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Spirit of Methodism – Syllabus


The Spirit of Methodism
Department of Theology
Tyndale Seminary
Winter 2002
Wednesdays at 8:30 a.m.
Instructor: V. Shepherd
Office Hours: (to be announced)
Tel.: 416 226 6380 ext. 6726 (office)
905 821 0587 (home)

This course probes the mood or ethos of Methodism. Ethos is the informal spirit that characterizes a movement or a tradition, as contrasted with (but of course never separable from) formal statements in doctrine, discipline and polity. The course is intended to complement the courses that probe the formal theologies of John and Charles Wesley, as well as the course that investigates the immediate spiritual background to the Wesley brothers; namely, “Mind and Heart: the Puritan Genius.”

The aims of the course are
[1] to acquaint students with Methodism as a living tradition;
[2] to highlight the reciprocity of formal and informal (i.e., operative) dimensions of a church “family”;
[3] to render students aware of how informal, day-to-day undertakings usually mould a tradition and a denomination as much, if not significantly more than, official pronouncements and prescriptions;
[4] to identify specific contributions from practitioners within the tradition that continue to influence the ethos so that the latter is never fixed but always underway;
[5]] to help students discern all of this in their own denomination or tradition.

A “Kinkos” document that includes representative work from the figures listed below will be available for students to purchase.


At each class students will submit to the instructor a 300-350 word paper that reflects their familiarity with and critical engagement with the materials to be assigned in that day’s class.

In addition students will submit by the end of term one 3000-3500 word essay on a topic related to the work of the figures listed below.

These two assignments will be weighted equally.


Class Schedule

The Spirit of Methodism as Exemplified by

Jan. 16 “The Methodist Heritage” (Shepherd)
Jan. 23 a preacher: William Sangster
Jan. 30 a historian: Gordon Rupp
Feb. 6 a psychologist: Leslie Weatherhead
Feb. 13  a theologian: Thomas Oden
Feb. 20  an ecumenist: Geoffrey Wainwright
Feb. 27 a biographer: Henry Rack
Mar. 6 a Latin American Liberation Theologian: Jose Miguez Bonino
Mar. 13  Reading Week  
Mar. 20 an Old Test. exegete: John Oswalt
Mar. 27 a European N.T. exegete: Ernst Kaesemann
Apr. 3 a Literary Critic: Frank Baker
Apr. 10 a philosopher: William Abraham
Apr. 17 an ethicist: Stanley Hauerwas