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A Scholarly study of Wesleyan Theology.
This is written in a scholarly and less "popular" style than the books below. While much more rigorous, and more demanding to read, it will provides a very accurate and detailed understanding of Wesley's doctrines of salvation and the spiritual life.
- Wesley and Sanctification by Harald Lindström. (1947). Timothy Smith says of this book: "Harald Lindström's classic study of John Wesley's doctrine of sanctification, long out of print, remains the most accurate and comprehensive description we have of the theology of the founder of Methodism."
A Compilation of John Wesley’s Teachings on Christian Perfection.
Here is a basic resource for understanding John Wesley’s teachings about the Christian life — and especially his teachings on Christian Perfection (also called Entire Sanctification). This collection was compiled by J. A. Wood, an important figure in the 19th Century Holiness movement.
- Wesley on Perfection (from a 1921 reprint). The first part of this book is a topically arranged compilation of quotes from John Wesley. The final section (Section 30) is the complete text of A Plain Account of Christian Perfection, arranged with subject headings. This book is a basic resource for understanding Wesley's teaching on this subject.
- A Plain Account of Christian Perfection. This is a direct link to Section 30 of the book above.
Books by Thomas C. Upham.
Thomas C. Upham (1799–1872) was an American psychologist, author, teacher, poet, social activist, pacifist, and spiritual writer. Though trained as a Congregationalist pastor, he spent his life as an academic, serving as Professor of Mental and Moral Philosophy at Bowdoin College from 1825-1868. At the urgings of his wife, Upham attended some of the meetings led by Phoebe Palmer for the promotion of Christian holiness. Here he encountered the message and experience of entire sanctification. After this, he wrote several books explaining, and defending this experience. He also wrote spiritual biographies of Madame Guyon and Catherine of Genoa.
- Principles of the Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition 1844, 1st edition 1843). Darius Salter writes in his book on Upham’s theology: “Upham’s writings are the first attempt to weigh the tenants of holiness theology within the rubrics of psychological investigation. His findings are integral to the history of the psychology of religion. Upham’s Principles of the Interior [or Hidden] Life (1843) may be the best attempt to stress experiential holiness theology within a psychological context.” I consider the 1844 second edition a significant improvement on the 1843 first edition, and have based my online edition on it.
- The Life of Faith (1852). This is a follow-up to The Interior or Hidden Life. Some of the content from the earlier book appears here again, but the emphasis is it a little different. It focuses on faith — and what faith means to the whole of the Christian life. Upham writes: "The present Work... is, to some extent, kindred in its nature with The Interior Life....The leading object of both Works is the promotion of practical holiness….”
Books by Daniel Steele.
Daniel Steele (1824-1914) was a great Bible scholar and theologian in the Holiness movement. He had a varied career as a pastor, college professor, and college administrator. His writing style may take some getting used to, but his writings are well worth reading, in large part because of their emphasis on Biblical interpretation. Steele was an able defender of the teachings of Wesley and Fletcher.
- Love Enthroned (1875, revised 1908). This exposition of the doctrine of entire sanctification includes the author's personal testimony to the experience. This was the first of Steele's "holiness books." Material was added in 1908.
- Milestone Papers (1878). A collection of essays on entire sanctification. If you only read one of Steele's works, this is the one to read. Chapter 8 on "Tense Readings" in the Greek New Testament is especially interesting.
- A Substitute for Holiness, or Antinomianism Revived (1887) This book is Steele’s refutation of Dispensationalism. This is his only book on end-times teachings. His primary concern is the way that Dispensational teaching undermines the call to Christian holiness. Steele was a post-millenialist, and he believed that end-time schema best fit with the optimistic theology of Wesleyanism. This is an especially provocative book to read.
- Commentary on Leviticus (1891). This is drawn from volume 2 of Whedon’s Bible Commentary on the Old Testament. Whedon’s Commentary was intended to be a popular-level commentary for the general reader, written from a Wesleyan point of view.
- Commentary on Numbers (1891). This is drawn from volume 2 of Whedon’s Bible Commentary on the Old Testament. Whedon’s Commentary was intended to be a popular-level commentary for the general reader, written from a Wesleyan point of view.
- Half-Hours with St. Paul (c. 1894). Several Bible-study articles, mostly addressing the interpretation of the writings of the apostle Paul. Most of them (but not all) are quite brief.
- A Defense of Christian Perfection (1896). This "defense" was written to refute Dr. James Mudge's book Growth in Holiness Toward Perfection. But, the book is brief, many of the chapters are very brief and the argument is not difficult to follow.
- The Gospel of the Comforter (1898). This book on the role of the Holy Spirit in the Christian life is regarded by some as Steele's greatest book.
- Jesus Exultant (1899). A collection of sermons. This is the only book solely devoted to Steele's sermons. The sermons are long, but the topics are interesting. Steele's theology was hopeful, gracious and optimistic.
- Half-Hours with St. John’s Epistles (1901). This volume is poorly titled. This is actually a verse by verse commentary on 1, 2 & 3 John. It contains an Introduction to the letters of John, a full commentary, and some supplementary essays on certain themes in the letters.
- Steele's Answers (1912) blog. An old Holiness magazine called The Christian Witness had a Question and Answer column — an “Ask Dr. Steele" column. The book Steele’s Answers is a compilation of Steele's responses to the specific questions that were posed to him. The questions appear in no particular thematic order. I post these, along with other snippets from Dr. Steele’s writings on a blog. This makes it easy to search for his comments on particular topics.
- Perfect Love by J. A. Wood (1880, revised ~1900). (off-site link) Written in a question-and-answer format, this book provides a sort of Holiness catechism. Wood quotes extensively from other authors. The exposition is clear enough to expose both the strengths and the difficulties of the common Holiness views.
- New Testament Holiness by Thomas Cook (1902). (off-site link) A simple and straightforward statement of the Holiness perspective on the Christian life. Cook was an evangelist who wanted to see the Wesleyan emphasis on Entire Sanctification restored in the church.
- The Fullness of the Blessing of the Gospel of Christ by Bishop W. F. Mallalieu (1903). A brief, and very basic, overview of Methodist teachings on the Christian life. W. F. Mallalieu (1828-1911) was elected Bishop in the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1884 and presided in many Annual Conferences in the U.S.A. He writes: "Methodism builds on the Word of God. It has no new doctrines, no new and strange theories, no recently invented experiences. Its doctrines, theories, and experiences are those of the Pentecostal Church, and of the earliest centuries of Christianity." And, he says: "Back to the Wesleys and the Bible. The Bible in its simplicity and power, the Bible as unfolded and illustrated in the poetry and prose of the Wesleys, is really the foundation of [Methodism]."
Books by H. A. Baldwin.
Free Methodist pastor, district superintendent, evangelist and author Harmon Allen Baldwin (1869-1936) wrote several books defending and explaining the Wesleyan doctrine of Christian Perfection. He went back to the classical sources in the teachings of Wesley and Fletcher. But, his aim was very practical: to assist people in understanding of God's will and to assist them in their spiritual growth.
- Lessons for Seekers of Holiness by Harmon A. Baldwin (c. 1907). This book contains lots of quotations from Wesley, Fletcher, Clarke, Peck and Steele. This is a good statement of the Wesleyan teaching on the spiritual life.
- Objections to Entire Sanctification Considered by Harmon A. Baldwin (c. 1911). This very brief volume replies to sixteen common objections to Holiness teachings. In replying to these, Baldwin also considers some alternative views of the Christian life. A very helpful and brief attempt to clarify what Holiness teachers do & do not teach.
- The Indwelling Christ by Harmon A. Baldwin (1912). The author says: "In the following pages the writer desires to defend the old-fashioned doctrine of experimental religion, and teach the possibility of having Christ, the hope of glory, formed within. There is very little attempt to refute errors or meet objections; the matter, for the most part, has been viewed from the positive side."
- Holiness and the Human Element by Harmon A. Baldwin (c. 1919). Brief chapters on various aspects of human nature and their relation to life in sanctification.
Overviews of Methodist Theology.
These books, written for the general reader, give an overview of the teachings of the Methodists in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
- Adam Clarke's Christian Theology (1835) edited by Samuel Dunn. Adam Clarke's teachings were edited and systematically arranged after his death by Samuel Dunn. The book also contains an overview of Clarke's life and writings.
- Binney's Theological Compend Improved (1874) (off-site link) by Amos Binney & Daniel Steele. A sketchy overview of Christian theology written originally for Methodist youth. It became unexpectedly popular in its day. Originally written by Amos Binney, it was expanded and "improved" in 1874 by Binney's son-in-law, Daniel Steele.