The Primacy of the Holy Spirit in the Soteriology and Doctrine of Grace of John Wesley & Contemporary Approaches to Wesleyan Soteriology

The Primacy of the Holy Spirit in the Soteriology and Doctrine of Grace of John Wesley & Contemporary Approaches to Wesleyan Soteriology

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I. Introduction
As the title proclaims, grace is not a static concept or materialized in order to maintain the existing state or form of that which it inhabits. In his Instructions for Children, John Wesley defined grace as “the power of the Holy Spirit, enabling us to behave and love and serve God.” We learn from Wesley that where we find the Holy Spirit there is also Christ and that it is the Holy Spirit that brings forth our faith in Christ and the Holy Spirit is the divine agent that saves us from perpetuating sin in the world. Therefore, in order to understand what it means to experience grace and salvation in the theology of John Wesley, this respective discourse must privilege Spirit talk with the pneumatological assumption that grace is both the gift and evidence of the divine activity of the Spirit at work in humanity.
The objective of this work is to describe Wesley’s understanding of grace and salvation as derivative of his engagement with both Western and Eastern theological anthropology and pneumatology. By identifying the influence of scholars such as Jacobus Arminius, Jeremy Taylor, Thomas à Kempis, and William Law, this work will also note the ways in which Wesley’s doctrine of grace and salvation is more fully consummated in his engagement with the African and Greek Christian traditions represented in the work of the Cappadocians, St. Macarius of Egypt, and Ephrem Syrus. We can attribute the optimism in Wesley’s theological anthropology to these sources as well his understanding of the Spirit as both a generative force that is active in the creation of humanity as well as a regenerative force active in the Christ event and in the re-creation of humanity in communion with God. The second objective of this wo...


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...tion in Pseudo-Macarius and John Wesley”Pacifica 11 (February 1998) 54-62
John Wesley, The Means of Grace, 2:1
Ibid. 2:6-7
Ibid.5:4
John D. Zizioulas, Being in Communion: Studies in Personhood and the Church (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Press, 1985) 18
Ibid. 19
Ibid. 20-21
Ibid, 22
Ted A. Campbell, “Methodist Ecclesiologies and Methodist Sacred Spaces,” in Orthodox and Wesleyan Ecclesiology edited by S.T. Kimbrough (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2007) 218;
John Wesley, Works of John Wesley, 18: 537
Ibid, 20:321
Cf. Zizioulas, Being as Communion, 220 as the author describes the ‘relational reality of the church’ as being a manifestation of the trinitarian God. Here, I am drawing continuity between Zizioulas’ description and how Wesley refers to the transformation of the believer because of his or her new birth in the Spirit.

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