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.
John Wesley summarised Methodism’s mission as spreading ‘scriptural holiness’. This article argues that the praxis of social justice as an expression of holiness is integral to the mission of the Church. The following themes from Wesley’s theology are examined: holiness as love; ‘justice, mercy, and truth’; social holiness; works of mercy as a means of grace; stewardship, and ‘the outcasts of men’. It argues that the praxis of justice, mercy and truth is integral to holiness and hence to mission of the Church. A contextualisation of this theme in the context of secularisation and migration is then developed.
After addressing the teaching and learning context in which contemporary theology exists, this article seeks to address contemporary Methodism and Methodist theology. Drawing on Scripture and theologians, it is argued that the Church is a creation of the Holy Spirit, and knows itself as such not only as it is created intensely so by an event of the Spirit of God, but also that the purpose of this intensive indwelling work of the Holy Spirit is to push the Church beyond its boundaries and orientate it onto the world. In light of this, seven motifs are identified for a theology which seeks to serve the Church.
Lectio continua – preaching through a single biblical book – tends to be less prominent in British Methodism than following a lectionary or a thematic series. In a context of declining biblical literacy, however, lectio continua is a fruitful way of encouraging engagement with Scripture. Following a discussion of the challenges of biblical illiteracy, this article argues that lectio continua can promote biblical literacy through its focus on whole books of Scripture, its consideration of the context of biblical passages, and its invitation to close readings of biblical texts – all key skills for reading the Bible well. A case study demonstrates how such an approach could be applied to preaching through 1 John.
While ‘Mission in Britain today’ includes many aspects, this article focuses on the witness of the Church within Britain’s contemporary highly secularized culture. Rather than ‘technical change’, the Church is called to work at ‘adaptive change’, and so to concentrate less on strategies and more on internal renewal. Such adaptive change involves freeing people’s imagination from simplistic and abusive images of God, offering a positive image of God that is inspiring and truly challenging, recognizing the kenotic nature of the Church, and realizing that mission is carried out in a world of grace where God is already present and working
The Mission-Shaped Church report by the Church of England prompted the Methodist Church and the Church of England in the UK to respond to the dislocation being felt between the inherited model of church and the missiological challenges of the twenty-first century. The most significant ecumenical development arising from the report was the formation of the Fresh Expressions initiative, whose sole task was to release leaders and communities to found churches for the ‘unchurched’.
Examples of Anglican fresh expressions are much researched, but Methodist contributions less so. This essay argues that Methodist people, as people of a holiness movement of mission and ministry, have much to offer to the current ecclesial debate. There is a need for fresh expressions to be denominationally distinctive before they can be distilled into something new.
This article aims to explore the significance of embodiment, sacrament and ritual in urban pioneer ministry. Stemming from early experiences working within this context and from a particular experience of using installation art to help engage those outside the Church with its rituals and stories, I argue for the importance of the embodied experience within a particular place as a means of engagement. The literature surveyed makes the case for a broad understanding of the sacramental in which all material things have sacramental potential. The differing influences of theology and social anthropology upon the literature offer distinct perspectives on the drawing of boundaries in relation to sacrament and ritual, and on how meaning is made from experience in the light of prior knowledge and understanding of the Christian tradition.
This paper aims to shed light on the ways in which politics can be a site of temptation for Christians. In the first part, it explores the circumstances in which John Milton wrote Paradise Regained, printed in 1671. The poem may be understood, in part, as Milton’s reflection on the failed politics of the Republic in which he had played a leading role as a civil servant and one of the Republic’s chief propagandists. The second part of the argument offers a reading of Milton’s poetic account of the story of Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness, which interprets Jesus’ temptations politically as a series of attempts by Satan to deflect Jesus’ messianic identity, revealed at his Baptism, from its true course.