Heaven Connected to Earth: Toward A Balance of Personal and Social Eschatology in Wesleyan Theology
Date of Award
Dissertation - Restricted
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Dabney, D. L.
This dissertation investigates the status of eschatology in Wesleyan theology. It is argued that Wesley's particular soteriological emphases enabled him to achieve a commendable balance of the personal and social aspects of eschatology - a passion for the eternal destiny of individuals that included a deep concern for addressing social needs. Undergirding this merger were Wesley's three-fold soteriological distinctives: temporally realized salvation, Christian perfection, and divine/human synergism. Unfortunately, this balance of eschatology's primary poles of the personal and social has not been characteristic of most of Wesley's theological heirs (nor, it might be argued, of most current appropriations of eschatology at large). Rather, Wesleyan eschatology in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries has suffered from a reaction against the overly individualistic contsruals [sic] of previous centuries, to the point of eclipsing personal destiny in the afterlife with concern for social and cosmic eschatology. In doing so, vital motivational resources have been eclipsed as well. Wesley realized and employed the eternal destiny of the soul as an impetus for godly living. Moreover, in the present context of Postmodernity, various factors for the bifurcation of the individual and cosmic themes of eschatology have been called into question, thus signaling the appropriateness of a fresh look at the resources Wesley might offer. Hence, the thesis of this dissertation is: Wesley's theology offers resources which might enable Wesleyan theology in the Postmodern context to better balance the personal and social aspects of eschatology and thus retrieve significant incentives for religious motivation...