Wesley Studies Society Monograph Series

Confronting Modernity:

Towards a Theology of Ministry in the Wesleyan Tradition

By H. Lee Cheek Jr.

This monograph offers a theology of ministry and work. The study seeks to define and explicate a theology of ministry as an attempt to understand God working in the world as part of a persistent dialectical enterprise, grounded in a desire to participate in the ancient conversation between God and the people of God, and to facilitate sharing among the People of God.  It is faith seeking understanding, which requires an intellectual appreciation of God, namely, reflective theology.  At the center of this activity is faith, which makes the enterprise possible.  The foundational element in this worldview is a transcendent God, the creator of heaven and earth.  The pursuit of this appreciation must involve a comprehensive view of reality.  It must concern itself with life before human existence, the interaction of the creations of God and ultimate heavenly union with God. 

            God has given the children of God appreceptive qualities so that we might come closer to the divine reality within our lives on the earth.  At the center of our gift is Jesus Christ, the insight of salvation.  Christ is the determinative norm for life.  Christ allows us to see the reality of self-giving or what Paul Achtemier has described this as the "self-limitation" of Christ that should be assumed by all of our Lord's disciples.  For Wesley, the created world is the theater of God's glory.  Christ's life is a historic fact, making us historic people.

            Cheek argues that we understand this history via a number of means; the witness of scripture allows us to share in the insight of those assembled at the feet of Christ, as well as their spiritual patrimony. Theology enables a more thorough understanding of God in the here and now, as the attempt is made to connect theos and logos; history tells us of the provisional fulfillment of Christ in the Old Testament and the history of Christ itself in the New Testament, augmented by accounts of the saints who have kept the message alive for succeeding generations.  The pedagogical enterprise is an effort to understand God's self-gift, and it possesses personal and historic dimensions.  These characteristics of the divine imperative are most easily and completely accessible via Scripture and the teaching of the Church.  Cheek suggests that any attempt to accurately portray the situation of the Church is exasperated when it is done only through the lens of contemporary culture, without an appreciation of the claims of classical Christianity, or what Thomas Oden describes as "postcritical orthodoxy."

H. Lee Cheek, Jr., is Professor of Political Science and Religion at East Georgia State College. His many books include Political Philosophy and Cultural Renewal, Order and Legitimacy, Calhoun and Popular Rule, and Calhoun: Selected Writings and Speeches, among others.  Dr. Cheek is a United Methodist minister (Western North Carolina Conference) and he has served as a U.S. Army chaplain.

50 Pages
Publication Date: April 2010; Second Edition, 2012; Third Edition, 2013                      
Price: $7.00


Endorsed and Cited by the greatest living Wesley scholar, Dr. Thomas C. Oden, in Volume 3 of his magisterial John Wesley's Teachings [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013 (p. 34)].