John Wesley's Eschatology

So I'm doing this series on The Apostle's Creed and I have made it to "we believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting." As I began preparing this week, I picked up NT Wright's book Surprised By Hope and I must say that it has opened up my eyes to some things about the "end times" that I had not thought about before.

I then found this very good interview that Dr. Ben Witherington did with the good bishop recently and discovered some more interesting insights into Wright's thoroughly New Testament supported eschatology.

So that got me thinking about my own eschatology. Although raised as a United Methodist, much of my youth and young adult life was spent in more charismatic style churches. I developed through these churches an eschatology that I have only recently discovered is thoroughly unsupported by Scripture. My understanding of the 'end times" - until recently - can best be defined as dispensational, pretrib and premillennial. I have always believed that a "rapture" would occur prior to the tribulation (cf. any of the Left Behind books or Hal Lindsey's The Late Great Planet Earth), that a thousand year period of bliss would occur after the "battle of Armeggedon" and that me and all the other disembodied "believers" would then spend eternity with the Lord in "heaven."

Obviously, I have been reconsidering this belief for a while now, and have come to embrace the picture of "resurrection" and "new heavens and earth" that Wright outlines in Surprised by Hope.

What I am particularly interested in, however, is a more specifically Wesleyan approach to eschatology. I notice that Wright tends to quote Wesley on a regular basis in his books which I appreciate; but I wonder how similar Wright's eschatology is to Wesley's. I have not done enough research into Wesley's eschatology to speak intelligently about this. I am wondering if anyone would care to enlighten me on this very important issue.

What did Mr. Wesley beleive about the "end-times?"


  1. You would enjoy Googling "Famous Rapture Watchers" (Wesley, a posttrib, is quoted in it) and also "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty" (which is on the "Powered by Christ Ministries" site. Lord bless.

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  3. I think Wesley tends to stratal a lot of lines as far as his theology goes. He is known for both his optimism of grace and his reliance on reason. I think in his optimism, he would like to believe in post-millennialism. He would like to think that the kingdom would be completely prepared for Christ's coming. He once testified before his Anglican superiors that he was certain that the gospel would cover the earth in a matter of years. I think that if he threw his optimism out the door, he might consider pre-mill post-trib. But he has several quotes that seem to suggest he might fall off the log at post-mill.

    Sorry I deleted my prior post because of a grammatical flub

  4. I came here to see if I could find Wesley's eschatology as well. My guess is that he, like most other believers before about 1850 or 1900, suspected the pope of being the "anti-christ". To me, that's more sensible than most of the later suspects. I personally think the beast of Revelation was the emperor/s of Rome.
    David Chilton's great book Paradise Restored is an excellent coverage of all things end times.

  5. Wesley is misunderstood and his quotes are taken out of context many times.If you want to know what he believed on this matter google Wesley's notes on the Bible and read 1st Cor 15:52. He was not pre trib and did not staddle the fence on this.Also read 2 Thess 1:5.antichrist must come first.


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