Here’s a new free online resource: Wesleyan Holiness Digital Library. It is sponsored by the Nazarene church. There are resources in multiple languages.
Some of the free resources include:
HT: Dr Wayman
Here’s a good article by Nazarene Theology professor Al Truesdale that helps to explain the difference between Wesleyans and Fundamentalists, and why Wesleyans aren’t concerned about “inerrancy”. Why Wesleyans Aren’t Fundamentalists.
From the article:
For fundamentalists, revelation is thought of primarily as divine information or truth about God, humans, and the creation. For example, when Exodus 12:37 states the number of Hebrew slaves who left Egypt, that information is part of divine revelation. The Bible is the inspired and inerrant deposit of divine revelation. For that reason it is the Word of God. God unerringly communicated his revelation in various ways—through patriarchs, prophets and apostles, oracles, signs and wonders, and ultimately through Jesus Christ. Regardless of the topic the Bible addresses, it is part of God’s infallible revelation. It stands to reason that an inerrant God would communicate through an inerrant vehicle.
Therefore, in the Bible God has given us an inerrant source of truth. Either the entire Bible is without error, or the Scriptures as a whole must be false. Either Isaiah of Jerusalem wrote all of Isaiah, or the Bible is deceptive. Equally essential for fundamentalism is belief that the body of revelation the Bible contains is accessible to all who will rightly use their reason, and who will submit to what the Bible teaches.
We can see that for fundamentalists, “truth” is principally “divine truths” God has communicated to humans and recorded in the Bible. This makes the Bible “the Word of God.” Faith, then, is principally a matter of understanding and assenting to truth, to revelation, without reservation. This doesn’t minimize the importance of personal trust in Jesus Christ.
Wesleyans hold to a different understanding of revelation. The difference directly affects our doctrine of the Scriptures. God himself, not information about him, is the primary content of revelation. God manifests himself, his person, his “Name,” and his will in all the earth. he reveals his “glory” as Creator and Savior, the proper end of which is our worship of and obedience to him. God declares his Name particularly by creating a people who, in covenant with him, will bear redeemed witness to his holiness, his love, his Kingship, and his faithfulness. The Bible uniquely and definitively tells the story of God’s self-disclosure and of humankind’s response. But not everything in the Bible is essential to God’s self-disclosure.
For Wesleyans, knowing the truth is primarily a matter of knowing God, of being transformed and gifted by him, and of being placed in his kingdom service. Thinking of knowing the truth as principally a matter of assent to a body of divine knowledge or propositions strikes Wesleyans as once-removed from knowing him who is the “Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
Good and insightful article on Seedbed: 8 Things Wesleyans Need to Learn from Neo-Calvinism
Dr Timothy Tennant from Asbury Seminary is doing a series entitled “Why I am a Methodist and an Evangelical”. Good stuff, be sure to check it out.
Prevenient Grace - “salvation is impossible without a free and prior act of God on behalf of the sinner.”
Means of Grace – Remaining in faith and avoiding antinomianism.
Conversion – transformation
Sanctification – The importance of holiness in the life of the believer
Discipleship – “learning to echo the entire rhythms of the Christian life”
Missional Movement – “Actively serving the world”
Billy Birch over at The Arminian has put together a nice post that compares and contrasts Wesleyan Arminianism with Reformed (or Classical) Arminianism. You can find it here: Demarcating Wesleyan-Arminianism and Reformed Arminianism.
I did a somewhat similar post a while back, available here: A Comparison of Wesleyanism and Classical Arminianism.
Wesleyan scholar Randy Maddox has written an excellent article about the way John Wesley studied, interpreted, and preached from the Bible. It’s entitled: “ The Rule of Christian Faith, Practice, and Hope: John Wesley on the Bible (1)” (free registration required). This article is well worth the read.
Here’s a quick summary:
(1) Randy Maddox, The Rule of Christian Faith, Practice, and Hope: John Wesley on the Bible, Methodist Review, Volume 3, 2011 (Free registration required).
(2) The Center for Studies in the Wesleyan Tradition has compiled a register of all the passages of scripture that John Wesley preached from (that we have record of). For sources, they used Wesley’s journals, works, and letters.
It appears that John Wesley was what might be called a “hopeful inclusivist”. An inclusivist is one who believes that we are saved only through Jesus, however, it is possible to be saved through Jesus without explicit and/or complete knowledge of him. The following quotes from Wesley give insight to his leanings. Take special note of Sermon 106, On Faith.
[4-7-11 Post updated to include some additional quotes]
….I have no authority from the Word of God “to judge those that are without.” Nor do I conceive that any man living has a right to sentence all the heathen and Mahometan world to damnation. It is far better to leave them to him that made them, and who is “the Father of the spirits of all flesh;” who is the God of the Heathens as well as the Christians, and who hateth nothing that he hath made. Sermon 125: On Living Without God, point 14.
Heathens and Muslims:
It cannot be doubted, but this plea [lack of knowledge] will avail for millions of modern Heathens. Inasmuch as to them little is given, of them little will be required. As to the ancient Heathens, millions of them, likewise were savages. No more therefore will be expected of them, than the living up to the light they had. But many of them, especially in the civilized nations, we have great reason to hope, although they lived among Heathens, yet were quite of another spirit; being taught of God, by His inward voice, all the essentials of true religion. Yea, and so was that Mahometan, and Arabian, who, a century or two ago, wrote the Life of Hai Ebn Yokdan. The story seems to be feigned; but it contains all the principles of pure religion and undefiled. Sermon 106, On Faith, I 4.
Heathens, Muslims, Jews:
But with Heathens, Mahometans, and Jews we have at present nothing to do; only we may wish that their lives did not shame many of us that are called Christians. We have not much more to do with the members of the Church of Rome. But we cannot doubt, that many of them, like the excellent Archbishop of Cambray, still retain (notwithstanding many mistakes) that faith that worketh by love. Sermon 106, On Faith, II 3.
It is not so easy to pass any judgment concerning the faith of our modern Jews. It is plain, “the veil is still upon their hearts” when Moses and the Prophets are read. The god of this world still hardens their hearts, and still blinds their eyes, “lest at any time the light of the glorious gospel” should break in upon them. So that we may say of this people, as the Holy Ghost said to their forefathers, “The heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed ; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” (Acts 28:27.) Yet it is not our part to pass sentence upon them, but to leave them to their own Master. Sermon 106, On Faith, I 6.
Heathens Who have Never Heard of Christ:
But one considerable difficulty still remains: There are very many heathen nations in the world that have no intercourse, either by trade or any other means, with Christians of any kind. Such are the inhabitants of the numerous islands in the South Sea, and probably in all large branches of the ocean. Now, what shall be done for these poor outcasts of men “How shall they believe,” saith the Apostle, “in Him of whom they have not heard And how shall they hear without a preacher” You may add, “And how shall they preach, unless they be sent” Yea, but is not God able to send them Cannot he raise them up, as it were, out of the stones And can he ever want means of sending them No: Were there no other means, he can “take them by his Spirit,” as he did Ezekiel. (Ezek. 3:12,) or by his angel, as he did Philip, (Acts 8,) and set them down wheresoever it pleaseth him. Yea, he can find out a thousand ways to foolish man unknown. And he surely will: For heaven and earth may pass away; but his word shall not pass away: He will give his Son “the uttermost part of the earth for his possession.” Sermon 63, The General Spread of the Gospel, 24.
Indians (from India), Pakistanis, Pacific Islanders:
We cannot account for his present dealings with the inhabitants of the earth. We know, “the Lord is loving unto every man, and his mercy is over all his works.” But we know not how to reconcile this with the present dispensations of his providence. At this day, is not almost every part of the earth full of darkness and cruel habitations In what a condition, in particular, is the large and populous empire of Indostan! How many hundred thousands of the poor, quiet people, have been destroyed, and their carcases left as the dung of the earth! in what a condition (though they have no English ruffians there) are the numberless islands in the Pacific Ocean! How little is their state above that of wolves and bears! And who careth either for their souls or their bodies But does not the Father of men care for them O mystery of providence! Sermon 69 – The Imperfection Of Human Knowledge. II 4
Those with Distorted Ideas of who Christ is:
Perhaps there may be some well-meaning persons who carry this farther still; who aver, that whatever change is wrought in men, whether in their hearts or lives, yet if they have not clear views of those capital doctrines, the fall of man, justification by faith, and of the atonement made by the death of Christ, and of his righteousness transferred to them, they can have no benefit from his death. I dare in no wise affirm this. Indeed I do not believe it. I believe the merciful God regards the lives and tempers of men more than their ideas. I believe he respects the goodness of the heart rather than the clearness of the head; and that if the heart of a man be filled (by the grace of God, and the power of his Spirit) with the humble, gentle, patient love of God and man, God will not cast him into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels because his ideas are not clear, or because his conceptions are confused. Without holiness, I own, “no man shall see the Lord;” but I dare not add, “or clear ideas.” Sermon 125: On Living Without God, 15.
…the faith of the Roman Catholics, in general, seems to be above that of the ancient Jews. If most of these are volunteers in faith, believing more than God has revealed, it cannot be denied that they believe all which God has revealed, as necessary to salvation. In this we rejoice on their behalf… Sermon 106, On Faith, I 7
Wesleyanism and Classical Arminianism have much in common, however, there are a few differences. Here’s a list that compares some of the differences in belief. These are generalities, as particular beliefs often vary from person to person. And some of these categories overlap a bit. For example: One’s view of sanctification influences one’s view of righteousness.
Sanctification / Holiness: Wesleyans place an emphasis on entire sanctification (although perhaps less so though than they used to). Classical Arminians do not hold to entire sanctification. Wesleyans teach that Christians can be completely sanctified in this lifetime, and can live a holy life. Sanctification is not only inward, it is also outward, and motivates a life of service. John Wesley called this “Holiness of Heart and Life”. Some Wesleyans see this as a process. Some see it as an instant second work of grace. Some a combination of the two. J Kenneth Grider has a book about this. Entire Sanctification: The Distinctive Doctrine of Wesleyanism.
Atonement: Wesleyans often hold to the moral government view of the atonement. Jesus suffered and died as a governmental act to show that God was displeased with the sin of man. Anyone who accepts the suffering of Jesus will be saved. Classical Arminians usually hold to substitutionary atonement. Jesus died as a substitute for mankind, taking our place. Those who believe will be saved. It should be noted that John Wesley himself held to substitutionary atonement. However, most of his followers have held to the governmental view, particularly since the late 1800′s. This was the view originally articulated by the Remonstrant Hugo Grotius, and later advocated by evangelist Charles Finney, and Methodist theologian John Miley.
Forfeiting Salvation: Wesleyans believe salvation can be forfeited by a deliberately sinful life. It can be regained by repentance. Classical Arminians have different opinions on the matter. Some agree with Wesleyans that salvation can be forfeited and regained. Some believe that if salvation is forfeited it cannot be regained again. Some believe that salvation cannot be forfeited. Arminius himself never took a position on this issue. As a side note, I think there is a trend toward identifying with Classical Arminianism among some in the SBC, because they can still hold to “once saved always saved”. This is good. Calvinism has become very divisive among the SBC and the folks who believe that Jesus died for the world are taking another look at Arminianism.
Righteousness: Wesleyans believe in imputed righteousness and imparted righteousness. Classical Arminians generally hold to only imputed righteousness. Imputed righteousness is a forensic righteousness before God. It teaches that that we are still sinful at heart after becoming Christians, but God the Father ignores our sin because of our faith in Jesus. When he looks at us he sees the righteousness of Jesus instead of our sin. Imparted righteousness teaches that we are acceptable to the Father because the blood of Jesus has really made us pure and has changed us inside. We are holy in God’s sight because Jesus has genuinely made us so.
Spirit Focus: Wesleyans place a priority on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and gifts of the Spirit (healing, prophesy, etc). Charismatic Wesleyans also hold that the gift of tongues is one of the evidences of the filling of the Spirit. Classical Arminians believe in the filling of the Spirit, but generally have less focus on gifts of the Spirit.
Foreknowledge: Wesleyans are more friendly to open theism, although many also hold to classical foreknowledge. Open theism teaches that God does not exhaustively know the future because the future is open and cannot be known. Classical Arminians believe that God exhaustively knows the future.