Posts Tagged ‘John Wesley’

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

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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.