Friday, October 1, 2021
A Wesley Worth Hearing Again
Stocking your pantry for winter reading? Compelled to consider spiritual renewal? This is my encouragement to stalk and purchase a copy of The Radical Wesley and Patterns for Church Renewal, by Howard Snyder, 1980 InterVarsity Press. You will necessarily search because it remains out of print.
Focused on the life of John Wesley (1703-1791), Howard Snyder’s The Radical Wesley and Patterns for Church Renewal, will leave your soul tumbling. Read quickly if you must, but consider marking passages for moments of consideration and prayer. Wesley promoted a carefully framed, Spirit-filled-vigorous life for disciples of Jesus.
The historical setting of the Wesley’s provides context in the book. While Snyder keeps the 1700s in mind, with appropriate notes along the way, the author’s intent resides beyond presenting a precise church history account.
Readers searching for renewal patterns will also find it applicable beyond the personal level as well as helpful in cross-cultural contexts. Though not primarily mentioning international or cross-cultural church movements, the truths raised by Snyder will prove helpful to leaders.
Ready for opposition? Ready to have your motives and methods challenged? Ready to have your integrity called into question? Prepare yourself, if you seek renewal. The tension will be unavoidable and as Snyder explains accompanied by predictable outcomes.
Three specifics should be anticipated. “The renewal body will either: 1.) become increasingly radicalized and leave or be forced out of the institutional [read existing] church…; 2.) lose its vitality to the point where it is no longer a threat to the institutional church…; 3.) become accommodated to the institutional church by being given a recognized but limited place within the structure…” (p 131).
Whether meeting as a single local community, possibly today’s so-called linked churches or in a parachurch work group, some issues are consistent. It is to those issues that Snyder’s work continues to make a contribution forty plus years after publication.
Additional Resource: Readers may be interested in pursuing http://victorshepherd.ca/. Victor Shepherd provides a remarkable resource. Shepherd’s strength resides in research and writing—precision as well as depth. My thanks to long-time ministry colleague James Clubine, Th.D. for alerting me to Dr. Shepherd’s contributions.