John Wesley has arguably influenced more American Christians than any other Protestant interpreter. One reason for this wide influence is that Wesley often spoke about the heart and its affections--that realm of life where all humans experience their deepest satisfactions, as well as some of their deepest conundrums. However, one of the problems of interpreting and appropriating Wesley is that we have been blinded to Wesley's actual views about heart religion by contemporary stereotypes about affections or emotions. Because of this, it is rare that either Wesley's friends or his critics appreciate his sophisticated understanding of affective reality.
To make clear what Wesley meant when he emphasized the renewal of the heart, Gregory S. Clapper summarizes some recent paradigm-changing accounts of the nature of emotion produced by contemporary philosophers and theologians, and then applies them to Wesley's conception of the heart and its affections. These accounts of emotion throw new light on Wesley's vision of Christianity as a renewal of the heart and make it possible to reclaim the language of the heart, not as a pandering or manipulative rhetoric, but as the framework for a comprehensive theological vision of Christian life and thought. The book closes with several practical applications that make clear the power of Wesley's vision to transform lives today.