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The Doctrine of the Trinity in John Wesley's Prose and Poetic Works

Author(s): Seng-Kong Tan

Journal: Journal for Christian Theological Research
ISSN 1087-1624

Volume: 7;
Start page: 3;
Date: 2002;
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One may easily judge John Wesley's pietistic and anti-rationalistic Christianity to be an encumbrance toward a well-developed doctrine of the Trinity. That Wesley produced very limited systematic treatment on the subject augments the assumption that his theology, though implicitly trinitarian in general is, nonetheless, superficial in its ontology, and thereby, tends toward a subjective functionalism. This essay argues against such a pre-understanding, and appeals for an "organic" appreciation of John Wesley's broad body of prose and poetical works, in order to recognize the solid doctrine of the immanent Trinity that is foundational to his soteriology. As a judicious editor of Charles' hymns, John Wesley has artfully woven together a restatement of classical trinitarianism that is not only profound and subtle, but also edifying and practical. The depth and simplicity of the doctrine of the Trinity which one encounters in Wesleyan metrical theology, of course, owes much to the experimental genius of John and Charles. What must not be forgotten is that the substance of their trinitarian hymnody depended much upon a faithful reappropriation of the ecumenical Creeds, and no less, the mystical, illuminating piety which is at the heart of these dogmatic formularies.
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