Nov 10: Reuben Lillie, “Metaphysics and the New Birth: Regenerating Wesleyan Convictions”

Tuesday, November 10, 2015, 12:00-1:15pm (Swift 208)
Reuben Lillie

Metaphysics and the New Birth: Regenerating Wesleyan Convictions

Abstract: Arguments over the role of metaphysics in theology are hardly new. Since the wake of theological modernism it especially has been called into question whether metaphysics rightly has any role at all. What does Wesleyan theology have to contribute to this arena of post- or anti-metaphysics? Can it do so? In terms of John Wesley’s treatment of the new birth, Bruce McCormack suggests at least two potential entry points, namely, that (a) Wesley views regeneration as an eschatological event, enabling a shift from metaphysics to christology (cf. “Sanctification After Metaphysics: Karl Barth in Conversation with John Wesley’s Conception of ‘Christian Perfection’” in Sanctification: Explorations in Theology and Practice, ed. Kelly M. Kapic [Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2014], 109) and that (b) “Barth’s doctrine . . . is what Wesley’s would have had to become [emphasis added] had Wesley lived to see the possibility of elaborating a theological ontology that is not grounded metaphysically” (Ibid., 123). Taking cues from McCormack as well as Kevin Hector and D. Stephen Long, I intend to present two resources for conversation: first, a cursory assessment of the (anti-)metaphysical implications for Wesleyan soteriology, and second, an initial strategy for doing theology so as to regenerate Wesleyan convictions, rather than to revise, replace, or reconstruct, or otherwise re-articulate the theology of John and Charles Wesley.

Feel free to bring your own lunch. We will have bread, peanut butter, and jelly, though, so nobody will go hungry!

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