Saturday, 16 May 2009

Just trying to work out how Calvinist Welsh Calvinistic Methodism actually was!

Well, the Calvin-fest in Geneva is little more than a week away now, and I'm busy trying to get my paper written. I've organised a conference panel on Calvin's influence in Welsh Nonconformity, with Densil Morgan and Robert Pope from Bangor contributing alongside me, David Bebbington kindly having agreed to chair and lead the responses to us.
I think I've pretty much worked out what I'm trying to say. Basically, I've been trying to think about the nature of the Calvinism espoused by Howel Harris and his fellow Welsh Methodists. Much of the literature doesn't really deal with this question, assuming Calvinism to be a pretty monolitic body of thought, or that Harris and the Welsh Methodists' soul-winning instincts often overrode their rather stultifying theological presuppositions. I think that's actually to mis-understand the nature of their theology. I'm going to try and argue that Harris, in particular, championed a moderate form of evangelical Calvinism, that didn't get involved in the intricacies of speculative predestinarian theology and that was allied to a strong evangelistic impulse.
At the moment, at least, I've amassed evidence from three areas of Harris' early life and career in support of this thesis; from his conversion and early theological development, paying particular attention to the authors he read regularly; fsecondly rom his early friends and contacts, particularly George Whitefield, and some Welsh Baptist ministers who had passed through the Bristol Baptist Academy. Then finally from first Calvinist/Arminian controversy, by which time Harris and Whitefield's moderate theology was settled and crystal clear, thrown into starker relief by John Wesley's misunderstandings and mis-representations. Well, just got to write it all up now!!

1 comment:

Lewis Rees said...

I'd be interested to read your reasearch. I am in the process of learning about the Evangelical Revival and have wondered exactly how Calvinist the Welsh Calvinistic Methodists actually were myself.