Constrained to Deviate: John Wesley and the Evangelical Anglicans
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Although the dominant theory in Evangelical and Methodist studies has been that John Wesley and the Evangelical Anglican clergy separated over theological issues related to Christian perfection and predestination, essentially outlined as an Arminian/Calvinist split, it is the argument of this work that the gradual split between these two "parties" was much more multifaceted. Looking at the broader political, social, and religious context in which the Evangelical Revival arose, the divide between Wesley and the Evangelicals can be seen as much as an outgrowth of ecclesiastical pressures caused by maverick use of church polity, political memory in the wake of the English Civil War and the Restoration, the creation of a distinctly "Methodist" ethos, and even the rise of High Church and Tory political power in the latter part of the eighteenth century in the face of outside challenges. These larger influences, together with personal issues among what amounts to a small group of men, created the impetus for a divide between these two parties. While theological issues remain essential to the overall picture, they are treated within larger historical contexts. Wesley’s divide from his closest Anglican associates remains a complex issue within the tumultuous early period of the Evangelical Revival.