Wesley Windows: Methodism Considered

When the foundation stone for the New Chapel in London was laid (today called Wesley Chapel) on April 21, 1777, John Wesley preached the dedicatory sermon. In it he addressed the question, “What is Methodism?” He responded,
It is “no other than love, the love of God and of all mankind; the loving God with all our heart, and soul, and strength, as having first loved us,–as the fountain of all the good we have received, and of all we ever hope to enjoy; and the loving every soul which God has made, every man on earth as our own soul.” [1]

In the larger context, his words confirmed his belief that Methodism, far from being an aberration or something novel was, in fact, the religion of the Bible and of the Church of England. Indeed, it was, as a theology of love, “the great medicine of life.” He believed this when Methodism began in the 1740’s, and he continued to believe it thirty-five years later. Time had confirmed the validity of his original vision.

John Wesley’s abiding conviction was that God had raised up the people called Methodist to declare God’s inclusive love—love for “all mankind,” love of “every soul God has made, every man on earth as our own soul.” No wonder that the early Methodist movement attracted many “nones and dones” (as we call them today), offering them Christ through hospitality and formation.

Wesleyan theology is one of inclusive love, loving everyone as we love our own souls.

[1] Albert C. Outler, ed., ‘The Works of John Wesley,’ Volume 3, Sermons III, 71-114 (Abingdon Press, 1986), 585.

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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