Choice, September 2008
Although this book is aimed at nonspecialists, Tyson (Houghton College) writes from a close acquaintance with primary sources. Readers will be delighted with this insightful biography of Charles Wesley, the cofounder of Methodism, who deserves as much attention as his illustrious older brother, John Wesley. Steeped in wisdom gleaned from correspondence between the brothers, their family members, and their friends, Tyson offers a rich perspective on Methodism’s rise and its early controversies. He provides a critical examination of Charles’s hymns and includes John’s editorial role in their final form. Tyson’s greatest contribution is his recognition of Charles as a theologian whose hymns shaped Methodist thought and bolstered Methodist evangelism. Indeed, he observes how Charles’s hymns not only expressed but actually induced Methodist religious experience. Immersion in the correspondence leaves readers with a clear picture of the humanity of Charles and John both their towering achievements and their weaknesses. Theological libraries in particular will want to acquire this book.
B. W. Hamilton