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Prevenient Grace and Semi-Pelagianism Pt 7

August 11, 2014 1 comment

A Deficient View of the Power of Grace

This reinforces another important conclusion. Divine saving grace is irresistible. Arminianism mitigates the power of grace by its view of prevenient grace. Arminians hold that grace has no power in the life of its recipients unless a person activates that power by his free will. This indicates that the determining factor of salvation rests not in the hands of God but in the hand on the one who exercises free will in a favorable response to grace. In other words, divine grace is completely resistible. Nonetheless, Arminians like Olson deny that Arminianism is man-centered and that the free choice of the sinner is the deciding force determining salvation. He insists that it is the grace of God that inclines one to choose and this choice is defined as “nonresistance”34 to divine grace. However, he seems to forget that the corollary of libertarianism means equal resistance to grace otherwise man is not regarded as free. This poses serious problems for the doctrine of prevenient grace.

Resistible Grace. Many Arminians take pains to explain why a person chooses Christ when under the influence of prevenient grace. But little is said about those who reject Christ under the same influence. For example, Thomas Oden, a Wesleyan, states:

Grace works ahead of us to draw us toward faith, to begin its work in us. Even the first fragile intuition of conviction of sin, the first intimation of our need of God, is the work of preparing, preventing grace, which draws us gradually toward wishing to please God. Grace is working quietly at the point of our desiring, bringing us in time to despair over our own unrighteousness, challenging our perverse dispositions, so that our distorted wills cease gradually to resist the gift of God.35

This statement could easily fit the theology of any Calvinist if the grace described here were irresistible. However, the Arminian concludes that such grace is resistible. What is peculiar about this description of prevenient grace is that this could never be the experience of the one who resists it. In what sense does this grace draw one to faith, convict of sin, prepare one to please God, causing such a person to despair over unrighteousness, challenging their perverse dispositions and yet in the end they still resist the gift of God? How does the Arminian describe the work of prevenient grace in the life of the person who resists it? Wesley’s answer was to exhort men to “stir up the spark of grace which is now in you, and he will give you more grace.” Thus, the sort of grace Oden describes does not seem possible unless a person of his free will chooses to allow God to supply more of this grace at each nascent stage of being awakened to the truth of the gospel and one’s spiritual need for it. The Arminian is at pains to say that salvation solely rests upon God’s grace and non-resistance to this grace, but God appears not to supply it unless one wants it. The picture is one in which grace is withheld until further movements toward acceptance release it in evermore incremental stages. In the end, it is dependent upon man’s free choice to cooperate at every step of the way toward saving faith. That however, appears indistinguishable from semi-Pelagianism.

Roger Olson, demurs. He says,

Wesley anticipated the Calvinist accusation that by affirming even grace-enabled free will he was opening the door to Pelagianism or semi-Pelagianism. He rejected that criticism as invalid, attributing all goodness in human beings to God’s supernatural grace: “Whatsoever good is in man, or is done by man, God is the author and doer of it.”36

The problem with this statement is it is not possible for God to supply the grace and the goodness unless the recipient continues to long for more of it. And this points out a major problem for the Arminian. The Arminian wants to avoid any charge that salvation rests ultimately upon human free will. They want to say salvation rests upon divine grace. Olson says, “The decisive factor [for the reception of salvation] is the grace of God – from beginning to end.”37 He says, “The only ‘contribution’ humans make is non-resistance.”38 But Olson fails to mention if at any point between beginning and end that the recipient of grace resists it, then grace fails to be effective. The Arminian conception of grace cannot save as long as it is resisted. Let’s consider this problem further.

Unbelief a Gift. Remember that according to Arminianism, prevenient grace supplies the gift of libertarian freedom (i.e. contrary choice). Prior to prevenient grace, man’s will was in strict bondage to sin which concurs with the Calvinistic doctrine of Total Depravity. Thus, if the Arminian says that the will to believe is a gift of initial prevenient grace, then they must also affirm that the concurrent will to disbelieve is also a gift of grace since both responses are necessary if libertarian freedom is true. It is not exactly an appealing point to say that the will to disbelieve is a gift of grace, but that has to be a necessary corollary to the fact that grace is what first supplies libertarian freedom.

Denial of Further Grace. But Arminianism cannot resolve the main conundrum here. Further effusions of divine grace are withheld if the recipient does not use his libertarian freedom to respond positively to the grace given. This seems a cruel by-product of the gift of libertarian freedom. Only if you use that freedom correctly will God supply more grace, otherwise you are barred access to further grace. One might take Thomas Oden’s description of prevenient grace as something that happens wholesale at one time resulting in the freedom to exercise faith and thus procure salvation once and for all. But no Arminian would say that God’s grace is dispensed in every case all at once and then faith is exercised to procure salvation. Everyone’s conversion experience is different. Some respond to the call of the gospel immediately and without any intervening deliberation. But many more experience various promptings, convictions, awakenings to spiritual need, God-ward directed desires, increased understanding of the gospel, and so forth before exercising faith. These come in successive stages or waves and in varying intensity and so forth. Each occurrence culminates eventually in saving faith, but only if each occurrence of grace is responded to positively. If at any point the sinner resists these occurrences of grace then he cuts off further supplies of grace. Each successive act is wholly dependent on the positive response of the recipient, otherwise further acts are denied. Thus, it is not just one act of free will that procures salvation, but several and perhaps enumerable acts of free will. Thus, no matter how important and necessary divine grace is, in the end salvation is primarily conditioned and dependent on free will and only secondarily upon grace. Arminians are at pains to emphasize the priority of grace, but the final accent rests upon free will.

The Beggar Analogy. Olson offers a couple of analogies to describe the Arminian position on grace and free will. One is borrowed from Arminius himself.39 A rich man representing God offers a beggar alms. The only condition of the beggar receiving the alms is that he simply reach out his hand to take it. The principal source for the receiving of alms is not the liberty of the receiver, according to Arminius, but the liberality of the giver. Olson takes this analogy and expands it.40 The rich man bestows the gift upon the poor man by offering him a check that simply needs to be endorsed and then deposited in the bank. Olson says surely no one would suggest that the decisive factor for the reception of the check was the endorsing and depositing of it in the bank. But there are several problems with this analogy. First, there is the assumption that the beggar/ poor man recognizes that he is poor and desperate and needs the money offered him. Again, the Arminian would say this recognition comes as part of prevenient grace. But as we have seen, it only comes if the person responds positively to each “spark of grace” offered along the way. Every aspect of grace as Thomas Oden earlier described it would have to be positively responded to (or as Olson says, not resisted). But what do we make of the one who resists? If it is always possible to resist prevenient grace then grace is only made effective by one’s freely cooperating with it. Otherwise grace has no power to save. If grace was truly effective in the analogy Olson presents then the poor man would need to do nothing. The money would be automatically deposited into his bank account. But Olson would likely object. In this case, such a deed would be done apart from his freedom to accept or reject it. But that does not follow from the nature of the analogy. What beggar would refuse an automatic deposit to his bank account? Why is he begging in the first place? The point is, grace by its very nature does the work Thomas Oden described earlier and it does so irresistibly moving the recipient to saving faith. But that is the Calvinist position not the libertarian position of Arminians.

The Failure of Grace. So we are still left with the question of what to make of the one who resists grace. If two persons are the equal recipients of prevenient grace and one resists while the other does not, what explains the difference? Did grace succeed in one case and fail in the other case? The Arminian would be awfully hard pressed to say grace failed for the man who resisted. It was wholly dependent on his free choice to resist. But once you say this, then it is no longer dependent on grace. Furthermore, you must say the same for the man who did not resist. Was grace more powerful for him? Again, the Arminian would have to be compelled to say no if grace is to be regarded as non-partisan in its effects. It depended on his freely accepting the grace offered. The Arminian would not want to say that the one who does not resist actually gets a little extra grace to push him over the fence whereas the other doesn’t get quite enough. That would make God unfair and it would be hard to distinguish from a deliberate determination of God to be inclined to save one person over the other. For Arminianism grace must be an equal opportunity employer. Each person should receive an equal share of grace. Thus, it is extremely difficult to avoid the fact that in the end the deciding factor is not primarily God’s grace but man’s free will that procures salvation. And again, this state of affairs essentially amounts to semi-Pelagianism. The only way one can truly affirm that grace is what saves is if grace in the end is irresistible and wholly efficacious in its salvific results for the one who believes in Christ.

Another question begs for an answer. Is not God’s grace the most compelling and powerful force on earth? Why wouldn’t it be if God desired the salvation of men as much as Arminians claim He does? Olson is unequivocal about the foundation for Arminian theology. It is protecting the character of God as primarily good and loving.41 This would seem to provide the impetus for a magnanimous display of love toward all of humanity. In an Arminian account of matters, what reason would a God who desires the salvation of all men yet respecting their free will would not use every powerful resource He could muster to persuade men short of forcing them to believe? And if that is the case, then how could such grace possibly be resisted? The only answer the Arminian can give is that man simply has the free will to refuse grace and for no other reason.

Free will is not an adequate answer to this dilemma. Oden quotes Wesley on how prevenient grace works. Wesley says, “God recreates our freedom to love from its fallen condition of unresponsive spiritual deadness.”42 This explains the responsiveness of some who receive prevenient grace, but it does not explain the unresponsiveness of other recipients of prevenient grace. The freedom God creates in prevenient grace to love must also be the same freedom it creates to hate. But hate is more indicative of the fallen condition of man which is rightly described here as “unresponsive spiritual deadness.” This undermines the whole nature of prevenient grace. Arminians consistently emphasize that prevenient grace is meant to induce responsiveness not continued unresponsiveness even though they explicitly acknowledge the latter must be true because libertarian freedom is necessary for salvation to be meaningful. In other words, a relationship with God cannot be meaningful unless one is free to reject it. Libertarianism teaches that any choice made that could not as easily not been made must necessarily be a choice that is determined by outside forces and therefore coerced. A coercive choice is no choice at all. So unresponsiveness to grace is a necessary corollary of libertarian freedom as unattractive as that seems to the Arminian.

But, the problem is unresponsiveness is characteristic of spiritual deadness and Arminians seem unwilling to recognize this as part of the logical result of their doctrine of prevenient grace. To say prevenient grace provides the renewal of free will makes no sense. The freedom to choose to love God and exercise saving faith is not a problem. Calvinists agree with this in substance as long as freedom of choice is defined as acting willingly or voluntarily in accordance with one’s regenerated nature. But to say free will also creates the equal freedom to reject God is simply to say that the person still retains the conditions of spiritual deadness that prevented them from loving God or exercising faith in the first place. Arminians believe that Original Sin and Total Depravity placed the will in bondage and that prevenient grace restores the will with libertarian capacities. But to say that the recipient of prevenient grace can resist all such grace and continue to reject God is to say that grace fails for some. In fact, it is non-existent for those who resist it. Grace is only present and effective (i.e. successful for leading one to salvation) for those who do not resist, but this is what Calvinists have said all along. Grace is irresistible.

Furthermore, since libertarian free will by its nature has no antecedent causes and choices are contingent and therefore unpredictable, the libertarian must concede that there is no explanation for why one responds with non-resistance to grace while another resists it. But this is an absurdity. Few rational people believe choices never have their reasons. Choices always have determining causes even if we cannot always determine what those causes are. Again we come back to the same pressing questions. What reason does the recipient of prevenient grace have for resisting it? If God’s grace is powerful and compelling then what keeps one from being persuaded by it? Would we not say that this person is somehow blind to what other recipients of grace see? If so, would they still not be in bondage to their spiritually dead nature that blinded them in the first place? If the other recipient of prevenient grace is able to see, what reason explains why he does so? The Arminian has eliminated the failure of God’s grace so the only alternative lies in the person himself. To say belief or unbelief depends strictly on the contingent, unpredictable, causeless choice of the recipient of grace is to be mired in the arbitrary confusion that libertarian freedom amounts to. Therefore, the choice of believing and not resisting grace must be regarded as virtuous and the choice of the one who resists grace and refuses to believe is decidedly un-virtuous otherwise how do you explain the difference? So then, the problem reduces itself to the conclusion that one person believed because he was the better person than the one who did not believe. And if that is the case, the Arminian is forced to wrestling with the more serious criticism that their view of salvation amounts to worksrighteousness. It depends on the particular virtue of the person who believes.

Now of course it is true that the choice of a person who believes in Christ is virtuous and the choice to remain in unbelief is un-virtuous. Unbelief is sin. Belief is righteous. This being the case, salvation cannot depend upon the free will of man to resist or not resist the grace of God (John 1:12-13; Rom. 9:16). The grace of God must be wholly responsible in every aspect of the reception of salvation. This means that grace must first transform the recipient as matter of course such that his nature is regenerated and made capable of seeing and believing. Such a transformation must of necessity lead to saving faith as a divinely enabled gift not a humanly initiated work otherwise grace is nullified. The power of grace rests in its efficacious nature as dispensed by a gracious God. If the power of grace can only be activated by the virtuous choice of the believer, then salvation would be by received only by people with prior virtue. Indeed belief is a virtuous response, but not one that is rooted in one’s free will. The virtue of faith and repentance rests wholly in the efficacious and irresistible nature of transforming grace. Salvation depends on God who has mercy (Rom. 9:16). No one can come to Christ unless he is drawn by the Father (John 6:44). This drawing power cannot be resisted because all who come to Christ are the same people God gave to Christ (John 6:37). This is why Jesus says no one comes unless it has been “granted” by the Father (John 6:65). Thus, saving faith is wholly a gift of divine grace that obtains necessarily in the life of the recipient. It is not a gift that can be rejected, but then again, neither is it a gift one would ever desire to reject. When God changes the heart of a sinner (Ezek. 36:26-27) the sinner willingly comes only to Christ (John 10:3-5, 14) and with full joy (Psa. 13:5; 51:12; 110:3). Thus, contrary to all protests, the Arminian doctrine of prevenient grace is rooted in semi-Pelagian notions that undermine the nature of true grace.

Scott Christensen-Prevenient Grace and Semi-Pelagianism

 

34 Ibid., p. 157.
35 Thomas C. Oden, John Wesley’s Scriptural Christianity, p. 249. Picirilli gives a similar explanation for how grace impacts the one who believes, but says little about the one who does not believe. See Grace, Faith, p. 155-58. He says, “When we come to try to explain why some, when hearing the gospel, give more evidence of… conviction than others, we are not always able” (p. 158).
36 Arminian Theology, p. 169.
37 Ibid., p. 166.
38 Ibid., p. 165.
39 Ibid.
40 Ibid., p. 166.
41 Arminian Theology, p. 97-114.
42 Thomas Oden, John Wesley’s Scriptural Christianity (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), p. 249.

Prevenient Grace and Semi-Pelagianism Pt 2

The Doctrine of Prevenient Grace

When Arminians deny that their theology is semi-Pelagian the assertion is made in part due to their doctrine of sin. The common Classical and Wesleyan Arminian position is that man is indeed born in sin and concurs with Calvinism in the doctrine of the Total Depravity of man. Accordingly, man in his natural state is in bondage to sin such that he is not free to act with faith apart from the grace of God.13 However, the Arminian doctrine of prevenient grace mitigates the practical implications of this doctrine nearly to the point of nullifying its effects. This is an important point because prevenient grace in a central plank in Arminian theology. Roger Olson calls prevenient grace the “linchpin” of Arminian soteriology.14 Olson surveys with approval the theological statements of various historical proponents of the Arminian doctrine of prevenient grace. For example, he states at length that:

For… later Arminians of the nineteenth century, Christ’s death not only resolved the guilt issue of original sin, so Adam’s sin is not imputed to every child born, but it also mitigated the corruption of inherited depravity. From the cross flowed into humanity a power of spiritual death as to excite in them various degrees or religious feelings, and enabling them to seek the face of God, to turn at his rebuke, and, by improving that grace, he averred, provided a free gift to all humanity. ‘The gift was the restoration of the Holy Spirit; not indeed as the indwelling Spirit of regeneration, but as the Spirit of enlightenment, striving and conviction.’ This common (not universal) Arminian doctrine of universal prevenient grace means that because of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit no human being is actually in a state of absolute darkness and depravity. Because of original sin, helplessness to do good is the natural state of humanity, but because of the work of Christ and the operation of the Holy Spirit universally no human being actually exists in that natural state.15”

John Wesley developed the Wesleyan tradition of the Arminian doctrine of prevenient grace that is widely accepted today. Wesley lays out this doctrine in his sermon “On Working Out Our Own Salvation” (sermon #85).16 There he says prevenient grace brings forth “…the first wish to please God, the first dawn of light concerning his will, and the first slight transient conviction of having sinned against him. All these imply some tendency toward life; some degree of salvation; the beginning of a deliverance from a blind, unfeeling heart, quite insensible of God and the things of God. ” Wesley further states:

For allowing that all the souls of men are dead in sin by nature, this excuses none, seeing there is no man that is in a state of mere nature; there is no man, unless he has quenched the Spirit, that is wholly void of the grace of God. No man living is entirely destitute of what is vulgarly called natural conscience. But this is not natural: It is more properly termed preventing grace. Every man has a greater or less measure of this, which waiteth not for the call of man. Every one has, sooner or later, good desires; although the generality of men stifle them before they can strike deep root, or produce any considerable fruit. Everyone has some measure of that light, some faint glimmering ray, which, sooner or later, more or less, enlightens every man that cometh into the world.”

Wesley states, “No man sins because he has not grace, but because he does not use the grace which he hath.” Elsewhere in his writings Wesley states, “That there is a measure of free-will supernaturally restored to every man, together with that supernatural light which ‘enlightens every man that cometh into the world.’”17 Further in Sermon #85 Wesley makes a remarkabl statement that is of a piece with the basic outline of semi-Pelagianism. He believes the restored free will of man can be used to invoke more grace he calls “convincing grace” that is associated with emerging signs of conviction and repentance.18 He exhorts men to “stir up the spark of grace which is now in you, and he will give you more grace.” First of all, this suggests a cooperative effort that brings about salvation, although Wesley is careful to say that God’s gracious work is the primary impetus for the reception of salvation so that there is no boasting in the sinner. Nonetheless, this formulation suggests a semi-Pelagian framework for understanding how salvation is procured by placing in the restored free will of man the power to initiate further grace. Pelikan states that in semi-Pelagianism, “It was by grace that each stage of conversion was effected.”19 Yet, in each stage man must cooperate with grace before more is given. This sounds no different than Wesley’s view.

Summarizing, most Arminians hold to these distinctive features of prevenient grace. 1) It is bestowed upon all men at birth. 2) It mitigates the effects of the fall mainly by restoring to man libertarian free will that is able to respond positively to the gospel by exercising faith. 3) It allows men to be enlightened concerning the truth of the gospel. 4) It is not saving grace but it leads to faith which does save. 5) It is resistible by virtue of the fact that it enables the ability of the will to act contrary to it if one so chooses. Thus, in order to activate its power one must cooperate with it by not resisting it. 6) It precedes regeneration and thus the spiritual transformation of the believer. It should be noted that a few Arminians disagree with the first point. For example, Robert Picirilli believes that prevenient grace (which he calls preregenerating grace) is only supplied in the hearing of the gospel.20 However, a central point is that the doctrine entails stages of grace in which cooperation at each stage leads to more effusions of grace. This contributes to the charge that Arminianism is consummate with semi- Pelagian thought.

 

Scott Christensen-Prevenient Grace and Semi-Pelagianism

 

13 See Roger Olson, Arminian Theology, pgs. 137-57 where he argues convincingly that this has been the majority position of Arminians throughout history. Calvinist Thomas Schreiner draws the same conclusion from his review of Wesleyan theologians in his article, “Does Scripture teach Prevenient Grace in the Wesleyan Sense?” in Still Sovereign (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000), p. 232-33.

14 Arminian Theology, p. 178.

15 Ibid., p. 153-54.

16 http://new.gbgm-umc.org/umhistory/wesley/sermons/85.

17 The Works of John Wesley, ed. T. Jackson (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979), 10:230.

18 Colin W. Williams ties this notion of convincing grace in Wesley’s theology to the preaching of the gospel. See John Wesley’s Theology Today, p. 42.

19 Catholic Tradition, p. 324.

20 Robert E. Picirilli, Grace, Faith, Free Will (Nashville: Randall House, 2002), p. 158.

Conclusion-The Need for an Uncompromising and Vigilant Witness Against Arminianism

June 23, 2014 1 comment

“Warnings from the pulpit and denunciation of the errors of Arminianism are not now heard as once they were. Even in pulpits where the truth is preached, it is to be feared that, in some cases, a faithful witness is not raised against Arminianism. The cause of this may be due in a measure to the fact that in defending the cause of truth new forms of error have to be exposed and assailed, with the result that the old enemy is left so far unmolested as if it were dead. Unfortunately this is not so; Arminianism is very much alive in the pulpit, in the theological and religious press, and in the modern evangelistic meeting…. When we bear in mind the horror with which our forefathers regarded Arminianism, the modern attitude to it indicates how far the professing Church has drifted from the position of the theologians of those days.” (‘The Reformed Faith’ by the Rev. D. Beaton, p. 18).

Arminianism was the false gospel of John Wesley and his followers in the eighteenth century, and of D.L. Moody in the nineteenth. It is the stock-in-trade of well nigh all the popular evangelists of this century from Billy Graham downwards. The gospel halls of the Brethren, Open and Closed, are nurseries of Arminianism. The active agents of the Faith Mission and the Salvation Army, notwithstanding the moral and social results to the credit of the latter, spread the plague on every side. All the sects which have sprung up in these latter times, however divergent in their doctrines and practices—Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Pentecostalists, Mormons, Christadelphians, Cooneyites, etc., etc., have all in common, the fatal lie of free-willism. It is Satan’s sovereign drug, which causes the soul to sleep in delusion, and the end of such delusion is death. “Free will,” says Spurgeon, “has carried many souls to hell but never a soul to heaven.”

Arminianism is armed to the teeth in enmity to true and vital godliness. Where it flourishes its fruits are a superficial goody-goody form of godliness—the lamp and the light of the foolish virgins which went out in death and in despair. The Declaratory Acts of 1879, 1892, and 1921 in Scotland, and in 1901 in the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand threw open the flood-gates to the deluge of Arminianism. Spiritual death and desolation followed. The fat land was turned into barrenness, and the Churches adopting these Declaratory Acts are now well on the road to Rome. The ‘sovereign drug’ of Arminianism has flourished beyond the wildest dreams of priests and Jesuits. It is not by open and unabashed passing of nefarious Declaratory Acts that Satan as an angel of light now works. Subtle infiltration is his present policy and technique. What need there is for the ‘denunciation’ and the ‘horror’ the Rev. D. Beaton refers to, as the cloven-hoof of Arminianism is unmistakably seen far within the tents of the popular evangelical conventions, fellowships, and unions of our day! The Scripture Union, the Inter-Varsity Fellowship, the International Council of Christian Churches, the conventions of the Keswick fraternity etc., are all riddled with the cancer of Arminianism.

His ransomed Church in spotless robes From every tongue and race

He shall present before His Throne

Before His Father’s face;

And they through ages all shall sing:

Salvation is of grace.

 

William MacLean-Arminianism-Another Gospel

Whitefield’s preaching was the cause of the eighteenth century revival, not Wesley’s

March 17, 2014 2 comments

“One of the strangest, and most persistent inaccuracies in British secular and religious history is that which describes John Wesley as the true author of the Eighteenth Century Evangelical Revival,” continues Mr. MacQueen, “whereas anything of permanent value in the Evangelical Movement must be attributed, as God’s honoured instrument, to the Rev. George Whitefield, outstandingly. The contrary view could never find favour with any honest, impartial, serious student of history. It is, however, conventional today among English and British Dominion Evangelicals generally to give the whole credit for that revival to Rev. John Wesley, and his brother Charles, while Mr. Whitefield is only occasionally—and these occasions very rare— mentioned incidentally. It is a popular error, that needs to be corrected, that the evangelicals were more or less indebted to the teaching and influence of the Wesley brothers. They were certainly not the leaders of the Evangelical Revival.

“The Rev. Dr. Ryle, of Liverpool, in his book entitled ‘Christian Leaders in the Eighteenth Century,’ declares regarding George Whitefield: ‘I place him first in order of merit, without any hesitation, of all the spiritual heroes of that dark period’ (p. 31) and describes him as ‘the chief and first among the English Reformers of the Eighteenth Century’ (p. 44).” (Extracts from ‘The Eighteenth Century Evangelical Revival’ by the Rev. J.P. MacOueen. Free Presbyterian Magazine, Vol. LV. pp. 99-102).

William MacLean-Arminianism-Another Gospel

The Romanist Oxford Tractarian Movement was the result of Wesley’s Arminianism

March 10, 2014 2 comments

“It is, of the very essence of historical falsehood,” writes Mr. MacQueen, “to declare that the Romanist Oxford Tractarian Movement was the heir of the Evangelical Revival, whereas it was the logical development from the false teaching of the Arminian Methodist John Wesley.” “Dr. J.H. Rigg says concerning John Wesley: ‘The resemblance of his practices to those of modern High Anglicans is, in most points, exceedingly striking… He inculcated fasting and confession and weekly communion; he refused the Lord’s Supper to all who had not been baptized by a minister episcopally ordained; he re-baptized the children of Dissenters; and he refused to bury all who had not received Episcopal baptism’ (‘Churchmanship of John Wesley’ pp. 28-29). The present writer is amazed at Evangelical Calvinists who say that while John Wesley was undoubtedly Arminian in his views, his brother Charles was Calvinistic. After a careful perusal of their lives and the views of both of them, I am thoroughly persuaded that they were both Arminian to the core, Charles’ hymns notwithstanding. Their false undermining Arminian teaching and influence weakened the Protestant witness against Popery in England and throughout the British Dominions, while Scotland itself was by no means exempt, and this evil free-willism, as a result, continues rife and rampant in professedly evangelical circles in England and Scotland, and the whole English-speaking world, to this day. While thus, the eighteenth Century Revival saved England from the ‘withering blight of Atheism, masquerading under the euphemistic name of Deism,’ it is a great mistake to confound Evangelicalism with Wesleyanism, or to imagine that Wesley and Whitefield both belonged to one Movement and preached the same Gospel. On the contrary, their teaching was diametrically opposed, free grace being Scriptural, while free-will is the illegitimate product of the carnal mind. Whitefield was… Calvinistic… while Wesley, and his associates, were Arminian, semi-Pelagian and Sacramentalist.

William MacLean-Arminianism-Another Gospel

It is amazing that any true evangelical Calvinist would ever quote John Wesley with approval

“It is amazing that any true evangelical Calvinist would ever quote John Wesley with approval, either in speech or in writing,” wrote the late Rev. J.P. MacQueen, London. “He bitterly hated and rejected Calvinism, while he taught a theory of justification practically identical with sanctification. His apologists have tried to persuade their readers that Wesley’s Sacramentalism was ‘merely an Oxford phase, and that it disappeared when he entered upon active evangelistic effort.’ His treatise on Baptism, which he published in 1756, proves the contrary: ‘By water, then, as a means—the water of baptism—we are regenerated or born again, whence it is also called by the Apostle the washing of regeneration. Herein a principle of grace is infused which will not be wholly taken away unless we quench the Holy Spirit of God by long-continued wickedness.’ If the foregoing quotation does not embody the false doctrine of baptismal regeneration, one does not know what does. Wesley commended the same so-called ‘devotional literature’ as the Oxford Tractarians, such as the works of Romanists like Thomas a Kempis, Francois de Sales, and Cardinal Bona. He even published the ‘Introduction to a Devout Life’ by Francois de Sales, the sworn foe of Calvinism, in 1750. He advocated prayers for the dead, justifying himself thus: ‘Prayer for the dead, the faithful departed, in the advocacy of which I conceive myself clearly justified.'” (Works, ed. 1872, IX. 55). The blessed departed are beyond the need of the poor sin stained prayers of the Church militant, for they are perfect in holiness.

William MacLean-Arminianism-Another Gospel

Why did Wesley persecute Toplady?

February 24, 2014 2 comments

Why should Toplady who kept the faith and finished his course in this world with joy be the target of the shafts of Wesley’s venom? It is because he refuted on Scriptural grounds the Arminianism of Wesley, and fearlessly stood in defence of the eternal truths of free and sovereign grace. “By what spirit,” writes Toplady: “this gentleman and his deputies are guided in their discussion of controversial subjects, shall appear from a specimen of the horrible aspersions which, in ‘The Church Vindicated from Predestination,’ they venture to heap on the Almighty Himself. The recital makes one tremble; the perusal must shock every reader who is not steeled to all reverence for the Supreme Being. Wesley and Sallon are not afraid to declare that on the hypothesis of divine decrees, the justice of God is no better than the tyranny of Tiberius. That God Himself is ‘little better than Moloch.’ ‘A cruel, unwise, unjust, arbitrary, a self-willed tyrant.’ A being devoid of wisdom, justice, mercy, holiness, and truth.’ ‘A devil, yea, worse than the devil.’ Did the exorbitancies of the ancient ranters, or the impieties of any modem blasphemers, ever come up to this? … Observe, reader, that these also are the very men who are so abandoned to all sense of shame, as to charge me with blasphemy for asserting with Scripture, that God worketh all things according to the counsel of His own will, and that whatever God wills is right.”

William MacLean-Arminianism-Another Gospel