Tag Archive: John Wesley

Scott Jones’s Evangelistic Love of God & Neighbor makes many important contributions to the contemporary study of evangelism.  Jones is unapologetically Wesleyan, but at the same theologically charitable and ecumenical.  His desire and ability to connect doctrinal beliefs about God and scripture with the lived theology and practice of evangelism is welcomed.  His evangelistic strategies flow from scripture and tradition, not from the latest business marketing strategies or committee meeting schemes.

Jones’s passion for scripture, evangelism, and the church is clearly evident. As he puts it, the church’s ministry of sharing the gospel is a necessary and important corollary to the gospel message itself.  He gives us pause to reconsider, “What is the gospel?”  “How is it best shared?”  For Jones, the gospel is good news of God’s love for all creation, news Christians are called to participate in with others.   The evangelistic sharing of the gospel of love best comes through “that set of loving, intentional activities governed by the goal of initiating persons into Christian discipleship in response to the reign of God.”

Jones’s emphasis on the discipleship aims of evangelism over the salvific component of evangelism is insightful.  The distinction helps us to see that evangelism is rooted in building relationships (with God and neighbor) that encourage persons towards great disciplined love of God and neighbor.  Evangelism is not geared solely to immediately winning others to Christ or packing more people into the pews on Sunday mornings.

Surprisingly, one aspect Jones’s definitions and suggestions lack is an adequate role for the Spirit in evangelism.  Jones writes of “loving activities” and human response through discipleship, but he rarely allows for the Spirit to guide these processes.  All of the actions and responses seem to be primarily performed by humans, as if we can muster enough faith or energy to bring about the desired results.

In one instance Jones references the Parable of the Sower, and points out that evangelism is like spreading the seed.  When we scatter the seed who knows how the seeds will take to the ground – results may vary.  But in this interpretation we, Christians, are responsible for scattering and watering the seeds.  Perhaps a more faithful evangelistic interpretation of the parable places greater emphasis on God as the sower.   If so, then the issue is not, “where do we Christians sow seed?  I hope it works!”  The question becomes, “where is God sowing the seeds and how may we participate in that mission?”

In all, Jones’s work is a faithful and fruitful look at evangelism in the church today.  He reminds us that God’s love for us is our impetus for sharing that love with others.  In love, we invite others to be disciples who live obediently to God’s will and participate in God’s redeeming mission in the world.  Jones captures the church’s evangelistic heart best with the poetic words of John Wesley:

Freely to all ourselves we give,

constrained by Jesu’s love to live

the servants of mankind. (2 Cor. 4.5; 5.14)

This is the final review in an eight-part series looking at Scott Jones’s Evangelistic Love of God & Neighbor


Thought for the week

“Lord! What you say is true. Your care for me is greater than all the care I can take of myself.” — Thomas à Kempis

Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471) was a German monk and a practical mystic. This quotation comes from his work, The Imitation of Christ. Kempis greatly influenced John Wesley.

Everyone on facebook is doing a “25 Things” list in which they divulge juicy, interesting, and sometimes embarrassing “things “from their lives.  To date, I have not participated in this “25 Things” phenomenon.  However, I recently discovered another “Things list” that is much more fascinating…not to mention spiritually worthwhile.

Some might view John Wesley as fanatical in his diary and journal writing.  He logged everything he bought from the store.  He recorded every time he prayed, ate, and read Scripture.  For Wesley, writing was vital to his spiritual life.  In addition to his daily logs, Wesley’s diary entries were often responses to spiritual questions.

So, I present John Wesley’s version of the facebook “25 Things”: John Wesley’s 22 Questions.

1.  Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I really am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?

2.  Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?

3. Do I confidentially pass on to another what was told to me in confidence?

4. Can I be trusted?

5. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits?

6. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?

7. Did the Bible live in me today?

8. Do I give it time to speak to me everyday?

9. Am I enjoying prayer?

10. When did I last speak to someone else about my faith?

11. Do I pray about the money I spend?

12. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?

13. Do I disobey God in anything?

14. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?

15. Am I defeated in any part of my life?

16. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy, or distrustful?

17. How do I spend my spare time?

18. Am I proud?

19. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisees who despised the publican?

20. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold a resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I doing about it?

21. Do I grumble or complain constantly?

22. Is Christ real to me?

Lots has been made of the long-anticipated Wesley Study Bible.  Yesterday, mine showed up at my door.  While I haven’t spent much time browsing through it, my initial impressions are positive:

– The brown and green leather cover is extremely nice.

– The Bible has a good “feel” to it.  Not too dainty, but not too cumbersome.  However, it is bigger than I expected.  It’s shaped much more like a square then a rectangle.

– The print font and layout is accessible (for the most part, see below).

– However, the “notes” at the bottom the page are little jumbled.  Basically, the notes are just continuous text with verse references in bold print.  Therefore, glancing to the bottom of the page to see if there is a note for the verse you want isn’t the quickest task.

– The discipleship and “Key Wesleyan terms” sections will be beneficial and fruitful for both clergy and laity.

Ok, enough of my grumblings.  Recently, The Wesley Report highlight a great interview with Bishop Will Willimon concerning the WSB, for which he was an editor.

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