Introduction to Wesley’s 52

The Book of Discipline, the ‘rule book’ of the United Methodist church, places very high emphasis on the “Standard Sermons” of John Wesley as an integral part of understanding the theology of the United Methodist church.  These sermons, along with the articles of religion and  the confession, mark the theological basis for Methodist belief, but, as anyone who has read  them will tell you, they are difficult on the modern reader.  I’m setting out, therefore, to create a modern ‘translation’ of Wesley’s standard 52 sermons.  As a basis, I am using the version of the sermons presented in Wesley’s 52 Standard Sermons by Schmul Publishing (ISBN 0-88019-231-3).

By Wesley’s own notes and admissions in his preface:

  1. These are intended to share the essentials of true religion, but are not to be a complete theology.
  2. They are supposed to be simple and easy to understand, so don’t look for deep meanings that are not there.
  3. Don’t look for fancy words, because these are meant for the regular reader, not for theologians.
  4. Don’t look for lots of references.  These are meant to be a simple explanation of faith.
  5. These sermons come from the heart and are written out of a love for scripture.
  6. These sermons are written so people can come to understand the way of salvation and eternal life.
  7. They are divided up and he  (Wesley) has written notes about a number of them.  I will share them as applicable.
  8. Wesley (and I myself) am open to learning more – these are to be points of discussion as well as sermons.
  9. Any challenge to the messages needs to be based in scripture.
  10. Any discussion needs to be done in love, because anger will do none of us any good.

I look forward to this journey through Wesley’s sermons!  I hope you will gain as much from them as I do from writing them!

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