Archive for the ‘Wesleyan Wednesdays’ Category

Recent Methodist-Anglican Dialogue in Ireland

October 25, 2010

As most of you will know, the Lausanne Movement for mission and evangelism is currently meeting in Cape Town. In my humble opinion, the holy grail for more successful mission is a unified church. What better witness could there be to the powers and principalities than that they are forced to say of us “see how they love one another”? In fact, didn’t someone say at some time something about being one as he and his Father were one? Or, some wordy bloke, who wrote lots of letters, scribbling some piffle about being one body with one baptism under one Lord? Yeah, you vaguely remember hearing that somewhere, don’t you?

Anyway, over the past few years in particular there seems to be genuine hope that the dialogue between the Church of Ireland (Anglican) and the Methodist Church in Ireland, which has led to a Covenant between the Churches, might actually bring us down a path towards eventual unity (or something like that). Who knows? One can dream. Anyhow, as I’m very, very slowly trying to get on top of Anglican and Methodist history and theology at the moment, I thought it might be of interest to my fellow ecumenical dreamers if I sketched out what’s been happening on the little emerald isle. Thankfully, a very good friend of mine, the Rev. Peter Thompson (peace be upon him) who is Rector of St. Michael’s Castlecaulfield and St. Patrick’s Donaghmore is on the inside and in the loop and will keep me right as I proceed with a few posts dedicated to summarising the dialogue (based principally on his thesis and bending his ear).

So, to follow over the next while will be posts briefly outlining the divisions between the Churches from the beginning of Methodism to the unity in India between Anglicans and Methodists, and through to a quick depiction of early 20th century dialogue in Ireland. Further, some description of the contribution of the Joint Theological Working Party in Ireland and the Covenant which was agreed upon, as well as how matters might be furthered. At least, that’s the plan. We’ll see what happens 😉


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

Wesleyan Wednesdays

September 15, 2010

Although I’ve been greatly enjoying reflecting with Spurgeon, to be honest, there is much within it that is not to my theological taste  (it’s rather too 19th century and calvinisticky). Consequently, I’m going to balance out the great Baptist with some posts on Wesley and the movement he spawned. Originally, I was thinking of just focusing on the great man himself, but that seems too restrictive. I’m a closet fan of Adam Clarke who succeeded Wesley (heretically, I think he was a better exegete than Wesley), and I might even work through or ponder aloud on current Methodist beliefs. For example, I’ve just finished reading a little booklet on the essentials of belief for the Methodist Church in Ireland. To be honest, I was surprised how much I agreed with, though not everything. Anyway, Wesleyan Wednesdays commence today with one of John Wesley’s prayers. This expresses the man’s heart and is why I’m a fan.

A Contrite Spirit

I desire to offer unto Thee, O Lord,
my evening sacrifice, the sacrifice of a contrite spirit.
Have mercy upon me, O God, after Thy great goodness;
and after the multitude of Thy mercies, do away mine offences.

Let Thy unspeakable mercy free me
from the sins I have committed,
and deliver me from the punishment I have deserved.

O save me from every work of darkness and cleanse me
from all filthiness of flesh and spirit,
that, for the time to come, I may, with a pure heart and mind,
follow Thee, the only true God.