a few Wesleyan hurdles: inner/outer, 'heart'

Writing about Wesley is hard. He uses a lot of expressions that I find archaic, and the ways he deals with some concepts rubs me the wrong way. Two related examples. First, his usage of 'heart' is difficult for me because I'm worried about how it might be participating in the popular dichotomy between "head" and "heart" - between emotion and cognition - that I find troubling because of the ways that it ignores desire's essential involvement in how and why and what we think (and all of that's involvement in how and why and what we do).

Second, Wesley employs concepts of "outward religion" and "inward religion", a dichotomy that is easy enough to understand but arguably more troublesome than the aforementioned. My fear here is that the inward will become the realm of Christianity and the outward, 'more serious' stuff will become the responsibility of some other more 'practical' power, be it politics, pocketbook, personal preference, etc. We can tuck God safely away in a little 'inward' box and justify some pretty un-Christlike things. See pretty much anything written by JH Yoder or Michael Gorman if you're not sure what I mean. The gospel isn't 'fire insurance' it's a whole new life - a new creation - here and now. And that's radical, disruptive stuff.

But my concerns are pretty contemporary, and Wesley is not a 21st century man, he is a 18th century man. And so I think he largely predates these misconceptions, at least in their modern form. In fact, I think these misconceptions actually came out of the mixture of Wesley's language, along with parallel language coming from other quarters, and later (and a few concurrent) philosophical developments and fashions.

This claim is bolstered by the fact that much of his energies are spent holding inward and outward religion together, employing the distinction to undercut the distance between the two. For Wesley, inward religion necessarily breeds outward religions, and outward religion fosters and deepens inward religion. The two are of a piece, and can't be separated without doing violence to both.

Furthermore, for Wesley the 'heart' isn't too separate a thing either. The Oxford Fellow just means to point out that our human desires are exactly where God wants to go to work on us. God wants to transform and reform us where we love. Moreover, Wesley is also no adherent of Deb from Napoleon Dynamite's "follow your heart" philosophy (yeah, I just went there).

I noticed these 'hurdles' (and other similar concerns) over the summer as well, but the more I read Wesley the more I am convinced that Wesley is merely a victim of a changing conversation, and that he is not guilty of these modern philosophical and theological crimes.