British Methodist theologian and Biblical scholar
Adam Clarke (1760 or 1762–1832) was a British Methodist theologian and Biblical scholar. He was born in the townland of Moybeg Kirley near Tobermore in Ireland.
Clarke is chiefly remembered for writing a commentary on the Bible which took him forty years to complete and which was a primary Methodist theological resource for two centuries.
As a theologian, Clarke reinforced the teachings of Methodist founder John Wesley. He taught that the Bible provides a complete interpretation of God's nature and will. He considered Scripture itself a miracle of God's grace that "takes away the veil of darkness and ignorance." With such an understanding, Clarke was first and foremost a Biblical theologian, often uneasy with purely systematic approaches to theology.
Clarke followed Wesley in opposing a Calvinistic scheme of salvation, preferring instead the Wesleyan-Arminian positions regarding predestination, prevenient grace, the offer of justification from God to all persons, entire sanctification, and assurance of salvation. Perhaps his most controversial position regarded the eternal Sonship of Jesus. Clarke did not believe it Biblically faithful to affirm this doctrine, maintaining that prior to the Incarnation, Jesus was "unoriginated." Otherwise, according to Clarke, he would be subordinate to God and therefore not fully divine. This was important to Clarke because he felt that Jesus' divinity was crucial to understanding the atonement.
Clarke's view was opposed by many Methodists, notably Richard Watson. Watson and his allies argued that Clarke's position jeopardized the integrity of the doctrine of the trinity. Clarke's view was rejected by Methodism in favor of the traditional, orthodox perspective.
Works by Adam Clarke
“To be filled with God is a great thing, to be filled with the fullness of God is still greater; to be filled with all the fullness of God is greatest of all,” Clarke writes in this brief essay. In it, he defends John Wesley’s teaching of “Christian perfection,” the belief that living free of voluntary sin is possible through a second work of God’s grace. In other words, Christians can and ought to live completely holy, sinless lives following conversion. This idea became hugely influential in the development of Methodism especially, and worked to begin what became known as the “holiness movement.” While some Christians criticize Clarke and Wesley’s view for reinforcing a “saved by works” mentality, others embrace it as a call to faithfulness.
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