Ever since John Wesley departed from Anglican usage by "consecrating" him as Superintendent of American Methodism, Thomas Coke has been a center of controversy. Though remembered primarily as the "Father of Methodist missions," he was a key figure in the development of Methodism on both sides of the Atlantic in the years before and after Wesley's death. To write his biography is to write much of the history of the Church he served. This makes it all the more surprising that no serious study of Thomas Coke has appeared in England for over a century, and that the only substantial twentieth-century biography is that of Bishop Candler published in America more than forty years ago. In the words of Cyril Davey on the occasion of the bicentenary of Coke's birth, "No man in Methodism had a greater significance for his own age, for Methodism, and for the Missionary movement. No man, deserving to be remembered, has been more completely forgotten." The present book is, in fact, the first documented study of the man ever published. Based to a considerable degree on unpublished primary material, it aims to present Coke as a human being in relation to, and often in conflict with, his contemporaries. At the same time it examines critically the accusations of self-seeking ambition and inconsistency repeatedly brought against him. And it reviews his various roles as Wesley's right-hand man, as Asbury's uneasily yoked colleague, as a pioneer of missions at home as well as abroad, as preacher and author, and as devoted husband.
John A. Vickers