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The Limits of a Catholic Spirit: John Wesley, Methodism, and Catholicism

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The Limits of a Catholic Spirit fills the gap that is John Wesley and Catholicism. No other book has provided such an in-depth study of the perils Wesley faced when he encountered Catholicism. With the use of rare primary sources that tell of anti-Methodist riots in Ireland to Wesley's preachers getting kidnapped and forced to serve in the army, this study will provide you with historical information you've never encountered. It will explore questions that have held Wesley scholars captive for decades. Was John Wesley responsible for sparking the anti-Catholic Gordon Riots of 1780 in London? Kelly Diehl Yates searched eighteenth-century documents in the National Archives of the United Kingdom to find out. Was John Wesley aligned with the Jesuits? Was John Wesley a Jacobite, an enemy of the British Crown? Did John Wesley require Irish Catholics to denounce Catholicism to join Methodist societies? By the end of The Limits of a Catholic Spirit, you'll find answers to all these questions and more.

“By providing the first book-length historical study of John Wesley and Catholicism, Yates has broken new ground. This balanced study shows convincingly that Wesley paradoxically put into practice his ideal of a catholic spirit yet was also a purveyor of popular anti-Catholicism. For anyone interested in Wesley, Methodism, Catholicism, and ecumenical relations, this is both an essential and rewarding read.”

—Geordan Hammond, Director of the Manchester Wesley Research Centre, Nazarene Theological College, Manchester, UK



“In this carefully argued and engaging work, Yates not only shows that the sermon ‘Catholic Spirit’ was never intended for easing relations with Roman Catholics themselves but also that Letter to a Roman Catholic was drafted by and large to win their trust so that they would be then open to evangelical conversion. Beyond this, in opposing the lifting of the penal laws, John Wesley’s deeply embedded anti-Catholicism remained despite twenty-first-century revisionist attempts to tidy things up.”

—Kenneth J. Collins, Professor of Historical Theology and Wesley Studies, Asbury Theological Seminary



“Yates presents a balanced historical investigation of a neglected subject, John Wesley’s troubled relationship with Roman Catholicism. She shows how Wesley’s devotion to the early fathers, to primitive church discipline, and to his life-long Arminianism led to recurring but misplaced charges of ‘popery’ and ‘Jesuitism’ by Anglican and Calvinist critics, compounded by misguided perceptions of Jacobite sympathies. She explores the nature and basis of Wesley’s enduring anti-Catholic proclivities, exemplified in his writings and experiences in Ireland, while doing full justice to his admiration for Roman Catholic devotional literature. She explains how this spiritual irenicism coexisted with his doctrinal and political anti-Catholicism. The end result is a coherent and measured analysis of the subtle complexities and tensions in Wesley’s thought and practice.”

—Peter Nockles, Honorary Research Fellow, University of Manchester



“A careful and judicious examination of John Wesley’s ‘catholic spirit.’ Steering a middle course between the Scylla of anachronistic ecumenism and Charybdis of anti-Catholic fundamentalism, Yates’s contribution to Methodist scholarship is essential reading.”

—Joel Houston, Assistant Professor of Theology, Briercrest College and Seminary

“By providing the first book-length historical study of John Wesley and Catholicism, Yates has broken new ground. This balanced study shows convincingly that Wesley paradoxically put into practice his ideal of a catholic spirit yet was also a purveyor of popular anti-Catholicism. For anyone interested in Wesley, Methodism, Catholicism, and ecumenical relations, this is both an essential and rewarding read.”

—Geordan Hammond, Director of the Manchester Wesley Research Centre, Nazarene Theological College, Manchester, UK



“In this carefully argued and engaging work, Yates not only shows that the sermon ‘Catholic Spirit’ was never intended for easing relations with Roman Catholics themselves but also that Letter to a Roman Catholic was drafted by and large to win their trust so that they would be then open to evangelical conversion. Beyond this, in opposing the lifting of the penal laws, John Wesley’s deeply embedded anti-Catholicism remained despite twenty-first-century revisionist attempts to tidy things up.”

—Kenneth J. Collins, Professor of Historical Theology and Wesley Studies, Asbury Theological Seminary



“Yates presents a balanced historical investigation of a neglected subject, John Wesley’s troubled relationship with Roman Catholicism. She shows how Wesley’s devotion to the early fathers, to primitive church discipline, and to his life-long Arminianism led to recurring but misplaced charges of ‘popery’ and ‘Jesuitism’ by Anglican and Calvinist critics, compounded by misguided perceptions of Jacobite sympathies. She explores the nature and basis of Wesley’s enduring anti-Catholic proclivities, exemplified in his writings and experiences in Ireland, while doing full justice to his admiration for Roman Catholic devotional literature. She explains how this spiritual irenicism coexisted with his doctrinal and political anti-Catholicism. The end result is a coherent and measured analysis of the subtle complexities and tensions in Wesley’s thought and practice.”

—Peter Nockles, Honorary Research Fellow, University of Manchester



“A careful and judicious examination of John Wesley’s ‘catholic spirit.’ Steering a middle course between the Scylla of anachronistic ecumenism and Charybdis of anti-Catholic fundamentalism, Yates’s contribution to Methodist scholarship is essential reading.”

—Joel Houston, Assistant Professor of Theology, Briercrest College and Seminary

Kelly Diehl Yates is the founder and director of the Walt Crow Center, a retreat center for pastors in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. She teaches for Southern Nazarene University, Northwest Nazarene University, and Indiana Wesleyan University.

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    $17.05

    Digital list price: $31.00
    Save $13.95 (45%)
    Add to cart
    We'll take you to your cart
    at