A look at the Wesleyan account of some doctrinal issues.

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A number of doctrinal issues have come to our attention during recent years.

Firstly, there is a general departure from the teaching of early Methodism.
A study of history as we have on this site reveals the original teaching of Methodism to be Bible-based.
Various influences in the 21st century reveal a departure from this.

Secondly, we frequently find comments by calvinists regarding what they suppose to be "arminianism", dismissing this as "heresy".
These criticisms usually show ignorance of true arminian teaching, as well as the comparisons and common ground between calvinism and arminianism.

The Wesleyan account of arminianism is a good starting point. And a knowledge of history, putting doctrinal statements in context, helps towards understanding.

We do not claim Wesleyan teaching as the "last word" about arminianism. But it is an excellent starting point, and the main points are easily grasped.

The following extract from the Preface to John Wesley's "Sermons on Several Occasions" is an excellent summary of how to approach the Bible. This is worth learning by heart, at least the main points if not verbatum.

God Himself has condescended to teach the way; for this very end He came from heaven.  He hath written it down in a book.  O give me that book!  At any price, give me the book of God! 

I have it; here is knowledge enough for me.  Let me be homo unius libri.  (A man of one book.) 

Here then I am, far from the busy ways of men.  I sit down alone; only God is here.  In His presence I open, I read His book; for this end, to find the way to heaven. 

Is there a doubt concerning what I read?  Does anything appear dark or intricate?  I lift up my heart to the Father of Lights:  "Lord, is it not Thy word, 'If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God'?  Thou 'givest liberally and upbraidest not.'  Thou hast said, 'If any be willing to do Thy will, he shall know.'  I am willing to do, let me know, Thy will." 

I then search after and compare parallel passages of Scripture, 'comparing spiritual things with spiritual.'  I then meditate thereon with all the attention and earnestness of which my mind is capable.  If any doubt still remains, I consult those who are experienced in the things of God; and then the writings whereby, being dead, they yet speak. 

And what I thus learn, that I teach .
Calvinism - - named after Jean Calvin, an Augustinian monk who formulated Protestant teachings in his
Institutes of Religion
A comprehensive account of calvinism, taking note of variations, and checked with leading calivinist theologians, is found in
What Love Is This

by Dave Hunt,
The Berean Call
Arminianism - - named after Jacobus Arminius, a Dutch Reformed pastor who set out to teach calvinism, but found that some tenets of calvinism did not agree with the Bible.
He died in 1610 before he had properly published his theology. His work was published soon afterwards by a group of about 35 Dutch Reformed pastors who went on to spread what became known as "arminianism".
Historically, arminianism is a refinement of calvinism in the light of the Bible

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To Be Continued

August 2006