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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences



Reading the Bible in Wesleyan Ways: Some Constructive Proposals by Barry L. Callen, Richard P. Thompson (Beacon Hill Press) Reading the Bible in Wesleyan Ways is comprised of significant essays by outstanding scholars. They represent and address the Wesleyan theological tradition and convey insights vital for today's Bible readers regardless of their denomination or tradition. The twelve essays of this collection are grouped under two categories, "Foundations for Interpretation" and "Frontiers for Interpretation.fquot;

The authors address Wesleyan ways of reading the Bible that:

  • focus on the ministry of the Spirit of Christ to illuminate the present significance of the text

  • recognize the role of the faith community as the crucial location of Scripture's meaning and present significance

  • highlight the importance of spiritual maturity and unity with other believers in the pursuit of God's live

Reading the Bible in Wesleyan Ways intends to serve the Spirit-listening resolve and skill of pastors and of students and teachers in colleges and seminaries. This intention is much like John Wesley's prefatory comment to his Ex­planatory Notes upon the Old Testament: "But it is not part of my design, to save either learned or unlearned men from the trouble of thinking...  On the contrary, my intention is, to make them think, and assist them in thinking. This is the way to understand the things of God." To assist the present generation of Bible readers with the necessary thinking, the editors have assembled a group of significant essays by outstanding biblical scholars and theologians who both represent and address the Wesleyan theological tradition in particular and convey insights vital for today's Bible readers who are formed in any tradition of the faith.

The essays are grouped under two categories, Founda­tions for Interpretation and Frontiers for Interpretation. Within the first cat­egory, one encounters essays addressing issues such as the Scripture principle, a trinitarian perspective, a call to "retribalize," a con­cept of inspired imagination, and a suggested pattern of interpretative balance. Each of these essays supplements the others and helps to form broad perspective on Wesleyan ways of Bible reading.

Because of the relational character involved in the foundations of biblical interpretation, there are vital frontiers of such foundations that are still taking shape. With the "enlightenment experiment" in serious decay and a major struggle now going on in the evangelical community over issues of biblical interpretation, how can Scripture's central role among Wesleyan and other Bible readers be clarified and enhanced in a postmodern time?  The second part addresses an adequate reading strategies require that the church commit to serious conversation involving the biblical text. Gender exclusion from any dimensions of this process must cease. All voices are to be included in the conversation as both the past and future meanings of God's revelation as pursued in our time.

Howell Harris: From Conversion to Separation, 1735-1750 by Geraint Tudur ( University of Wales Press ) "The first significant attempt to interpret Harris’s career on the basis of his voluminous diaries." Welsh History Review
It is a measure of Howell Harris's greatness that despite all criti­cism, both contemporary and later, he remains one of the giants of eighteenth-century Wales, if not of Welsh history in general. Much has been written about him, but, despite many of the facts concerning his life being made known, in many ways the man himself has remained an enigma. While Dr Geoffrey Nuttall pointed the student of Welsh Methodism in the right direction through his revealing glimpse into Harris's mind and soul in Howel Harris, The Last Enthusiast (Cardiff, 1965), a broader analysis of Harris's life and work was needed in order that the events of the first fifteen years of the Revival in Wales can be better understood. Only with the emergence of a clearer picture of the founder of Welsh Methodism will the formative years of the movement come into focus.

In Howell Harris: From Conversion to Separation 1735-1750, Geraint Tudur provides the first modern appraisal of the eminent Welsh Methodist leader and revivalist, Howell Harris. During the mid-eighteenth century, an evangelical religious revival spread through many parts of Britain, the Continent and North America. John and Charles Wesley and George Whitefield are the best known of the spiritual leaders of this revival, but it was Howell Harris who could lay claim to being the first of these to be called to the work as he embarked on his lay ministry during the summer of 1735. Despite opposition to his `enthusiasm' he met with considerable success and his work laid the foundations of what was later known as the Welsh Methodist movement.

This comprehensive and compelling study charts Howell Harris's influence on the development' of early Methodism and examines the period from his conversion in 1735 to his seccession from the main body of Methodists following a long and acrimonious struggle with Daniel Rowland. It also discusses in detail the public scandal of Harris's relationship with the self-proclaimed prophetess, Madam Sidney Griffith. This book is based on the voluminous diaries of Howell Harris, most of which were written in barely legible handwriting; through judicious use of these and other sources Geraint Tudur provides us with a revealing picture of the life and thought of this important Methodist leader against the backdrop of his era.

Harris was by nature an extremely powerful and stubborn man. Following his conversion in 1735, these characteristics were to enable him to persevere during difficult times; his fearlessness in the face of opposition and criticism, and his determination to succeed despite many disappointments and setbacks, made him a powerful preacher, an effective exhorter and an efficient orga­nizer. When the movement he had brought into existence threatened to leave the Church from which it`had emerged, Harris stood steadfastly against secession, resolute that forcible ejection would be the only justification for departure from the Anglican fold. His intransigence served to protect the movement from becoming a minority sect, and ensured its unity until the separa­tion in 1750.

During the latter half of the 1740s, when he began to deviate from the orthodoxy which his fellow labourers expected of him, his forceful character became a disadvantage in that it was to make him impervious to criticism and deaf to advice. The problem was compounded by his `enthusiasm': Harris believed that what others claimed to be stubbornness was in reality his submission to the directly revealed will of God. While his oppo­nents were unable to prove to him that he was mistaken in his interpretation of that guidance, there was no way in which he could be convinced that he had slipped into error. His dependence on divine guidance made him not only spiritually powerful but also insensitive: when others disagreed with him, their words were construed as an act of rebellion against God.

Harris's `enthusiasm' was both his strength and his weakness; it made him a man of vision, but at the same time blinded him. Through his `enthusiasm' he was enabled to bring the Welsh Methodist movement into existence, to build it up through powerful sermons and exhortations, and to organize it through the various society and Association meetings. But it was also because of his `enthusiasm' that Welsh Methodism was brought to the brink of destruction, and the obstinacy which sometimes accompanies deep convictions of divine guidance acted as a wedge between him and the other Methodist leaders. `Enthusiasm' proved to be both his making and his undoing. Howell Harris: From Conversion to Separation 1735-1750 is a landmark in our understanding of the eighteenth-century Methodist Revival.

A Purview of Wesley's Theology by Howard Alexander Slaatte (University Press of America) provides a valuable summation of the theology of this central figure in the development of Protestant Methodist belief. The founder of Methodism believed deeply in action, and experience, as central to the Christian life, and in the functions of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer - "the witness of the Spirit" being the subjective assurance of salvation accorded to those who freely accept Grace and seek holiness of life. The survey supplies a handy précis of the main outlines and central points of Wesley’s theology.

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