The Christian life is a life of growth.
The gospel message is simple but not simplistic. Learning the gospel and its implications is a lifelong process, but modern evangelicals are often too focused on the moment of conversion while ignoring the ongoing work of sanctification. For John Wesley and George Whitefield, justification and sanctification were inseparable.
In Born Again, Sean McGever maps Wesley’s and Whitefield’s theologies of conversion, reclaiming the connection between justification and sanctification. This study helps evangelicals reassess their thin understanding of conversion, leading to a rich and full picture of the ongoing work new Christians face.
In this excellent book, Dr Sean McGever offers evangelical theology something which has as yet eluded it: a deeply theological account of conversion. Locating the theologies of conversion with which John Wesley and George Whitefield (the founders of the evangelical movement in the English speaking world) operated in relation to other central doctrinal loci, this work is deeply historical, carefully systematic, and a bold and much needed contribution to contemporary theology and evangelicalism.
—Tom Greggs, The Marischal Professor of Divinity, University of Aberdeen
I am happy to recommend Sean McGever’s Born Again, which gives readers a precise and illuminating assessment of what the all-important doctrine of “conversion” actually meant to the founders of the Anglo-American evangelical movement.
—Thomas S. Kidd, Vardaman Distinguished Professor of History, Baylor University
Evangelical religion is still shaped by a view of conversion that reached its classic form in the eighteenth century. McGever's patient analysis of the two leading preachers of conversion, Wesley and Whitefield, is especially helpful at showing the broad common ground they shared regarding what conversion is for, and how it is fulfilled. In doing so, it also clarifies their points of disagreement, especially regarding how conversion begins.
—Fred Sanders, Professor of Theology, Torrey Honors Institute, Biola University
McGever argues convincingly that Wesley and Whitefield shared a theology of conversion that is best understood as an inaugurated teleology—with the emphasis more on the telos of salvation than on its initial roots. This nuanced study is highly recommended.
—Randy L. Maddox, William Kellon Quick Professor of Wesleyan and Methodist Studies, Duke Divinity School
Read this to understand the theological underpinnings driving much of early Evangelicalism, and read it to attend to the call to consider conversion theologically today.
—Kyle Strobel, Associate Professor of Spiritual Theology, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University
This significant work illuminates the dynamic and maturing nature of their respective theologies of conversion, reflecting their many points of similarity as well as some unique distinctives. Most revealing is how their balanced understanding of this topic challenges contemporary evangelicals in their major neglect of sanctification. I highly recommend it!
—Tom Schwanda, Associate Professor Emeritus of Christian Formation and Ministry, Wheaton College.
“for Wesley conversion is always preceded by a profound experience with personal sinfulness.” (Page 10)
“requires an ongoing component of continued evidence that does not merit salvation but marks a genuine conversion” (Page 11)
“Wesley bluntly asked if supposed converts lived liked Jesus lived as a way to ascertain a genuine conversion” (Page 59)
“preventing grace enables people to have a good will despite the condition of mankind being fallen in Adam” (Page 86)
“It is not enough to turn from profaneness to civility; but thou must turn from civility to godliness.” (Page 97)
Studies in Historical and Systematic Theology is a peer-reviewed series of contemporary monographs exploring key figures, themes, and issues in historical and systematic theology from an evangelical perspective.
Learn more about the other titles in this series.
Sean McGever (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is area director for Paradise Valley Arizona Young Life and adjunct faculty at Grand Canyon University. He trains Young Life staff and volunteers internationally.