Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Theological Studies (MATS)



First Advisor

R. Larry Shelton

Second Advisor

Daniel L. Brunner


John Wesley believed that the doctrine of original sin established the biblical foundation for the doctrines of justification and sanctification. Wesley's use and emphasis of this doctrine was neither new nor innovative. He believed that the rejection of the doctrine of original sin would lead to the loss of biblical Christianity. Wesley adamantly defended this doctrine affirming the basic tenets of the Western Christian tradition. While utilizing some relational and therapeutic images, Wesley blatantly speaks in judicial, punitive and substantialist terms concerning original sin. The consequences of judicial, punitive and substantialist perspectives are far reaching for distinctively Wesleyan theology. These ideas draw human freedom, God's nature as holy love and the possibility of entire sanctification into question. This study proposes that Wesleyan theology needs to reevaluate the traditional Western views of original sin and shift towards a non-Augustinian understanding of fallen humanity. James Arminius' creation covenant theology offers applicable insights for developing an alternative. Another building block for this study will include understanding Scripture outside of the Augustinian perspective. The early Church father, Irenaeus, provides a traditional perspective that is also outside of the Augustinian influence. These will provide the necessary material for building a strong foundation that will result in less punitive and substantialist language and more relational and therapeutic images. The tenets of Wesleyan theology will flow more naturally from these images and create less tension between justification and sanctification.

Included in

Christianity Commons