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This dissertation studied the life, the theology and the educational pedagogy of Dr. Mildred Bangs Wynkoop. Wynkoop changed the theological framework within the international denomination of the Church of the Nazarene. Wynkoop’s proactive interpretation of Wesleyan theology kept the Church of the Nazarene in the forefront of theological development within the Wesleyan Holiness movement during the twentieth century.

Wynkoop was born on September 9, 1905 in Seattle, Washington. During her college years at Pasadena College she met and married Ralph Wynkoop, a religion major who wanted to be a preacher. After co-pastoring with her husband Ralph for several years, Wynkoop began to yearn for a deeper understanding of the Bible. This yearning led her to Western Evangelical Seminary where she graduated with a Masters of Divinity in 1948. She then proceeded to the University of Oregon for a Masters of Science in Education with a minor in Philosophy. In 1955 she finished her educational journey graduating from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Chicago with a Doctorate of Theology.

At the age of 50 she began her teaching career at Western Evangelical Seminary for five years before moving to Japan to teach at the Japanese Christian Junior College and the Japan Nazarene Theological Seminary. After five years in Japan. Wynkoop and her husband, Ralph, moved back to the States, where she taught at Trevecca Nazarene College in Nashville, Tennessee. Wynkoop finished her teaching career at Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri in 1986 at the age of 80.

Wynkoop’s interpretation of Wesley’s theology was a new paradigm introduced in her landmark text, A Theology o f Love: The Dynamics of Wesleyanism (1972), which is still used today. Her theology included several themes she observed within Wesley’s theology. They are :

1. Wesley’s theology is a relational theology.

2. Wesley’s theology is a process theology.

3. Wesley’s theology is a moral theology.

4. Wesley’s theology is a qualitative theology.

5. Wesley’s theology is holistic in nature.

Wynkoop believed this interpretation of Wesley’s theology was truer to what Wesley had intended than the distortions of his theology she noticed as a result of the rising popularity of Fundamentalism and the by-products of the American Holiness Movement on Wesleyan Holiness theology.

Document Type


Publication Date



University of Kansas


Lawrrence, KS


Mildred Bangs Wynkoop, biography, Church of the Nazarene, theologian, professor, Wesleyan holiness theology

Scholarship Domain(s)

Scholarship of Discovery, Scholarship of Interdisciplinary Integration


Arts and Humanities | Christian Denominations and Sects | Christianity | History of Gender | History of Religion | Practical Theology | Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion | United States History | Women's History


Submitted to the Department of Teaching and Leadership and the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Kansas in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

A Rebel in the Ranks: A Biography of Mildred Bangs Wynkoop