02 August 2010

Rampant Calvinism in Wesleyan Hymnology

posted by Phil Johnson

purgeon said:

Mr. Wesley's hymn-book, which may be looked upon as being the standard of his divinity, has in it (upon some topics) higher Calvinism than many books used by ourselves. I have been exceedingly struck with the very forcible expressions there used, some of which I might have hesitated to employ myself.

I shall ask your attention while I quote verses from the hymns of Mr. Wesley, which we can all endorse as fully and plainly in harmony with the doctrines of grace, far more so than the preaching of some modern Calvinists. I do this because our low-doctrine Baptists and Morisonians ought to be aware of the vast difference between themselves and the Evangelical Arminians.

HYMN 131, verses 1, 2, 3.

"Lord, I despair myself to heal:
I see my sin, but cannot feel;
I cannot, till thy Spirit blow,
And bid the obedient waters flow.

'Tis thine a heart of flesh to give;
Thy gifts I only can receive:
Here, then, to thee I all resign;
To draw, redeem, and seal,—is thine.

With simple faith on thee I call,
My Light, my Life, my Lord, my all:
I wait the moving of the pool;
I wait the word that speaks me whole."

HYMN 133, verse 4.

"Thy golden sceptre from above
Reach forth; lo! my whole heart I bow;
Say to my soul, Thou art my love;
My chosen midst ten thousand, thou."

This is very like election.

HYMN 136, verses 8, 9, 10.

"I cannot rest, till in thy blood
I full redemption have:
But thou, through whom I come to God,
Canst to the utmost save.

From sin, the guilt, the power, the pain,
Thou wilt redeem my soul:
Lord, I believe, and not in vain;
My faith shall make me whole.

I too, with thee, shall walk in white;
With all thy saints shall prove,
What is the length, and breadth, and height,
And depth of perfect love."

Brethren, is not this somewhat like final perseverance? and what
is meant by the next quotation, if people of God can perish at

HYMN 138, verses 6, 7.

"Who, who shall in thy presence stand,
And match Omnipotence?
Ungrasp the hold of thy right hand,
Or pluck the sinner thence?

Sworn to destroy, let earth assail;
Nearer to save thou art:
Stronger than all the powers of hell,
And greater than my heart."

The following is remarkably strong, especially in the expression
"force." I give it in full:—

HYMN 158

"O my God, what must I do?
Thou alone the way canst show;
Thou canst save me in this hour;
I have neither will nor power:
God, if over all thou art,
Greater than my sinful heart,
All thy power on me be shown,
Take away the heart of stone.

Take away my darling sin,
Make me willing to be clean;
Make me willing to receive
All thy goodness waits to give.
Force me, Lord, with all to part;
Tear these idols from my heart;
Now thy love almighty show,
Make even me a creature new.

Jesus, mighty to renew,
Work in me to will and do;
Turn my nature's rapid tide,
Stem the torrent of my pride;
Stop the whirlwind of my will;
Speak, and bid the sun stand still;
Now thy love almighty show,
Make even me a creature new.

Arm of God, thy strength put on;
Bow the heavens, and come down;
All my unbelief o'erthrow;
Lay th' aspiring mountain low:
Conquer thy worst foe in me,
Get thyself the victory;
Save the vilest of the race;
Force me to be saved by grace."

HYMN 206, verses 1, 2.

"What am I, O thou glorious God!
And what my father's house to thee,
That thou such mercies hast bestow'd
On me, the vilest reptile, me!
I take the blessing from above,
And wonder at the boundless love.

Me in my blood the love pass'd by,
And stopp'd, my ruin to retrieve;
Wept o'er my soul thy pitying eye;
Thy bowels yearn'd, and sounded, "Live!"
Dying, I heard the welcome sound,
And pardon in thy mercy found."

Nor are these all, for such good things as these abound, and they
constrain me to say, that in attacking Arminianism we have no
hostility towards the men who bear the name rather than the nature
of that error, and we are opposed not to any body of men, but to
the notions which they have espoused.

C. H. Spurgeon

A Taste of Vicious Anti-Calvinism, Too

It must be added that Mr. Wesley also penned some rabidly anti-Calvinistic hymns. Some of them, in fact, were a tad mean-spirited. Here are some sample verses from a Charles Wesley hymn titled "The Horrible Decree":

Ah! Gentle, gracious Dove,
And art thou griev'd in me,
That sinners should restrain thy love,
And say, "It is not free:
It is not free for all:
The most, thou passest by,
And mockest with a fruitless call
Whom thou hast doom'd to die."

They think thee not sincere
In giving each his day,
"Thou only draw'st the sinner near
To cast him quite away,
To aggravate his sin,
His sure damnation seal:
Thou shew'st him heaven, and say'st, go in
And thrusts him into hell."

Worthy of whence it came!
Forgive their hellish blasphemy
Who charge it on the Lamb:
Whose pity him inclin'd
To leave his throne above,
The friend, and Saviour of mankind,
The God of grace, and love.

O gracious, loving Lord,
I feel thy bowels yearn;
For those who slight the gospel word
I share in thy concern:
How art thou grieved to be
By ransom'd worms withstood!
How dost thou bleed afresh to see
Them trample on thy blood!

To limit thee they dare,
Blaspheme thee to thy face,
Deny their fellow-worms a share
In thy redeeming grace:
All for their own they take,
Thy righteousness engross,
Of none effect to most they make
The merits of thy cross.

Sinners, abhor the fiend:
His other gospel hear—
"The God of truth did not intend
The thing his words declare,
He offers grace to all,
Which most cannot embrace,
Mock'd with an ineffectual call
And insufficient grace.

"The righteous God consign'd
Them over to their doom,
And sent the Saviour of mankind
To damn them from the womb;
To damn for falling short,
"Of what they could not do,
For not believing the report
Of that which was not true.

"The God of love pass'd by
The most of those that fell,
Ordain'd poor reprobates to die,
And forced them into hell."
"He did not do the deed"
(Some have more mildly rav'd)
"He did not damn them—but decreed
They never should be saved.

"He did not them bereave
Of life, or stop their breath,
His grace he only would not give,
And starv'ed their souls to death."
Satanic sophistry!
But still, all-gracious God,
They charge the sinner's death on thee,
Who bought'st him with thy blood.

They think with shrieks and cries
To please the Lord of hosts,
And offer thee, in sacrifice
Millions of slaughter'd ghosts:
With new-born babes they fill
The dire infernal shade,
"For such," they say, "was thy great will,
Before the world was made."

Phil's signature


~Mark said...

I was at first amazed that such opposite messages could come from one person, but I'm sure that I've probably done that in areas in where I wasn't appropriately studied.

I wonder, did brother Wesley ever recognize this conflict?

Matt Aznoe said...

I have given a lot of thought on this since the last Arminian/Calvinist debate, and I think I have come to realize the source of the conflict. It really does all come down to our understanding of what sovereignty is.

The Calvinist believes that sovereignty means that God has direct, dictatorial control. They look to the earthly kings and the strict fathers as examples. Discipline and punishment are used to keep people in line. If their rule is questioned, it is put down.

The Arminian believes that God is permissive, allowing man to make his own decisions and thus direct the flow of history. If the Kingdom of God is to come, then it is the Christian's responsibility to bring it into being.

Both views, I believe, wrongly capture the essence of God's sovereignty.

First, we should not look to earthly sovereignty as our example. God is sovereign; He has not need to prove His point. There is no threat to His power or majesty. An earthly king has to put down usurpers to keep his constituents in line. God has no such need. If discipline is done, it is not to strengthen His reign but rather to help the sinner to realize what he has done.

But God is sovereign. He does not rely upon the weak will of man to see His ends accomplished. He will fulfill His promises, and He can do as He pleases -- even to the point of quickening hardened hearts and further hardening cold ones.

What I see in Wesley's writing is an understanding of God's sovereignty. Without God, we can do nothing. We are completely dependent on His power to save us. But God also gave us freedom, in His sovereignty, to make choices. Perhaps He quickens our hearts enough to make the choice; I don't know. All I know is what God Himself has said: that He died for all men, that He desires that all men be saved, and that whoever believes in Him will be saved. How this works with election, I don't know. Perhaps we don't really understand election as well as we think. In any case, God gave the invitation to everyone, and we should do the same.

Gordan said...


When you say things like "Calvinists believe X" you are instantly going to lose credibility with them if you state X in a way no Calvinist would ever state it.

Just sayin'

Chris Roberts said...

It has surprised me to learn that Arminianism is closer to Calvinism than most would suspect. Certainly closer to Calvinism than the semi-Pelagianism reigning among non-Calvinists today.

Pastor Jody said...

Many moons ago you offered a high resolution picture of Spurgeon. It was a great "gift" and I thank you for doing so! I was wondering if there is any way that you may offer the portrait of Spurgeon that is at the top of this thread in a high resolution format? Would love to have it if possible. Thanks!
You and everyone at TeamPyro keep up the good work!

Randy Talley said...

I think it would be interesting to know when each of those hymns was written. Granted, each could have been a product of what was running through Mr. Wesley's mind at the time, but I the date when each was written could demonstrate the direction of his theology over time as well.

Very interesting find, Phil. Thank you.

Pierre Saikaley said...

1. The Calvinistic sounding hymns are glorious, and give us a sense of praiseworthiness of God. I practically made reading of those my morning devotions.

2. The anti-Calvinistic hymn sounds like a polemical rant. It evokes reminders of contemporary Arminianistic fundamentalists...and not the best of that kind.

Robert said...


I have a hard time with your argument that Calvinists use earthly models to define God. I don't think Calvin defined God and His sovereignty in those terms. He worked from Scripture to develop his theology. I certainly don't agree with everything he taught, but when it comes to the doctrines of grace, I see his teaching as being biblical, not Calvinist. I certainly think he would dread the fact that his name is attached to said doctrine.

And are you saying that God does not punish sin? I don't see how your analogy works for putting down usurpers to keep constituents in line. I mean, what about the parable of the wedding party and the man who comes in without the right clothes? How do you work that out? He gets thrown out to the place where there is gnashing of teeth and wailing (hell).

I am also curious, like Randy, to know about the time in Wesley's life when these hymns were penned. If it was over the course of years and as he developed his theology, I wonder if he ever recognized that fact? I mean, did he ever stop using certina hymns, or even have them removed?

Canyon Shearer, DMin said...

We have the same disparity today between what Hillsong writes and what they believe. They have written some of the most theologically accurate and powerful songs of our day, yet they do not remotely believe what they have written.

This disparity both intrigues and perplexes me.

David Kyle said...

Matt you keep saying you are a Calvinist, but in the famous words of Inigo Montoya:

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

James Scott Bell said...

To quote A. W. Tozer:

The sovereign God has put the decision in your lap and said, “This is yours; you must make that choice.” And when I make a choice, I’m fulfilling His sovereignty, in that He sovereignly wills that I should be free to make a choice. If I choose to go to hell, it’s not what His love would have chosen, but it does not controvert nor cancel out His sovereignty. Therefore I can take John Calvin in one hand and Jacob Arminius in the other and walk down the street. (Neither of them would walk with me, I’m sure, because Calvin would say I was too Arminian and Arminius would say I was too Calvinistic!)

Gov98 said...

You know, Calvinism, speaking of that aspect of the Glory of God should be rampant through true hymns.

I think so much of the struggle is reflected in Isaiah 53. He hath borne the iniquity of us all AND My servant will justify the many.

The language of Unlimited and Limited is used. So, there is a tension, a healthy tension, and pushing too strongly for one position or another, upsets that rightful tension.

Matt Aznoe said...

witness and Robert,

I did not say that I am a Calvinist. I said that I lean Calvinist. The more I study scripture, the more problems I find with the hard-line Calvinist line. If I speak out more against Calvinism, it is because it is the doctrine I know more about.

Here is my point on sovereignty. We all carry our own filters when we approach the Bible -- our own preconceptions and baggage from life. So when we look at a particular passage, we might be more inclined toward one interpretation than another.

Godly Arminians and Calvinists both look at the same Bible but come away with different ideas of what it means. Both are desiring to know and honor God, but their preconceptions and leanings draw them to different conclusions.

When I look at the hymns above by Wesley, I do not see a contradiction. He saw the sovereignty and utter dependency he had on God. Note that he is asking God to force righteousness upon him. Now consider a more Arminian view of sovereignty: God in His sovereignty has given us a free will which we have used to practice sin. In His grace, God provided a way of escape and offers it to all who will believe in Him. Wesley, seeing his desperate need and seeing the gift of God's grace, embraces the cross and asks for God to fulfill the promises He has made to give the repentant sinner a new heart. A Calvinist says God made that decision and led the entire way. Wesley would say that the choice was offered, and while he made the choice to accept the gift, he can take no boast in it for even the ability to follow through on that choice comes but by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I think we run into error when we try to define that point of decision. I think there is a holy tension here between God's sovereignty and His granting of some measure of free will. Just as we cannot really comprehend the incarnation, I do not think we can really understand election and the freely offered grace. In the latter hymn, Wesley was addressing the heresy's of hyper-Calvinism, those who take logical steps beyond what is stated in scripture to explain what they cannot really explain. Limited atonement is one such doctrine as it is never stated in scripture -- that Jesus' blood does not atone for all sin. If you mean that not all men will be saved by the blood of Jesus, I would agree. Do you see the difference?

I think this is one of those cases where perhaps we should simply take God at His word with child-like faith. From His perspective, we are elected and He holds our salvation in His unchanging and unstoppable hands. From our perspective, we are given a choice and must endure in our faith and hope in Christ Jesus to attain salvation. Until we see God face-to-face, we will not see this picture perfectly, so we should heed the warnings that call for our responsibility while resting in the power of God to save people.

donsands said...

"If I choose to go to hell.." Johnny

I don't think any human would choose to go to hell.

They may say, "I'd rather be in hell, than be in heaven with you religious people." (I said that at one time.)

But, they have no idea there is a hell.

Sinners are all deserving of hell. We are all deserving of God's warth, and His hardening of us. Mercy is mercy, not God being fair, or nice.

Ephesians 2:1-10 says we are dead, and we are all children of wrath, and blinded by the god of this world, and we have no hope. "But God...."

Good post. I always enjoy CH Spurgeon.
I love Wesley's hyms! Except that one you posted here. That was smells.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Oh! The Hymnology!

Matt Aznoe said...


I agree; no men desire to go to hell -- not really.

But the better question is not whether someone wants to go to heaven or hell, but rather do they hunger and thirst for God. As Piper once asked, if you could have all of the pleasures of heaven without pain, without tears, without suffering, but God is not there -- would you be content?

John said...

Matt, I'm afraid your analysis of Calvinism and Arminianism is unrelated to what either side believes. I would recommend a good systematic theology or exposition from both camps to get an understanding of what theology is represented by these terms.

Robert said...


I think the problem you are going to run into is in Romans 3:10-18. No sinner seeks God of their own volition. In verse 11, it says that nobody even understands. Then try to work through Romans 9. Paul makes it clear in his analogy to the clay and the potter that we have no choice in what function we are made for. We don't choose whether we are vessels of wrath prepared for destruction or vessels of mercy to whom God will make known the riches of His glory. And then there is Ephesians 2:1-10, where God works to make us alive with Christ. There is no mention of our choice in any of these texts. We are commanded to repent...those who truly do and believe in their heart that Jesus Christ died for their sins and choose to follow Him as their Lord (bearing fruits of repentance) are His elect.

All that to say that man doesn't choose until God supplies both the will (desire) and the power to do so. Our free will is limited by God's overarching will and sovereignty. Otherwise God ceases to be God.

Phil Johnson said...

Pastor Jody: "I was wondering if there is any way that you may offer the portrait of Spurgeon that is at the top of this thread in a high resolution format?

As you wish.

Here's that original hi-res photo I posted.

Here's another.

And another.

And another.

Those are the best I have.

donsands said...

"..but rather do they hunger and thirst for God."

"There is none that understands, None that seeks [ekzeteo] or craves, or carefully seek after God... They do not fear God, nor know the way of peace." Romans 3

We actually hate God. Jesus said, "You need to hate your family, wives, children, and even yourself, if we want to be His disciple, and follow Him."

This all shows us how hopeless we are.

But God, who loves us, before the foundation of the world, had mercy on us, the sons of wrath, and saved us by His grace.

Gov98 said...

I don't think any human would choose to go to hell.

I can see why some would think this, but in witnessing door to door, you walk through sin, you walk through hell, and you have people say they would choose hell.

Now maybe we say they're crazy but it is still the choice they are making.

Matt, I'm afraid your analysis of Calvinism and Arminianism is unrelated to what either side believes. I would recommend a good systematic theology or exposition from both camps to get an understanding of what theology is represented by these terms.

What are you talking about, this seems like just a shot without any context is there something about Matt's theology that is way off? If so, state where, but I'm sorry saying "go to theology class" is hardly helpful, since he's not accepting of either Arminianism or Calvinism completely.

I do think the main thrust of the hymns by Wesley that are "Anti-Calvinism" could be seen as directed towards the position of hyper-Calvinists.

Traever Guingrich said...

I may be wrong but I thought Whitfield eventually got through to Charles and he became a Calvinist later in life. I know I’ve heard that in history lectures but I’ve had a hard time finding much about it in print. Anyone out there know more?
I’d also agree with John (and others) that Matt's analysis and descriptions are fundamentally wrong. I also have a hard time stomaching the idea of leaving murky/undefined what has been revealed and Paul taught in depth to young Christians at Rome, Ephesus, etc. if it's in scripture and taught then it is for us and profitable. Saying we should just leave it is merely a cop out to avoid the polemics. I can understand the sentiment, but it’s wrong and unbiblical. We don’t see Paul or Christ ever espousing this idea when it comes to doctrine and theology.

Traever Guingrich said...

Also, that Towser quote is pure Arminianism. Most with an in-depth understanding of the issues at the heart of the debate can see that from a mile away. I would recommend an excellent article Phil has written previously to address this middle road idea when it comes to settling on a doctrinal stance, especially soteriology...

Anonymous said...

There's also this excerpt from "And Can It Be That I Should Gain":

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Matt Aznoe said...


Those are the specific passages that make me lean Calvinist. :-)

God is sovereign which means He will do as He pleases, and if He chooses to harden some hearts and quicken others, who are we to question?

And yet, when the Gospel message is preached in the Bible, we do not hear about election -- it is an open invitation to all who will believe. You also have passages such as Acts 17:27 which indicates that God designed it so that people would seek Him. We are told throughout scripture, including the rest of Romans 3, that it is by faith that we are saved.

As Romans 10:17 says, "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." Perhaps God quickens the hearts of those who hear the Gospel preached, presenting them with the choice to believe in God and be saved or to return to their sin and death. I do not know exactly how this works, but I know the message I am to present.

The whole issue of election gets even more murky in relation to eternal security. There are many passages that exhort us toward endurance and warn us about falling away from the faith. The doctrine of election would say that one cannot fall away, but why then the repeated and frequent warnings? Again, there is a holy tension here that I think Calvinism undermines by trying to define that which we cannot understand fully until we are raised with Christ.

I find myself turning less to the doctrine of Calvinism and more to the clear words of scripture -- even when I do not fully understand them. My confidence in my salvation comes when I am abiding in Christ, and I must cling to my faith every day lest I lose hold of it and fall away.

"The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful-- for he cannot deny himself."
(2Ti 2:11-13 ESV)

James Scott Bell said...

In fairness to Tozer (having read him extensively) he is saying the choice to go to hell is really because one has chosen to resist the grace of God.

Tozer well understood Calvinism. He well understood sovereignty. He well understood the Bible. And he was just as appalled with non-Calvinists who preached methodologies over Providence.

Gov98 said...

I’d also agree with John (and others) that Matt's analysis and descriptions are fundamentally wrong. I also have a hard time stomaching the idea of leaving murky/undefined what has been revealed and Paul taught in depth to young Christians at Rome, Ephesus, etc. if it's in scripture and taught then it is for us and profitable. Saying we should just leave it is merely a cop out to avoid the polemics. I can understand the sentiment, but it’s wrong and unbiblical. We don’t see Paul or Christ ever espousing this idea when it comes to doctrine and theology.

Look at Isaiah 53. In the same passage Isaiah describes the servant as bearing the iniquity of us all, and yet making justification for "many." Something different than all. Scripture is in tension.

Look at the text of Romans 9, I know this is wild BUT Romans 9 does not establish that God did sovereignly choose those to salvation or not. It argues that God has the right to. "What if God..." That is not a statement that as to salvation God in fact did. So many leave out the what if. God has the right to, but in terms of the tension between divine sovereignty and human responsibility its there and it is something to accept and move on.

The thing is...it's not murky, it is settled. It's just settled beyond human logic. So we either trust and obey, or push God into a logical box.

Traever Guingrich said...

"Tension": a nice way of saying contradiction.
The "what if" in Romans 9 is in Paul's explanation, not the teaching of election (not that I agree with you that Paul is simply guessing at a possible explanation).
It's not a question of human responsibility, both sides affirm that. It's a question of human ABILITY (prior to regeneration). That is what Calvinists, as well as Scripture, deny.
Johnny, all have "choosen to resist the grace of God", not just those that go to hell. That's why election and grace are necessary. This either needs to be affirmed or an ineffective and powerless grace and meaningless election do.

James Scott Bell said...

traever, those of us who reject unconditional election and limited atonement have a much different view of what the Bible teaches on the doctrine of grace, and resistibility. But this takes us to a huge topic that's no doubt beyond the scope of this meta.

And a better word for "tension" or "contradiction" is "antinomy," which is espoused by most fair minded Calvinists, either using that term or words that are to the same effect. E.g., Spurgeon:

"I believe that the two great doctrines of human responsibility and divine sovereignty have both been brought out the more prominently in the Christian Church by the fact that there is a class of strong-minded, hard-headed men who magnify sovereignty at the expense of responsibility; and another earnest and useful class who uphold and maintain human responsibility oftentimes at the expense of divine sovereignty."

And Piper:

"But it points up again that this matter of salvation in all of its elements is all of God and all of me. You say, 'I don't understand that.' No, I don't understand it either. I don't have to understand it, it's just true."

Traever Guingrich said...

Well...I agree we are probably out-scoping the meta.
Anyone know anything about Charles Wesley becoming Calvinist later in life? I'm very curious if his hymn lyrics took a decided turn.

Mike Westfall said...

I grew up being a Methodist.
Methodist hymnody is definitely a mixed bag. Methodist homiletics is horrible.

At least we had the rest of the Liturgy to offset that.

Phil Johnson said...

Both Wesleys remained staunch Arminians until they died.

Whitefield was a friend to the Wesleys and he wrote this letter to John Wesley about his Arminianism, but Whitefield's pleading had no discernible effect on Wesley's doctrinal views.

John Wesley published arguments (and insults) against Augustus Toplady's high Calvinism. Wesley's polemics against Toplady were as vitriolic as anything the Christian blogosphere has ever produced. Toplady's published remarks about Wesley were likewise abrasive. It's all very interesting to read, but not pretty.

It will, however, lay to rest any suspicion that Wesley was the type who might have quietly have converted to Calvinism on his deathbed.

Mark B. Hanson said...

Having worked both sides of this debate, one of the things I continue to notice in the posts by certain on both sides is that the writer often makes a jump from what he thinks the particular view entails to what the other person in question actually believes.

So the Arminian's logic says God's absolute sovereignty would make us robots and therefore thinks that Calvinists must consciously believe in (and approve of) heavenly robotics.

Or the Calvinist's logic says that any element of human choice in salvation turns it into a work, and so thinks Arminians consciously believe in salvation by works.

And each side gets more and more exasperated when the other side just won't admit it: "No, God doesn't make us robots - he creates in us the desire for Him." or "No, because our choice is a mere assent to God's prevenient grace, although we could have chosen otherwise."

Now it may be that we actually are inconsistent in what we believe, but more likely in such cases the particular logical method used has created a false dilemma - it's not either this or that in reality, but some third way.

Of course all this is a plea to listen to what a persion is actually saying about his belief, and not what you think he must believe.

By the way, I think that this is why Charles Wesley's hymns sometimes seem Calvinist to us - because he places the locus of "free choice" in areas where the Calvinist doesn't see it ("I rose, went forth and followed thee." After all, he might chosen to stay).

James Scott Bell said...

traever, Charles Wesley did not become a Calvinist. He did have a disputation with his brother toward the end of his life on how Methodism ought to be "administered." Should it remain within the Church of England, or become a sect of Dissenters? Charles wanted the former. Wesley saw the inevitability of the latter. It was not a theological, but an ecclesiastical issue.

James Scott Bell said...

Actually, Wesley did not get into it a lot with Toplady.

The one who really got into it was John Fletcher. Whoo boy, that's some good disputing.

I would not be understood to demonstrate by the preceding quotations, that Mr. Toplady designs to make God the author of sin. No: on the contrary, I do him the justice to say, that he does all he can to clear his doctrines of grace from this dreadful imputation. I only produce his own words to show that, notwithstanding all his endeavours, this horrid Manichean consequence unavoidably flows from his Scheme of Necessity.

Robert said...

I am guessing that Phil posted his link as I started reading the letter he posted. I've been reading through the ugliness of the words used between certain parties in the back and forth of those times and it's far from edifying. I can feel Whitefield's "unspeakable sorrow of heart" when I think about how he had to address the issues at hand. I am even more sorrowful when I read about the Wesley - Toplady interchanges. John Wesley basically put words into Toplady's mouth that made him seem hyper-calvinist, and when Toplady asked for Wesley to retract the statement, Wesley resorted to name-calling.

Of course, we're way beyond that in these days...especially on blogs 8o)

donsands said...

"I only produce his own words to show that, notwithstanding all his endeavours, this horrid Manichean consequence unavoidably flows from his Scheme of Necessity."

What? I am befuddled by that statement.

" I should utterly sink under a dread of my impending trials, were I not firmly persuaded that God has chosen me in Christ from before the foundation of the world, and that now being effectually called, he will allow no one to pluck me out of his almighty hand." -George Whitefield

Amen. How I long for my own heart to have such faith in God's truth of His election of grace (Rom. 11:5).
There is peace that passes all possible understanding, and this same truth fills a heart with love for Christ, and love is more powerful than all things.

olan strickland said...

God's sovereignty and human responsibility are not at odds. The Bible teaches man's culpability but not his capability (the purpose of the Law). Therefore, any man saved will be saved by the sovereign grace of God apart from any cause in the man. Man cannot do anything to draw God to himself or earn God's favor.

Conditional election (the belief that God saw who would choose Him and who would reject Him so He chose those that would choose Him) isn't election at all but is ratification. Romans 9 is a polemic against conditional election.

The Gospel of grace which Paul preached raised the question of God's righteousness or justness (Romans 9:14) and brought about the accusation of God being the author of sin (Romans 9:19). Arminianism doesn't raise either question. I wonder why?

olan strickland said...

Not the labors of my hands, can fulfill thy law's demands; could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow, all for sin could not atone; Thou must save, and thou alone.

~Mark said...

Phil wrote: It will, however, lay to rest any suspicion that Wesley was the type who might have quietly have converted to Calvinism on his deathbed.

It's really painfully sad to know such animosity went on between them. Just like so many of the family today.

Bobby Grow said...

This is not surprising at all, given the common philosophical grounding of both systems --- viz. scholasticism. They both function with a substance metaphysics relative to their doctrine of God; it's just that one chooses to emphasize God's "sovereignty" and the other "man's responsibility" working out of a dualistic competitive conception of nature and grace.

Anyway, the crossover, illustrated by Wesley, is just not surprising at all. It would be interesting to try and find hymns by Calvinists with Arminian over/under-tones; I'm sure they're out there.

Traever Guingrich said...

I think Olan hit the nail on the head. The anticipated questions by Paul in Romans 9 should have ended this debate long ago.
Bobby, I would have to disagree with your assertion that “it's just that one chooses to emphasize God's "sovereignty" and the other "man's responsibility"”. It is not a question of mere emphasis; it is a fundamental difference in understanding of how God has worked in salvation. The real difference in emphasis comes at the point of a person’s capability to have faith prior to regeneration. Arminians affirm man’s ability to do so. Calvinists (and the Bible), deny man’s ability to believe while still in the flesh. That is where the true difference lies in free will aspect of the debate.

Bobby Grow said...


I realize the "said" differences; but my point is derived from the larger framing of things relative to the so called dichotomy between Arm. and Calv. They both, historically, are grounded in the Thomistic (or scholastic) understanding of God; thus they both think of God as a decretal God who only engages humanity through a juridical relationship of a quid pro quo style of salvation.

So while I think at an "apparent" level Arm. and Calv. have differences --- as you note --- at a functional level --- relative to the kind of spirituality they produce --- they are very much so the same (and I believe this is so because of their shared Doctrine of God).

Traever Guingrich said...

so by saying they are both "quid pro quo" do you mean in the arminian scheme man offers faith and in return recieves regeneration and in the calvinist scheme God regenerates and man in return offers good works? am i understanding your point here? i have a feeling there is still a disconnect.

Bobby Grow said...


I'm saying that both follow a "substance metaphysics" (i.e. Divine Simplicity) which construes or conceives of grace as a "created quality" (i.e. created grace) which is something that we are enabled to cooperate with (instead of respond to). At this point the only real "difference" between the two is one of order and how the disparate systems provide chronology for their idiosyncratic understandings of the ordo salutis. The framework from whence they work out of (classical theism) is exactly the same.

So to answer your question, both systems offer a "cooperative" model of salvation vs. a "responsive" construct wherein grace is conceived in personal terms (personified by the Holy Spirit --- think of Augustine's donum cf. Rom. 5.5).

Mike Riccardi said...

Ya get that, Traever? :-)

Reminds me of this.

Mike Riccardi said...

Btw, I mean that in love, Bobby.

bossmanham said...


I wonder if you are actually familiar with what Classical Arminians actually teach, or if you are under the impression that all Arminians are Finneyists? Nothing in Wesley's hymn there that you take to be Calvinist is exclusively Calvinistic. I suppose it could be spun to such an interpretation, but it's Arminian, through and through.

Solameanie said...

I "lean" also. On the Everlasting Arms. ;)

Bobby Grow said...


I know, Calvinism, the kind you hold to is so cut and dry --- with no history but the Bible. But to be sure, Mike, your Calvinism has a development "behind" it; I'm sorry that you haven't taken the time to understand some of the concepts and lingo that shapes what you think Scripture simply teaches. Maybe next semester you'll spend some time in Reformation theology, and then (one could only hope) you will become familiar with what a Reformation Theology 101 course should offer (in re. to some of the basic vocab and grammar behind your "received" Calvinism).

My assertions on Calv. and Arm. shared heritage is a simple fact of Church History --- even a cursory knowledge of these facts will make this clear (why mock that?).

Funny vid. though

Matt Aznoe said...


Let me see if I am understanding you. (I did no attend seminary or Bible college, so I do not know most of the terms you are using). You are saying that both Arm. and Cal. are trying to frame Christianity in a logical system (like Physics or Mathematics) as opposed to a relationship with the person of a living God. Is that correct?

Traever Guingrich said...

Idk Bobby, I think to boil it down and create supposed equivalence all the way up to the ordo solutis is to gloss over the large difference the debate creates in regard to the character of God. After all, that is the reason there is so much vitriol coming from Arminians against Calvinists- they can’t stand the character of God as Calvinism portrays Him. They don’t want a God that elects unconditionally. So while you may be able to use intellectual jargon accurately in the description of the scholastic difference between the two views, you surely miss the heat of battle in doing so.

Matt Aznoe said...


Then again, perhaps that is the problem: we continue to construct barriers between the two sides without recognizing how very much alike we are.

When you consider what is called the "Doctrine of Grace" and what is called "Wesleyan Arminianism", we find that they both give full glory and honor to God. He alone can save us, and to Him belongs all of the glory. Perhaps it is the harder lines of true Calvinism (and certainly hyper-Calvinism) and Arminianism that cause the greatest divisions and animosity.

God never intended His church to be divided, and there are true men and women of God on either side of this narrow divide. I fall back to my earlier assertion: perhaps we are not meant to know in this life -- perhaps we are not even able to know -- the exact nature of the workings of grace and faith. Does God save us irresistibly? Does God quicken a heart to point of decision?

What I do know is that God has said to preach the gospel to all of the world, and that the message is that anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. I know that we are saved by grace through faith, and that there is nothing that we can do in our own power to save ourselves. I also know that the life of the redeemed will be marked by good works, the evidence of the Holy Spirit's power in their lives. Can we not all agree on these things?

Robert said...


The two beliefs are exclusive of each other and there is no way to bridge the gap with regards to the work of salvation. This doesn't mean we can't show each other love and respect. But we shouldn't compromise our beliefs and convictions in the name of comfort. Otherwise we risk getting back into the discussion we had about an article by Vern Poythress last week where scalpels are buzzsaws and PhDs are surgeons.

Bobby Grow said...


I would say you've understood what I'm getting at, in a nutshell.

Traever Guingrich said...

Matt, I would echo Robert’s comments. Nothing in this day and age is more dangerous than compromising on biblical truth, which is what would need to happen in order for what you are referring to to actually happen. I think my largest issue is with your statement that “they both give full glory and honor to God”. This is impossible because by necessity one of two must be false and would therefore be incapable of giving full glory to God, especially in contrast with the true doctrine. I know it’s unfortunate that there is a large portion of Christians today that have incorrect beliefs, but let’s not dull the polemic between the two for the sake of not wanting that to be the case.
We are unity in Christ even amongst our differences, but that does not mean that we will not have severe doctrinal disagreements, nor does it mean that something is happening that God did not “intend”. Besides, pretending the difference is not as big as it truly is does not create unity; it creates a veneer of agreement that is false. Not only that, but theology matters and bad theology will manifest itself in practice and tradition.
So while I can agree with you that I’m not a fan of the fact that the debate exist, I completely disagree that we need to minimize it or that we cannot know. If the Bible ignores it then you can make the argument that we may not be able to understand it in this life; however, this is not the scenario with the doctrines of grace.

Mike Riccardi said...


That was very well-said, and echoes my sentiments as I read Matt's comment. I am very encouraged by your words.

donsands said...

"What I do know is that God has said to preach the gospel to all of the world, and that the message is that anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. I know that we are saved by grace through faith, and that there is nothing that we can do in our own power to save ourselves. I also know that the life of the redeemed will be marked by good works, the evidence of the Holy Spirit's power in their lives. Can we not all agree on these things?" -Matt

I agree with you. And I can serve with you to the glory of God.

Anonymous said...

Oh man! Not this argument again?!

I had issues with it a while ago, and then thought it was cleared up with a Q&A on gracethrufaith.com (Jack Kelly). Then I read something John McArthur wrote, and he's a staunch Calvinist.

Titus 2:11 talks about salvation offered to all men. 2 Peter 3:9 says that it is NOT God's will that ANY should perish but that ALL should come to repentance. Tragically, pride gets in the way. Arrogance. A host of things. But if someone is going to spend eternity in hell, bad as it is, I would rather it be that person's foolish choice than God's ARBITRARY Eeeny, Meeny Miney Moe , To HEAVEN with YOU. To HELL with YOU attitude. Like He's casually picking petals off a VERY large daisy.

Truth to tell, I liked that song by Wesley. That's exactly how I feel about such an idea! WHOM does WHOSOEVER include if Calvin is right? If God has already decided, then He knows WHOM He had decided to leave out, which would have me burning my Bible and whooping it up, because I would sooner go to Hell than spend eternity in heaven with such a ruthless monster! Hitler and Manson would be just as suitable to my company!

Should Calvin be wrong, I hope he's getting a bitter taste of his own poison berry pie.

Long story short: (Too late!) WHOSE CHOICE IS IT?!?! Do we have a choice or don't we?

Robert said...

Mrs. OReilly,

If you're saying God has to be the way you want Him to be or else you don't want Him, that is very sad. I ask how anybody can read Romans 9 and think that God leaves it up to us. Or read Romans 3:10-17 and tell me how any of us would even make the right choice regardless. It doesn't add up. We are the clay in Romans 9 and we have no right to look to the Potter and complain about how He has shaped us.

Also, your comments regarding Calvin show both a lack of grace and a low account of heaven. People are going to be glorifying God in heaven, not busy worrying about the abundance of wrong thoughts and beliefs they espoused while alive on earth.

donsands said...

"Hitler and Manson would be just as suitable to my company!"

What if God decided to not have mercy on any of us sinners. Suppose Christ decided to call 12 legions of angels and condemn the world instead of saving it?

Would God be just in sending all of us, you and me included to hell?

You have a self-righteous mind-set my friend.
But the Word of God can bring conviction and the truth can set you and me free.

Anonymous said...

I am simply saying that I want to get to the bottom of the whole matter of personal choice or predestination to heaven or hell, in light of verses like 2 Peter 3:9, Titus 2:11, and 1 John 2:2

I'm sorry if I sound 'self righteous' but I am beyond confused with all this. Is the Bible telling the truth when it says that God would love for ALL people to receive salvation, but that, through stubborn pride, we go our own way, or is it an arbitrary choice on God's part that so many go to hell.

In Romans 1:24, it says "...God gave them up...." From the text, I get the idea that God pleaded with these people, who were determined to go their own way til God finally let them have their way. This gives the impression of free choice on our part, for better or worse. Because it makes no sense that God would plead with people to abandon their ways when He'd already chosen their destination.

I apologize for my angry tone but I am desperate to get to the bottom of this matter! The Bible says that God is NOT the Author of confusion, but this doctrine has been nothing but confusing.

Anonymous said...

To those of you who take the Calvinist stance, can I assume that you have no UNSAVED loved ones?

YES, GOD would be justified in sending us ALL to HELL. But JESUS made the way to escape that, didn't HE? What else does John 3:16 mean?

I was caught in a minor rain storm this morning, which got me thinking about Noah. In the time it took Noah and sons to get the ark built, his neighbors had something like 100 years to come to faith and eventually join Noah on the ark.

There is another verse that says that God has no pleasure in the death of the ungodly, but that they would turn and live. Doesn't that imply that we have some choice in the matter?

Anonymous said...

Question: Did Adam and Eve have the CHOICE to sin or NOT to sin? Was it up to THEM whether they obeyed God or not, or did God decide that they should sin so that the whole matter of the cross would be played out?

God IS sovereign. He is in control. And He knows the end from the beginning, but is to KNOW something is going to happen the same as making it happen?

If the choice to sin was up to Adam and Eve, then are we not equally free to accept God's gift of forgiveness in Christ?

However, if God was a party in making Adam and Eve, and...humanity sin (which doesn't wash) then the White Throne Judgment will be a Kangaroo Court. If Adam and Eve were predestined to sin with no choice in the matter then doesn't that make GOD an accomplice?

Doesn't work, does it?

Robert said...

Mrs. OReilly,

Noah is a good example of predestination. There was no reason for God to choose Noah...he just did. Skipping forward in Genesis, the same can be said for Abram (Abraham after God renamed him). God even told Israel that He chose them not for any value that that had, but rather because He loved them. Deuteronomy 7:6-7 clearly demonstrates this. And if you read the preceeding verses, you can see that God is instructing Israel to destroy ALL of the people in the land He is giving to them...women, kids, etc.

The thing we have to remember is that God is not tied down into one characteristic. He is loving, holy, just, truthful, kind, merciful...the list goes on and on. But He is perfect in all of them, which is something we honestly can't totally comprehend. His thoughts are not our thoughts. He is the Potter...we are the clay. and Paul is clear in Romans 9 that some vessels are prepared for destruction in His wrath, while some vessels will receive His mercy.

Also in Romans 9, Paul writes that righeousness comes by faith...and in Ephesians 2:8, Paul writes that this faith is a gift from God and is not earned by any human merit.

Yes, I am sure that I have people in my family who are unsaved. I can not even have assurance that my sons will be, although I pray for that constantly and teach them up in the Word. What do we do with this though:

"Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." (Matthew 10:37) Yes, I love my family...and I pray that those who are lost will be saved, but not at the expense of my love for Jesus (which is also a grace gift from God).

Anonymous said...

So Adam and Eve were just predestined to sin and God was wasting His time telling them not to eat of the tree?

If I get to heaven at all, and God doesn't decide to dump me, (after all, it's HIS choice, not mine) then I'm going to deck John Calvin to within an inch of his life.

Why are you praying for your sons. What if God has already chosen to consign them to hell? Why pray at all, since God's made up His mind and, according to Calvin, nothing we do will change it.

Something does not add up here.

Robert said...

I pray for them and the lost because it is commanded. I guess taking it to the logical end, though, I pray because God predestined for me to pray and that He would act in answering those prayers (one way or another). "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10) God prepared the good works Christians would do before Creation. I would say that this includes prayer.

And let me say that the point of view you present would be that of a hyper-Calvinist...that fatalistic view that it doesn't matter what we do so we have no responsibility. The thing is, we have to make all of Scripture work together and not against itself.

Let me ask you a question: can anybody act outside of the will of God? Before you answer, really think about the implications of that...it would mean that the person acting outside of His will is equal to Him.

Can I totally understand how it all works out? No. Can I understand that it does work out? Yes. Do you really think that God has to react to what we do? God doesn't live in time or space...the Bible says He already sees us as glorified...although we won't be in glorified bodies until Jesus Christ comes again in glory.

Again, back to Romans 3:10-18...no man chooses to do good...no one seeks God. I don't see how anybody that fits that description (which Paul is saying is the whole world) can choose to follow God of their own volition.

I am saying this lovingly and as a defense of Scripture...just answering your questions.

donsands said...

"YES, GOD would be justified in sending us ALL to HELL." -O'Reilly

That's the bottom line for us isn't.
We are all children of His wrath. And once we really know this in the best way we can, (and to honest, none of us really think we deserve Hell), then we will begin to understand God's incomprehensible mercy for sinners like us.

The world thinks God owes us forgiveness. And so does the church at large. We speak about God with our lips, but our hearts are far from His truth of sin, judgment, wrath, grace, mercy, and love.

It's wonderful you long to know these things.

Our Lord will enlighten you for sure. He promises to teach us His truth, and though His deep, deep truths can be difficult, Christ will give us a humble attitude to embrace them as best we can.

The Word of God is where our human teachings and learnings are renewed, and corrected, through the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit, who brings us to the truth, and embeds the truth in our hearts and minds.

Stay hungry my sister.

Robert has brought forth some good Scripture truth as well.

Bobby Grow said...


Don't know if you're still here, but you said:

. . . to gloss over the large difference the debate creates in regard to the character of God. . . .

And yet this is the very point; i.e. the character of God (or doctrine of God). My point pivots around the kind of God who relates to His creation through decrees instead of immediately through Christ. Both Calvinism and Arminianism say that God has "absolutely decreed" (absolutum decretum) creation, sin, salvation, etc.; so the way God must relate to us is through working through these decrees. This is the problem that both Calv. and Arm. have at the core of their articulation of God and the Gospel. As far as "order" of knowing goes, at a basic or foundational level, this is certainly a prior consideration before we ever get to the "second order" stuff --- i.e. the "popular" debate that you mention.

It's interesting. Calvinists and Arminians yell back and forth at eachother; and never get anywhere. Their relationship is like two strangers yelling at eachother; yet all along never realizing that they in fact are brothers. Prooftexting will never settle this issue. Scripture will never settle this issue. Because what is being argued is an issue of trying to parse out the implications or inner logic or inner clarity of the Scriptures --- i.e. none of this stuff is "straightforward." It is highly naive to think that this discussion is as basic as so many here seem to think it is --- and that's just the simple truth.

I don't think anyone should really talk about this stuff, with any kind of force, if they haven't spent the time studying at least some of the history of Calvinism and/or Arminianism. This isn't a casual discussion, or an "American" discourse (wherein mere opinion matters). There is an actual history of development to Calvinism; and from what I typically see at this site, most have little to no knowledge of that (and don't seem to care if they do). There are some excellent books, introductory level, on this stuff; if anyone is interested let me know and I can point you to it. Then maybe we can at least have a fruitful discussion.

Traever Guingrich said...

Mrs. O’Reilly,
To answer your question about Adam and Eve, yes they had free will. They died spiritually as a result of their fall into sin. This is where their sin nature was cursed on them. So no, God is not responsible for their sin. It sounds like you are unfamiliar with the very basics of Calvinism (not meant as an insult, just an observation). You are asking common questions and it may benefit you to get you hands on an entry level book on the subject. If I may suggest that if you are going to read about Calvinism that you read an author with orthodox Calvinistic beliefs.

“It's interesting. Calvinists and Arminians yell back and forth at eachother; and never get anywhere”
“Scripture will never settle this issue.”

Scripture is constantly settling this issue. And the so-called yelling back and forth does get somewhere. I myself was convinced of Calvinism through fruitful discussion and study of Scripture. It settled it for me. Of course the debate won’t go away, there are new Christians everyday that need to be taught the truth as they become sanctified. But Scripture still is the determining factor convincing people and it happens all the time.

You sound fairly convinced that you have a very in-depth understanding of the debate and history behind it. I’m not saying you don’t, but your descriptions of it lead me to believe you’ve missed the heart of it and are determined to make them appear far more similar than they truly are. I’m just going out what little you’ve written here. I’m assuming you would classify yourself as neither one nor the other since you claim both have problems at their core? Again, if this is true it would convince me even more that this is a consistency lacking in your beliefs. But this would probably not be the best venue to search that out and to get more explanation.

Anonymous said...

Traever said,

You sound fairly convinced that you have a very in-depth understanding of the debate and history behind it. I’m not saying you don’t, but your descriptions of it lead me to believe you’ve missed the heart of it and are determined to make them appear far more similar than they truly are. . . .

I've spent years, formally and informally studying (and even teaching) historical theology; and I've plenty more to learn, no doubt! Nevertheless, I surely understand the "difference;" but what you seem to be failing to grasp is the significance of the similarities between the two at a basic and fundamental level (they both fit into the category of classical theism relative to their doctrine of God). They both are Aristotelian in their orientation; thus they construe God as the unmoved mover (read His sovereignty) --- thus they believe that God deals with humanity through impersonal decrees and not relationally (thus Trinitarianly) and immediately as Scripture clearly discloses God's dealings and nature to be.

So what I'm saying, at an even more basic level --- vs. the level of your point on "the debate" between the two --- is that the philosophical grid or source through which Classic Calvinists and Arminians interpret God through is not the best grid for capturing and emphasizing the categories and capacities that the God of the Bible is presented to us in (again think the Trinitarian stuff I mentioned). God as Trinity and God as Unmoved Mover (a la Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, and the Scholastic Calvinists) don't mix. So before we ever get to "your debate and 'differences'" there is something bigger to deal with; and that is, does Classic Calvinism (and Arminianism) ever get off the ground in the first place relative to their doctrine of God (which then will shape any subsequent discussions on theories of salvation). So I'm not missing your point; it's just that I think your point is moot, because I don't think Calvinism/Arminianism ever do get off the ground relative to their doctrine of God as disclosed in Scripture and revealed in Jesus Christ.

As far as your second point on where I am, theologically. I am what TF Torrance has called an "Evangelical Calvinist." There's not the room to get into that on this thread; but I have a blog and a book coming out that explains this view further --- you can read about all of that at my blog: http://evangelicalcalvinist.com

Bobby Grow

Traever Guingrich said...

Thanks, I’ll check that out. I saw that you had that blog and it certainly made me curious. If you believe what you said about Calvinism’s doctrine of God being fundamentally wrong then why do use the label for yourself? Just curious.

“thus they believe that God deals with humanity through impersonal decrees and not relationally”

I understood that you are saying they have similarities at their foundation, and to a small degree I would agree. However, I think the question is the character of God that stems from both systems. In that capacity they are very different. And this statement above I would say is totally inaccurate. God has personally foreknown (foreloved) and predestined all believers to heaven. His reasons/thinking may be unknown but we have no grounds whatsoever to call His decrees impersonal, or at worst arbitrary. So I disagree with you very initial descriptions of the theologies. To de-spiritualize them into mere philosophical grids to interpret God is to presuppose that neither is truly biblical or actually what Paul taught. The only question that needs to be asks is if the doctrine is found in the Bible. If Calvinism is true then that and exactly what Jesus and the apostles were teaching then all the points about philosophical grids and impersonal decrees is what become moot. Which is obviously where I’m at.

Bobby Grow said...


I take the "label" Calvinist because Calvinism is not a monolithic reality, historically. The Scottish strain I associate myself with is at odds with the Westminster Calvinism that you would associate with (in part). The Scottish version I follow developed concurrently alongside the developing Post-Reformed orthodoxy; unfortunately, the kind of Calvinism you follow (in part) was the kind that took hold in America through the influence of the Puritans (namely through Ames' propogation of William Perkins' style of Calvinism).

This issue just isn't as "simple" as you want it to be, Trav. --- i.e. if it's what the Bible teaches then that settles it [what if the Bible doesn't teach it?] ---as I've been alluding to, there is a development, a history of ideas, that has given us the kind of Calvinism that you follow today. There are certain philosophical traditions that have been used by Christians to articulate the teachings of Scripture --- or not -- in these kinds of theological areas. The level I am speaking at is questioning those "traditions;" and what impact they have had upon how we interpret Scripture. The kind of Calvinism you follow is w/o a doubt informed by what is called Thomism (Thomas Aquinas' integration of Aristotle's categories with Christian theology --- Prot. Reformers like Beza, Perkins, et al picked up on this synthesis and used it to articulate their understanding of God and salvation as they engaged in the work of theology). If you want to be a critical student, Trav., you will spend the time to see if what I'm asserting is so. If you don't want to spend that kind of time, then I suppose we really don't have much left to talk about.

A good book to start with is "The Age of Reform" by Steven Ozment. If you want to be a person of the "truth," then you will try to make sure that what you understand Scripture to be saying is actually what it is saying; and you will humbly realize that none of us approach scripture in a theological vacuum. I suppose that decision, i.e. if you want to be a person of the truth, is up to you.

Peace brother.

David Alves said...

Oh, Wesley. Such eloquence, used so mightily to praise our great God and His awesome truth.

And yet, such incomparable spiritual schizophrenia.

I imagine Surgeon and Wesley have had some very interesting conversations in glory. :-)