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On the Subject of John Wesley's Lack of Self-disclosure...

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  • Steve Stanley
    Occasionally we have read (on this list and in other venues) about Wesley s apparent lack of (what is today called) transparency . Some comments (not of this
    Message 1 of 4 , Nov 14, 2005
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      Occasionally we have read (on this list and in other venues) about
      Wesley's apparent lack of (what is today called) "transparency". Some
      comments (not of this list) have bordered on presenting this as an
      indication of mental disease or worse.

      Might the real issue be as simple as the fact that he was beset by
      foes without and "well-intentioned dragons" within the circle of his
      friends and co-workers?

      It is a well-established fact that his wife often copied his letters
      and changed references, altered names, and generally took comments out
      of context. She is thought by some to have been among those who
      publicly published his redacted/altered/edited correspondence with an
      eye toward damaging his credibility.

      Further, his opponents were numerous and untiring. Whether within
      Anglicanism or among his Calvinistic detractors, his every word was
      subject to a level of scrutiny to which, I imagine, few among us can
      relate. This would also tend to make one overly-precise and a bit
      reticent to resort to chatty or loquacious composition.

      Finally, even his friends did sometimes injure and abrade him. Who
      will forget that it was his own brother plus his dearest friends who
      interfered in his relationship with his (apparently) one great love --
      Grace Murray? His brother, Charles, is increasingly at odds with John
      over his innovations in ministry (which eventually led to the break
      with the Anglican Church) and is frequently seen feeding information
      to John's opponents through back-channels.

      "Guarded" and "self-protecting", "precise" and "meticulous" might all
      be words to describe the conduct of any wise person caught in such
      circumstances. Who knew where the words one wrote today might finally
      appear? Or in whose mouth they might find some slightly variant
      re-telling? Or by whose characterization they might eventually suffer
      being twisted into something quite unlike what was first in the heart
      of their author?

      No... I cannot sneer at Wesley's spartan speech... I do not know many
      who would act differently if finding themselves in his position.

      Enough of the man survives in the lives and testimonies of his
      contemporaries for me to believe that this little man who preached
      such a big Savior, lived at the fountain of the magnificent grace he
      heralded for so long. Weak men do not build strong churches. The
      legacy of Wesley is one of godly strength and spiritual insight
      perhaps on a level not witnessed since the days of the first century
      church.

      -Steve
    • Rev. Andrew B. Glos
      Point well taken, Steve. We have a tendency nowadays to tear anyone down, even those people that we respect. I remember a few years back when the news did a
      Message 2 of 4 , Nov 14, 2005
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        Point well taken, Steve. We have a tendency nowadays
        to tear anyone down, even those people that we
        respect.

        I remember a few years back when the news did a big
        expose on how Newman's Own did not really give 8% (or
        whatever) of their earning to charity, but that it was
        more like 5% after budget adjustments (since his
        non-profit company did not always make enough money to
        give that much). They made such a fuss that he had to
        remove the line from his merchandize. Paul Newman had
        already by then given over $100 million in charity
        from this company and build numerous children's camps,
        but the only news was how terribly fraudulant he was
        for not giving as much as he said.

        We are desperate for people to not be as good as they
        are. I've heard people who like to say how Mother
        Theresa had a harsh side, and so forth.

        We always so surprised to find out that great and good
        people were in fact . . . people? Why do we
        desperately need people not to be too good? I half
        suspect it is in order to make ourselves feel better
        about the fact that we are not in their shoes, feeding
        and clothing the least of these. To justify ourselves.
        This is a sad state of affairs. We should be
        celebrating their accomplishments (just as we
        acknoweledge that they were human all the same).

        Was Wesley perfect? Certainly not. He did have a
        penchant for being heavy handed, he had real problems
        with his marriage which ought not to be emmulated, and
        so forth. But the real glory of Br. John Wesley was
        how much wonderful work he did in the fields of the
        Lord in spite of his shortcoming, and what a wonderful
        witness he is to us that by the grace of God, we too
        can accomplish as much as he did, if we are not better
        or worse than his character.

        I appreciate the sentiments of your post very much.

        Ol' John rocked! I trust that in the company of saints
        and the fellowship of angels, he rocks still!

        Andrew G.
      • Ken H.
        Wesley was indeed, a very godly man. John Fletcher, his contemporary, said that when he gets to heaven he doesn t expect to find John Wesley there. He said
        Message 3 of 4 , Nov 14, 2005
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          Wesley was indeed, a very godly man. John Fletcher, his contemporary, said that when he gets to heaven he doesn't expect to find John Wesley there. He said that John Wesley will be so close to the throne of God that very few will get a glimpse of him.

          And yes, he did have a lot of personal problems. I believed in spite of all them he eventally passed over the Jordan.

          Ken

          Steve Stanley <pastorses@...> wrote:
          Occasionally we have read (on this list and in other venues) about
          Wesley's apparent lack of (what is today called) "transparency". Some
          comments (not of this list) have bordered on presenting this as an
          indication of mental disease or worse.

          Might the real issue be as simple as the fact that he was beset by
          foes without and "well-intentioned dragons" within the circle of his
          friends and co-workers?

          It is a well-established fact that his wife often copied his letters
          and changed references, altered names, and generally took comments out
          of context. She is thought by some to have been among those who
          publicly published his redacted/altered/edited correspondence with an
          eye toward damaging his credibility.

          Further, his opponents were numerous and untiring. Whether within
          Anglicanism or among his Calvinistic detractors, his every word was
          subject to a level of scrutiny to which, I imagine, few among us can
          relate. This would also tend to make one overly-precise and a bit
          reticent to resort to chatty or loquacious composition.

          Finally, even his friends did sometimes injure and abrade him. Who
          will forget that it was his own brother plus his dearest friends who
          interfered in his relationship with his (apparently) one great love --
          Grace Murray? His brother, Charles, is increasingly at odds with John
          over his innovations in ministry (which eventually led to the break
          with the Anglican Church) and is frequently seen feeding information
          to John's opponents through back-channels.

          "Guarded" and "self-protecting", "precise" and "meticulous" might all
          be words to describe the conduct of any wise person caught in such
          circumstances. Who knew where the words one wrote today might finally
          appear? Or in whose mouth they might find some slightly variant
          re-telling? Or by whose characterization they might eventually suffer
          being twisted into something quite unlike what was first in the heart
          of their author?

          No... I cannot sneer at Wesley's spartan speech... I do not know many
          who would act differently if finding themselves in his position.

          Enough of the man survives in the lives and testimonies of his
          contemporaries for me to believe that this little man who preached
          such a big Savior, lived at the fountain of the magnificent grace he
          heralded for so long. Weak men do not build strong churches. The
          legacy of Wesley is one of godly strength and spiritual insight
          perhaps on a level not witnessed since the days of the first century
          church.

          -Steve


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        • John Earp
          To me this whole issue points up something of absolutely critical importance in any discussion about perfection. That is, the *heart* of a person is what
          Message 4 of 4 , Nov 14, 2005
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            To me this whole issue points up something of
            absolutely critical importance in any discussion about
            "perfection." That is, the *heart* of a person is
            what Christian perfection (or any other moral value)
            is about. Saying that Wesley was lacking in
            "transparency" really doesn't prove anything one way
            or the other with regard to his own heart for God and
            fellow man.

            John Earp
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