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John Wesley’s Values- and Ours



This book evolved from a much simpler series of talks given to a large elective study class at Church Street United Methodist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee during the summer of 2009. It centers on what and how John Wesley valued, and on how Wesley’s insights can help us develop and sustain a profound spirituality for today. After briefly explaining the theory of value developed by Robert S. Hartman who identified three dimensions of goodness (intrinsic, extrinsic, and systemic) and applying it to Christianity in general, it is then applied to John Wesley. God is the supreme good, people in God’s image come next, and animals, who share most but not all of that image, come next. A chapter on extrinsic goodness shows how Wesley positively valued the things of the world, including human bodies and the necessities of life, without overvaluing them. The dangers of overvaluing the world are thoroughly explored. A chapter on systemic goodness shows how Wesley highly valued beliefs, laws, rituals, and religious formalities without overvaluing them. Wesley valued them less than the realities to which they refer. His theology requires a three-dimensional understanding of faith, and he applied a hermeneutics of love and reason to interpreting the scriptures. A chapter on Christian saintliness explores the spiritually advanced values and virtues of converts on the sanctification road, specifically love (its nature and scope), compassion, the spiritual sense of God’s presence, power over sin, religious affections like assurance, peace, and joy, and an enhanced discernment of good and evil, right and wrong. Advanced saintliness requires the fullest possible personal development, by the grace of God, in all three dimensions of value; and such a life is the most abundant life imaginable, a life filled with every kind of goodness, a life richest in good-making properties.


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