As I have mentioned briefly in the past, I worked as a Methodist youth pastor for a little over year and embraced Wesleyan theology for about a year before that. After much study and deliberation, I am now a charismatic, 5-point Calvinist Baptist.
Quite the shift in theology, but I did retain some Wesleyan influence that I cannot refute or dismiss:
Holiness – Though it is wrong to say that a Biblical understanding Eternal Security is a license to sin, it has been abused and excused by its adherents for centuries. Wesley would say that we should be holy partially because we could lose our salvation if we “backslide” and I surely disagree, there.
Wesleyan thought emphasizes that the Christian life must be lived out in a holy way, most notably through love. The Acts 2 church was known for their love. Though I believe that we are holy in God’s sight through Christ’s death on the cross apart from any works of our own and I disagree with Wesley that we can ever be perfectly holy this side of Heaven, we are not excused from being the people that God calls us to be. Take a look at Wesley’s Holy Club to see a group that we should all model ourselves after.
Experience – This is one of Wesley’s “four proofs.” He states that Scripture is the strongest proof of Christianity, with the next strongest being experience. Wesley is quoted as saying, “What the Scriptures promise, I enjoy.” It was his testimony that his faith grew to its pinnacle when he experience in his soul what he read in the Word.
I can’t say I disagree at all, here. God’s provision and the Spirit-driven joy that I find in all situations is the anchor that keeps my faith unshaken. Scripture proving Itself in my life has an immeasurable impact on my love and devotion to Him.
Though there isn’t much that I agree with Wesley on, these two thoughts have been a great compliment to my strong theological leaning toward Calvinism. It is probably even true that Calvin or Luther could have taught such things, but I learned and appreciated them through the teaching of John Wesley.
I realize that Calvinists (and possibly even more so, Baptists) will shudder at the mention of Wesley being credible, but we cannot discount the impact he had on 18th century Christendom and the current evangelical world.
I pray that we would appreciate the strengths of those who we may not have much common ground with. We are small fish in a big pond, my friends!