Posts Tagged ‘John Wesley’

Grace Still On My Mind

Thursday, July 15th, 2010 by Antipas Harris

Is the purpose of the preaching the gospel merely to communicate condemnation and exclusion? Certainly, people struggle due to poor choices and sinful behaviors. The authors believe it is biblically grounded to assert that the purpose of preaching the gospel, moreover, is to share the preeminent message of God’s love rather than condemnation. God’s love is best expressed in God’s grace that grants us opportunity to become better rather than infliction of bitterness; grace transforms us into the image of God rather than transfer us the face of God; grace liberates us from the pangs and punishments of sin rather than makes us liable for destruction because of sin.       

Among many theological concepts that are continuously intriguing us, we have constantly visited and re-visited the theological concept of grace and the function of grace in God’s salvific process for humankind. Grace is intrinsic to the gospel message that must be communicated maximally or emphasized more effectively. This book assumes the need for grace for everyone. In fact, while grace appears to everyone, sustaining us even in our sins before we accept salvation, grace does not disappear when we surrender to the divine call of salvation. Grace remains, rather, an essential element for the successful Christian life. John Wesley once said the following in his sermon, “On Repentance of Believers:”

It is generally supposed, that repentance and faith are only the gate of religion; that they are necessary only at the beginning of our Christian course, when we are setting out in the way to the kingdom…. And this is undoubtedly true, that there is a repentance and a faith, which are, more especially, necessary at the beginning: a repentance, which is a conviction of our utter sinfulness, and guiltiness, and helplessness…. But, notwithstanding this, there is also a repentance and a faith (taking the words in another sense, a sense not quite the same, nor yet entirely different) which are requisite after we have “believed the gospel;” yea, and in every subsequent stage of our Christian course, or we cannot “run the race which is set before us.” And this repentance and faith are full as necessary, in order to our continuance and growth in grace, as the former faith and repentance were, in order to our entering into the kingdom of God.

Agreeing with Wesley, this book contends that there is no place in our spiritual walk or faith journey wherein we have elevated to a state of perfection devoid of a need for God’s grace.

Important questions emerge in this discussion: what is grace?; what is the function of grace?; does grace require human transformation?; and does grace excuse the need for human transformation and justify humanity before God without human transformation? These questions and others concerning grace continue to ponder my thoughts.

The Westminster Captivity of Evangelicalism

Friday, April 23rd, 2010 by Dale M. Coulter

Anyone paying attention to recent trends within evangelicalism knows about the “New Calvinism.” Time published a piece on the movement just over a year ago as one of the  10 ideas changing the world. The usual list of names associated with it are Albert Mohler, John Piper, Mark Driscoll, and Mark Dever, among others. I have also seen Michael Horton on a list or two. Regardless of whether the “New Calvinism” is actually new, and some bloggers have their doubts, it is exposing the fault lines in Reformed theology within the U.S. More importantly, in my view, it is highlighting what I would describe as the “Westminster Captivity” of American evangelicalism, particularly its Reformed wing, which I see as a positive development.

Before explaining myself further, an admission: While I attended Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, FL, I am not Reformed. Rather, I am a Classical Pentecostal within the holiness stream that goes back to John Wesley. And, I now teach at an institution shaped by the Reformed charismatic theology of J. Rodman Williams whose heritage I wish to honor. Now, on to the explanation: Read the rest of this entry »