Robbie Brown, M.Th. (The Queen's University, Belfast [Belfast Bible College]), 'Joy of Heaven to Earth Come Down: Perfection and Millennium in the Eschatology of John Wesley' (M.Phil), NTC, 2011
Robbie began his research at Nazarene Theological College in September 2009 with Dr Thomas Noble as primary supervisor. He has described his project as follows: 'John Wesley was not a systematic theologian and therefore never expounded a systemized eschatology. Nevertheless, his soteriology and eschatology were inseparably linked. His belief in the possibility of entire sanctification in the present life of the believer meant that Christians could be perfected in love on earth as preparation for their eternal presence with God. Therefore, end-time events were already occurring now. Additionally, Wesley was an optimist of grace. He envisaged an extensive conversion of mankind throughout the world before Jesus’ second advent, through the preaching of the Gospel. This led naturally to his belief in a future millennium, for it was during this period that this spiritual utopia would take place.
However, Wesley adopted much of the strange millennial eschatology of the German Lutheran Johann Albrecht Bengel, who believed in a double millennium. Furthermore, Wesley seldom wrote overtly about the millennia, especially the second 1000 year period. Thus as an 18th century evangelist, Wesley should not be so readily labelled using the familiar post-19th century millennial language which exists today, as previous scholarship has so often done. It is the conviction of this thesis that Wesley can only be described with any safety as a ‘millenarian’ in the broadest definition of that word.
This thesis examines focuses on both Wesley’s ‘realized’ understanding that the end times have, in part, already arrived with the first advent of Christ and on his interpretation of the millennium. This latter area has traditionally received only limited treatment, despite being an area of fervent debate in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Most scholarship on Wesley’s eschatology has tended to hone in on his soteriology because “situated on the cusp of time and eternity, entire sanctification prepares believers for service not only in this world, but also for the world to come.” Yet speculation over the millennium generally has intensified since the awakening of the 18th century and, especially, from the mid-19th century with J. N. Darby’s dispensational reading of Scripture and the later emergence of the Scofield Reference Bible. This has brought a renewed interest in millennialism and, within Methodism, on Wesley’s understanding of Revelation 20 in particular. But despite this, when compared to other areas of his theology, his views on a 1000 year reign of Christ have continued to receive only passing attention. The primary purpose of this thesis, therefore, is to revisit these two areas of inquiry.'
Robbie has a MA (Hons) in History from the University of St Andrews, a MA in Paleography and Archive Administration from the University of Liverpool, and a MTh in Biblical Studies (Johannine Literature) from The Queen's University, Belfast (Belfast Bible College). He has worked as an archivist for eight years at the National Archives of Scotland and as a museum curator, setting up a small local mining museum in Fife, eastern Scotland. He is presently the Pastor of Fraserburgh Baptist Church.