New Book on John Wesley and Methodism

Randall Stephens

Cambridge University Press has a marvelous series called the Cambridge Companions to Religion. Of particular interest to readers of this blog will be: Dana Evan Kaplan, ed., The Cambridge Companion to American Judaism (2005); Stephen J. Stein, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Jonathan Edwards (2006); and John Coffey and Paul C. H. Lim, eds., The Cambridge Companion to Puritanism (2008).

The Cambridge Companion to John Wesley (2009), edited by Randy L. Maddox and Jason E. Vickers, is the latest installment in the series. Wesley, of course, has had an enormous influence on American Christianity. His religion of the heart "strangely warmed" continues to exercise evangelicals, members of mainstream churches, and modern-day social gospellers. Wesley once tellingly wrote: “I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out.” Over one hundred years later, Holiness folk and Pentecostals said, "amen and amen!"

CUP summarizes Wesley's impact and describes the The Cambridge Companion to John Wesley as follows: "A leading figure in the Evangelical Revival in eighteenth-century England, John Wesley (1703–1791) is the founding father of Methodism and, by extension, of the holiness and Pentecostal movements. This Cambridge Companion offers a general, comprehensive introduction to Wesley’s life and work, and to his theological and ecclesiastical legacy. Written from various disciplinary perspectives, including history, literature, theology, and religious studies, this volume will be an invaluable aid to scholars and students, including those encountering the work and thought of Wesley for the first time."


Introduction Randy L. Maddox and Jason E. Vickers; Part I. Wesley's Context: 1. The long eighteenth century Jeremy Gregory; Part II. Wesley's Life: 2. Wesley's life and ministry Kenneth J. Collins; 3. Wesley in context David N. Hempton; Part III. Wesley's Work: 4. Wesley as revivalist / renewal leader Charles I. Wallace; 5. Wesley as preacher William J. Abraham; 6. Wesley as biblical interpreter Robert W. Wall; 7. Wesley as diarist and correspondent Ted A. Campbell; 8. Wesley as editor and publisher Isabel Rivers; 9. Wesley's engagement with the natural sciences Randy L. Maddox; 10. Wesley as adviser on health and healing Deborah Madden; 11. Wesley's theological emphases Jason E. Vickers; 12. Wesley's emphases on ethics Rebekah L. Miles; 13. Wesley's emphases on worship and the means of grace Karen B. Westerfield Tucker; Part IV. Wesley's Legacy: 14. Spread of Wesleyan Methodism Kenneth Cracknell; 15. The Holiness/Pentecostal/charismatic extension of the Wesleyan tradition Randall J. Stephens; 16. The African-American wing of the Wesleyan tradition Dennis C. Dickerson; 17. Current debates over Wesley's legacy among his progeny Sarah H. Lancaster.


Christopher said…
Looks like a fantastic volume, Randall. And that fellow who wrote the chapter on "the Holiness/Pentecostal/charismatic extension of the Wesleyan tradition" is a talented scholar, or so I hear.

On a related note, the Oxford Handbook of Methodist Studies just hit shelves as well. (

The two volumes together surely signify just far how the study of Wesley and Methodism has come in the last 15 or 20 years.