PLNU alum Geordan Hammond’s (00) passionate pursuit of history and theology has led him to make history of his own. His recently published book John Wesley in America: Restoring Primitive Christianity contributes to the theological discussion on John Wesley, of whom Point Loma Nazarene University’s Wesleyan tradition and heritage comes from. As the first book-length study of John Wesley in America, it seeks to provide readers and scholars with a more complete picture of Wesley’s life and context.
“I hope it will provide any interested reader with an important resource for understanding John Wesley’s experience as a missionary in the colony of Georgia,” said Hammond. His book discusses a period of Wesley’s life that is often overlooked because it predates his evangelical conversion in May 1738. However, Hammond believes this to be a formative period of Wesley’s life that, in a contextual study, shows more areas of ‘success’ and reveals more continuity with Wesley’s post-Georgia ministry and theology than the majority of past Wesleyan scholars have realized.
“[Wesley’s] ministry in Georgia was driven by his passion for restoring the doctrine and practice of ‘primitive Christianity’ (the early church),” said Hammond. “This was not a temporary ideal; after he returned to England, he worked tirelessly towards the goal of seeing primitive Christianity restored in the Methodist movement.”
Hammond’s own passion for history and theology stems from the knowledge that “Christianity emerged out of events that took place in human history, most centrally, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ,” he said. “Understanding the history and theology of the Wesleyan tradition can give us the tools to enable us to embrace the strengths of the tradition and renew it in our own time.”
For Hammond, this publication represents a partial completion of an ongoing journey that in many ways began when he became a history major at PLNU. After graduating with his B.A., he studied at Fuller Theological Seminary, and went on to receive his doctorate with a focus in church history/historical theology from the University of Manchester.
This book is a revision of Hammond’s doctoral thesis, which he completed in 2008. In the years after, he worked on various projects and published several related articles before turning his thesis into a book during his sabbatical in the fall of 2012.
Now that his work has come to fruition, Hammond has mixed emotions and described experiencing a combination of “happiness, relief, and a little bit of trepidation that it’s fully in the public domain.” While it was a test of endurance and challenging at times, he explained that researching and writing this book was “enjoyable and satisfying in many ways.”
Geordan Hammond is Director of the Manchester Wesley Research Centre and Senior Lecturer in Church History and Wesley Studies at Nazarene Theological College (Manchester, UK). He continues publishing work as co-editor of the Wesley and Methodist Studies journal.