Title

The soup of salvation : John Wesley's recipe for conversion and the beloved women in his life.

Author

Hee Sook Ahn

Date of Award

5-1-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

School

Caspersen School of Graduate Studies

Degree Name

Doctor of Letters

Abstract

John Wesley lived through nearly all of the eighteenth century (1703-1791), when the post-Reformation ferment of emerging Protestant theologies was stirring. He was an English reformer at heart and the founder of Methodism. This dissertation contends that Wesley's general meaning of conversion, personally realized so dramatically in his Aldersgate conversion experience is closely related to the stories that swirl around his life story, including the story about the women in his life. His theology is inextricably intertwined with these stories, and they come synergistically together for him to form a "soup" of experiential epiphany and learning. Wesley's conversion at Aldersgate Street would forever change his life and form what would become his signature stance in faith, a "heart strangely warmed." This experience became the boiling cauldron, with an overflow, which would become the essential building blocks for his theology of salvation through faith in Christ. It altered his previously legalistic way of view and God's salvific intervention. Wesley's relationship with his mother, Susanna, very much shaped his worldview and in his life. Then, there were three lovers in his life, including his wife. These relationships both gave him a great deal of happiness, and also complete misery. Wesley's early Christian home-schooled education and later life experiences, added to various ministry experiences, together allowed Wesley to build a framework of thinking of the church outside of the conventional wisdom of the times in the Church of England. His striving for excellence in each area of his life propelled him to the great accomplishments that he has come to be known for. It is apparent that Wesley believed that the development and practice of this theology, of this soup of salvation, could provide a hungering humanity with the means to appropriate the Christian faith through the conversion of their souls and triumph over sin and death. He believed that this message would feed the hearts of seekers all over the world, ceaselessly. Through his intensely personal relational experiences, his theology manifested into something far more comprehensive and efficacious than what his theology would have been without such life-developing experiences.