John Wesley in Conversation with the Emerging Church

By Patrick Franklin
View profile for: Dr. Patrick Franklin

As the Emerging Church is one of the most significant developments in current popular Western ecclesiology, it is important that it be engaged theologically. As part of this engagement, this paper brings the Emerging Church into a constructive dialogue with John Wesley, a theologian who shared similar passions and faced comparable challenges. It maintains that Wesley would applaud the spirit and creativity of the Emerging Church, especially its mission to reach contemporary seekers and its desire to recapture an ancient-future faith. However, he would also challenge some potentially harmful tendencies and exhort the Emerging Church toward maturity in these areas. The paper begins by exploring several commonalities between Wesley and the Emerging Church, including: (i) resistance to Enlightenment rationalism and an embrace of religious experience, (ii) a passion for evangelism, (iii) a commitment to a kingdom worldview and values, and (iv) a spirit of ecumenism. Subsequently, the paper offers a critique of certain aspects of the Emerging Church in light of Wesley's theology and ministry and then concludes by proposing a way forward on the basis of insights gained from Wesley.

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This is a peer reviewed Article

Article in Asbury Theological Journal
Volume #: 63
Issue #: 1
Pages: 75-93
Year: 2008


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