Portraits of Jesus Charles Wesley’s Christology

by John R. Tyson
Portraits of Jesus Charles Wesley’s Christology
ISBN: 9781953052155

Jesus became human so that we might become divine

Charles Wesley was a portrait painter, but he used words, not oils, as his medium. As the cofounder of Methodism, he was a preacher, poet, and musician. But, above all, Charles Wesley was an artist–a lyricist–and we still sing his hymns today.

Yet in his artistry, Wesley aimed at more than pretty words and easy rhyme. Steeped in his own meditations on scripture and through his use of metaphor, Wesley helps us answer Jesus’s timeless question: “Who do you say that I am?” This book looks at ten ways Wesley can help us answer that question, so that our hearts can be strangely warmed with the fire of faith. For Wesley, lyrics were not ends in themselves but a way for us to experience Jesus in our daily living.

Ten Metaphors Wesley Uses to Describe Jesus and His Work:

  • Human and Divine
  • Great High Priest
  • Lamb of God
  • Physician of Souls
  • Font of Our Salvation
  • Good Shepherd
  • Captain
  • Lion of Judah
  • Advocate
  • Friend and Lover

Dr. John R. Tyson is Professor of Church History / Director of UMC Studies, Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, Rochester, New York.  He is author of Praying with the Wesleys: Foundations of Methodist Spirituality (Wesley’s Foundery Books, 2019)

Praise for Portraits of Jesus

Too often, Charles Wesley has been seen as an appendage to his older brother.  In analyzing his Christology, Tyson sheds light on this Wesley brother’s overlooked role in shaping eighteenth-century Protestant evangelicalism, underscoring his significance for interpreting the rise of Methodism.
Christopher Evans

Professor of the History of Christianity and Methodist Studies, Boston University School of Theology

Charles Wesley articulated the early Methodist movement’s theology in verse at a time when hymns served as a means of teaching and preaching the faith as well as acts of worship.  In this nearly encyclopaedic volume, John R. Tyson skillfully presents Charles Wesley’s Christology, offering an extensive analysis of this influential hymn-writer’s richly biblical, orthodox understanding of Jesus Christ. 

Wendy J. Deichmann

President Emerita & Professor of History and Theology, United Theological Seminary

Tyson not only demonstrates his deep passion for Charles Wesley’s poetic legacy but provides a compelling commentary on Wesley’s word pictures on about Jesus.  Drawing on decades of immersion in the Wesley material, he explores the biblical language about Jesus that animated Charles’s own portrait of the Christ.  He shows how Wesley’s hymns function as icons that not only teach us about Jesus but open our hearts and lives to his love.

Paul Chilchote

Director of Global Methodist Theology, Wesley House, Cambridge, UK

There is no more reliable guide to the theology, social milieu, and indeed the piety of Charles Wesley than Tyson.  Here in page after page he shows Charles’s special ability to allegorize narrative so as to describe Christian spiritual experiences, including his own.  Highly recommended.

Ben Witherington III Amos Professor of New Testament Doctoral Studies, Asbury Theological Seminary

Wesley’s Foundery Books is an imprint of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of The United Methodist Church. These books are clearly and accessibly written by Methodist/Wesleyan experts, with an emphasis on church life and ministry. Representing the rich diversity of the church, Wesley’s Foundery Books offer a disciplined and balanced approach. GHBEM Publishing is an affiliate member of the Association of University Presses.  As the leadership agency, the mission of General Board of Higher Education and Ministry is to build capacity for United Methodist lay and clergy leaders to discover, claim, and flourish in Christ’s calling in their lives, by creating connections and providing resources to aid in recruitment, education, professional development, and spiritual formation. GBHEM Publishing produces books that engage, nurture, and advocate for the intellectual life of The United Methodist Church.