Methodism was Born in Crisis. It was a religious response to political polarization, ecclesiastical lethargy, classism and privilege, wage slavery and economic disparity, as well as to prejudice, inequality, and exclusion based on gender and race. Among the crises that convulsed Georgian England were: 1) the debilitating effects of the political use of religious authority; 2) the challenges of keeping faith in an age of science and reason; 3) the decline of "main line" religion; 4) the painful and oppressive impact of class privilege; 5) the inequities caused by dramatic economic disparity; 6) the hopelessness of wage slavery; 7) the devaluing and structural exclusion of women; 8) racial prejudice, and the systematic oppression non-white people; 9) the social crisis caused by religious prejudice; and 10) the debilitating effects of popular culture and its pastimes. The current volume traces how each of these historic crises drew from the early Methodists theological, spiritual, moral, and organizational impulses that became part of their spiritual DNA and left them with family traits that have come down to us in this very day. In a subsequent volume, Shaped by Controversy, eight of the main internal struggles that caused familial strife within the Methodist tradition will be examined and assessed. Taken together, these volumes are like a "distant mirror" with which Methodists and other modern Christians might take a good look at themselves. As such this is an invitation to hope anew and for Methodists as well as Christians of all backgrounds to consider who they are and what they intend be for Jesus Christ in the world.
John R. Tyson is Professor emeritus of Church History at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. He is an internationally known expert in the field of Wesleyan Studies and has drawn upon a lifetime of research and practical experience in the Methodist tradition to examine the social, cultural, theological, and political forces that gave birth to Methodism, as well as the main historical controversies that shaped, shook, and forced the tradition to define and sometimes redefine itself and its mission to a troubled world. Tyson has also published Charles Wesley: A Reader, Charles Wesley on Sanctification, In the Midst of Early Methodism: The Life and Letters of Selina Hastings, Assist Me to Proclaim: The Life and Hymns of Charles Wesley, The Way of the Wesleys, and Praying with the Wesleys.