Theological Empathy and John Wesley's Missional Field Preaching
- Volume 8
- Issue 2, Winter 2017
- Theological Empathy and John Wesley's Missional Field Preaching
John Wesley cited several external reasons for his submission to field-preaching. These external factors include the persuasive requests of George Whitefield, the effectiveness of open-air preaching, and the closed doors of the Anglican Church. These usual suspects have received much attention among Wesley scholars. However, a closer look at Wesley’s writings, especially his A Farther Appeal to Men of Reason and Religion, reveals that internal motivators were at least as much to blame as external ones for driving Wesley to the fields. What initiated and sustained Wesley’s field-preaching for fifty-one years, despite the many inconveniences and dangers associated with this homiletic practice? This study seeks to show that Wesley’s sanctification, nurtured by his theological understanding of God as love and his empathic affections for neighbor, drove Wesley into the fields. This study concludes with an exploration of the implications of Wesley’s theological empathy for the practice and teaching of preaching today.
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