1. Methodists Explore the Nature of Enthusiasm
2. Are Methodists problem gamblers at heart?
3. Methodists Prick for a Verse and Discover a Po!
4. John Wesley's sermon on free will and strange attractors
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What sort of person is a Methodist?
Keith Rowe writes
“A Methodist is one who has the love of God shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost given unto him, one who loves the Lord his God with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his mind, and with all his strength. God is the joy of his heart and the desire of his soul, which is constantly crying out “Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee! My God and my all! Thou art the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.” So wrote John Wesley in The Character of a Methodist. Methodism without Wesley would be as hard to imagine as Lutherans without Luther, Presbyterians without Calvin or, Fransiscans without St Francis. His life and work was the seed from which we grew and his example and theology remain as a rich source of inspiration and challenge.
By any account, Wesley was a most remarkable man. Historians agree that he was among the most significant characters of 18th century English life. Born in 1703 and dying in 1791 his life spanned the century. If at the beginning of his work he was mistrusted by Church leaders and others, by his death he had become a widely respected person. At his death one newspaper wrote “Whatever may be the opinions held of his inspiration it is impossible to deny him the merit of having done infinite good to the lower classes of the people”.
In a time of great social and economic change he helped people find a stability of life which was grounded in the love of God sustained in worship and Christian fellowship, and expressed in love for neighbour.
Wesley did not have answers to every problem of his age and we will not find his solutions always relevant to our age. Sometimes Methodists have lapsed into a form of Wesley hero worship, at other times they have tended to ignore him. A more fruitful response to Wesley is to enter into conversation with him, allowing his views and actions to challenge us and to tease us into new ways of responding to God in our day. Those who make the effort will find Wesley to be a most stimulating conversation partner. His attraction lies in large part in his sheer humanity. Faith did not always come easy to him, and his spiritual journey had its ups and downs.
A Conservative in politics he yet unleashed a movement which has had its radical edge. For all his personal charm he entered into an unhappy marriage. Though claiming to be a faithful priest of the Church of England, the movement he founded split from that church, soon after his death.
In honouring Wesley, we honour every Christian who with all his/her human frailties has sought to serve God honestly and faithfully.
Links to NZ Methodist history/theology resources
Go to the John Kinder Library online church newspapers out of print will also take you to the Outlook, the Methodist and Presbyterian newspaper in the colonial period.
The best freebie in New Zealand Methodism: a very high quality PDF reproduction of William Morley's History of New Zealand.
Go to Sung and Unsung Personalities by Rev Donald Phillipps, Rev Dr Susan thompson, Rev Dr David Bell
Go to Rev Dr James Stuart, video and associated resources, including links to the John Wesley Code Study Guide, PGPL