Calvinism vs. Methodism Explained

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, lived about 200 years after John Calvin, but labored under the results of Calvinism. Likewise, as an original Protestant Reformer, Calvin labored under the results of Roman Catholicism. Calvinism is a movement out of a perceived works/righteousness of the Roman church. Likewise, Methodism is a movement out of a perceived idleness of Calvinism. 1,000 years before Calvin, Augustine of Hippo (of the Roman church) labored on the Doctrine of Election out of a perceived doctrine of works/righteousness. Calvin expanded Augustine’s work and Wesley worked to undo Calvin’s.  [This essay is an expansion of an earlier entry]

It (basically) boils down to the Doctrine of Divine Election to Salvation and/or Reprobation, and it’s Five Tenants:

1)      Humanity is in a state of Total Depravity because of the inherent sin nature of Adam.

All reasonable parties agree with this thought based on the Genesis account of the Fall of Humanity and according to the apostle in his Corinthian Correspondence and Letter to the Romans. Outside of Christ, humanity does not have the ability to choose God. The only possibility of salvation comes by the grace of God in Him first acting toward us.

2)      God Unconditionally Elects certain human beings for salvation; which logically, then, simultaneously elects the rest to reprobation (or, not-salvation – i.e., Damnation).

I find no reason to assume “Unconditional Election” because of “Total Depravity.” In fact, I believe it more rational that there is a conditional election because of Total Depravity. This necessitates a choice. “But how,” you may ask, “does one make a choice if that one is totally depraved?” John Wesley answers this question with what he termed Prevenient Grace. When Christ died for all humanity, all depraved humanity received the ability to, then, choose God (Prevenient Grace). But the choice is on each individual to receive this salvation. Calvin explains, likewise, that God shined His light of grace (as it were) onto the depraved of His choosing, thereby, unconditionally electing them. Augustine exclaimed, “There is no Free Will before Christ, but there certainly must be afterwards.” How does Calvin, here, agree with Augustine?

3)      Limited Atonement: Christ’s death was for the salvation of the elect and no other members of humanity. God chose whom He would save and Christ died only for them.

If, according to Paul, Adam brought sin to all humanity, then the Second Adam (Christ) brought atonement to all humanity [This conclusion rests on the Law of Opposites, as well]. All have been rescued at the Cross of Christ, but all have not received this rescuing act (unfortunately). If you do not believe that all have been rescued by Christ, then you cannot logically believe that all received the sin nature from Adam. Either all are condemned by sin and, then, rescued by Christ, or all are not condemned by sin and therefore not in need of Christ’s atonement. You cannot have it both ways; logic does not permit it. Christ’s death is sufficient for all (because death came for all), but efficient only for those who believe (because one must choose it).

4)      Irresistible Grace: The one God calls cannot resist the grace of salvation that God offers.

While it is true that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, it does not necessarily follow that this hardening led ultimately to reprobation (or, damnation). God predestined Pharaoh to be the tool by which He would show His mighty strength. The idea that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart is altogether incidental to the argument of salvation and reprobation. It is a fine example of Divine Providence, but a philosophical stretch as an example of a salvation doctrine.

What of God’s “love for Jacob” and His “hate for Esau.” While both were still in the womb, before they could do anything right or wrong, God elected Jacob to be the recipient of His love and Esau He elected not. [The discussion of the divine love and hate is beyond the scope of this essay.] The fact that God loved Jacob and not Esau doesn’t necessitate that Jacob was, therefore, elected to salvation and Esau to reprobation. Scripture clearly explains that Christ would be the direct descendent of Jacob, not Esau. Thus, God, not concerned with the persons of Jacob or Esau, elected Jacob, and Esau He elected not.

5)      The Perseverance of the Saints: Whom God has chosen is saved for all eternity with no possibility of losing their salvation.

John Wesley (and Arminius – under whom Wesley formulated most of his theology) rejected the idea of the Perseverance of the Saints and insisted that one could lose the salvation for which Christ died. But this argument defies all known logic. Again, the Law of Opposites dictates that if one did not do anything to earn salvation, then one cannot do anything to lose it.

As such, then: God, in His Providence, has predestined certain folks for certain things and He has elected certain folks for certain things; but it is not logically or biblically necessary that either is for salvation and/or reprobation. He has elected that there would be a church, but he has not predestined who would belong to it (do not confuse Predestination with Foreknowledge). Humanity is totally depraved through Adam so that it could be totally rescued through Jesus; but it must choose Him, having been given the ability to choose correctly. And that rescuing which is not earned cannot be lost.

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