I have recently been grappling with the whole Calvinist-Wesleyan debate recently. I have read a great deal of John Wesley’s original works this semester. He is a great preacher. But some of the key points of his theology fly in the face of Reformed/Calvinistic doctrine (to which I feel attracted in my heart/spirit). I grew up in a Pentecostal/Charismatic church (which was Armenian-Wesleyan). Now, I am at a Wesleyan seminary. But I still want to believe that we as humans have absolutely no claim on our salvific status. I listened to a John Piper podcast tonight, and he said something about justification coming by God’s grace, not by any work of man.
Now, even Wesley believed that justification comes only by God’s grace and not through works. But Wesley would say that God enables us and woos us to have the faith that chooses Christ. In the podcast, Piper continued to say that God justifies by His grace alone – not by works, nor by God enabling us to do anything that would in turn save us (because that still gives even a tiny bit of credit to man’s action). Piper holds the bold view that God plainly imputes righteousness unto his children. They are saved by grace. In the courtroom (by the way, the metaphors of king or judge are often used by Calvinists), God looks at us and calls us “not guilty.” Why? Because Jesus, the Son of God, died on the cross and rose from the dead because of His great love for us. This is cause for us to simply respond in praise and glory to the great sovereign Lord who by his grace has saved us.
In other words, though Wesley says that God saves us by his grace, in practice and principle he believes that man has a choice in this whole matter. I’m still grappling with this one. I want to side with the view that takes all claim away from man. This is an ongoing thought process of mine.