The public theology of the Wesleyan tradition is best understood as moral theology rather than as philosophical and applied ethics. Long asserts that the ethical nature of the Wesleyan tradition can be best understood using the frame of moral theology stemming from the virtue tradition, particularly the work of Thomas Aquinas. This recognizes that the gathering of the faithful for the purpose of seeking holiness is the public voice of the church. Because we squeezed the Wesleyan tradition in the academic discipline of philosophical and applied ethics, we distorted our tradition. This distortion led us into our current ethical impasse, particularly with money, war and peace, homosexuality, and technology.
An excerpt from the "Circuit Rider" review: "In John Wesley s Moral Theology, D. Stephen Long offers a radical proposal: By letting Wesley be Wesley in his context and thus being out of step with ours, Wesley actually has more to say to us in our postmodern context. Here, our problem with making him relevant for today is implied in the difference between ethics and moral theology. As a moral theologian, Wesley believed that doing and knowing what is good can only be achieved by being united with Christ. In other words, the Good and the True cannot be known outside of God. Thus, there is no separation between ethics and theology since the former is only intelligible in the light of the latter." (Click here to read the entire review.)