Development of John Wesley's Theology Essays

1621 Words Sep 13th, 2010 7 Pages
The Development of John Wesley’s Theology
John Wesley deserved to receive the doctoral robe offered by Marin Luther as he successfully reconciled “salvation by faith alone” with “faith without works is dead.” A review of the key events in Wesley’s life and his developing thoughts indicates that it was a process that took a lifetime to achieve. Thus, I am left to wonder whether a doctoral robe would be sufficient recognition for such a monumental achievement.
To properly address this issue, a survey of Wesley’s theological formation is in order. Wesley’s journals suggest that he was tossed “by the winds of doctrine” to and fro as he sought to understand what one must do to be saved: Is one saved by “faith alone,” “works alone,” or
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. . .” (Id.) Accordingly, Wesley determined that his inner spiritual life was of supreme importance and seemingly accepted that “faith without works is dead.” Wesley's experience of the Moravians during his fateful visit to Georgia and upon his return to England marked a key turning point in Wesley’s understanding of faith. During a terrible storm at sea, Wesley observed that the Moravians set calmly singing and praying while Wesley was in fear for his life. Wesley was surprised to learn that the Moravians were not afraid of dying. Thus, he concluded that he was not yet saved: “I went to America to convert the Indians but, oh, who shall convert me?” (John Wesley, p. 44). Wesley arrived back in England a spiritual mess. He had been unsuccessful in accomplishing the goals of his ministry and had been forced to leave Georgia under legal duress.
It was at this spiritual low point that a Moravian priest, Peter Bohler, found Wesley. Seeking spiritual direction, Wesley consulted with Bohler who recognized Wesley's misconception of faith as an intellectual assent to truth. Bowler eventually convince Wesley that faith meant a sure sense of confidence in salvation, demonstrated