Where the inheritors of John Wesley riff on the post modern, post Christian, post church. The post apocalyptic expressions of Wesleyan Christianity and a return to the simplest pre-institutional expressions of faith.
John and Charles Wesley were born and raised in England, studied there for ministry in the Anglican Church, and it was there, at Aldersgate, that John had his transformative experience of the Holy Spirit. Yet it was on the frontier of the American colonies and the young United States of America that this movement gained its unique expression in the history of Christianity. I would argue that the impact of the Wesleyan/Methodist ethos is so pervasive that all modern North American and Western Protestants (perhaps all Christians) are inheritors of this heritage.
This same western cultural setting, some 300 years later, has given rise to a new literary genre. A lot of Juvenile / Young Adult fiction these days is dystopian – e.g. Hunger Games, Matched and Divergent. The voracious appetite among both youth and adults for this literary genre (and now the movies made from it) may indicate that these people already have a post-apocalyptic realism within them. They recognize, if only un-or-subconsciously, that the apocalypse is already unfolding, subtly, slowly (and sometimes rapidly and fiercely). People already have a hunger to understand what comes next, to formulate attitudes, thoughts, behaviors and communities that will help them make sense of and thrive in the world that is emerging, with a Christian faith that is emerging.
This old/new, ancient/modern/postmodern faith is continually developing. The writer of Ecclesiastes was correct, “there is nothing new under the sun” (1:9) Jesus affirms the value of both the new and the old (MK 2:22) Paul reminds us that in Christ we become new creations (2 Cor 5:17). We are at once the most ancient of faiths and yet new every day. It is the way of human life that we solidify and codify our present experience as somehow a timeless truth, which does not work for us even a few years later, much less for the generations to come. Indeed, Wesley’s own experience at Aldersgate affirms this reality, that God makes all things new, and recreates even the ancient faith when it finally ignites within each one of us, each new generation.
A friend of the Missional Wisdom Foundation.