Aldersgate and Athens: John Wesley and the Foundations of by William J. Abraham

By William J. Abraham

In his day, John Wesley provided very important insights on find out how to receive wisdom of God that bears fruit in our personal occasions. As premier Wesleyan pupil William Abraham indicates, Wesley's most famed non secular adventure is rife with philosophical value and implications. all through, Abraham brings Wesley's paintings into fruitful dialog with probably the most vital paintings in modern epistemology. Lyrically and succinctly he explores the simultaneous epistemological quest and non secular pilgrimage that have been relevant to Wesley and the Evangelical Revival of the eighteenth century. In so doing, he presents a realized and eye-opening meditation upon the connection among cause and religion.

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What Alston posits is that we can rightly construe much Christian experience of God in terms of perception of the divine. Thus he begins, as Wesley does, with the potential analogies between ordinary sense perception and perception of God. In earlier efforts to run the analogies the common strategy was simply to think of one mode of perception and then look for its manifestations in various modes. The problem for religious experience 32 Aldersgate and Athens was immediately apparent. The disanalogies between sense perception and perception of God were so obvious that the veridicality of religious perception quickly came into question.

The amount of material available on the relationship between faith and reason is absolutely staggering. And the debate rages on today. Indeed the last forty years have seen an amazing turnaround in the discussion. When I was trained in philosophy in the late 1960s in the splendid philosophy department at Queen’s University in Belfast, I could not initially find anyone to teach me philosophy of religion. It was simply assumed that religious discourse lacked intellectual content, so there was no point in discussing the relation between faith and reason.

The claim to have seen the truth about God through the inner witness stays intact unless it is defeated. One way to defeat it is to draw attention to the absence of the testimony of our own spirits, that is, to draw attention to the fact that the fruits of the Holy Spirit are conspicuously absent from our lives. If someone claims to have the inner witness but their lives are marked by anger, fear, cruelty, and the like, then he or she is deluded. Thus Wesley has in hand ways of withdrawing the claim that someone has come to gain filial knowledge of God, but he does so in a way that keeps the original reliance on the spiritual senses intact.

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