Social justice is all the rage in Western Christian circles these days, and experiencing God emotionally is not far behind. For some evangelicals, the gospel has feet only when it is used in service to the disenfranchised, and worship is considered good only when it fosters fuzzy warmth in the worshiper. But what if changing the culture, transforming the world, and worshiping intensely are not the primary missions of the church? What if they are byproducts of something else?
In his latest book, Gregory S. Clapper gives his perspective on what the church should be about: The Renewal of the Heart Is the Mission of the Church: Wesley's Heart Religion in the Twenty-First Century (Wipf and Stock) . Clapper explores John Wesley's view of human "affections" (emotions, passions) and what his view means for churches today.
In exploring Wesley's relevance for the contemporary church, Clapper draws from many academic disciplines. For example, he dives into contemporary psychology to show how Wesley relates to recent emotion theory. He also shows how Wesley's views impact teaching, preaching, evangelism, spiritual formation, and other areas commonly placed under the umbrella of "practical theology." The bulk of the book, however, is about Wesley himself, and Clapper pays great attention to the original source material.
In short, Wesley's heart religion was a lived Christianity, as evidenced by what he saw as the essential doctrines of repentance, faith, and holiness. In Wesley's "house of religion," repentance is the porch, faith is the door, and holiness is the house itself. For Wesley, being a Christian is not merely about believing the right things. A true Christian is marked by her love of God, love of neighbor, and faith. These qualities ...