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Discussion Forum : Revivals And Church History : The Real John Wesley

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UntoBabes
Member



Joined: 2010/8/24
Posts: 895


 Re:

I must confess, i read only a few lines in that thread, something about John Wesley, sinless perfection and a cover up.... I am not sure.
One of those Cal/Arm heated arguments where people get to pluck each other's beards. I thought, let me jump in before they lock the thread.

I appreciated Pentecostal preachers such as Art Katz, David Wilkerson.... who criticise the evils that are going on in the Pentecostal movement. And that is what draws my attention. I want to see Armenians pointing out the weaknesses of the Armenian belief system,or Armenian theologians,and Calvinists pointing out the weaknesses in the Calvinist belief system...etc
Any thing other than that is not worth looking at because it will be bias. I can tell without a doubt that the person who wrote this book and the one who started this thread are Calvinist. Now, how did I know that, It is just my gut feeling.There is a chance I am wrong, but a greater one I am right.

 2010/9/22 18:23Profile
UntoBabes
Member



Joined: 2010/8/24
Posts: 895


 Re:

Renoncer Said: our hearts are idol factories, What a statment!!! not only of people, but also of idealogy .
I appreciate pointing out this truth.
There is a time to erect the Bronze Serpent, but when it becomes an idol, it is time to grind it to powder without mercy.

 2010/9/22 18:33Profile
boG
Member



Joined: 2008/5/21
Posts: 349
Las Vegas, NV

 Re: The Real John Wesley

-----Quote-----
Speaking of Wesley, saw this quote and really liked it.

"But although a difference in opinions or modes of worship may prevent an entire external union, yet need it prevent our union in affection? Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences. These remaining as they are, they may forward one another in love and in good works." - John Wesley
-----End Quote-----

Wesley's personal views concerning the separation with Whitefield and the Moravians is evidently lacking in this "real" testimony about John Wesley. How curious. Is it possible that we would find Wesley as affectionate towards Whitefield as Whitefield was towards Wesley? (The answer is Yes.)

-----Quote-----
In the sermon, which he termed “Free Grace,” (3) Wesley began by defining predestination. He did not state some recognized definition, but gave it a meaning of his own, and then declared that all who hold the doctrine must hold it in the same extreme sense.
-----End Quote-----

What was that definition exactly?

From the sermon in question, Free Grace by John Wesley,
-----Quote-----
First. It [the grace or love of God, whence cometh our salvation] is free in all to whom it is given. It does not depend on any power or merit in man; no, not in any degree, neither in whole, nor in part. It does not in anywise depend either on the good works or righteousness of the receiver; not on anything he has done, or anything he is. It does not depend on his endeavors. It does not depend on his good tempers, or good desires, or good purposes and intentions; for all these flow from the free grace of God; they are the streams only, not the fountain. They are the fruits of free grace, and not the root. They are not the cause, but the effects of it. Whatsoever good is in man, or is done by man, God is the author and doer of it. Thus is his grace free in all; that is, no way depending on any power or merit in man, but on God alone, who freely gave us his own Son, and "with him freely giveth us all things."

But it is free for ALL, as well as IN ALL. To this some have answered, "No: It is free only for those whom God hath ordained to life; and they are but a little flock. The greater part of God hath ordained to death; and it is not free for them. Them God hateth; and, therefore, before they were born, decreed they should die eternally. And this he absolutely decreed; because so was his good pleasure; because it was his sovereign will. Accordingly, they are born for this, -- to be destroyed body and soul in hell. And they grow up under the irrevocable curse of God, without any possibility of redemption; for what grace God gives, he gives only for this, to increase, not prevent, their damnation."
-----End Quote-----

Not only is this NOT a definition of Wesley's own making but it is readily recognized in the earliest accounts of our Church Fathers.

As I have done a fair amount of study on the particular teachings of John Wesley (and Jacob Arminius), not the least being his opinions on Predestination, I can say with all evidence that Wesley was no enemy or despiser of Predestination. Thus statements such as the following do not prove Wesley's error but only show the writer's own bias and/or ignorance: "(1) Predestination is a doctrine essential to 'Calvinism,' a theological system he knew Whitefield favored. But Wesley had been taught, particularly by his mother, to believe the opposite system, known as 'Arminianism.'"

Predestination is essential and central to the system of Arminianism; which is here claimed to be supposedly "opposite" to it. Anyone who claims Predestination is opposite to Arminianism is profoundly misinformed. The doctrine of Predestination that Wesley opposed was the Calvinistic concept of that doctrine, and that only. In other words, Wesley merely rejected that Predestination as outlined by Philosophical Determinism. (I will refrain from regurgitating the finer points of this distinction.)

If you are interested in reviewing a detailed description of the Arminian position on Predestination and some of the particular critiques against Philosophical Determinism then I submit the following link:

The Works of James Arminius (vol. 1), read from pages 211-257,
http://books.google.com/books?id=gJ89AAAAYAAJ&pg=PA211

And I will only remark to say that I find both Arminius' and Wesley's understanding of the Calvinian doctrine of Predestination to be accurate and precise.


Furthermore, the statement
-----Quote-----
Wesley now began also to declare a still more divisive doctrine, that which he named “Christian Perfection.” (6)

He did not, however, clearly define this teaching. Rather he left it in two forms, and they were contradictory. It could mean merely a high state of Christian maturity, and, of course, on this definition there was no difference of opinion. But it could also mean a state of entire sinlessness, and concerning this the strongest of differences existed. Yet it was this latter meaning that Wesley constantly presented, and this was the doctrine’s only raison d’être.

Whitefield heard various of Wesley’s followers claim that they were perfect, declaring that they had not sinned in so many weeks or months, and to him the assertion was both un-Scriptural and dangerous.
-----End Quote-----

UntoBabes gave the correct response,
-----Quote-----
Whatever people mean by "Sinless Perfection". If that doctrine teaches that it is impossible to sin, it obviously is not biblical, for the Bible teaches no such thing. But, on the other hand, if it teaches it is possible not to sin, then a simple reading in the Scriptures would prove it's truth. I believe that Wesley approved the latter.
-----End Quote-----

On a side note, I ask, what exactly is contradictory between the definitions "a high state of Christian maturity" and "a state of entire sinlessness"? I am uncertain what the writer was attempting to prove as contradictory (regardless of whether or not "a state of entire sinlessness" is possible this side of eternity). It would appear that there are some unspoken assumptions being taken for granted concerning the meaning of these words and phrases.

The writer makes the claim that Wesley taught that "Christian Perfection" was a state of complete sinlessness without possibility of sinning. This is an egregious lie. Neither was Wesley vague in what he meant by Christian Perfection.

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection by John Wesley
http://gbgm-umc.org/umhistory/wesley/plainaccount.stm

A brief quotation from that article:
-----Quote-----
(1.) Perhaps the general prejudice against Christian perfection may chiefly arise from a misapprehension of the nature of it. We willingly allow, and continually declare, there is no such perfection in this life, as implies either a dispensation from doing good, and attending all the ordinances of God, or a freedom from ignorance, mistake, temptation, and a thousand infirmities necessarily connected with flesh and blood.

(2.) First. We not only allow, but earnestly contend, that there is no perfection in this life, which implies any dispensation from attending all the ordinances of God, or from doing good unto all men while we have time, though `especially unto the household of faith.' We believe, that not only the babes in Christ, who have newly found redemption in his blood, but those also who are `grown up into perfect men,' are indispensably obliged, as often as they have opportunity, `to eat bread and drink wine in remembrance of Him,' and to `search the Scriptures;' by fasting, as well as temperance, to `keep their bodies under, and bring them into subjection;' and, above all, to pour out their souls in prayer, both secretly, and in the great congregation.

(3.) We Secondly believe, that there is no such perfection in this life, as implies an entire deliverance, either from ignorance, or mistake, in things not essential to salvation, or from manifold temptations, or from numberless infirmities, wherewith the corruptible body more or less presses down the soul. We cannot find any ground in Scripture to suppose, that any inhabitant of a house of clay is wholly exempt either from bodily infirmities, or from ignorance of many things; or to imagine any is incapable of mistake, or falling into divers temptations.
-----End Quote-----

To summarize the whole: the grace of God in Christ is sufficient to keep us from every sin.

1 Corinthians 10:13.
"No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it."

A study of the Greek confirms the clear expression that the potential to live the duration of our new life in Christ without falling into sin is incontestable truth. And this is exactly the teaching Wesley propagated. The fact that some people, such as many in the Holiness Movement, were birthed from an abuse and/or misunderstanding of these teachings is not a proper testimony against these doctrines as taught by Wesley.


_________________
Jordan

 2010/9/22 22:42Profile
nearthecross
Member



Joined: 2009/5/13
Posts: 74


 Re:

Quote:
Whatever people mean by "Sinless Perfection". If that doctrine teaches that it is impossible to sin, it obviously is not biblical, for the Bible teaches no such thing. But, on the other hand, if it teaches it is possible not to sin, then a simple reading in the Scriptures would prove it's truth. I believe that Wesley approved the latter.



No, actually, Wesley left his teaching really vague and open to the posibility of sinless perfection. Wesley contradicts himself in his teachings. (I've read Wesley's A Plain Account of Christian Perfection, by the way. To be fair and honest there were some great and really edifying parts in that book; however, the whole premise of a "second blessing" holiness experience of "entire sanctification" is entirely unbiblical, and very dangerous). As it was stated in the excerpt of this Whitefield book, if by "Christian Perfection" Wesley meant only a higher state of Christian living, there would be no contention, Whitefielied would not have had a problem with that. But he evidently meant something MORE than that, as did his followers. Hence the contention that arose.

 2010/9/24 0:45Profile
boG
Member



Joined: 2008/5/21
Posts: 349
Las Vegas, NV

 Re: The Real John Wesley

You say "Wesley contradicts himself in his teachings" regarding "sinless perfection" (a phrase Wesley admits "is a phrase I never use, lest I should seem to contradict myself"). Please provide some example(s).

Please explain then what Wesley "evidently meant" by "entire sanctification". I personally care little for what followers may say; regardless of whomsoever they may claim to follow (the whoredom of Christ's name is proof enough for my skepticism).


To quote again from A Plain Account of Christian Perfection by John Wesley; I strongly advice you to take particular note to Q. 11:

Q. 10. May not, then, the very best of men adopt the dying Martyr's confession: `I am in myself nothing but sin, darkness, hell; but thou art my light, my holiness, my heaven?'

A. Not exactly. But the best of men may say, `Thou art my light, my holiness, my heaven. Through my union with thee, I am full of light, of holiness, and happiness. But if I were left to myself, I should be nothing but sin, darkness, hell.'

But to proceed: The best of men need Christ as their Priest, their Atonement, their Advocate with the Father; not only as the continuance of their every blessing depends on his death and intercession, but on account of their coming short of the law of love. For every man living does so. You who feel all love, compare yourselves with the preceding description. Weigh yourselves in this balance, and see if you are not wanting in many particulars.

Q. 11. But if all this be consistent with Christian perfection, that perfection is not freedom from all sin; seeing sin is the `transgression of the law:' And the perfect transgress the very law they are under. Besides, they need the atonement of Christ; and he is the atonement of nothing but sin. Is, then, the term sinless perfection, proper?

A. It is not worth disputing about. But observe in what sense the persons in question need the atonement of Christ. They do not need him to reconcile them to God afresh; for they are reconciled. They do not need him to restore the favour of God, but to continue it. He does not procure pardon for them anew, but `ever liveth to make intercession for them;' and `by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.' (Heb. 10:14.)

For want of duly considering this, some deny that they need the atonement of Christ. Indeed, exceeding few; I do not remember to have found five of them in England. Of the two, I would sooner give up perfection; but we need not give up either one or the other. The perfection I hold, `Love rejoicing evermore, praying without ceasing, and in everything giving thanks,' is well consistent with it; if any hold a perfection which is not, they must look to it.

Q. 12. Does then Christian perfection imply any more than sincerity?

A. Not if you mean by that word, love filling the heart, expelling pride, anger, desire, self-will; rejoicing evermore, praying without ceasing, and in everything giving thanks. But I doubt, few use sincerity in this sense. Therefore, I think the old word is best.


_________________
Jordan

 2010/9/24 3:26Profile
boG
Member



Joined: 2008/5/21
Posts: 349
Las Vegas, NV

 Re: The Real John Wesley

Moreover, I am loathe to cast doubt upon the testimony of Whitefield in regards to the habit of his accusations and contentions, nevertheless, consider the following account if you will:

The History of Harvard University (vol. 2): The Whitefieldian Controversy

http://books.google.com/books?printsec=frontcover&pg=PA39&id=doPrcZV9a0EC#v=onepage&q&f=false


_________________
Jordan

 2010/9/24 3:41Profile
krautfrau
Member



Joined: 2008/12/20
Posts: 993
UK

 Re:

Anyone who preaches the necessity of men living holy lives, knows the opposition that comes straight from the pit, as the enemy wants us to believe that we cannot stop sinning in this life due to him losing all ability to deceive the believer when it occurs and the works of darkness are not destroyed bringing shame to the church when non believers see that the so called disciples of Christ are no better than they and sometimes even worse.

Anyone who opposes these holy men often do everything they can to destroy their reputations thinking that they are serving God by doing so, so steeped in darkness have they become. The only way that the hostility is averted is due to the love shown to them by the ones they seek to discredit and I believe that this is so in the friendship between Wesley and Whitefield.

Normally there is no meeting in fellowship at all between a Calvinist and a holiness preacher, it has nothing to do with Arminianism where there have been friendships forged between the two sides. I have been on forums where this is the case. Being a preacher of holiness which does not automatically mean an Arminian, is a lonely walk apart from amongst others who believe in the doctrine.

From my readings, I believe it was Whitefield who broke the friendship though I do not have a quote offhand, and indeed it is the usual practise that this will occur. It must be rare indeed for it not to occur. The two sides are a world apart and there cannot be a meeting in the middle.

I believe that Wesley kept open the possibility of sinless perfection as he had no choice despite it not being his own experience till perhaps later on in his life, as he had many followers who did indeed claim it and Wesley could find no reason to doubt them after carefully interviewing them.

If Whitefield has been overlooked, the way to bring him into prominence should not be to compare to a man who preached an altogether different gospel, and to attempt to bring down that man to raise Whitfield higher. Like should be compared to like.


_________________
Brenda Marilyn

 2010/10/3 8:41Profile
PaulWest
Moderator



Joined: 2006/6/28
Posts: 3374
Central Texas

 Re:

I would totally disagree (as would John Wesley) to say that Whitefield preached an altogether different gospel. True, the two brothers differed on several non-salvific theological points, but both certainly preached the same Jesus, and had been reconciled by the end of Whitefield's life in 1770.

Would that we could go and do likewise.


_________________
Paul Frederick West

 2010/10/3 10:34Profile
krautfrau
Member



Joined: 2008/12/20
Posts: 993
UK

 Re:

Paul

How can you think it is the same gospel when some say that salvation includes sinning and some say that it means we do not sin. Is not sin a major issue?


_________________
Brenda Marilyn

 2010/10/3 11:08Profile
PaulWest
Moderator



Joined: 2006/6/28
Posts: 3374
Central Texas

 Re:

But neither Wesley nor Whitefield preached a gospel that gave liberty to sin. Both preached repentance unto salvation. In fact, if you read Whitefield's sermons, you'll find no greater and desperate exhortation to flee and forsake sin than you will in all of Christianity. So, respectfully, I must say that I don't understand your point. Wesley and Whitefield differed not on sin, but primarily on matters of election and reprobation.

I hope you agree (as they did) that these are non-salvific points, and are certainly not the gospel message.


_________________
Paul Frederick West

 2010/10/3 12:15Profile





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