A Biblical Radical

The Radical Wesley and Patterns of Church Renewal, by Howard A. Snyder (Inter-Varsity, 1980, 188 pp., $5.25), is reviewed by Paul A. Mickey, associate professor of pastoral theology, Duke University Divinity School, Durham, North Carolina.

Was John Wesley Anabaptist? Yes! Was he Anglican? Yes! Author Howard Snyder says so.

Was John Wesley Establishment? Definitely! Was he a Charismatic? But, of course! That, too, is Snyder’s word on Wesley.

Come, come now, one might protest. But Snyder insists—and I agree—that Wesley was a radical in the truest biblical sense of the word. The secret to the radical Wesley is his doctrine of the church (pp. 5–7) that at one and the same time places emphasis equally on inner experience (Moravian, Anabaptist, Mennonite influence), the sacraments (Church of England and Roman Catholic influence), and the outward, social witness through the Classes and Societies (Wesley’s own theory).

In Chapter 11, “The Wesleyan Synthesis,” we are told how the unique and powerful theological and practical syntheses of apparent opposites were kept in balance as John Wesley rediscovered and reintegrated the radical biblical themes of institutional and charismatic dimensions of the church and Christian experience (pp. 150, 154).

The other equally radical aspect of Wesley’s ministry was his identification with the poor. In his Journal, March 31, 1739, he writes, “At four in the afternoon I submitted to be more vile, and proclaimed in the highways the glad tidings of salvation.” The Wesleyan revival spread primarily because “it was a movement largely for and among the poor” (p. 33).

I found greatest help in chapter 3, “Preaching to the Poor,” and in chapter 12, “Wesley and the Church Today,” in which a ...

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