Contemporary Pentecostalism is in many ways an offshoot of Wesleyan-Arminian spirituality and theology via the American Holiness movement. John Wesley’s emphasis on sanctification as a deeper experience beyond justification and on the agency of the Holy Spirit in the Christian life not only resulted in the founding of Methodism and contributed to the Holiness Movement but eventually “became a major factor in the rise of Pentecostalism”. Different contemporary Pentecostal organizations may continue to claim this heritage to varying degrees, and global Pentecostals are certainly diverse and distinctive in their own identities. Nevertheless, the significance of this historical trajectory is nearly universally acknowledged. This affirmation in no wise lessens Pentecostal indebtedness to or interaction with other branches of the broader Christian tradition. On the contrary, it tends to open up such possibilities; but, it does so from a particular perspective.
John Wesley’s chief distinctive was Christian perfection, or “the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers whereby they are enabled to love God with all their hearts, souls and minds, and their neighbors as themselves”. Pentecostals specifically identify conversion, sanctification, divine healing, and the premillennial second coming of Jesus as Wesleyan-Arminian-Holiness themes that particularly impacted the formative stages of their movement’s development. With Wesley Pentecostals also affirm the understanding of seventeenth century Dutch Reformed theologian Jacobus Arminius of divine sovereignty and human freedom. With Wesleyan-Arminians, we reconcile these apparent polarities by viewing election as contingent upon divine foreknowledge of human free choice (contra Calvinism). The Wesleyan-Arminian tradition constitutes an overall approach to doing Christian theology with interlinking components vital for a coherent system of thought and practice.
However, the Wesleyan doctrinal tradition is broad and deep. I suggest contemporary Pentecostals need to expand our perception to embrace its panoramic vision. Wesleyan theology emphasizes themes of God as holy love, the primacy of Scripture, the prior agency of God’s grace, the image of God and salvation as the restoration of God’s image, the gospel for the poor, the wisdom of God in creation, the renewal of the Church, and the restoration of all creation. Furthermore, the contemporary relevance of Wesley’s theology includes implications of his doctrine of prevenient grace for missiology, his pneumatology in light of contemporary Pentecostal and Charismatic movements, therapeutic view of salvation (as healing from the disease of sin), and applications of his doctrine of creation to environmental ethics.
What would a possible portrait of a Pentecostal theology comparably broad and deep in the aforementioned Wesleyan sense look like? At this point I am only able to sketch a few brief observations. Yet I hope it is sufficient to suggest the fertility of an expansive approach.
Of course, continuing need exists for intentional integration of character, or fruit of the Spirit, and charisma, or gifts of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-25; 1 Co 12-14). Also, an integration of ecclesial and individual piety with communal and social aspects of Christian mission continues to be a need too (Matt 28:19-20; Acts 1:8). So far there’re no new surprises here. Possibly my third suggestion presents more of an obstacle—or opportunity. I suggest that our Wesleyan heritage can help Pentecostals advance boldly and bravely in our doctrinal development. Admittedly, launching out into new areas or insights requires courage and commitment (Gal 1:10-24).
I sense that we’ve been in a defensive posture for far too long. From our beginnings we’ve tried to convince critics that we’re not fanatics or heretics after all. And we’ve long tried to establish biblical, theological, and historical foundations for our distinctive beliefs and practices. That’s all well and good. Perhaps I’m overly optimistic, but I think we’ve at least gained an honest hearing among most fair-minded folks. Isn’t it time to forge ahead? Let’s expand our horizons! What does the image of God (Imago Dei) in all humans say to us about abortion, human sexuality, gender and race, or cloning? How might prevenient grace affect Christian mission to the unevangelized or non-Christian religions? What kind of ecotheology emanates from our doctrine of creation? How does eschatological restoration inform contemporary social activism? How might a self-consciously Wesleyan-Pentecostal spirituality and theology speak specifically to these and other such subjects?
I want to move beyond where I am without leaving behind where I’ve been. The Wesleyan doctrinal tradition provides Pentecostals with an inclusive and expansive yet solid and substantive paradigm for doing theology in today’s world. It’s not the only model. However, we’re already at home with this theological tradition. And it offers, I think, a clear, consistent, and coherent trajectory.
 See H.V. Synan, “Classical Pentecostalism,” New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, 553. Cp. Howard A. Snyder, “Wesleyanism, Wesleyan Theology,” Global Dictionary of Theology, eds., William A. Dryness and Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, et al, 931.
 Snyder, “Wesleyanism,” 936.
 Snyder, “Wesleyanism,” 935.
 John A. Sims, Our Pentecostal Heritage: Reclaiming the Priority of the Holy Spirit, 63, 69.
 Sims, Our Pentecostal Heritage, 69.
 Snyder, “Wesleyanism,” 932-35.
 Snyder, “Wesleyanism,” 936.