STEWARDSHIP AND RESPONSE: John Wesley’s Moral-Theological Economics

Gregory P. Van Buskirk(1),

(1) Boston University
Corresponding Author


This article examines Wesley's moral-theological economy as a hermeneutical circle that moves from stewardship to response through the structure of our moral psychology that responds to God's gracious initiative manifest throughout creation. The first part describes Wesley's Economics of Stewardship, followed by Wesley's Moral Psychology of Response and Perfect Love. While the final part, responding to the Poor as Stewards of God's Grace. The conclusion of this article is that stewardship is God's sole proprietor who requires the use of responsibility made possible through God's free initiative and ongoing throughout Creation means establishing a relationship with him, starting with our relationship with the poor. Wesley's wisdom of stewardship is thus embodied in his moral theological dynamics of response as stewards, called to use ourselves wisely in the trust of what has been entrusted to us.


stewardship; john wesley; moral-theological; economics


Selected Sermons of John Wesley on Economics & Ethics

“The Bicentennial Edition of the Works of John Wesley, Volumes 1-4: Sermons.” Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1984ff. This edition of Wesley’s Works is understood to be the most-current and critical version thereof.

“The Danger of Increasing Riches,” Sermon 131, Works, 4:177-186. “The Danger of Riches,” Sermon 87, Works, 3:227-246.

“Dives and Lazarus,” Sermon 115, Works, 4:4-18. “On Dress,” Sermon 88, Works, 3:247-261.

“On God’s Vineyard,” Sermon 107, Works, 3:502-517. “The Good Steward,” Sermon 51, Works, 2:281-298.

“Heavenly Treasures in Earthen Vessels,” Sermon 129, Works, 4:161-167. “The More Excellent Way,” Sermon 89, Works, 3:262-277.

“On Riches,” Sermon 108, Works, 3:518-528.

“Upon Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse VIII,” Sermon 28, Works, 1:612-631.

“The Use of Money,” Sermon 50, Works, 2:263-280. “On Visiting the Sick,” Sermon 98, Works, 3:384-397. “On Worldly Folly,” Sermon 126, Works, 4:131-138.

“On Working Out Our Own Salvation,” Sermon 85, Works, 3:199-209.

Selected Works of John Wesley on Economics & Ethics

“The Character of a Methodist.” In The Bicentennial Edition of the Works of John Wesley, Volume 9: The Methodist Societies—History, Nature, and Design, edited by Rupert E. Davies, 31-46. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1989.

“General Rules and Rules of the Bands and Societies.” In Works, 9:67-79. “The Principles of a Methodist.” In Works, 9:47-66.

“Thoughts Upon Methodism.” In Works, 9:527-530.

“Thoughts Upon the Present Scarcity of Provisions.” In The Works of the Rev. John Wesley, Volume 11, edited by Thomas Jackson, 53-59. London: Wesleyan Conference Office, 1872.

Selected Secondary Sources on Wesley’s Economics & Ethics

Cell, George Croft. “The Decay of Religion.” In The Rediscovery of John Wesley, 363-414. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1935.

Collins, Kenneth J. “The Soteriological Orientation of John Wesley’s Ministry to the Poor.” Wesleyan Theological Journal, Vol.36, No.2 (Fall 2001): 7-36.

Dayton, Donald W. “Presidential Address: The Wesleyan Option for the Poor.” Wesleyan Theological Journal, Vol.26 (1991): 7-22.

Dunning, H. Ray. “Ethics in a Wesleyan Context.” Wesleyan Theological Journal, Vol.5 (1970): 3-10.

Heitzenrater, Richard P., ed. The Poor and the People Called Methodists: 1729-1999. Nashville: Kingswood Books, 2002.

Jennings, Theodore W., Jr. Good News to the Poor: John Wesley’s Evangelical Economics. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1990.

Long, D. Stephen, and Stanley Hauerwas. “Theological Ethics.” In The Oxford Handbook of Methodist Studies, edited by William J.

Abraham and James E. Kirby, 635-646. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Long, D. Stephen. John Wesley’s Moral Theology: The Quest for God and Goodness. Nashville: Kingswood Books, 2005.

Maddox, Randy L. Responsible Grace: John Wesley’s Practical Theology. Nashville: Kingswood Books, 1994.

Marquardt, Manfred. John Wesley’s Social Ethics: Praxis and Principle. Translated by John E Steely and W. Stephen Gunter. Eugene: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2000.

Marquardt, Manfred. “Social Ethics in the Methodist Tradition.” In T&T Clark Companion to Methodism, edited by Charles Yrigoyen, Jr., 292-308 (endnotes: 575- 576). London: T&T Clark, 2010.

McDaniel, Jay, and John L. Farthing. “John Wesley, Process Theology, and Consumerism.” In Thy Nature & Thy Name Is Love: Wesleyan and Process Theologies in Dialogue, edited by Bryan P. Stone and Thomas Jay Oord, 355-377. Nashville: Kingswood Books, 2001.

Meeks, M. Douglas, ed. The Portion of the Poor: Good News to the Poor in the Wesleyan Tradition. Nashville: Kingswood Books, 1995.

Meeks, M. Douglas. “Sanctification and Economy: A Wesleyan Perspective on Stewardship.” In Rethinking Wesley’s Theology for Contemporary Methodism, edited by Randy L. Maddox, 83-98 (endnotes: 233-235). Nashville: Kingswood Books, 1998.

Miles, Rebekah L. “Happiness, Holiness, and the Moral Life in John Wesley.” In The Cambridge Companion to John Wesley, edited by Randy L. Maddox and Jason E. Vickers, 207-224. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Miles, Rebekah L. “Works of Mercy as Spiritual Formation: Why Wesley Feared for the Souls of the Rich.” In The Wesleyan Tradition: A Paradigm for Renewal, edited by Paul W. Chilcote, 98-110 (endnotes: 194-195). Nashville: Ab- ingdon Press, 2002.

Momany, Christopher P. “Wesley’s General Rules: Paradigm for Postmodern Ethics.” Wesleyan Theological Journal, Vol.28 (1993): 7-22.

Runyon, Theodore. “Wesley for Today.” In The New Creation: John Wesley’s Theology Today, 168-221 (endnotes: 253-257). Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1998.

Stone, Ronald H. “Ethics.” In John Wesley’s Life & Ethics, 208-228 (endnotes: 240-241). Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2001.

Tracy, Wesley D. “Economic Policies and Judicial Oppression as Formative Influences on the Theology of John Wesley.” Wesleyan Theological Journal, Vol.27 (1992): 30-56.

Wilson, Kenneth. “The Mind of Christ.” In Methodist Theology, 116-133 (endnotes: 184-186). London: T&T Clark, 2011.

Full Text: PDF

Article Metrics

Abstract View : 319 times
PDF Download : 149 times

DOI: 10.47135/mahabbah.v2i2.29


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.