Wesley and Arminius are the same independently and almost Calvinist but importantly, not


Source: W. S. Gunter, John Wesley, A Faithful Representative of Jacobus Arminius. 2000, PDF online.


---W. Gunter wrote his article in 2000 on Wesley and compared him to Arminius and the Calvinists.

--- Like Arminius himself, Wesley believed that his soteriology was only a ‘hair’s breadth’ separated from Calvin; but it is a critically important breadth. Gunter concluded.

---At the second Annual Conference of his preachers in London in 1745, it was declared that the “truth of the gospel lies very near Calvinism,” indeed, “within a hair’s breadth.” In the context of the debate in 1770 he would declare: “We have leaned too much toward Calvinism.” This was found by Gunter.

---Gunter believes that when Wesley preaches the doctrines of original sin, vicarious atonement and salvation by faith, he is preaching like a Calvinist – albeit one who does not accept the doctrines of the decrees of Predestination.

---There are 200 years between Jacobus Arminius and John Wesley. Gunter could not see direct dependence of Wesley on Arminius.

---There are here and there a case of something showing up but it is scanty.

---To depend on another earlier scholar when you are a Calvinist and to deviate in the same gravity of the earlier one, you should find more evidence of dependency.

---So scholars are hesitant to call Wesleyanism as Arminianism.

---They came to similar conclusions studying independently and their criticism of Calvinism appears very equal. But to say they are identical is not correct.

--- W. Gunter pointed out just like Hans LaRondelle said in his book Perfection about Wesley and his idea of Original Sin, that Wesley is different than the Reformers in that he does not think the perfect Christian is bothered by original sin because he does not consider it sin any longer because it is annihilated.

---So Wesley’s perfect saints do not need a Mediator any longer for original sin and actual sins because there are no longer of these, they need it for physical infirmities and shortcomings which is according to his reading of the Bible, not really sin (LaRondelle page 322 at footnotes 436-438 and intext).

---Gunter said that Wesley rarely passed up the opportunity to affirm the universal problem of sinfulness. He considered any denial of this reality to be both contrary to general experience and a rejection of essential Christian teachings.

--- Like Arminius, Wesley often delineated the character of depravity, which he often called Inbeing Sin, to be the result of privatio, our being separated through disobedience from God and deprived of intimate fellowship with the Creator.

---Gunter found that “Wesley’s concern in dealing with the concept of depravity or Inbeing Sin was to search out and define the source of our actual sins, which he referred to as voluntary and involuntary sins.”

---He said that Wesley, “Following I John 2:16, Wesley views these as flowing from the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eye, and the pride of life.”

---Gunter further showed that “The relation between Inbeing Sin and actual sins is expressed also by a threefold division: sinful tempers, sinful words, and sinful acts by Wesley.”

---As far as the implications of Sin is concerned with Arminius who died in 1608 and John Wesley who lived in the 1750’s, Gunter found that “In Arminius we do not find the implications of Sin spelled out in these rather practical ways, but we did note that he emphasized how the human affections are distorted, implying a relational view of sin rather than an abstract, substantial, or metaphysical one.

---So as far as Arminius view of Salvation or Soteriology is concerned, says Gunter, Arminius described “God’s saving grace as also being relational in its essence and application: “...oock so verre dat die wedergheborene mensche selfs, sonder dese voorgaende ende opweckende, volghende, ende medewerckende ghenade, noch het goede dencken, willen of doen can, noch oock eenighe tentatie ten quade wederstaen.” Translated: “Also as far as the converted human self, without these pre-existing and quickened, following, and cooperative grace, not thinking good, wanted or able to do, also cannot resist any tendency to evil”.

This is precisely the emphasis that we encounter in Wesley.

Listen to Hans LaRondelle’s words on the last page of his Perfection and his conclusion: “The most impressive truth of Biblical perfection is that it does not concentrate on man’s nature in the abstract but on man’s perfect relationship with God and his fellowman here, now as well as in the future” (LaRondelle, Perfection, page 327).

---Can you see the word relationship that link Arminius, Wesley and LaRondelle?

---But, LaRondelle differ with Wesley that original sin will not be removed until the Second Coming (LaRondelle, Perfection page 320 footnote 430).

---But, Wesley differed with the Reformers on the subject of responsible grace, says Gunter.

---Irressistable Grace because he felt it was resistable.

---Gunter said in his comparison of Wesley with Calvin: “It is particularly this notion about ‘responsible grace’ that made Wesley vulnerable in his soteriology to charges of transgressing Reformation orthodoxy.”

---Gunter found them the same but differed on election: “The Protestant theologians with whom he shared an emphasis on total depravity drew from it an emphasis on limited atonement and unconditional election with which Wesley deeply disagreed.” Says Gunter.  

---The position taken in the early days of the Revival (the 1745 London Annual Conference) is foundational to why Wesley chose The Arminian Magazine as his identifying periodical in 1778:

---“(1)Ascribing all good to the free grace of God.

---(2) Denying all natural freewill, and all power [for salvation] antecedent to grace, And

---(3) Excluding all merit from man; even what he has and does by the grace of God.”

---On the issue of gracious efficiency and effectiveness, Wesley said: “Why, the very power to ‘work together with Him’ [is] from God. Therefore to Him is all the glory.” (“Predestination Calmly Considered,” Works (1872), 8:230. Compare Arminius, Verklaring, pp. 113-14; Writings, 1:253, sources from W. Gunter 2001).

---Arminius’ said that “Free Will is unable to begin or to perfect any true and spiritual good without grace . . . . I affirm, therefore, that this grace is simply and absolutely necessary for the illumination of the mind, the due ordering of the affections, and the inclination of the will to that which is good.” (‘Grace and Free Will’ in “Letter to Hippolytus,” in Writings, 2:472. 13 14).

---Ellen White also agree here with Arminius and with Wesley that without cooperative Grace it is impossible to do good. Even Calvin said the same in his commentary on James 2:22 where he used the word cooperatus in the Latin but Theodore Bezae, his successor changed it to aid or assistance.

---No perfection is built on human effort alone. It can only be built by divine help. For those who do not know, it is also the position of Douglas, Priebe, Andrew Kang, and most “overcoming preachers”.

---Why overcoming? You cannot be perfect if you do not overcome. Do you need to overcome? In all the periods of the churches of Revelation 1-3, overcoming is imperative. Look for yourself. Thanks.