Definitive Study of Evidence Concerning John Wesley’s Appropriation of the Thought of Clement of Alexandria

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This study advances the field of Wesley studies, particularly in regard to the ongoing discussion of Wesley’s theological sources. It undertakes a detailed investigation of single ante-Nicene writer’s possible influence, Clement of Alexandria, as giving inspired him to write a tract that in many ways defined the Methodist movement, Character of a Methodist (1742). It also provides additional evidence, both textual and conceptual, of an appropriation of Clement’s thought by Wesley. It contributes to the broader field of systematic theology by showing how an essential Christian doctrine – in this case Christian perfection of sanctification – may develop over time without diminution or fundamental change.


“Other scholars have argued that Christian antiquity functioned for Wesley as an alternative cultural vision for religious renewal. Anderson’s case study takes this approach to a new level. After examining the influence on and development of Wesley’s vision of Christian antiquity, Anderson details how the writings of one church father, Clement of Alexandria, shaped Wesley’s vision of individual and communal life.” – Kenneth E. Rowe, Professor of Church History, Drew University

“Neil Anderson has undertaken the analysis of this correlation with great skill and acumen, and with a vast knowledge of the relevant sources….has built his case with patience and diligence from primary sources – both patristic and early Church of England sources – in dialogue with contemporary scholarship….Any subsequent attempt to define the relationship between Wesley and the early Christian fathers must take into account this rigorous study by Neil Anderson. Students of Wesley and of the history of the evangelical revivals will revel in numerous unexpected insights concerning the sources of modern evangelical teaching on the holy life.” – Thomas C. Oden, PhD, Drew University

“Anderson’s work breaks fresh ground in the ongoing task of uncovering the theological influences and sources of John Wesley’s thought. Anderson does not deal in generalities; that is, his work is not merely another survey of the broad intellectual influences that may be observed in the history of ideas. Rather, Anderson relentlessly aims his analysis at a single, well-defined question: the nature and scope of John Wesley’s theological dependence on second-century writer, Clement of Alexandria. In executing this task, Anderson’s work is extraordinarily substantive. He leaves no stone unturned in his exposure and analysis of the evidence of Wesley’s use of Clement. Anderson’s research not only offers a major gift to the discipline of Wesley studies, it also makes an important contribution to the field of early Christian ecclesiastical thought through its analysis and interpretation of the theological intricacies of Clement’s assessment of Christian experience. Moreover, as an added benefit to the reader, Anderson’s work stands as a model of clear, focused research method.” - Douglas R. Cullum, Ph.D, Northeastern Seminary, Rochester, NY.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents (main headings):
Foreword; Introduction
1. Anglicanism and Christian Antiquity: The Via Media of the Church of England; The Church Fathers – Cranmer; Jewel, Bucer, Vermigli, Hooker, Andrewes, Taylor, Pearson, Beveridge; Potter
2. Wesley, The Fathers, & the Anglican Holiness Tradition”
3. John Wesley’s Adaptation of Clement Alexandria: “On Clemens Alexandrinus’ Description of Perfect Christian”; Letter Lloyd’s Evening Post; “Character of a Methodist”; Correspondence with Miss March
4. Clement of Alexandria: Biography and Historical Setting; Clement’s Sources; Works; Soteriology
5. Arguments: Textual Evidence; Thematic Similarities; Style; Doctrinal Development
Appendix 1: The Unpublished Manuscripts
Appendix 2: John Wesley on Early Church Heresies
Appendix 3: “On Clemens Alexandrinus’ Description of a Perfect Christian”
Bibliography; Index

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