What Would John Wesley Do?

Over at her blog, Generous Matters, Rebekah Basinger — a friend and frequent commenter here at the search for piety and obedience — has posted an interesting and thoughtful commentary on the controversy surrounding Albert Pujols, a first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals. Apparently, Pujols is in the midst of a contract renegotiation, and the player’s “too aggressive bargaining tactics” have some evangelical Christian fans worried that he might “tarnish his Christian image.”

To put Pujols’ struggle into theological terms, Basinger refers to 18th century English preacher John Wesley, whose teachings on sanctification have been historically meaningful to the Brethren in Christ Church. Wesley believed that when a Christian completely consecrates her or his life to God’s work, she or he will also seek God’s will in all matters — including matters related to finance, which is where Rebekah finds the Wesley-Pujols connection:

The brouhaha in St. Louis reminds me of what John Wesley, patron saint of Methodists and other Wesleyan-leaning denominations, had to say about Christians and the use of money. Wesley’s advice to his followers: Gain all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can.

When it comes to ”gaining,” Wesley believed that Christians have much in common with unbelievers and can “meet them on their own ground.” In fact, he argued that Christians have a “bounden duty” to earn all they can. But not for selfish ends. The goal is to be able to give, and to do so with extravagant generosity

One of the top earning evangelists of all time, Wesley practiced what he preached—all three points of the sermon. Over the course of his lifetime, Wesley earned the equivalent of $30 million (in today’s dollars). Yet he lived simply, many years giving away as much as 98 percent of his income.  At his death, Wesley’s estate consisted of a few coins and a couple of silver spoons.

Read her whole post here.

I appreciate Rebekah’s effort to wisely link historical examples of whole-hearted Christian devotion to contemporary struggles.


About Devin Manzullo-Thomas

Father to Lucas. Husband to Katie. Prof and administrator at Messiah College. PhD student at Temple University. Member of Grantham BIC.
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One Response to What Would John Wesley Do?

  1. Thank you for highlighting my blog post on John Wesley and Albert Pujols. This was a fun one to write, but not completely tongue-in-cheek. The BIC’s Anabaptist discomfort with seeking to gain as much as possible is frequently at odds with the Wesleyan side of our house. As a result, we have people busily gaining as much as they can, but then hiding their wealth for fear of being criticized. We need to learn to celebrate all three points of what Wesleyan taught in his sermon on the use of money.

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