William Burt Pope’s 3-volume Compendium of Christian Theology is an authoritative textbook on dogmatic theology in the Wesleyan tradition. Published in 1877–1879, this expanded edition quickly became most important and influential Methodist systematic theology of its time, and the clearest representation of Methodist theology during the second half of the nineteenth century.
In these volumes, Pope confronts advances in science, philosophy, literature, and learning. He addresses new developments in the Church, such as theological liberalism, rationalism, and events such as the First Vatican Council. Volume one outlines the divine rule of faith—discussing reason, revelation, miracles, prophecy, and the inspiration and canonicity of Scripture. Volume two discusses sin, including original sin and the manifestation of sin. He also outlines Christ’s redemptive work, with a lengthy discussion of the atonement. The third volume discusses salvation and righteousness, and concludes with a lengthy chapter on eschatology.
As an authoritative and comprehensive systematic theology, these volumes are essential reading for Methodists and Wesleyans, and for anyone interested in nineteenth century systematic theology.
One of the greatest systematic theologies written from a Wesleyan or Arminian perspective.
Destined . . . to hold a distinguished place in the theological literature of England. . . . Marked by the qualities which distinguish Mr. Pope’s other writings. . . . There is the same comprehensiveness of view, the same profound insight into the deep meaning of Holy Scripture, the same intimate acquaintance with all the phase of ancient and modern thought on the great subjects of which he treats, the same devout and reverential regard to Him who is the Centre of all truth, the same fidelity to evangelical doctrine, and the same solicitude for the practical holiness which the truth is designed to nourish and sustain.
—Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine, 1876
Whatever theme comes under Dr. Pope’s treatment, he deals with thoroughly and with masterful grasp. As the modern exponent of Arminian theology, he stands in the front without a comparable rival, and his great work, characterized by so much noble thought and careful inquiry, will doubtless take its place as a standard book of reference and appeal among the systematic expositions of Christian theology, leaving little else for Wesleyan Methodists to require as a manifesto of their creed.
—Literary Intelligence and Review, 1878