Archive for the ‘Arminianism’ Category

Wesleyan Wednesdays: Sufficient Saving Grace

September 22, 2010

While thinking about what I’d cover this week in my continuing quest to understand Wesley and the movement he founded, I recalled a book gathering dust on a shelf: Herbert Boyd McGonigle’s Sufficient Saving Grace: John Wesley’s Evangelical Arminianism. I’ve never gotten around to reading this, so we’ll chalk up my decision to start a series on Wesleyanism and remembering about this book as the gentle guiding hand of providence.

Essentially, the book investigates the origins, nature, and development of John Wesley’s Arminian theology. It opens with a summary of Jacobus Arminius’ revision of Dutch Calvinism and continues by tracing the growth of Arminian theology in 17th century England.

Wesley inherited anti-Calvinistic convictions from his parents, and defined and defended them in three doctrinal controversies with his Calvinistic Methodist contemporaries. Although Wesley had read Arminius, his “Arminianism” really grew out of one strain of Anglicanism, not Dutch Remonstrant theology. The book seeks to demonstrate that Wesley promoted a form of evangelical Arminianism that embraced the biblical doctrines of sin, grace and salvation without recourse to “Five-Point Calvinism”.

Close attention is given to Wesley’s teaching on original sin, justification by faith, the witness of the Spirit, and what he designated Methodism’s “grand depositum” – the doctrine of scriptural holiness.

Over the following weeks, Wesleyan Wednesdays will treat one chapter at a time of this book. As a newbie to this particular scholarly discussion, I hope my Methodist friends will feel free to chime in and correct me (and McGonigle) if I misunderstand the nuances.

Thy undistinguishing regard
Was cast on Adam’s fallen race;
For all Thou hast in Christ prepared
Sufficient, sovereign, saving grace.

Charles Wesley