IN THE SANCTAURY
Warming Hearts and Moving Minds: A Wesleyan Contribution to Theology and the Arts
Warming Hearts and Moving Minds: A Wesleyan Contribution to Theology and the Arts
by Jacquelynn Price-Linnartz
Jacquelynn Price-Linnartz holds a Doctor of Theology from Duke Divinity School. She explores the intersections of theology, the arts, and ethics as both a scholar and an artist.
Hundreds of books and articles have been published on theology and the arts in the last decade. Despite the abundance of publications, remarkably little of the otherwise burgeoning scholarship on theology and the arts has taken cues from Wesleyan theology.1 One could note that there is little need to lament this state of affairs. After all—one might argue—Wesleyans lack adequate theological resources for the topic, and they are but a minority among those interested in explicating the many interconnections between theology and the arts. Perhaps one could even suggest that a Wesleyan approach to the arts is an increasingly unhelpful prospect given the troubled waters in which the largest Wesleyan body, the United Methodist Church, finds itself as it faces numerical decline and imminent schism.
Yet to dismiss the possible contributions of Wesleyan theology to human understanding of the arts would be unfortunate. The challenges Wesleyanism now faces make an exploration of its riches all the more urgent. Wesleyans must cling to that which can and should make their tradition excellent and, in the spirit of Wesleyan ecumenism, theologians and artists from other traditions can and should share in this as yet largely untapped resource. Therefore, we must ask: What might a contemporary approach to the arts look like when developed from a distinctively Wesleyan theology?
So far, distinctively Wesleyan scholarship on the arts has focused on the hymnody of Charles Wesley, Romantic literature, or aesthetics using a Wesleyan brand of process theology.2 This essay aims to advance the Wesleyan discussion beyond hymnody and Romantic literature to consider the arts more broadly, and to do so without recourse to process thought. Instead, it looks both to the Wesley brothers and to recent Wesleyan scholars to share an interest in the growing field of theology and the arts in the form of a Wesleyan appreciation of emotion, including emotion’s relationship to art and its essential role in the holistic life of faith.
Preliminary Concerns: The Nature of Traditions
When seeking a Wesleyan approach to the arts, one could get distracted by what the Wesley brothers said explicitly about the arts. For example, both brothers were more comfortable with poetry than with visual art, so one might conclude that they offer no viable resources for incorporating the full range of artistic media into the life of faith.3 Although a worthy topic, the brothers’ opinions on the arts are not their last word on the matter. For example, it is a very short move from accepting the vivid images evoked by Charles Wesley’s hymns to accepting visual art that depicts similar scenes for similar purposes.4 This essay will show that Wesleyan practical theology provides a yet wider space for the arts.
Kenton Stiles takes a similar stance. He argues that, although John Wesley does not explicitly provide adequate resources for developing an aesthetic sensibility, his theology nevertheless provides “wiggle room” for building such a sensibility.5 While Stiles leaves John Wesley behind to seek remedial assistance from process thinker Charles Hartshorne, I will focus on one art-related trajectory that is already strong in the Wesley brothers and recently retrieved by Wesleyan scholars: their appreciation of what they call the affections and their role in holistic Christian formation.
Affections and the Formation of the Whole Person
For the wider theological discussion on the arts, Wesleyan theology provides a thorough appreciation of the place of emotion and its crucial significance for Christian formation. Although such appreciation has been fostered in other traditions, the Wesleyan version merits focused attention. Its unique approach to human affectivity can be glimpsed throughout Wesleyan history as it grew from a fiery renewal movement into a global network of sometimes vast sects and denominations. It took root in the nourishing soil of Pietism such that John Wesley could claim a conversion experience in which he felt his “heart strangely warmed.” It thrived in the evangelical Great Awakenings in North America, such that Methodism became the largest denomination in the United States for decades. And it spawned the Holiness movement that in turn provided significant fuel for the fires of Pentecostalism.6 Over its nearly three centuries of growth, the Wesleyan family tree has divided in diverse directions, and we would be unwise to overlook the potential in such a historically fruitful movement.
Despite the Wesleyan family’s great potential to contribute to our engagement of theology and the arts, one could easily argue that a primary branch, the United Methodist Church, has estranged itself from this part of its past. Even if so, its resources for appreciating the affections and their role in holistic Christian formation remain precious. There lies a treasure trove buried in the Wesleyan heritage that Methodists should recover carefully and share widely, even beyond Wesleyan circles.
Defining emotions, affections, and feelings is a formidable task, especially given their fluid meanings over time.7 Many contemporary scholars in multiple disciplines concur that emotions entail an “affective appraisal” linked to both behavior and cognition.8 In what follows, I will track the extent to which the Wesley brothers’ uses of the terms align with our own, revealing that despite our differences, the Wesleys set the course for a proper appreciation of affective experience in a way that welcomes the arts deep into our lives.
Defining the connection between the arts and emotion, or art and affect, is likewise challenging. For centuries, art and emotion have been closely associated.9 Although the cross-disciplinary research on the art-and-emotion connection is far too immense to examine here in depth, we can continue to take that fundamental relationship for granted even as researchers continue to excavate its intricacies. Research that combines the strengths of the humanities and the natural sciences, such as Jenefer Robinson’s, suggests that not only are the arts connected to our emotions, but that art can “educate” them10—a possibility to which we can grant theological warrant with a specifically Wesleyan approach.
John and Charles on Emotion and Affections
At first glance, those familiar with the Wesley brothers might label Charles as the emotional, artistic one and John as the staid, analytical one who remained suspicious of anything that smelled of feeling or passion. The reality, of course, is far more complex. Despite their differences, John’s appraisal of affections joins with Charles’s attentiveness to emotions to inaugurate a Wesleyan apprehension of the vital place of the arts in the life of faith.
There is a seed of truth to the generalized distinction between the brothers. John Wesley questioned what he sometimes called emotions in part because Methodists had been charged with enthusiasm—an insult among decent Anglicans. In response, John argued that enthusiasm rightly refers only to those who claim grace or gifts that they lack, or who expect to progress spiritually without the means of grace.11 To this extent, John’s critique of emotion is qualified by his context. In fact, he incurred the charge of enthusiasm precisely because he promoted emotional experience more than his Anglican peers.
Yet John also cast a critical eye at emotions because he associated them with fleeting moods or feelings that are triggered by variables well beyond our control. He distrusted that which “many circumstances” can cause “to ebb and flow.”12 As shall become clear, John was more comfortable speaking of affections and dispositions, which he considered to have deeper roots in our hearts than ephemeral feelings.13 The contemporary understanding of emotion (as a process involving affective appraisals in a feedback loop with behavior and cognition) seems to fit somewhere between John’s conceptions of emotion (or highly temporary feelings) and affections (as more closely tied to enduring affective dispositions, like love of another person). Charles was more willing than his brother to grant even the most superficial of emotions legitimacy, so he can provide additional balance to the conversation.
John disdained the “fondling kinds of expression”14 of his Moravian peers and their sometimes “melancholy” religion, a charge he also laid against Charles.15 This may reflect not only his personality and his desire to gain distance from the Moravians, but a measure of “discomfort with physicality” and what he considered to be irreverence for God.16 Although John had an overall positive view of materiality and the miracle of the incarnation, he may have harbored unfortunate biases that contributed to theological problems like his reticence to embrace the full humanity of Christ.17 Charles, on the other hand, displays an incredibly strong grasp of the incarnation in his hymns, many of which highlight the paradoxical nature of God becoming flesh such that Christ was truly divine and truly human (as in his Nativity Hymns and Hymns on the Incarnation). Consider the following stanzas:
1. Let earth and heaven combine,
Angels and men agree,
To praise in songs divine
Our God contracted to a span,
Incomprehensibly made man.
4. See in that infant’s face
The depths of Deity,
And labour while ye gaze,
To sound the mystery;
In vain ye angels gaze no more,
But fall and silently adore.18
In these lyrics, Charles guides readers and singers into the wonder that the mystery of the incarnation evokes. It is incomprehensible that the Deity would be seen in an infant’s face! In the fifth stanza, he marvels that God “deigns in flesh t’appear, widest extremes to join.”19 In contrast to his brother, Charles’s embrace of emotions may go hand in hand with his embrace of the radical nature of the incarnation. Such a strong understanding of the incarnation not only affirms our very human existence, but declares that creaturely realities are potential vehicles of God’s presence and revelation.20
The difference between the brothers, however, can easily be overstated. John came to emphasize the affections as having a central and healthy role to play in mature Christian life. Over time, John transitioned from the prevailing view that humans must bring emotions or affect under the reign of rationality to a view that approached moral life more holistically, valuing the positive contribution of human affections. Specifically, according to John’s mature moral psychology, affective dispositions include both thought and action. John believed that these dispositions must be nurtured in the right directions, so that, through the experience of God’s love, love itself comes to reign over all dispositions and, therefore, over all thoughts and actions as much as possible. In this way, John can be said to have advocated a “heart religion.”21
Gregory Clapper makes a similar point, noting that, for John Wesley, the Gospel means that “we are to love as we have been loved, and that this love is not a mere sensation or feeling. . . . It is a fundamental disposition, a graced habit of intention, which both targets and receives God.”22 As John himself put it, the dispositions are “inherent qualities.”23 The difference, then, is that John remained more likely to emphasize affections as key to enduring dispositions rather than as ephemeral experiences, although we might suspect that even the most temporary of emotions can participate in the nurturing of such dispositions.
Wesleyan Perspective on the Affections Builds an Approach to the Arts
The Wesleys’ appreciation of the affections, as retrieved by recent scholars, offers three resources for building a Wesleyan approach to the arts:
1. Divine affections. The brothers challenged the occasional suggestion, derived from a strand of Greek-influenced thought, that God is so impassible that God entirely lacks affections (or passions, as implied in the terminology of impassibility). Instead, God can technically be impassible, in that God is not swayed against God’s will by external influences, while still having a passionate, intentional love and involvement with God’s creation.24
If God is passionately involved with creation, then should we not jettison the rationalist mindset that demands intellectual control over all other dimensions of our psychology? We can follow the Wesleys’ lead by granting the affections a legitimate role in informing human thought, action, and identity. The affections, though subject to rational scrutiny, in part grant our rational thought its motivation and impetus. In fact, it is possible that the two can be so intertwined that distinguishing between them is not always possible. Moreover, given that our affectivity and rationality are embedded in human fallenness, they can serve to check one another in dialectical fashion, along with checks provided by sources such as scripture and community.25 There is no need to fear or belittle emotions and, by extension, the art that generates them. Indeed, if our God is so affectionate, then we have good reason to welcome art’s power to enflame our emotional response to God and God’s much-loved creation.
2. Holism. John Wesley’s understanding of the connection between emotions, physical and mental health, and spiritual well-being has been applauded by several recent scholars, who often describe this phenomenon as Wesleyan “holism.”26 The Wesley brothers cared not just for the state of one’s soul, but for the whole person. John wrote a Primitive Physick intended to instruct Methodists on wellness, he created a free medical dispensary, and he and Charles encouraged Methodists to meet the physical and spiritual needs of others in works of mercy.27 As preached so rigorously by John, holiness is not simply constituted by right actions and behaviors according to a moral law; rather, it requires improved intentions and affections, which flow from and contribute to our habituated dispositions of the heart.28 “Christian perfection” (the highest state of holiness available, according to the Wesleys) entails “the loving of God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength,” and, following the biblical reference, loving others as ourselves.29 John likewise encouraged diverse means of grace in order to address the whole person.30 In this way, the Wesleys provide what we might call a holistic vision of human flourishing that opens many doors for the legitimacy of the arts in Christian life.
Art can engage our minds and hearts together and, in turn, influence our health and spiritual well-being. John Wesley himself hints at the power of art to influence our affections—and therefore our growth in holiness—in his “Thoughts on the Power of Music.” Here, John argues that complex harmonies fail to move us as effectively as the simple melodies of ancient music. His tenuous defense of this claim is not worth reclaiming in its entirety. Yet, embedded within it, we discover two diamonds in the rough. First, he respects the “natural power of music to move the passions,” which he laments as absent in the music of his day. Second, his preference for simple melodies arises from his belief that they better address the whole person—appealing to us affectively and rationally. This he holds in opposition to complex harmonies, which he believed appeal to emotions alone.31
We must conclude that John Wesley appreciated how music moves us holistically—affectively and rationally included—and how it therefore shapes us. More recent scholars like Martha Nussbaum, Nicholas Wolterstorff, James K. A. Smith, Berys Gaut, and Jenefer Robinson have explored how the arts inform emotion and belief and how such an understanding exposes art to ethical or moral evaluation.32 Despite their different theories and terminologies about how we are shaped by art in an affective-cognitive manner, these scholars agree that such formation takes place. For example, drawing in part on Nussbaum, Wolterstorff argues that a work of literature can motivate readers to pursue certain social aims when the work adequately engages the readers’ beliefs, emotions, and moral sensibilities in relation to specific forms of social injustice.33 Art’s well-accepted connection to emotion, then, further extends to belief and action.
Although the Wesleys never developed a theory of art’s ability to shape us by way of its joint engagement of our affections and cognitions, Wesleyan scholars have begun to unearth the connections between John’s holism and Romanticism, and especially Romantic artists and writers. Notably, Richard E. Brantley understands John’s linking of “emotion to intellect” as part of his combined Lockean empiricism and heart-evangelicalism—methodologies Brantley also recognizes in John’s Calvinist peer across the Atlantic, Jonathan Edwards.34 Brantley and Jennifer Jesse further propose that John’s theological empiricism—or empirical theology—influenced such later Romantic writers as Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, and Keats.35 Although evaluating these claims lies beyond this essay’s scope, they indicate what should prove fertile territory for future exploration as scholarship expands a Wesleyan approach to the arts well beyond hymnody and Romantic literature. The possible interconnections of Wesleyan holism, Romantic concerns for mind and heart as often expressed artistically, and the Calvinist resonances heard in the work of Jonathan Edwards all indicate intriguing avenues for historical and ecumenical dialogue on how Methodists might approach the arts today.
3. Instruction and formation. If the arts inform human dispositions by way of jointly engaging emotions and cognitions, as argued above, then art should be deployed with great care. This is exactly what John and Charles did. In their use of hymns for Christian instruction and formation, the brothers displayed practical appreciation for art’s formative powers as they guided their ever-expanding flock of Methodists on toward holiness.
John believed that hymns are not only or necessarily expressions of feelings, but that they can, as Randy Maddox puts it, “direct and instruct faith in others.” Indeed, they can “both empower and shape Christian discipleship.”36 For at least some of his hymns, Charles may have likewise intended for them to serve precisely such an instructive and directive function (even if John did not always see this). According to Joanna Cruickshank, for Charles’s intended audience, “the hymns provided a powerful model for how Christians should experience, interpret, and respond to suffering,” whether spiritual, emotional, or physical.37 Many of his hymns do not necessarily express what he was feeling when writing them, but they are intended to move the reader, singer, or listener toward certain kinds of experiences, interpretations, and responses. Cruickshank explains why Charles did this:
Given that [Charles] Wesley expected the spiritual state of a person to manifest itself in emotional experience, it is not surprising to find him seeking to evoke emotion in the service of spiritual ends. Methodism was concerned with what ‘liveth and stirreth in the heart.’ Subjective responses had spiritual significance, and demanded attention and effort from the Christian.38
Charles knew that sometimes certain emotions must be called forth to foster a better relationship with God. More specifically, Charles often designed his hymns to make participants sympathize with Christ’s sufferings so that they would (1) feel the power of God’s love for them, which incites them to respond with pity, thanks, and reciprocal love; (2) place their sufferings within Christ’s narrative, thereby redeeming said sufferings; and (3) embrace suffering for the sake of serving Christ, whether through sympathy with others who suffer or by persevering faithfully.39
We see each of these elements in Charles’s 1749 hymn “In the Work,”40 although in a different order. The second half of the hymn engages in vivid descriptions of Christ’s suffering, encouraging participants to respond to such a display with matching love and sympathy, even to the point of sharing in Christ’s suffering. After two stanzas describe a wretched, dying Jesus, the hymn continues:
11. Paleness His dying face o’erspreads,
His griefs I more than see,
My heart at Jesu’s suffering bleeds
With softest sympathy.'
12. I fill my Lord’s afflictions up,
His welcome burden bear,
And gladly drink His bitter cup,
And all His sorrows share.
13. Yes, Lord, with joy, and grief, and love
I now behold Thy face,
My God descended from above
To suffer in my place.
The sight of Christ’s suffering leads the narrator to bleed with sympathy, welcome Christ’s burden, and share the bitter cup, even though it was Christ who came to suffer on the narrator’s behalf. Moreover, in earlier stanzas, the narrator’s sympathetic love and suffering likewise applies to “the least of these” of Matthew 25:40 (NRSV)—just as Christ identifies with the poor, so too do Christians who are moved by Christ’s love and see Christ in the oppressed. Sharing Christ’s sufferings means sharing in the sufferings of others.
3. I have my Saviour always near,
On Him I now attend,
I see Him in his members here,
My Brother, and my Friend.
4. Shivering beneath those rags He stands,
Again exposed, and bare,
And stretches out His helpless hands,
And asks my tender care.
5. And shall I not relief afford,
Put off my costly dress,
Tear it away to clothe my Lord,
Who hides my sinfulness!
As readers, singers, and listeners assume the position of the hymn’s narrator, Charles here directs their minds and hearts to see God’s love in Christ; to cast suffering in a redeeming light; and, acting on the joy, grief, and love they feel, to perform works of sincere charity.
In hymns like “In the Work,” we witness how the arts can instruct Christians in the content of faith as well as their affective experience and response of faith as they strive to love God, others, and the world better. Yet again, we find Wesleyan holism at work: hymns—like much of what we today call “art”—can offer both intellectual and affective content, marrying the two together to the point that, if successful, the hymn shapes the whole person to have a more loving disposition toward God, others, and the whole creation. Restoring these various relationships was essential to the theology of the Wesley brothers, and it remains a central goal for many Wesleyans today.41
Conclusion: Respecting the Arts Today
This essay has pleaded for Wesleyans and non-Wesleyans alike to explore the riches of a Wesleyan approach to the arts. This approach provides a specific way to value emotion—and therefore art—as fundamental to holistic Christian formation. The Wesleyan approach reveals (1) an affectively involved (i.e., loving) God who calls for loving response; (2) how the arts shape human thought and behavior by engaging Christians holistically; and (3) how Christians can use the arts in education and formation as we seek to respond to God’s overtures by growing in love.
Although the arts form us holistically, they remain most associated with our emotions—and our emotional life merits just as much attention as our thoughts and beliefs. We would do well to respect art’s holistic, formative power. The arts possess great potential for both harm and good, and it would be reckless to reject them wholesale or uncritically embrace them.
If art can steer us in both positive and negative directions, then we urgently need practices of discernment. We must judge the extent to which certain arts or artworks help us feel God’s love, inspire love for others, improve our knowledge of the world in its beauty and brokenness, and engender our overall well-being. Sometimes, Christians rush to judgment on the arts without the slightest appreciation for their potential significance or how they function for others. And sometimes Christians assume that all art is good art by virtue of its being art. Given that this essay has pressed more in the direction of applauding the arts, I must here clarify that Wesleyans and those learning from them would do well to retain a portion of the Wesleys’ wariness of idolatry, because surely art, just like any other cultural practice and product, is not immune to the effects of our fallenness.
Take, for example, the arts classified as entertainment. Although they have a healthy place in a life that is on what Wesleyans would call the path of holiness, entertainment arts are nevertheless often pursued in excess, and much of what we are offered in entertainment (as well as in other art) posits attitudes or perspectives that we are called to question, reject, or even condemn. Indeed, much prophetic art criticizes the standard images and stories that shape us in ways that Christians would call sinful or broken.42
Randy Maddox’s eminently Wesleyan stress on habit formation and the training of our affections furthers this conversation in at least two respects.43 First, it helps explain why we are not always moved by powerful art enough to take action, even when we are convinced that doing so would be extremely good. Second, the ability to discern how art is affecting us may itself be a habit we must foster. We often struggle to overcome what Wolterstorff calls the “hardening of the heart”44 or what Nussbaum describes as “self-protective stratagems”45 that dampen art’s ability to change us. Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison identifies the same problem when she laments that despite her best efforts as a writer, “many readers remain touched but not moved” by her provocative work.46 Within a Wesleyan understanding of habit formation, we recognize that much of the problem arises from how we are already habituated in ways that militate against change.47 Thus, Wesleyans who stress habituation call us to seek new habits, to shape ourselves into the kind of people for whom such actions feel natural rather than against the grain.
A Wesleyan might add that any efforts on our part depend upon and respond to God’s grace.48 Perhaps this same concern led John Wesley to preface his sermon on “Christian Perfection” with a citation of Philippians 3:12: “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect.” Positive change, for Wesleyans, is always from God.
The swelling chorus of those who sing of “theology and the arts” stands to benefit from more Wesleyan voices. Wesleyan thought and practice contributes a thorough and balanced appreciation of emotion and affectivity, which invites Christians to embrace the power of the arts to instruct and form them as holistic creatures dearly loved by an involved, affective God. In short, a Wesleyan approach to the arts critically celebrates the power of the arts to address the whole person, warming hearts and moving minds. Even if believers cannot make either themselves or their world perfect, the arts can, by God’s grace, at least move the needle in the right direction.
- One notable exception is Wilson Yates, who is the founding editor of ARTS: The Arts in Religious and Theological Studies and author of numerous books and articles on the subject. Eastern Orthodox contributions take shape in David Bentley Hart’s The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2003) and Leonid Ouspensky and Vladimir Lossky, The Meaning of Icons (Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1999). Richard Viladesau, Roberto Goizueta, and Alex García-Rivera advance Roman Catholic reflection in texts like Viladesau’s Theology and the Arts: Encountering God Through Music, Art, and Rhetoric (New York: Paulist Press, 2000), Goizueta’s Christ our Companion: Toward a Theological Aesthetics of Liberation (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2009), and García-Rivera’s The Community of the Beautiful: A Theological Aesthetics (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1999). Anglo-Catholic work has been done by Rowan Williams, as in Grace and Necessity: Reflections on Art and Love (Harrisburg, Pa.: Morehouse, 2005); within Radical Orthodoxy, contributors are John Milbank, Graham Ward, and Edith Wyschogrod’s Theological Perspectives on God and Beauty (Harrisburg, Pa.: Trinity Press International, 2003). Among Reformed traditions, Dutch Neo-Calvinists led the way with Calvin Seerveld’s Rainbows for the Fallen World: Aesthetic Life and Artistic Task (Toronto: Tuppence Press, 1980) and H. R. Rookmaker Christianity and Art (Potchefstroom, South Africa: Potchefstroomse Universiteit vir CHO, Instituut vir Reformatoriese Studie, 1985). William Dyrness took up the Reformed mantle with texts like Poetic Theology: God and the Poetics of Everyday Life (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2011). Jeremy Begbie likewise continues the Reformed tradition in an Anglican register, e.g. in his Resounding Truth: Christian Wisdom in the World of Music (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2007). Others working in the area include Jean and John Dillenberger, Frank Burch Brown, Robin Jensen, and Kimberly Vrudny. None of these would self-identify as theologically Wesleyan.
- The work of S. T. Kimbrough, Jr., has greatly advanced the study of Charles’s hymnody in such texts as The Lyrical Theology of Charles Wesley: A Reader (Eugene, Oreg.: Cascade Books, 2011). See also Teresa Berger, Theology in Hymns?: A Study of the Relationship of Doxology and Theology According to A Collection of Hymns for the Use of the People Called Methodists (1780) (Nashville, Tenn.: Kingswood Books, 1995); John Lawson, A Thousand Tongues: The Wesley Hymns as a Guide to Scriptural Teaching (Exeter, UK: Paternoster, 1987); and Charles Yrigoyen, Jr., Praising the God of Grace: The Theology of Charles Wesley’s Hymns (Nashville, Tenn.: Abingdon Press, 2005). Works that explore Wesleyanism and Romantic literature include Jennifer G. Jesse’s William Blake’s Religious Vision: There is a Methodism in his Madness (Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 1993), and Richard E. Brantley’s Coordinates of an Anglo-American Romanticism: Wesley, Edwards, Carlyle & Emerson (Gainesville, Fla.: University Press of Florida, 1993). Recourse to process thought appears in Kenton Stiles, “Theological Aesthetics: A Wesleyan Sampling of Cuisine,” Wesleyan Theological Journal 42, no. 1 (1 March 2007): 160–82.
- Joanna Cruickshank explains that “Evangelical culture as a whole emphasized the spiritual value of hearing (the word of God) rather than seeing (which could encourage idolatry). The hymns [of Charles]…assume the power and value of the imagination in producing spiritual experiences, rather than that of actual images or objects.” Pain, Passion and Faith: Revisiting the Place of Charles Wesley in Early Methodism (Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2009), 63.
- See Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 2007), esp. 222–23.
- Kenton Stiles, “In the Beauty of Holiness: Wesleyan Theology, Worship, and the Aesthetic,” Wesleyan Theological Journal 32, no. 2 (1 September 1997): 195, and “Theological Aesthetics: A Wesleyan Sampling of Cuisine,” 169.
- Frederick A. Norwood, The Story of American Methodism: A History of the United Methodists and Their Relations (Nashville, Tenn.: Abingdon, 1974), 27–28, 46, 63–69, 104, 300. Norwood cautions that Pentecostalism’s origins are so diverse that it is inaccurate to say that its roots are primarily Methodist or Wesleyan (300).
- For an in-depth discussion of the history of these terms, see Thomas Dixon, From Passions to Emotions: The Creation of a Secular Psychological Category (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).
- Jenefer Robinson, Deeper than Reason: Emotion and its Role in Literature, Music, and Art (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 3–4.
- Ibid., 1.
- See Robinson’s chapter 6 (pp. 154–194) of Deeper than Reason, aptly titled “A Sentimental Education.”
- John Wesley, Sermon 37, “On the Nature of Enthusiasm,” The Bicentennial Edition of the Works of John Wesley [henceforth Works], ed. Frank Baker et al. (Nashville, Tenn.: Abingdon, 1984), 2:44–60. See also Kenneth J. Collins, The Theology of John Wesley: Holy Love and the Shape of Grace (Nashville, Tenn.: Abingdon, 2007), 130. See Theodore Runyon, The New Creation: John Wesley’s Theology for Today (Nashville, Tenn: Abingdon, 1998), 155, for a succinct description of John’s eventual reaction to Moravian “stillness” theology, which he feared elevated an individual’s feelings of God to the point of confusing feelings with Christ.
- John Wesley, Letter to Anne Loxdale (April 12, 1782), in The Letters of the Rev. John Wesley, A. M., ed. John Telford, 8 vols. (London: Epworth Press, 1931), 7:120.
- E.g., see Gregory S. Clapper’s summary in John Wesley on Religious Affections: His Views on Experience and Emotion and Their Role in the Christian Life and Theology (Metuchen, N. J.: Scarecrow Press, 1989), 162.
- John Wesley, “On Knowing Christ After the Flesh,” Works, 4:102.
- John Wesley, journal entry on Dec. 15, 1788, Works, 24:117.
- Cruickshank, 24.
- Collins notes several ways in which John showed discomfort with the full humanity of Jesus, including removing the language of being the same “substance” as Mary from the Thirty-Nine Articles and criticizing familiar language of Christ, to avoid detracting from Christ’s divinity (The Theology of John Wesley, 94–95). Randy L. Maddox describes the same phenomenon and worries, with Collins, that John here moves too far in the direction of monophysitism (Responsible Grace: John Wesley’s Practical Theology [Nashville, Tenn.: Kingswood Books, 1994], 116). See also Donald Davie, “The Carnality of Charles Wesley” in The Eighteenth-Century Hymn in England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 57–70.
- Charles Wesley, Nativity Hymns (1745), #5, reprinted in S. T. Kimbrough, Jr., as hymn 23, The Lyrical Theology of Charles Wesley, 134–35.
- The incarnation has been used to justify art—especially visual art—for centuries, namely in the Eastern Orthodox Church.
- Randy L. Maddox, “A Change of Affections: The Development, Dynamics, and Dethronement of John Wesley’s Heart Religion,” “Heart Religion” in the Methodist Tradition and Related Movements (Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2001), 13–16.
- Clapper, 159.
- John Wesley, “A Dialogue between an Antinomian and His Friend,” The Works of John Wesley [henceforth Works (Jackson)], ed. Thomas Jackson (London, 1872; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1978), 10:274.
- Maddox, Responsible Grace, 51. John B. Cobb, Grace and Responsibility: A Wesleyan Theology for Today (Nashville, Tenn.: Abingdon, 1995), 52–53.
- Runyon, 154.
- Maddox describes this aspect of John Wesley’s theology in positive terms (Responsible Grace, 147). Stiles likewise celebrates the holism embedded in Wesley’s theology of holiness (“In the Beauty of Holiness,” 212). See also Deborah Madden, ‘Inward and Outward Health’: John Wesley’s Holistic Concept of Medical Science, the Environment and Holy Living (Eugene, Oreg.: Wipf & Stock, 2012).
- Cobb, 267.
- For detailed discussion, see Collins, “John Wesley’s Topography of the Heart: Dispositions, Tempers, and Affections,” Methodist History 36 (1998), esp. p. 171.
- John Wesley, A Plain Account of Christian Perfection, §19, Works (Jackson), 11:394. Stiles appeals to this in his discussion of John’s holistic approach to holiness, “In the Beauty of Holiness,” 212.
- As described by Maddox, “A Change of Affections,” 20.
- John Wesley, “Thoughts on the Power of Music,” Arminian Magazine 4 (1781): 103–107, reprinted in Works (Jackson), 13:470–73.
- See Martha Craven Nussbaum, Love’s Knowledge: Essays on Philosophy and Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990); Nicholas Wolterstorff, Art Rethought: The Social Practices of Art (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015); James K. A. Smith, Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2013); Berys Nigel Gaut, Art, Emotion and Ethics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), and Robinson, Deeper than Reason.
- Wolterstorff, 213–215.
- Brantley, Coordinates of Anglo-American Romanticism, 1–2.
- Ibid., 4, and Jennifer Jesse’s William Blake’s Religious Vision.
- Maddox, Responsible Grace, 208.
- Cruickshank, 21.
- Ibid., 29.
- Ibid., chapters 3-6.
- Charles Wesley, “In the Work,” Hymn 13 in The Poetical Works of John and Charles Wesley, 14 vols. (London: Wesleyan-Methodist Conference Office, 1868–1872), 5:19–21. For Cruickshank’s analysis, see Pain, Passion and Faith, 155–58.
- The theme of restoring these into perfectly loving relationships shapes much of Runyon’s appropriation of John Wesley in The New Creation.
- For in-depth analyses of specific artists and visual artworks of this nature, see Robin Margaret Jensen and Kimberly J. Vrudny, Visual Theology: Forming and Transforming the Community through the Arts (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 2009).
- Maddox, Responsible Grace, 69–70, 132, 179, 212, 318 n. 103.
- Wolterstorff, 203, 215–16.
- Martha Craven Nussbaum, Poetic Justice: The Literary Imagination and Public Life (Boston: Boston Press, 1995), 5-6, discussed in Wolterstorff, 215-216.
- Toni Morrison, foreword to The Bluest Eye (New York: Random House, 2007), xii.
- In his Cultural Liturgy series, James K. A. Smith suggests that “secular” practices often misdirect our desires and, as a consequence, steer us away from proper Christian action (e.g., see Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation [Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2009], 24–27). See also Vincent Miller, Consuming Religion: Christian Faith and Practice in a Consumer Culture (New York: Continuum International Publishing, 2003), 12. These scholars agree that our cultures can habituate us in ways that inhibit us from doing even that which we think is good and desirable.
- E.g., as Collins does in “John Wesley’s Topography of the Heart,” 173–75.
- John Wesley, Sermon 40, “Christian Perfection,” Works, 2:99.