The Natural and Supernatural Worlds

By Dr. James Pedlar
View profile for: Dr. James Pedlar

This chapter explores the relationship between the natural and supernatural worlds in Wesley’s thought. It discusses his complicated empiricist view of human knowing and his theology of the ‘spiritual senses’ which he believed enabled direct participatory knowledge of the Holy Spirit. It describes Wesley’s view of nature as a reflection of divine goodness and beauty, then discusses Wesley’s narrative of human sin, the marring of the (three-part) image of God in human nature and its remnant sustained within humanity by the supernatural grace of God at work in nature. It also considers Wesley’s views on supernatural phenomena such as ghosts, demons and visions; the possibility of miracles and supernatural healings; and natural disasters such as the Lisbon earthquake. Wesley viewed natural disasters through the lens of supernatural providence and divine judgement (which sat uneasily with his emphasis on divine love). He shared carefully documented testimonies of the supernatural, not as unquestioned sources of revelation, but as experiences that should be tested and tried in the community of faith, so that the practical treasury of ‘experience’ or wisdom for spiritual living could be enhanced, and love of God and neighbour reinforced.

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This is a peer reviewed Chapter

Chapter in The Routledge Companion to John Wesley
Pages: 364 - 375
Publisher: Routledge
Year: 2023
ISBN/ISSN: 9781003037972

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