1st Edition

British Methodist Revivalism and the Eclipse of Ecclesiology

By James E. Pedlar Copyright 2024

    Revivalism was one of the main causes of division in nineteenth-century British Methodism, but the role of revivalist theology in these splits has received scant scholarly attention. In this book, James E. Pedlar demonstrates how the revivalist variant of Methodist spirituality and theology empowered its adherents and helped foster new movements, even as it undermined the Spirit’s work through the structures of the church. Beginning with an examination of unresolved issues in John Wesley’s ecclesiology, Pedlar identifies a trend of increasing marginalisation of the church among revivalists, via an examination of three key figures: Hugh Bourne (1772–1852), James Caughey (1810–1891), and William Booth (1860–1932). He concludes by examining the more catholic and irenic theology of Samuel Chadwick (1860–1932), the leading Methodist revivalist of the early twentieth century who became a strong advocate of Methodist Union. Pedlar shows that these theological differences must be considered, alongside social and political factors, in any well-rounded assessment of the division and eventual reunification of British Methodism.

    1 Introduction

    2 ‘A Division of Heart’: Separation and the Spirit in the Later Wesley

    3 ‘We Shall Have No Mastery’: Hugh Bourne and the Emergence of Primitive Methodism

    4 Revival and the Reformers: James Caughey and the Schism of 1849

    5 Separate but Non-sectarian: The Salvation Army’s Ecclesiological Ambiguities

    6 Catholicity of the Heart: Samuel Chadwick and Methodist Union

    7 Conclusion: Revivalism’s Mixed Legacy


    James E. Pedlar is the Donald N. and Kathleen G. Bastian Chair of Wesley Studies and an Associate Professor of Theology at Tyndale University in Toronto. He is a Fellow of the Manchester Wesley Research Centre and has served as President of the Wesleyan Theological Society.