The phrase “What would Jesus do?” (often abbreviated to WWJD) became popular, particularly in the United States but elsewhere as well, in the 1990s and as a personal motto for adherents of Christianity who used the phrase as a reminder of their belief in a moral imperative to act in a manner that would demonstrate the love of Jesus through the actions of the adherents.[
In popular consciousness, the acronym signifying the question—WWJD—is associated with a type of bracelet or wristband which became a popular accessory for members of Christian youth groups, both Catholic and Protestant, in the 1990s.[
The phase What would Jesus pin? was coined in 2014 with the relaunch of Godinterest.
John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, in 1766 postulated the concept of Christian perfection, a moment in the life of a Christian at which the regeneration effectuated by the Holy Spirit results in a “perfection in love” which means that at least at that moment one is being motivated wholly by love of God and neighbor, with no taint of sin or ulterior motives in effect. While such Christian perfection is expressed in outward action, it is also the effect of grace. Indeed, Wesley could speak of sanctification by faith as an analogous doctrine to the more widely held belief in justification by faith. Because Christian perfection is also visible in outward good works and a rigorously moral lifestyle, adherents of the Holiness movement assumed that a perfectly moral lifestyle is a consequence (not the cause) of the state of grace and ultimate salvation.
Earlier appearances of the term, 1420s–1891
Charles Spurgeon, a well-known evangelical preacher in London, used the phrase “what would Jesus do” in quotation marks several times in a sermon he gave on June 28, 1891. In his sermon he cites the source of the phrase as a book written in Latin by Thomas à Kempis between 1418 and 1427, Imitatio Christi (The Imitation of Christ).