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
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.
- Popularity vs. plain dealing (johnmeunier.wordpress.com)
- Book Review – Wesley on the Christian Life: A Heart Renewed in Love by Fred Sanders (cwoznicki.com)
- ‘Take heed to your doctrine’ (johnmeunier.wordpress.com)