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Title: John Wesley's doctrine of perfect love as a theological mandate for inclusion and diversity
Author: Burns, Michael T.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2680 498X
Awarding Body: The University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2009
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The thesis examines John Wesley's theological doctrine of perfect love and the inclusion and diversity of all human beings, and whether or not Wesley prescribed a theology that was truly egalitarian and inclusive. From a historical perspective, as well as, a theological perspective it seems incongruous to proclaim a doctrine of holiness and perfect love and tacitly accept oppression, poverty, racism and sexism. The premise is that perfect love provides renewal in the full image of God, an image of holy love, and also provides the capacitation to live out this love in an inclusive and diverse community. Chapter one describes the formative influences on the development of Wesley's doctrine of perfect love as inclusive. From the Rectory of Epworth this section traces the impact of Wesley's schooling, his missionary attempt in Georgia, the Religious Societies and the seminal influences on the development of the doctrine of perfect love. Chapter two focuses on the divine order of inclusion and diversity by first, defining multiculturalism, inclusion and diversity as it relates to perfect love, and secondly, on an explication of the divine order of inclusion through the matrix of humanity created in the 'image' and 'likeness' of God. Wesley's intentional dissimilarity of 'image' and 'likeness' is explicated along with a trinitarian and salvific anthropology. Chapter three articulates the loss of the 'image' and 'likeness' of God with the subsequent estrangement from God and other human beings. Original sin and actual sin are explored as deprivation and depravation. Wesley's two-fold definition of sin is investigated. The doctrine of 'theosis'~ participation in the divine nature, demonstrates the implication of renewal for all of humanity. Chapter four conveys the reality of God's grace as love that originated creation and it is love (grace) that restores human beings to God and to each other and culminates in the new creation. The crisis and progressive movement of grace is evaluated with a distinctive interpretation of grace as pneumatological, the presence of the Holy Spirit from prevenient grace to perfecting grace. An integral discovery of Wesley's instantaneous renewal language in bothjustificationlnew birth and in entire sanctification is recognised in this section. Chapter five explicates the doctrine of predestination and election as a theology of exclusion. Racism and slavery have their roots in the theological system of Calvinism and Puritanism. Wesley's rejection of Calvinist predestination with its tenet of unconditional election and perseverance provided the nascent epistemology that eventuated into his polemic on poverty and slavery. Chapter six juxtaposes Methodism with the issues of Poverty, Prison Conditions and Slavery as contradictions ofthe doctrine of perfect love. What Wesley proposed was a theology of inclusion in comparison to a theology that excluded any human being from the unconditional love of God and the liberty and freedom toúa liveable life. Chapter seven concludes that exclusion is contrary to Wesley's hermeneutic of love. Wesley conceptually defined perfect love as 'faith active in love.' Wesley could perceive of no holiness except social holiness. A theology of embrace is expressed and a contemporary, comparative analysis of a theology of embrace is offered in conclusion.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Not available Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available