisory relationship that has regenerative and healing potential, whereby ministers will be better able to face the challenges of ministry. It contends there is a need for well-qualified, skilled and spiritually sensitive supervisory support for ministers. Such pastoral supervisors will understand the dynamics of power and presence to create a sacred space for ministers to ‘come apart and reflect a while’. This covenant relationship creates transformational possibilities for those who commit to the journey.

Abstract

This article examines the origins and development of bilateral theological dialogue between Methodists and Roman Catholics at a world level since it commenced in 1967 as a result of the Second Vatican Council. In taking stock of the dialogue, consideration is given to what has been achieved in successive phases during the past fifty years. A number of theological issues are identified as requiring further dialogue. The article concludes by outlining the present agenda of the international Methodist–Roman Catholic dialogue commission and briefly considering the future prospects for theological dialogue at a world level in the context of contemporary ecumenism.

Abstract

In Romans 4:13, Paul characterizes God's promise to Abraham as the inheritance of the world. This promise, Paul argues, extends to Abraham's descendants, not according to the flesh, but to all who believe in the one who raised Jesus from the dead (Rom 4:25). What does it mean for believers to be heirs of God's promise to ‘inherit the world’? This article considers God's promise in light of the apostle's confidence in the reconciliation of the whole world and the renewal of creation, and also in the context of the hymns and sermons of Charles and John Wesley. The promise to inherit the world indicates that God has not abandoned God's creation, but is actively engaged in redeeming it. This article was originally presented as a paper at the 2018 Oxford Institute of Methodist Theological Studies.

Abstract

John Wesley considered the slave trade to be a national disgrace. However, while the American Methodist Church had initially made bold declarations concerning the evils of slavery, the practical application of this principled opposition was seriously compromised, obstructed by the leviathan of the plantation economy prominent in this period of American history. This paper surveys a variety of Methodist responses to slavery and race, exploring the dialectical germination of ideas like holiness, liberty and equality within the realities of the Antebellum context.

Abstract

Research has shown that while humans around the world hold various emotions in common with one another – sadness, happiness, fear and anger – the expression of these emotions can look different depending on the culture. This article explores the different expressions of ‘struggle’ that arise when a person experiences ‘culture shock’ or ‘culture stress’ due to life in a cross-cultural context. The article argues that in the increasingly international context of higher education, urgent attention needs to be given to these different cultural expressions of struggle, in order to better understand students’ experiences and provide effective coping strategies. Richard Lewis's cultural model is developed for use in this context.

Abstract

Wesley's Christology has been critiqued as inadequate and potentially unorthodox in a variety of ways, some of them contradictory. The most telling critical analysis has been by John Deschner (1960, 1985, 1988) using Reformed christological categories in his research supervised by Karl Barth. While affirming the Methodist emphases on ‘the whole Christ’ and ‘the present Christ’ in soteriological perspective, he also asks pressing questions about how Wesleyan theology can resolve apparent tensions between Christ and the law, and how it can better express the wholeness of Christ, moving beyond individual soteriology towards a more comprehensive vision of ecclesial wholeness and the wholeness of the human community. Wesleyan theologians have in turn responded to these questions in a range of ways, with varying success. What are the parameters and prospects for Wesleyan Christology in the light of this debate, and how does this relate to the contemporary missiological context?

Abstract

This article seeks to demonstrate Martin Luther's often-overlooked credentials as a musician. Luther was convinced that music was the viva voce evangelii (living voice of the gospel), and unlike other more radical Reformation movements, he encouraged the use of choral and congregational singing in worship. Some of his familiar hymns – Nun freut euch, Ein’ feste Burg and Aus tiefer Not – offer insights into his ambitions to embed congregational singing into his vision of reformed worship, which went hand in hand with liturgical reform. Luther's Formula Missae and the vernacular Deutsche Messe lay the groundwork for Lutheran worship, which restructured the service around the centrality of the gospel proclamation. Luther's musical tradition reached its zenith in the work of J. S. Bach, which continues to echo in the Western musical canon, leaving Luther with a lasting musical legacy.