The 39th Annual Meeting of the Wesleyan Theological Society(WTS) was held at Roberts Wesleyan College, Rochester, New York recently with the theme "Practing Our Weslyan Theology".
Henry Knight III, president of the WTS and professor of evangelism at St. Paul’s School of Theology, considered John Wesley’s dual emphasis upon the reality of human sin and the optimism of divine grace in his address.
“Wesley combines a realism that takes seriously the doctrine of original sin with a doctrine of prevenient grace that brings hope for the transformation of salvation.”
“Wesley took with utmost seriousness the power of God to transform lives,” said Knight. "The transformation of lives is a main part of God’s mission. Wesley believed that 'sin and its evils can be overcome, and God’s love will reign'. We should believe the same today."
The society’s keynote speaker, William Abraham of Southern Methodist University, celebrated the diverse ways in which John Wesley’s theology has been helpful to Christians during the past. He added, however, that contemporary theologians might find another way of doing Wesleyan theology.
“We ought to think of Wesley as a spiritual father in God,” suggested Abraham, "as one who can bring us to God and provide food for our spiritual souls. Wesley belongs in the canon of the spiritual fathers and saints of the church.”
"If we understand him in this way," says Abraham, “we are free to receive Wesley as an evangelist, saint, and remarkable father in God.”
The 2005 WTS meeting will be at Seattle Pacific University on March 3-5th. Stanley Hauer was chosen as a keynote speaker by Craig Keen, the society’s first vice-president. The 2005 conference theme is “The Church: Working Out the Body and Blood of Christ on the 8th Day of Creation.”
The WTS council has decided to continue its practice of designating various working groups for next year’s meeting. Working groups include Biblical Studies, Historical Studies, Philosophy, Theology, Practical Theology/Christian Formation, Intercultural Studies (Mission), Ecumenical Studies, Religion and Culture, Psychology, and Korean Wesleyan Studies.
Proposals for the 2005 meeting are due, in the form of email attachments, to the working group chairperson by September 10th 2004.