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Title: Christian perfection in Wesley and Fletcher, with implications for today
Author: Fletcher, W. Brian
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1998
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Christian Perfection is most often dismissed or defended on the basis, declared or assumed, that it is 'perfect sanctification' or 'sinless perfection'. For those who dismiss the concept not least in their considerations is John Wesley's own insistence in retaining the word 'perfection' and his apparent ambivalence with regard to 'sinlessness'. In the case of those who defend the idea there continues to be, underlying all of the qualifications, an acceptance that Christian Perfection is indeed 'perfect sanctification', albeit an imperfect 'perfect sanctification'. It is the contention of this study that Christian Perfection defined in such terms as 'perfect sanctification', imperfect or otherwise, is an inadequate definition of the idea and does a serious injustice to what Wesley intended. Bringing together Wesley and his first interpreter, John Fletcher , the first two chapters of the study seek to present how both men perceived their understanding of the concept, based on what they considered to be the definitive documents on Christian Perfection. With regard to Wesley's understanding of the concept the dissertation maintains that not enough attention has been paid to Wesley's final summary in the Plain Account where he describes Christian perfection in its 'native' form. On the foundation of the first two chapters, the third chapter attempts to compare the two men's understanding in relation to the similarities, differences and the countering of criticisms. It concludes that Wesley and Fletcher saw themselves as basically in agreement and that after Fletcher's own adjustment, his emphasis on the Spirit, whatever the subsequent interpretation of history, should be seen as complimenting and not contradicting Wesley. With chapter 4 the major problems of Christian perfection in terms of definition, time and experience are examined in the light of biblical and theological perspectives. In the penultimate chapter it is argued that the key to understanding Christian Perfection is to see it, not in terms of sanctification, instantaneous or progressive, but as the Wesley/Fletcher 'category of interpretation' for the wholeness of vibrant Christian living. As such this holds together the pastoral need for 'actualisation' with the ongoing dynamic of life in the Spirit. The final chapter seeks to work out some of the implications of such an understanding paying particular attention to the religio-political dimensions of the current situation in Northern Ireland.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available