Teaching on the sanctification of Christians using the difficult word ‘perfection’ has been part of Christian spirituality through the centuries. The Church Fathers spoke of it and Augustine of Hippo particularly contributed his penetrating analysis of human motivation in terms of love. Medieval theologians such as Bernard of Clairvaux and Thomas Aquinas developed the tradition and wrote of levels or ‘degrees’ of ‘perfection’ in love. However, the doctrine has not fared well among Protestants. John Wesley was the one major Protestant leader who tried to blend this ancient tradition of Christian ‘perfection’ with the Reformation proclamation of justification by grace through faith.
This book seeks to develop Wesley’s synthesis of patristic and Reformation theology in order to consider how Christian ‘perfection’ can be expressed in a more nuanced way in today’s culture. Noble examines what basis may be found for Wesley’s understanding of sanctification in the central doctrines of the church, particularly the atonement, the doctrine of Christ, and the most comprehensive of all Christian doctrines, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. What he presents is a fully trinitarian theology of holiness.
2. Christian Perfecting in Holy Scripture
3. Christian Perfecting in Church Tradition
4. Wesley’s Doctrine of Christian Perfecting
5. Reformulating Wesley’s Doctrine Today
6. Christian Holiness and the Atonement
7. Christian Holiness and the Incarnation
8. Christian Holiness and the Holy Trinity
9. Reflecting the Holy Trinity
Endorsements and Reviews
This book is a landmark in treatments of Wesley’s doctrine of Christian perfection. Be assured: this is no parochial performance. Noble’s work does not just revisit the Wesleys of old; he integrates his critical assessment of their insights into a penetrating vision of the Triune God. Marked by a singular beauty of expression and structure, this work will become a benchmark in the field of Wesleyan and Methodist theology.
William J. Abraham, Professor of Wesley Studies, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University
This excellent book exemplifies the catholic spirit of the Wesleyan theological tradition at its best. … This book has important implications for ecclesiology as well as theology, not just within the Wesleyan tradition of theological thought but within the whole oikoumene. It is a book to ponder, to read several times over, to wrestle with and to pray with. It is unreservedly commended.
David Carter, Churches Together in England
Wide-ranging and thought-provoking, these lectures are to be commended as a valuable attempt to rescue Wesley’s teaching from historical theology’s cabinet of curiosities.
Rev Dr Martin Wellings, in Methodist Recorder, 31st January 2014
A valuable contribution for ecclesial, undergraduate, or introductory seminary courses as well as for specific study on sanctification. It bears particular interest for individuals in the Wesleyan tradition … Its solid systematic contribution developed amid Wesleyan hymns and patristic citations makes for reading that is both mentally and spiritually stimulating.
D. Glenn Butner, in Reviews in Religion & Theology, Vol 21, Issue 3
The remarkable thing about this book is the way it integrates the ‘doctrine of Christian perfection’, a controversial aspect of the Wesleyan theology, into both the whole conspectus of key Christian doctrines and long-range perspectives on the history of Christian theological thinking and practice. This, alongside critical treatment of the more unsatisfactory manifestations of this ‘holiness’ tradition, makes it worthy of serious ecumenical attention.
Frances Young, in Theology, Vol 117, Issue 6