Date of Award
Religious and Theological Studies
Jean Miller Schmidt
Alfred North Whitehead, Christian Perfection, Classical Theism, Concept of God, John Wesley, Process Thought
My thesis is: A process-theological reading of Wesley's doctrine of perfection, by constructing an adequate concept of God in process, gives renewed importance and vitality to Wesley's doctrine of perfection, a doctrine that has been confused and virtually ignored even by Methodists themselves, despite the central importance Wesley himself assigns it. Why, then, has Wesley's doctrine of perfection been so often misunderstood, confused or even ignored from his time until today? The clue to the answer lies in the failure clearly to heed the distinction between the two senses of divine perfection: perfected perfection (a static state of perfection) and perfecting perfection (a never ending aspiration for all of loves perfecting fullness).
I suggest that the notion of perfected perfection in God's essence is not theologically adequate, given the Christian belief in God as love. What should be rejected is the idea of perfection as perfected, influenced by the Greeks, in which love in its essence as relation is impossible. The problem of this doctrine of perfection as perfected will not be solved without first constructing an adequate concept of God in perfecting perfection, that is, God in process. The primary method that I will use is, thus, "theological construction." By constructing God in process, I want to recapture the doctrine of perfection as perfecting in Wesley's theology. For Wesley, Christian perfection, that is, perfecting perfection, is a life of love that is interchangeably love of God and love of creatures. I believe that a process interpretation of Christian perfection clarifies the relational love for God and the world at the heart of Wesley's doctrine of perfection. Process metaphysics can provide a theological foundation to construct an adequate concept of God in perfecting perfection, in which God and the world can enjoy perfect love that is ever growing.
Ahn, Jung Sup, "The Doctrine of Christian Perfection for Today: Reading Wesley's Theology Through the Lens of Process Thought" (2009). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 7.
Received from ProQuest
Jung Sup Ahn