Last week I had the opportunity to meet and visit with Dr. Jason Vickers, who is professsor of theology and Wesley studies, and the director of the Center for Evangelical United Brethren Heritage at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. I really enjoyed the conversation with Dr. Vickers and appreciated his making the time to meet with me.
His visit also gave me the push I had been needing to finally get to a book that had been on my shelf for nearly a year, his Wesley: A Guide for the Perplexed. And I have to say that this book was a delight to read. It is concise (the text is just over 100 pages) and well written. The main reason for my enthusiasm, however, is that the book does an excellent job of both summarizing several previous arguments in the field of Wesley Studies and then showing a new way of resolving these old debates. Vickers argues that Wesley’s English context was not nearly as secularized as it has often been viewed to have been, arguing instead for the “Anglican stabilization thesis.” Vickers further argues, in my view quite convincingly, that there is “a logical consistency running through Wesley’s ecclesiastical, political and theological commitments” (5)
Because of the skill with which Vickers is able to summarize many of the key issues in understanding John Wesley’s actions – particularly his decision to ordain ministers for American and Scotland, this brief book is an indispensable resource for students of Wesley studies. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is a student of John Wesley and wants to better understand the scholarly debate surrounding his relationship to his context.