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RobertW
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Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri

 Re:

Quote:
Mike's: What is most interesting in these dualistic and I am abusing the word to mean 'sword fights' of theological constructs is how even with an explanation there is the over doing of it by assimilation and launching off on whatever ones peccadillo's might be. That it isn't enough in itself to take the man at his word but must be truncated, overstated and often frankly just misappropriated.



Yes. Do you think that people could be bringing baggage of some sort into these debates that colors their reasoning and it has nothing to do with the other person? Sometimes it seems that people are really debating their own selves in these conversations. Almost like a phantom opponent that is used as an object of some need to vent or something. In other words, they are trying to convince themselves they are right and in the process end up bashing the other person.


Quote:
This is the commonality that matters and strangely that which seems to go by the way side while we are all caught up in fine tuning our theological engines, tweaking them into 'perfection' as you so well articulated, not recognizing how well that engine might run in the Mohave but so poorly in the Alps.



:lol: I know this is a serious topic, but I found a little humor in this part. When I was a child we had a gokart that we always thought needed tuning no matter how well it was running. We didn't know what we were doing, but we figured if we used a screwdriver to turn that little screw on the carburetor it would run faster. Guess what...


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Robert Wurtz II

 2009/1/9 20:41Profile
RobertW
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Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri

 Re:

Quote:
Quote: RobertW wrote: Quote: Interesting that what was mentioned here happened BEFORE his conversion May 24, 1738. http://www.gbod.org/worship/default.asp?act=reader&item_id=5951&loc_id=639,624 Old Joe I take it that you mean Wesley established his views of perfection prior to his heart being 'strangely warmed'?

No, I meant prior to his conversion



Hi Joe,

So did Wesley [i]not[/i] consider the Aldersgate strangely warmed experience to be his true conversion?


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Robert Wurtz II

 2009/1/9 20:47Profile









 Re:

Quote:

RobertW wrote:
Quote:
Quote: RobertW wrote: Quote: Interesting that what was mentioned here happened BEFORE his conversion May 24, 1738. http://www.gbod.org/worship/default.asp?act=reader&item_id=5951&loc_id=639,624 Old Joe I take it that you mean Wesley established his views of perfection prior to his heart being 'strangely warmed'?

No, I meant prior to his conversion



Hi Joe,

So did Wesley [i]not[/i] consider the Aldersgate strangely warmed experience to be his true conversion?




He considered his Aldersgate experience not [i]just[/i] to be a strange warming but to be his own true conversion. Yet it is also very plain that his thoughts had the appearance of advancing quite far with him still being in the unregenerate state.

Old Joe

 2009/1/9 22:23
RobertW
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Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri

 Re:

Quote:
Yet it is also very plain that his thoughts had the appearance of advancing quite far with him still being in the unregenerate state.



I am often taken by Wesley's willingness to preach and teach things that he had not personally experienced. It is very striking for me for a person to speak to the subject of perfection at a time when they had not been (according to their own testimony) regenerated yet. That is akin to speaking, preaching and teaching about deliverance from alcohol when the person still struggles with drink.

Obviously Wesley never feared the charge of hypocrisy. By no means am I saying Wesley was hypocritical, I am just saying it would not fly very well today. People assume that the man and the message are one and the same. This is why Ravi Zachrias mentioned recently a woman that asked of the preacher, "It was a wonderful sermon- but is it true in his private life?" I for one want to know that the message is being lived out practically and existentially. I am typically not interested in 'theories'. I think this fact also contributed to a lot of the controversy. I automatically assume that if a person is preaching something they are walking in that reality. Maybe I am wrong at that?

I personally would fear preaching things as truth that I had not personally experienced unless I addressed the subject with a personal disclaimer. But these men had a 'preach it until you reach it" mindset and proved their claims with scripture independent of their own personal walk.

Should we approach perfection as we approach divine healing? I'm asking a real question here and not at all being rhetorical. Is perfection similar to divine healing? One may be on their death bed and preach that God heals and all the while perish from sickness?


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Robert Wurtz II

 2009/1/10 7:24Profile
crsschk
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Joined: 2003/6/11
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Santa Clara, CA

 Re:

Hi Old Joe,

Quote:
That was a recount of events that happened before his conversion. Shows how far one can go and not yet be converted.



Hope this isn't merely semantics, and not to squabble over it, but again, that same quote:

Quote:
[b]January 1, 1733[/b], I preached the sermon on "The Circumcision of the Heart," which contains all that I now teach concerning salvation from all sin and loving God with an undivided heart.(8) In the same year I printed (the first year I ventured to print anything), for the use of my pupils, A Collection of Forms of Prayer. And in this I spoke explicitly of giving "the whole heart and the whole life to God." [u]This was then, as it is now[/u], my idea of perfection, though I should have started at the word.



It is a restatement and a reiteration of, at the least, a continuation or continuity of what he meant, "then, as it is now ... [i]my idea of perfection[/i]."

Be it far from me to quibble with his own assessments and have always been truly struck by his forthcoming and honesty, even those wonderful traits that seem to be so often suppressed - either to impress or to save face in far too many of us; namely, to change our minds and re-assess what we believe or even [i]if[/i] we have truly believed ... the strains of;

[i] Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?[/i]

But my wonder is in that possibility that our own assessments, with the advantage of hindsight might still be a bit skewered. I find a lot of similarities reading about John Wesley and hearing it even better in his own words. But it seems to me that this is one long progression, this sojourn or pilgrimage upon this present earth and the way's of the Lord in each of us individually are full of all sorts of mysteries and leadings, things that we are not even aware of ... like, our "conversions". This is what I mean by even Wesley's own honest submission @ Aldersgate and again, what a transparent and rare thing to be admitted, yet that assessment, in his own words;

"[b]Yet my own conscience beareth me witness in the Holy Ghost, that all this time I was but almost a Christian.[/b]"

And to add to this, that other letter, that was brought up elsewhere - [url=http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?mode=viewtopic&topic_id=26704&forum=35&start=30&viewmode=flat&order=1]Wesley at a low ebb[/url] and his 'admission' to his brother, at that time, that he 'didn't love God, never did' - Both of these still leave me with some suspiciousness ...

Finding this more difficult to put than I know ... Maybe some comparisons or examples would better express it. My own experience, far from Wesley in going along as well and as long as he did, preaching and writing and so forth before that sort of epiphany - I also think I went along for quite some time in an 'almost' state. The real strange thing is, how far back can I go? My own testimony is one of leadings and promptings all through my childhood - At an very early age contemplating death and God, maybe anywhere from 5-8 years old at the time. All throughout my upbringing, church going and catechism under my parents Catholic understandings - general, nominative even, but even during those years and times can still recall many things where my mind would wander, siting in church - staring at the life sized replication of Jesus on the cross, a very 'well done' to put it peculiarly, replication that drew off my thoughts and mind ... again with that foresight of hindsight, I think that even something that would have many ready for yet another controversy due to it's even being portrayed or presented, had a profound effect on me, even if I didn't truly recognize it at the time. Years of prodigal living, a 'rebel with a conscience' due to the very effects instilled by my folks of morals and 'Christianity' even of that Catholic variety. To reiterate again, in a more nominal sense, not a hard-line sort of grasp - Have stated it before, but I don't believe the vast majority of Catholics have any understanding of what the hierarchy actually holds to ... I digress. On and on I could go right up to the nearer present when everything sort of hit a pitch and I cried out in my seriously depraved state and now look back at it as something or the other of "that night", being filled with a warmth that ran through my body physically as I alternately 'gave up' while still somewhat holding on, to my sin that is ...

It's a long way around about it all but it was still a good year or longer before I even picked up the scriptures in earnest, fell into the whole bizzaro world of WOF constructs and the like, ran into more confusion and agony of heart over it all - was presented with the "classics" of the faith and turned 180 back down the Old Paths ...

All of this, from the earliest years of contemplation up until this present writing has a sense of being carried along, led along - I am want to say, God was along, all along. In that sense, the "almost" of an "Almost Christian" would span some 30 odd years. Maybe what I am trying to forward in all this comparison is that for some of us, "instantaneous" is a long, drawn out process, a different sort of progression - It defies the definition of the word but it is full of wonder, awe and that other oft misconstrued word, "mystery".

If I can be even more forthcoming ... It is one of those uncanny things to me that I find so often, whatever I may be reading or attending to at any given moment has this knack of just barely preceding actual, present circumstances. What I mean to say is not that I may read and then the brain tricks itself into finding corollaries, something to be read into - But the opposite, that the experiences precede them just so closely that I wonder almost aloud, 'Goodness, this is precisely where I have been and here is an experience that parallels it.' An example ... the aforementioned letter of Wesley to his brother Charles. I could actually relate even if I would be very hard pressed to make the same statement that "I didn't love God, never had". Yet ... I have lost somewhat of that sense of His presence, the 'slight manifestation of His presence' as I have put it before, that which is hard to articulate .. it's 'felt' past the emotions and sentiments. And this has been going on for a number of months now. I am learning again something that I have been suspicious of, observant of ... Surprises - Seasons - Different ways and times, many of those things expressed by a variety of all these great, past, old, dead saints. The highs and lows we all experience but maybe not as often mentioned, what about those 'somewhere in between' times? I think we like things nice and tidy, explainable, [i]detailed[/i] and yet a lot of it is impossible to articulate. Right now and during this odd season I have found that I cannot pray. Not as I have been more accustomed to, at the same time I cannot shake the ... perception that this is something of just this particular time and that without fail something else will again replace it and that it too will be different, surprising - that I will get back to that praying that I am more accustomed to but it may be different again, maybe even more profound, hopefully, more honest.

It's with some hesitation to go into all the details of what has gone on personally over this course - Layoffs at work, added responsibilities and now a even stranger bit of confusion of doing more in less time - Was quite elevated in heart felt sentiment around Christmas time, not to open up that whole can of worms again - Contemplating on it all in it's ultimate, truest sense, [i]Emmanuel[/i] - A Child is born. Wonderful to be with family and a particular niece who had some major troubles, finding her way to the Lord .. in [i]her own[/i] strange circumstances and leading, a hug or two expressing more than words could ever do. A trip out to the cemetery on Christmas - to pray, (Ah, yes .. pray, like an interlude or break before returning back these days where I cannot) to remember my dear Ma, my Uncle and my Cousin. For California, it was a day more akin to the chilly winds of Chicago, shuddering while knelt over the grave. As that day wore on and it had started a bit earlier, had a different set of chills, was apparently coming down with something and I haven't been sick in quite a long time. By Saturday - Chicken Pox! What in the world? At 45? Didn't I already go through this as a kid? Apparently not. And highly contagious! Oh my, my niece! My wife, my step-son, Oh Lord don't let me pass this on to them. And what a sight, covered in itchy boils, everywhere, hundreds of them, a pounding headache that I could no longer bare after two nights lost sleep, off to the ER, with a warning that I was coming - they had a room waiting for me :-) . But also, what a humility and a humbling - '[i]Look at you now, boy'[/i] -

The economy and finances - The waring factions here over the C&A constructs. All these things taken together and yet ... a strange, different sort of calm to it all. It is nothing short of [i]bizarre[/i]. It does seem sort of like that being tossed to and fro, not with every wind of doctrine, but more ... carried along. Trust and faith, while sentiment and 'feeling' wise I seem almost ... cold. It is where I can take what Wesley stated about his 'not loving God' in a very hard way to express and say, yes, I think I know something of that, something of what he means. But I am also thinking of what he expressed as a continuation of that and where we might camp on one aspect at the expense of the whole context,

[color=0000FF]And yet I dare not preach otherwise than I do, either concerning faith, or love, or justification, or perfection. And yet I find rather an increase than a decrease of zeal for the whole work of God and every part of it. I am ... ["so swept along"] (I know not how) that I can't stand still. I want all the world to come to ... ["what I do not know myself']. Neither am I impelled to this by fear of any kind. I have no more fear than love. Or if I have [any fear, it is not of falling] into hell, but of falling into nothing.[/color]

It's all very expansionary, my own present circumstances hardly mirror his in exactness, hardly in likeness - I want to say that it is similar only in ... sentiment, that 'being swept along', "I do not know how".

I am likely a bit all over the place with this and a part of me wants to articulate something more broadly in these examinations of ourselves, of others. This particular letter (to Charles) set off some alarms apparently from my tooling around, the mention elsewhere, here (the other posting). It does sound quite alarming on the surface and maybe it is 'natural' to take off and expound upon that great, sweeping admission as it seems to be ... My wonder, in something like this letter, in our theological wrestlings, are we not often practicing something of 'detail overload'? The mentions earlier about asceticism of ourselves, the [i]over[/i] examination and navel gazing - What about of [i]others[/i]? Like Wesley, like many others ... dare I say Finney comes to mind quite largely. Is this really [i]everything[/i], even if we would in a knee-jerk sort of reaction say to ourselves "of course not", but we go on anyway, don't we? Postulating and surgically dismantling expressions, transparencies - snapshots or the 'trailers' of movies that constitute whole lives. But not only dismantle, but put back together Frankenstein like - No wonder we are so often misconstruing things and building ... monsters out of poor souls that have the verve and the nerve to upchuck their innards before all.

Give me an honest man any-day of the week, a 'heathen', an atheist, a Christan tossed and thrown about but still hanging on for dear life -Anyone, adaptable - willing to be challenged but moreover really [i]considerable[/i], thinking, contemplative - re-assessable - Who cannot but change his or her mind and that more often. It is at the least, something to work with.


Since I am rambling ... Prayer. It has been everything to me for so long ... It's not in this set of particulars completely absent, but just different. Even yesterday I uttered this half statement\half question. "Lord, you are doing this ... aren't you ...?" It seems that it is all just unanswered, just held in an abeyance - I will go on and trust irregardless, "pray" as I can - Part of it seems to be some certain stubbornnesses on my end. Part of it is that sense of the "Heavens are brass" where I seem to be petitioning to a wall. I have sinned and repented, but in all honesty my emotions are neither hot nor cold nor even lukewarm, if that were possible. Flat is the word. Nothing is also the word, drawing off of Wesley again. But carried along nevertheless, faintly, almost and just barely imperceivable. But a different 'sense' .. of being watched over, looked on ... Strange days indeed. And I must say, I wouldn't have it any other way, right now. There is some strange, latent ... 'joy' underneath it all, a certain contentment and deeper trusting. What a walking, talking, writing - contradiction!

:-)


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Mike Balog

 2009/1/10 9:44Profile









 Re:

Quote:

RobertW wrote:
I am often taken by Wesley's willingness to preach and teach things that he had not personally experienced. It is very striking for me for a person to speak to the subject of perfection at a time when they had not been (according to their own testimony) regenerated yet. That is akin to speaking, preaching and teaching about deliverance from alcohol when the person still struggles with drink.

Obviously Wesley never feared the charge of hypocrisy. By no means am I saying Wesley was hypocritical, I am just saying it would not fly very well today. People assume that the man and the message are one and the same. This is why Ravi Zachrias mentioned recently a woman that asked of the preacher, "It was a wonderful sermon- but is it true in his private life?" I for one want to know that the message is being lived out practically and existentially. I am typically not interested in 'theories'. I think this fact also contributed to a lot of the controversy. I automatically assume that if a person is preaching something they are walking in that reality. Maybe I am wrong at that?

I personally would fear preaching things as truth that I had not personally experienced unless I addressed the subject with a personal disclaimer. But these men had a 'preach it until you reach it" mindset and proved their claims with scripture independent of their own personal walk.


It is a very good case of physician heal thyself. Many preach or speak of what they know or have heard of the gospel, to whom which no work of regeneration has happened.

Rather than this being a comforting situation to see a lost man preaching what he understood of the gospel, it ought to stand out as a good warning to all as to how far one can progress in understanding and yet still be lost.

Quote:

RobertW wrote:
Should we approach perfection as we approach divine healing? I'm asking a real question here and not at all being rhetorical. Is perfection similar to divine healing? One may be on their death bed and preach that God heals and all the while perish from sickness?




No. The Bible teaches that everyone has a date with death, but it does not teach that anyone has a date with perfection (even Wesley's altered version of it) in this life. Christ in us is perfection, but the flesh still remains, and any love that we have as defined by Wesley, is yet imperfect.

Judas is our example here. He preached, he healed, all the while he was an enemy of God. The manner of his preaching could definitely be questioned, yet we have reason to be certain that there was healing accomplished through him. Is it possible for God to work through an enemy of God? Answer YES! As an enemy of God, could he ever have had the interests of Christ as his motive for any of this? Answer NO! All he could have as a motive is self-preservation.

Likewise with Wesley in his pre-conversion state, as an enemy of God, his doctrine of perfection was brought forth as a means of self-preservation. His views on this changed as he matured in Christ, but like Luther held to the error of consubstantiation through his whole life, so Wesley was forced to deal with his error of Christian perfection for the rest of his life. Each of these are to teach us that the best of men are still men at best.


http://gbgm-umc.org/umw/wesley/action.stm

"Christian Perfection is "holiness of heart and life." [b]It is "walking the talk."[/b] John Wesley expected Methodists to do not only "works of piety" but "works of mercy"--both of these fused together put a Christian on the path to perfection in love."


This from one who was talking [i]before[/i] walking.


BTW: I finally found the article detailing his changing views on perfection.
http://wesley.nnu.edu/wesleyan_theology/theojrnl/16-20/20-12.htm



Old Joe

 2009/1/10 10:19
crsschk
Member



Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA

 Re: John Wesley's Letters

Hi Old Joe,

Thanks for the link there, the later one detailing his changing views ... I found it slightly ironic that my own 'detail overload' comment was pretty applicable also reading through it all. To be honest I kind of checked out about 60% of the way down ... a bit too much, I guess I had forgotten a lot of these things. On the one hand being in that position, of a pastor\preacher and making a statement anywhere along the line and then being taken to to task over it, having to continuously clarify - re-define it, 'defend' it in the sense of where others having given it it's own wings and ran with it ... On the other hand, all of things in [i]themselves[/i] seem to amount to word overdose, it's just all too much wrangling it seems.

This is a bit unfair, but for my clarifications;

Quote:
What then is Christian perfection in 1760 for John Wesley? His stock answer is-"The loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength."



Is taken from it all, yet my admission here is that I had forgotten about all the barnacles attached and likely contradicted myself here a bit by jumping to the end as it were and painting a picture out of a 'snapshot'.

I guess I am leaning more and more to the same thing that Art Katz once said about 'becoming more simpler everyday' - Too much technical analysis in all these theological ... reasonings.


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Mike Balog

 2009/1/11 8:26Profile
crsschk
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Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA

 Colored reasoning

Quote:
Yes. Do you think that people could be bringing baggage of some sort into these debates that colors their reasoning and it has nothing to do with the other person? Sometimes it seems that people are really debating their own selves in these conversations. Almost like a phantom opponent that is used as an object of some need to vent or something. In other words, they are trying to convince themselves they are right and in the process end up bashing the other person.



Brother, this stood out and has been running through my mind since you wrote it. I do not know if a better observation has ever been uttered. Over the years here, this seems very, very true indeed. I am certain I have done it time and again, so easy to get caught up in ones own thoughts ... a certain line of thinking that you can end up doing this even unaware. Hindsight and the span of time often bring back that sense of regret. Reading old posts can really bring this truth home ...

But it is also seen all over the place - "Open air" preaching sadly seems to be a place for a lot of this, almost like playing off the crowd, even without the hecklers, they could be (the crowd) unwilling (unwitting?) participants just as hearers while the preacher is postulating and 'grand standing' just to hear himself, or prove himself 'right' and that to their own selves. "Care and concern" do not often seem to be underwritten in it at all, it may be on some level but it just does not convey.

That is a monumental statement brother.


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Mike Balog

 2009/1/11 8:43Profile









 Re:

Quote:

crsschk wrote:
What then is Christian perfection in 1760 for John Wesley? His stock answer is-"The loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength."



This was the most palatable of all his definitions, and yet it was lacking as well, especially when run through this verse.

Matt 22:37-40 [i]Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 [b]On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.[/b][/i]

Verse 37-38 (summed up in Wesley's definition of love) equates to a fulfillment of the first four commandments. The problem is that we are not actually able to fulfill the commandments to the depth and breadth required by the law. According to Wesley's definition of perfection, man would be able to attain a COMPLETE fulfillment of the first four commandments while still in the flesh.

I hope this is a reasonable analogy:
Think of our sin in this life as the simple hyberbolic function x=1/y^2, where x is time from salvation and y is sin. When x=0 our sin is infinite but as we progress in time, we are given more and more power over sin, yet even as x tends to infinity, y NEVER reaches 0, and therefore is unable to fulfill the law. God's commands cause us to head towards that x-intercept for purposes of sanctification, but we never can get there ENTIRELY, as one of Wesley's earlier definitions suggested.

Old Joe



 2009/1/11 15:55
RobertW
Member



Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri

 Re: Colored reasoning

Quote:
But it is also seen all over the place - "Open air" preaching sadly seems to be a place for a lot of this, almost like playing off the crowd, even without the hecklers, they could be (the crowd) unwilling (unwitting?) participants just as hearers while the preacher is postulating and 'grand standing' just to hear himself, or prove himself 'right' and that to their own selves..



How can a person retreat from such a forceful argument and if necessary- admit they were wrong?

Something I have been particularly sensitive to since Greenock is putting myself in a position that I don't feel like I can [i]retreat[/i] or [i]repent[/i]. I am afraid that I have found myself at times feeling like folk look up to me in some sense, true or not, and allowing that sense to dictate whether or not I will respond to God (or the truth when I hear it).

So I see a danger in all of this among those that seem to be leaders, etc. There needs to be an ongoing willingness to allow examination of our teachings and behavior with an added willingness to amend either our doctrine or behavior should revision be necessary. But there is a dreadful fear, almost greater than all fears; that I may have to admit I was wrong- which admission could diminish what I perceive to be my standing or responsibility in the eyes of the people.

I have often thought, and I know this is a little off subject, that revival was hindered by leaders unwillingness to allow themselves to be cast in a negative light though admission of wrong doctrine (beliefs) and admission of shortcomings. Fear of being perceived as we really are likely has hindered a great many repentances. But how can a person go forward that is bent on being right and appearing to be right at almost all costs?



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Robert Wurtz II

 2009/1/11 23:26Profile





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