Tuesday, August 02, 2005

More on Calvinism

I will never forget a little passage I read in Paul E. Little's Know What You Believe (pp. 105-6) about a conversation that took place between Charles Simeon and John Wesley.

Simeon said, 'Sir, I understand that you are called an Arminian; and I have sometimes been called a Calvinist; and therefore I suppose we are to draw daggers. But before I consent to begin combat, with your permission, I will ask you a few questions ... pray, Sir do you feel yourself a depraved creature, so depraved that you would never have thought of turning to God if God had not first put it in your heart?'
'Yes.' said Wesley, 'I do indeed'.
'And do you utterly despair of recomended yourself to God by anything you can do, and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?'
'Yes, solely through Christ.'
'But, Sir, supposing you were at first saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to save yourself afterwards by your own works?'
'No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.'
'Allowthing, then, that you were first turned by the grace of God, are you not in some way or other to keep yourself by your own power?'
'What then? Are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, as much as an infant in its mother's arms?'
'Yes, altogether.'
'And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you unto His heavenly Kingdom?'
'Yes, I have no hope but in Him.'
'Then, Sir, with your leave I will put up my dagger again; for this is all my Calvinism; this is my election; my justification by faith; my final perseverance; it is in substance all that I hold, and as I hold it; and therefore, if you please, instead of searching out terms and phrases to be a ground of contention gbetween us, we will cordially unite in those things wherein we agree.'

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