John William Fletcher (1729-1785) was a seminal theologian in the early Methodist movement and the Church of England during the eighteenth century. Best known for the Checks to Antinomianism, he established a theology of history to defend the church against the encroachment of antinomianism as a polemic against hyper-Calvinism. Fletcher believed that the hyper-Calvinist system of divine fiat and finished salvation did not take seriously enough either the activity of God in salvation history or an individual believer’s personal progress in salvation.
Fletcher made the doctrine of accommodation a unifying principle of his theological system and further developed the doctrine of divine accommodation into a theology of ministry. As God accommodated divine revelation to the frailties of human beings, ministers of the gospel must accommodate the gospel to their hearers in order to gain a hearing for the gospel without losing the goal of true Christianity. True Christianity contains insights for pastors, missionaries, and Christian thinkers on true Christianity from Fletcher, who devoted himself, according to Wesley, to being “an altogether Christian”.
List of Abbreviations
1. The Milieu of Fletcher’s Theology
2. God of Nature and of Grace: Theological Foundations for the Doctrine of Dispensations
3. The Doctrine of Dispensations: An Overview
4. The Dispensation of the Father
5. The Dispensation of the Son
6. The Dispensation of the Spirit
Subjects and Names Index
Endorsements and Reviews
Frazier provides the most detailed presentation yet of John Fletcher’s model of the dispensations of God’s saving work, arguing they are an instance of Fletcher’s foundational emphasis on God’s ‘accommodation’ of divine revelation to the fallen human condition.
Randy L. Maddox, Professor of Wesleyan and Methodist Studies, Duke Divinity School
Frazier has written an outstanding piece of work on economic Trinitarianism through the irenic theology of John Fletcher. Fletcher, an often neglected and misinterpreted Methodist theologian of the eighteenth century, wrote from a pastoral, panoramic, dialogical perspective, and Russell Frazier has captured Fletcher’s thought in this perceptive interpretation designed for a unique theology of reconciliation.
David Rainey, Senior Lecturer in Theology and Senior Research Fellow, Nazarene Theological College
Frazier’s in-depth study provides an admirable example of what David Bebbington has recently called the ‘Evangelical Discovery of History’. Frazier rescues Fletcher from the confines of the traditional Arminian-Calvinist binary by showing how his doctrine of accommodation provided a unifying corrective to both those theological systems. He demonstrates how Fletcher’s union of grace and nature provided the foundation for a sophisticated theology of history and was thus an important contribution to both Evangelical and wider religious historiography. This is historical theology at its best.
Peter Nockles, John Rylands Library, University of Manchester