Kevin Twain Lowery believes that two of John Wesley's most distinctive doctrines--his doctrines of assurance and Christian perfection--have not been sufficiently developed. Rather, these doctrines have either been distorted or neglected. Lowery suggests that since Wesleyan ethics is centered on these two doctrines, they need to be recast in a schema that emphasizes the cognitive aspects of religious knowledge and moral development. Salvaging Wesley's Agenda constructs such a new framework in three stages. First, Lowery explores Wesley's reliance upon Lockean empiricism. He contends that Wesleyan epistemology should remain more closely tied to empirical knowledge and should distance itself from mystical and intuitionist models like Wesley's own "spiritual sense" analogy. Second, examining the way that Wesley appropriates Jonathan Edwards's view of the religious affections, Lowery shows that Wesleyan ethics should not regard emotions as something to be passively experienced. Rather, emotions have cognitive content that allows them to be shaped. Third, Lowery completes the new framework by suggesting ways to revise and expand Wesley's own conceptual scheme. These suggestions allow more of Wesley's concerns to be incorporated into the new schema without sacrificing his core commitments. The final chapter sketches the doctrines of assurance and perfection in the new framework. Assurance is based on religious faith and on self-knowledge (both empirical and psychological), and perfection is understood in a more teleological context. The result is a version of Wesleyan ethics more faithful to Wesley's own thought and able to withstand the scrutiny of higher intellectual standards.
Endorsements & Reviews-
"Lowery approaches Wesley with the issues and problems that arose in the Holiness and Pentecostal movements chiefly in view! This leads to fresh appraisals of Wesley's doctrines of assurance and perfection and to his constructive proposal of a Wesleyan ethical theory. That the latter can make such extensive use of Kant is surprising and challenging. This book places Lowery as a major contributor to the construction of new Wesleyan theologies for our day."
John B. Cobb Jr. Professor Emeritus, Claremont School of Theology
"Seeking new ways to formulate and revitalize Wesley's ethics, Dr. Lowery has placed Wesley in dialogue not only with John Locke and Jonathan Edwards, whom Wesley knew and admired, but also with Immanuel Kant whom he did not know. Yet Lowery finds key similarities between Wesley's doctrines of assurance and perfection and Kant's ethics, similarities that enable Lowery to enlarge and refine Wesley's doctrines in significant and creative ways. This is clearly a groundbreaking book for Wesley research and promising for new developments."
Theodore Runyon, Professor Emeritus Candler School of Theology, Emory University
Kevin Twain Lowery
Kevin Twain Lowery is an associate professor at Olivet Nazarene University, where he teaches theology and philosophy. His academic specializations and interests include moral philosophy, Enlightenment thought, and the interaction of ethics with science and religion. He is the author of The Maturity of Belief: Making Religion More Intellectually Sound.