Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary


Religion, Church History PhD

First Advisor

Martin Hanna

Second Advisor

John C. Peckham

Third Advisor

Ranko Stefanovic



The topic of this dissertation is moving toward a model of the ontology of the divine indwelling by the means of a comparative study of John Wesley and John Cobb.


The purpose of this research is to survey and analyze the writings of Wesley and Cobb, in order to present their models of the ontological nature of the divine-human indwelling. In addition, an effort will be made to evaluate their models, based on their interpretations of Romans 6-8 compared with each other and selected current scholarship.


Sources used in this research include but are not limited to the written works of both John Wesley and John Cobb, current Wesleyan and Process scholars, scholarship the engages the historical understanding of divine-human indwelling, and current selected exegetical scholars.


John Wesley presents a classically theistic understanding of an ontological union of the Holy Spirit with the soul. John Cobb has constructed an ontologically inclusive, non-substantive, panentheistic model. When compared with selected exegetical scholars concerning the way in which their understanding of divine-human indwelling affects the interpretation of Romans 6-8 there are some significant challenges. This study finds that current selected exegetical scholarship is moving away from an ontological understanding regarding the union of divine-human indwelling. The most probable option for an ontological nature to this process is the potential transformation of the believer who is united with Christ through the interpersonal engagement with the Holy Spirit. Both Wesley and Cobb support a holistic transformation process of the person who follows Christ both in internal motivation and external actions, however, they also teach an ontological union whether with the soul or panentheistically. These conclusions call for further canonical study for the purpose of constructing a more biblical model of divine-human indwelling.

Subject Area

Wesley, John, 1703-1791--Theology; Cobb, John B.--Theology; Bible. Romans 6-8--Criticism, interpretation, etc.; Christian life--Comparative studies