Turning Points in Wesley's Faith
Today, in addition to being my Mom's birthday (Happy Birthday Mom), is also the day that in 1738 John Wesley had his Aldersgate Street experience. I thought I would share my response to a question from a course on Methodist history I am currently taking. We were asked to identify and address the turning points of John Wesley's faith. Wesley struggled with the question of faith, is faith instantaneous or is it gradual? Here is my response:There were several turning points in the faith of John Wesley. The first was his experiences at Oxford. While studying at Oxford and later returning while Charles was there, John became devoted to holiness. He began to reject the norms of the Christianity that he had been raised to know. John became involved with communal discipleship when he joined the Holy Club. The next turning point for John was his missionary trip to Georgia. While on his voyage over he witnessed the faith of the Moravians traveling with him. He began to feel self-doubt when presented with the faithfulness of the Moravians while traveling through rough seas. After returning from Georgia, John began doubting his own faith after he evaluated his lack of success in Georgia. He met Peter Böhler who helped to life John out of the spiritual despair he was in. Böhler told him to "preach faith till you have it..." and assisted John in developing true faith. A faith living faith, not merely buying into what the church was telling Christians to feel. John began to search to figure out if faith developed of time or an instantaneous event. The final turning point for John was at Aldersgate while when he felt the Holy Spirit enter into his heart. He was overwhelmed with joy and began to share his experience with those in this discipleship group that night. The turning points for John Wesley's faith occurred over a two-year period, and in this short amount of time John's faith was challenged and renewed.