Following the Disciple's Trail

Following the Disciple's Trail

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Calvinsim Vs. Wesleyanism

While I was studying Scriptural Counseling in Colorado, we had a class on Calvinism vs. Wesleyanism. The differences are not complete polar opposites on some points, but other points have some stark contrast between them.

Calvinism uses the Acronym TULIP to describe their doctrine.

Total Depravity (also known as Total Inability and Original Sin) -  Human beings are so affected by the negative consequences of original sin that they are incapable of being righteous, and are always and unchangeable sinful; human freedom is totally enslaved by sin so we can only choose evil.

Unconditional Election - Since human beings cannot choose for themselves, God by His eternal decree has chosen or elected some to be counted as righteous, without any conditions being placed on that election.

Limited Atonement (also known as Particular Atonement) -  The effects of the Atonement, by which God forgave sinful humanity, are limited only to those whom He has chosen.

Irresistible Grace - The grace that God extends to human beings to effect their election cannot be refused, since it has been decreed by God.

Perseverance of the Saints (also known as Once Saved Always Saved) - Since God has decreed the elect, and they cannot resist grace, they are unconditionally and eternally secure in that election.

What troubled me about the doctrine of Calvinism is that many take this doctrine to mean that once saved, always saved allows a person to become a Christian and then continue to live life as they choose with no thought of repercussion spiritually. While Calvinist would tell you that is not the case, and there are spiritual consequences to our actions, they will still tell you that if you are saved, you will not be turned away from Heaven in the end because of your eternal salvation.

The most troubling part, for me, was that Calvinist had found a 5 point acronym to use to explain their doctrine clearly, while I felt that Wesleyan doctrine was left without a clear and easily understood acronym of their own...So I created one.

As far as I know, I am the only one to have made this acronym applicable to Wesleyan Doctrine. I do not say that as some boastful statement, but just a statement of fact. I have not seen this used in any number of articles I have read pointing out the differences in the two theologies. Not only is the acronym I developed a good way to remember the 5 fundamental points of Wesleyanism, but it also runs parallel with Calvinism's 5 points as well.

I offer to you the Wesleyan PEARL.

Prevenient Grace (Depraved with Freewill) - Human beings are sinful and without God, incapable (deprived) on their own of being righteous; however, they are not irredeemably sinful and can be transformed by God’s grace; God's prevenient grace restores to humanity the freedom of will.

Election By Freewill - God has chosen that all humanity be righteous by His grace, yet has called us to respond to that grace by exercising our God-restored human freedom as a condition of fulfilling election.

Atonement For All - The effects of the Atonement are freely available to all those whom He has chosen, which includes all humanity, "whosoever will."

Resistible Grace - God’s grace is free and offered without merit; however, human beings have been granted freedom by God and can refuse His grace.

Limited Security - There is security in God’s grace that allows assurance of salvation, but that security is in relation to continued faithfulness; we can still defiantly reject God.

I pray that this will help people who are in study of these two theologies understand the foundational points better, not for my own gain or pride, but towards the glory of God the Father.

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