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Wesley on Faith


After reading Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism, I’m shifting my attention to the other end of the soteriological spectrum in another historical volume by Iain Murray, Wesley and Men Who Followed.

I know relatively little about John Wesley. My impression of him, from the little I have read about him, is that he was an Arminian unlike most Arminians I have known, and certainly unlike I was. I am eager to see if my impression is correct. If the following account of an exchange between Wesley and pseudonymous critic “John Smith” is any indication, it is.

img‘You seem to me,’ wrote ‘Smith’, ‘to contend with great earnestness for the following system, viz., that faith (instead of being a rational assent and a moral virtue for the attainment of which men ought to yield the utmost attention and industry) is altogether a divine and supernatural illapse from heaven, the immediate gift of God, the mere work of omnipotence.’ With obvious qualification, this was what Wesley believed; faith is supernatural, ‘wrought in us (be it swiftly or slowly) by the Spirit of God’. He replied to ‘Smith’:
imgSupposing a man be now void of faith and hope and love, he cannot effect any degree of them in himself by any possible exertion of his understanding, and of any or all of his other natural faculties, though he should enjoy them to the utmost perfection. A distinct power from God, not implied in any of these, is indispensably necessary before it is possible that he should arrive at the very last degree of Christian faith, or love, or hope. In order to his having any of these (on which very consideration I suppose St. Paul terms “the fruits of the Spirit”) he must be created anew, thoroughly and inwardly changed by the operation of the Spirit of God, by a power equivalent to that which raises the dead, and which calls the things that were not as though they were.’

—Iain Murray, Wesley and Men Who Followed (Banner of Truth, 2003), 32–33.



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2 Comments:


#1 || 10·01·07··11:33 || Daniel

Wesley couldn't wrap his mind around the notion that God predestines the salvation of everyone who is (eventually) saved. His blindness on this point is the primary reason he is considered an "Arminian" - but many would call him either a three or four point "Calvinist". One thing I know: I admire the man, and am very certain I would have been profoundly blessed to have known him and benefited from his ministry and walk with the Lord.


#2 || 10·01·07··12:24 || David

Ditto that.

Predestination does seem to be the sticking point.


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