ABSTRACT

While John Wesley's opposition to Calvinism is well known, he also devoted much of his later life to counteracting what he regarded as serious threats to Christian orthodoxy, namely the denial of original sin and the rejection of the doctrine of the Trinity. As a result he became involved in controversy with several leading Protestant Dissenters, including John Taylor of Norwich and Joseph Priestley. This article examines the relationship, sometimes friendly but more frequently uneasy, between Wesley and his followers and the Dissenting denominations. When prominent ministers among those denominations promulgated heterodox teaching over original sin and the Trinity, Wesley responded with a degree of vehemence that emphasized and indeed widened the differences between Methodism and the older Dissent, and hence shaped the identity of Wesleyan Methodism in the early nineteenth century.

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