Monday, December 30, 2002

Andrew Wyeth's John Wesley?

Your likening the John Wesley portrait to an Andrew Wyeth painting…

Your likening the John Wesley portrait to an Andrew Wyeth painting really appeals to me! I don't know all that much about Methodism. I know, of course, that John and Charles wrote 8,000–10,000 hymns that are very highly regarded by all Christians, and that Methodism began as a "heart" rather than as a "head" movement. That is to say they weren't frantically writing multiple volumes of theology the way Luther and Calvin were, though the later date of the Wesleyan movement may have been part of the reason for that – being further removed in time from Medieval scholarship. And the possibility of perfection through the work of the Holy Spirit originally was built into Wesleyan theology though it seems as if that's no longer emphasized: in other words, a theology of the "Third Article" (Sanctification) of the Creed rather than of the First Article (Creation) or of the Second Article (Redemption).

I know some Methodists are into glossalalia and they also have a strong tradition of lay testimony and lay preaching. And like the other mainline churches, Methodists in this country (as well as in the UK) have a powerful practice of biblically-based social and political activism.

Maybe I'm mistaken, but when you mention knowing Methodists in the 1940s and 1950s, do you think you were old enough and aware enough of religious styles to be able to discern all that much about Methodism? "…serious, sober sided, self disciplined, examples of the Protestant work ethic." With this I agree, though a lot of that "Protestant work ethic" actually is the government bureaucrat's work ethic. Although I'd rather not generalize, it's also true a whole lot of the more intellectual "head" theology these days still comes from the Lutheran and Reformed traditions. Those folks have such well-tuned minds and can turn out some exceptional material!

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