Wesley – loose doctrine leads to a loose life

Yes, that is a Velvet Wesley Crusher

Yes, that is a Velvet Wesley Crusher (Photo credit: WilWheaton), but that is not John Wesley

There is a discussion about doctrine and practice, or perhaps, better, ethics, discipline, and the Christian life. For many of us, we understand the separation between doctrine and the life of the Christian. This is a historically known separation and I thought easily understood. However, that is not the case.

I have posts lined up over the next several days that will offer brief commentary on something laid bare.

For instance, this from an early biography of Wesley:

Wesley’s intense conviction of the importance of practical morality led him to take drastic measures to aid his society of antinomian teachers, and their perversions of evangelical truth. But, as Fletcher says, antinomianism had “spread like wildfire” among some of the societies. Most of Wesley’s preachers, like John Nelson, never ceased to urge the people to maintain good works. But a few were using the cant phrases and catchwords of a perverted Calvinism. It would be unjust to call the leading Calvinistic clergy antinomians. Wesley did not do so. But the teaching of some of them provided little safeguard against immorality at a time when antinomianism was doing fatal damage to the cause of religion. They held, practically, that since salvation was all of grace through faith, they were not required to maintain good works; their standing in Christ was secured by election, and, clothed in his imputed righteousness, their own righteousness was a matter of indifference. It was not merely a logical deduction on Wesley’s part that looseness of life might result from such loose doctrine. He had painful evidence that immorality was the actual result. He claimed the right to deal with the matter in his own Conference of preachers which met in London a month before the death of Whitefield. Hence arose the famous Minutes of 1770, the outburst of a controversy which lasted for eight years, and the publication of Fletcher’s celebrated Checks to Antinomianism

via The Wesley Center Online: Chapter XIV – Doctrinal Wars.

Lookest ye to the emboldened blaze upon ye ole screen.

Wesley knew that strong doctrine — I would assume orthodoxy at its finest — would then contribute to a solid Christian witness.

What sort of doctrines? I would suggest first and foremost our strengthening of the Trinity, of the doctrines contained in the Creeds, and then of our peculiar Wesleyan doctrines of Grace.

By the way, this is not to say that Wesley thought orthodoxy above the life of the Christian. He had choice words for those who merely believed but did not do. This is simply to say Wesley believed in a difference between orthodoxy and the journey of the Christian.

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Post By Joel Watts (10,088 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

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4 thoughts on Wesley – loose doctrine leads to a loose life

  1. Pingback Salvation by Faith (John Wesley) | Strangers and Aliens
  2. What about those who have strong doctrines that are constantly in debate with other who have other opposing strong doctrines? So in which no body in these debates ever comes to a conclusion who is true, or no one really wins. Calvinism and Wesleyan all seem relative to me.

  3. I apologize for saying Wesleyan it is that other one starts with A something. That was just for example. It just seems these are doctrines of men and not from God, sometimes. Because people only care sometimes about showing who is right and not about the truth. also men are fallible. I said that I would have loose doctrine, but what I meant is that I want the truth and not debates, if a person finds out they are wrong they should just accept it, because the truth of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah should be more important.. Well blessings to you.

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