Another insight that I received from the New Room Conference came during one of the keynote addresses by Billy Abraham. Abraham is the Albert Cook Outler Professor of Wesley Studies at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. All this is to say that he is very knowledgeable and in a position to make this claim with a fair degree of certainty.
Abraham noted that there are 77 million Christians worldwide that trace their heritage to John Wesley and the movement begun under his leadership in the 1700’s. As well, Pentecostals and Charismatics also can trace their heritage to John Wesley directly (if they would ever look to their past to see where it is from which they came). Given there are 500 million of them in the world, this means that a full 25% of the world’s Christians are tied to Wesley. AND if that was not great enough, it means that the most vibrant form of Christianity in the world today is, at its root, Wesleyan.*
This probably would shock people as much as it shocked me since most of the Bible study materials, devotional books, and church resources are written from a Reformed theology perspective. This is part of the reason Seedbed has been created, to get the Wesleyan theological voice out in the world more comprehensively than we have to date.
To any and all colleagues in ministry who are Wesleyan and Methodist in their theology: we need to bring our theological perspective to the table of discussion in the Church more fully and comprehensively. We need to begin speaking with confidence in our theological heritage and quit using so many Reformed resources in our congregations, thereby muting our own theological heritage. This may mean that we need to use more effort in searching for studies that are from our own theology or even create those resources ourselves. Again, see Seedbed.
If we are Wesleyan Methodists, we have chosen to be so because that theology resonates with our souls. Let us teach and preach it in such a way that our people feel the same.
*50% are Roman Catholic and 12.5% are Eastern Orthodox. This means that there is only another 12.5% that are Reformed.