My goal behind this brief survey was to ‘expose’ Arminianism to my Calvinistic brethren. We must realize that the battle is not over. We must be sure of our doctrines and let the Scriptures search us out.
My intent was not to be too polemical or to alienate brothers in Christ. I believe that these positions held by Arminians are destructive to the true evangelical faith and we should be aware of its influence (especially with the increasing attention Pinnock and Sanders are receiving). The Arminian position is as comprehensive and consistent as Calvinism (given their assumptions) and we should be aware of the contours of Arminianism lest we be hoodwinked into fighting a strawman. I hope I did expose the Methodists, Wesleyans, and Nazarenes and all who hold to similar views and by the grace of God compel them to repent of their positions.
This portion of the essay will only interest true die hard bibliophiles. If you are not a lover of books or a person who spends much time combing the footnotes and endnotes, then you might want to get a life. Actually, if you don’t like reading footnotes, then you might just want to stop here.
In the mid 1800s, John L. Girardeau, a prominent Southern Presbyterian divine, wrote one of the most comprehensive attacks on Evangelical Arminianism; it is perceptive and quite massive, about 600 pages. His Calvinism and Evangelical Arminianism: Compared as to Election, Reprobation, Justification, and Related Doctrines interacts with all the contemporary Arminian divines of that century. In fact, he wrote his massive work to address the then meager attention given to modern Evangelical Arminianism. Most of the attacks against Arminianism had to do with Arminius, Grotius and some of Socinus’ positions. Little attention had been given to Wesley’s brand of Arminianism which influenced more people at the popular level. That volume has been reprinted by Sprinkle Publications (1984); it is worth possessing and serves as an able weapon against Arminianism. Warfield’s article on Atonement gives a helpful bibliography and survey of their position. These are a few of the ‘older’ works on Arminianism. I am specifically avoiding the works of Owen, Ness, Gill, Toplady, Hervey, etc. because those names are popular and in the hands of most.
Modern literature on Arminianism from a non-Arminian perspective is not as vast as one would suspect. Most of the literature written on the topic have been written by Calvinists and those works are either outdated or not necessarily the most unbiased representation of the Arminian system. The popular and prolific writer J. I. Packer wrote an important essay on Arminianism published in 1985. It is found in Through Christ’s Word: A Festschrift for Dr. Philip E. Hughes. He ably gives a good historical sweep of the position. However, the article deals with Arminius and his immediate successors. It reaches into the era of what is called ‘Evangelical Arminianism,’ namely the Eighteenth Century. The dominant figures of that century are of course John Wesley and John Fletcher. It barely touches the nineteenth and twentieth century. An account of Richard Baxter’s Arminianism is very helpful (since that is Packer’s area of expertise). Overall, it is an erudite and comprehensive article (insofar as a small article can be ‘comprehensive’).
The two volumes entitled The Grace of God, The Bondage of the Will, eds. Thomas Schreiner & Bruce Ware are the most recent books on classic and modern Arminianism. The essays by R. Muller on Arminius’ rationalism, T. Nettles’ article on Wesley and his followers, T. Schreiner’s critique on the Wesleyan notion of Prevenient Grace, and D. A. Carson’s article on Assurance are stimulating and very informative. Richard Muller’s God, Creation, and Providence in the Thought of Jacob Arminius (1991; though similar to his essay cited above, an understanding of Latin will be helpful to the reader) is the most comprehensive study of Arminius to date. It surely competes with Carl Bangs’ work. Apart from these works, I am not aware of other modern works that interact thoroughly with Arminian literature. No doubt there are more and I would appreciate any bibliographical information on them (firstname.lastname@example.org or send info to the web master, Andy Webb). However, I am aware of literature by Sproul, Packer, Gerstner, Boettner, etc. which argue for Calvinism while interacting in some measure with Arminianism. I am merely highlighting the more ‘comprehensive’ and ‘academic’ works on Arminianism.
Now, as to writings from an Arminian position, as one would suspect, they are many. I will have to restrain myself. Names that one needs to interact with from the around Nineteenth Century are Richard Watson, John Miley, William Pope, Miner Raymond (perhaps the first systematic work by an Arminian in America, 1877), and T. O. Summers. Other names are A. M. Hills, Ralston, Tigert (a rehash of Summers), Wakefield (a reworking of Watson), the older Adam Clarke (the popular commentator, don’t use his commentaries), and the milder H. Sheldon. The first set of names are the most prominent theologians of the Arminian persuasion. In the Twentieth Century, all will concede that H. Orton Wiley’s Christian Theology (3 Vols.) is the most influential and representative work available. However, we need to note Carl Bangs’ scholarly book Arminius: A Study in the Dutch Reformation. He was a student of Wiley. Two volumes have come into publication recently that have perhaps shocked many (nah, nobody reads anymore nor cares). Clark Pinnock, the once evangelical turned ‘neo-evangelical’, the once Calvinist turned Arminian, the once inerrantist turned progressivist in his view of inspiration, etc. (enough changes to shame any chameleon) edited two books to combat Calvinism. The first one is entitled Grace Unlimited (1975) and then later on The Grace of God, The Will of Man: A Case for Arminianism (1989). In this latter volume Pinnock unveils his own personal theological pilgrimage entitled ‘From Augustine to Arminius: A Pilgrimage in Theology.’ These two volumes actually served as the stimulus to the two volumes cited above by Schreiner and Ware. There are other volumes that convey and defend Arminianism. You can’t avoid Foundations of Wesleyan-Arminian Theology by M. B. Wynkoop; it is a small book and very harsh on Calvinism. Her later and more substantive work A Theology of Love: The Dynamic of Wesleyanism is actually a fine apologetic for Wesleyanism/Arminianism. It is almost refreshing to see such conviction (though I believe misguided). The two volume work A Contemporary Wesleyan Theology by Charles Carter are helpful (for information’s sake). One of the most recent ‘systematic theologies’ is by J. Kenneth Grider, A Wesleyan-Holiness Theology (1994); he is an astute Arminian and is thoroughly aware of the need for consistency within Arminianism. Very similar to H. Sheldon, Grider seeks to assimilate some of the liberal views and interacts with the standard liberal scholarship much too uncritically. The newest defense of the Arminian view of ‘sovereignty’ is by David Basinger and John Sanders. Their view is called ‘Freewill Theism.’ Basinger’s book is entitled The Case for Freewill Theism: A Philosophical Assessment (1996). Sanders’s book is entitled The God Who Risks: A Theology of Providence (1998). The title, sadly, speaks for itself. This is an expansion of another controversial book The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God, ed. Clark Pinnock et al. (1994); Sanders is one of the contributors. Lastly, consider some of Gregory Boyd’s works.
I specifically avoided works like Millard Erickson, Thiessen, Lewis and Demarest, Bloesch, etc. These men (with the possible exception of Thiessen) and the like seek to distance themselves from Arminianism though are in no way Calvinists. They are ‘evangelicals’ with a mixture of Calvinism and Arminianism; fundamentally, of course, they are Arminians. One other piece of work must be noted. Thomas Oden shows his scholarly hand in John Wesley’s Scriptural Christianity: A Plain Exposition of His Teaching on Christian Doctrine. This work is marvelous because it is the summary of Wesley’s systematic theology from Wesley’s written documents. It is worth consulting if you are interested in Wesley, though Wesley is not necessarily the sole spokesman for the Arminian position these days. These should suffice.
1 See John Miley, The Atonement in Christ (New York: Phillips & Hunt, 1884) 22. The quote I have in mind is cited in our section on ‘Doctrine of Atonement.’
2 The most up-to-date work against Arminianism is T. Schreiner and B. Ware, ed., The Grace of God, The Bondage of the Will (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1995) but it gives scant attention to this. The notable exception is Thomas Nettle, who in the book gives a fuller historical account of the matter in his essay, ‘John Wesley’s Contention with Calvinism: Interactions Then and Now.’ The century old work (recently republished) gives a weighty critique; I have not seen anything like it since, see Girardeau’s work entitled Calvinism and Evangelical Arminianism: Compared as to Election, Reprobation, Justification, and Related Doctrines (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1984).
3 I am still collecting more volumes to further my research on this topic. Being a Calvinist, I am not around many who possess a ready stocked library of Arminian theology. In fact, some of my Calvinistic brothers are becoming suspicious of my growing Arminian library. Needless to say (but I’m saying it anyway), I still have many more Reformed books than they do. Would appreciate anyone who could tell me where I can purchase Summers, Tigert, and Miner Raymond.
4 Clark Pinnock, ‘ From Augustine to Arminius: A Pilgrimage in Theology’ in C. Pinnock, ed., A Case for Arminianism: The Grace of God, The Will of Man (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1989) 26-27.
5 For a defence of Freewill Theism, see C. Pinnock et al., The Openness of God (Downers Grove: IVP, 1994); David Basinger, The Case for Freewill Theism: A Philosophical Assessment (Downers Grove: IVP, 1996). These are the more popular works on the issue. R. K. McGregor Wright has critiqued this view in his No Place for Sovereignty: What’s Wrong with Freewill Theism (Downers Grove: IVP, 1996); also, see the helpful short article by Tony Gray, ‘God Does not Play Dice,’ Themelios 24, no. 2 (Frebruary 1999): 21-34. However, any work by Paul Helm touching on this issue is better philosophically and theologically; it is more sophisticated and I believe (thus so far) more penetrating. Careful and less academic (philosophically though not any less competent) are the following articles in the ModernReformation (September/October, 1999): ‘Does God Know the Future?’ by William C. Davis and ‘Why the Glory of God is at Stake in the ‘Foreknowledge’ Debate,’ by John Piper (a critique on Gregory Boyd). Boyd is also handled by D. A. Carson in ‘God, The Bible and Spiritual Warfare: A Review Article,’ JETS 42/2 (June 1999): 251-269. See World, July 17, 1999, p. 23 which addresses the ‘news’ behind the foreknowledge debate among Baptists (BGC).
Freewill Theism is defined by Basinger (a proponent) as: ‘Freewill theists acknowlege that God can unilaterally intervene in earthly affairs and does so at times. But they deny that God can both grant individuals freedom and control its use. Unlike theological determinists, they maintain that God has voluntarily given up complete control of earthly affairs to the extent that he has voluntarily granted humanity freedom’ (David Basinger, The Case for Freewill Theism, 12).
6 Gregory Boyd, God at War: The Bible & Spiritual Conflict (Downers Grove: IVP, 1997) 49.
7 Clark Pinnock et al., The Openness of God, 121.
8 Richard Rice, ‘Divine Foreknowledge and Free-Will Theism’ in A Case for Arminianism, 134.
9 For example, Richard Rice, God’s Foreknowledge and Man’s Free Will (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1980) 10. He does not only preclude absolute divine knowledge but he even precludes absolute divine decrees. Richard Rice says in another book that ‘God’s will does not guarantee the outcome that he desires’ (The Openness of God, 54-55).
10 Frederick Sontag, ‘Does Omnipotence Necessarily Entail Omniscience?’ JETS 34 (Dec. 1991): 508. Sontag also seems to suggest that a fixed future might actually detract from God’s creativity. Clark Pinnock parrots Sontag’s notion of surprise and boredom: ‘We do not limit God by saying that he can be surprised by what his creatures do. It would be a serious limitation if God could not experience surprise and delight. The world would be a boring place without anything unexpected ever happening’ (The Openness of God, 123).
11 J. Sanders, The God Who Risks: A Theology of Providence (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1998) 169.
12 Ibid., 172.
13 Ibid., 11.
14 Sontag virtually says this as an apologetic for his position, ‘Ironically, weak gods (and people) attempt rigid control. Those who are secure in their power can allow others freedom without feeling threatened in their being’ (‘Does Omnipotence necessarily Entail Omniscience?,’ 507).
15 Sanders in The Openness of God, 189-90, n.160 lists many of the Freewill theists. Their views differ from each other. Some suggest that we can ‘prevent what God knows will happen’ while others suggest that God chose not to know. Eeeek, I hope someone knows what is going on down here.
16 One very astute reader has pointed out that I have not made careful distinctions in this argument because I overlap various views (between those who hold to Middle Knowledge and those who hold to Open Theism or Freewill Theism). This is true technically and I thank the reader for the observation. However, from my perspective, all the views fall into the same camp. Richard Muller has quite competently addressed this issue and argued that Molina’s view set forth by Arminius is inimical to Reformational theology. Though shades of difference might exist among Arminians, all are contrary to Biblical Traditional Reformational theology. See Richard Muller, ‘Grace, Election, and Contingent Choice: Arminius’s Gambit and the Reformed Response,’ in The Grace of God, The Bondage of the Will, II:251-278.
17 Samuel Wakefield, A Complete System of Christian Theology (Cincinnati, OH: Hitchcock & Walden, 189), 151ff. Those who hold to Middle Knowledge seek to take seriously omniscience while maintaining human free will but in its efforts to explain the two, they end up developing strange notions of counterfactual truths.
18 See Sanders, The God Who Risks, 34-37.
19 It must be noted that many theologians like John Piper are amazed at the heterodoxy of this (‘openness’) position. However, modern proponents of the ‘Openness of God’ are simply the logical fruit of Arminianism. Though competent Arminian thinkers like Oden may resist, yet Boyd is correct, if one pushes the system to their logical end, we are led to the ‘openness’ position. J. K. Grider, Kenneth Jone, along with Thomas Oden are some of the conservative thinkers of modern Arminianism who still retain a modified and inconsistent view of God’s foreknowledge — yet, they do not deny God’s omniscience. Nonetheless, modern theologians like Boyd, Sanders, Pinnock, etc. are simply pushing the heart of Arminianism to their rightful conclusions. We Calvinists have always charged them of being inconsistent; these modern thinkers have simply heard our complaint.
20 Grider, J.K., “Arminianism” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology [Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984] 80). This view is called “Governmental Theory” which teaches that because “God did not want sinners to die, he relaxed that rule and accepted the death of Christ instead. He could have simply forgiven mankind had he wanted to, but that would not have had any value for society. The death of Christ was a public example of the depth of sin and the lengths to which God would go to uphold the moral order of the universe” (Morris, “Atonement, Theories of The” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 102).
21 John Miley, The Atonement in Christ, 22.
22 This tension is real in their thought. There are two competing strands in Arminianism vying for attention. One is the more evangelical wing of Arminius and Wesley and the other is the more rationalistic group represented by Limborch and Remonstrantism. Some of this is addressed in the section on ‘Doctrine of Justification.’
T. O. Summers (1812-1882) actually held this tension. He argued for substitutionary elements in a governmental framework. See Robert E. Chiles, Theological Transition in American Methodism: 1790-1935 (New York: Abingdon Press, 1965) 55-56. Chiles also argues that American Methodism sought to move away from its Arminian/Wesleyan British roots to something more consonant with the rational liberalizing trends of American Methodism where sin and its effect became less of a focus, e.g., 58-61.
23 Pope, A Compendium of Christian Theology (New York: Hunt & Eaton, n.d.) II:314.
24 B. Field, The Student’s Handbook of Christian Theology (New York: Hunt & Eaton, 1889) 180.
25 Kenneth E. Jones surveyed the various models and chose not to choose which one was right by saying that they were all correct a little bit. After a very brief survey he summarizes his understanding of the atonement in this manner: ‘Jesus died for the salvation of all human beings. He did this in a sense that is beyond our logic and philosophy. However Christ did it, he fully met the need of us for salvation from sin. It is not necessary for us to understand fully all that Christ did, and how he did it. What we need to comprehend is the way to accept that salvation by faith in him. His saving grace is beyond our full comprehension’ (Kenneth Jones, Theology of Holiness and Love [Lanham: University Press of America, 1995] 175). It is almost better than Field’s he did a ‘something’ on the cross but not much more. Did Christ pay the penalty for my sin or not? Their answer is, ‘I don’t know but just believe because He did something for your sins on the cross that somehow allows you to be saved.’ This can only breed insecurity and confusion.
26 J. K. Grider, A Wesleyan-Holiness Theology (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1994) 329.
27 See Wakefield, Christian Theology, IV:iv and Watson, Theological Institutes (New York: J. Emory and B. Waugh, 1831) II:xx.4ff. Orton Wiley also believes that the governmental theory is consistent with the propitiatory nature of atonement and also with some modified sense of substitution, see Christian Theology (Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1940) II:244ff.
28 R. Larry Shelton, ‘Initial Salvation: The Redemptive Grace of God in Christ’ in A Contemporary Wesleyan Theology, Charles W. Carter, ed. (Grand Rapids: Francis Asbury Press of Zondervan, 1983) I:469-516.
29 Ibid., II:508.
30 Donald M. Lake, “He Died for All: The Universal Dimension of the Atonement” in Grace Unlimited, Clark H. Pinnock, ed. (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1975) 47-48.
31 K. Jones, Theology of Holiness and Love, 215.
32 M. Wynkoop, Foundations of Wesleyan-Arminian Theology (Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1967) 99.
33 T. Shreiner marvelously shows that the texts adduced by the Arminians to support Prevenient Grace is not only superficial but has been given little attention, see his ‘Does Scripture teach Prevenient Grace in the Wesleyan Sense?’ in The Grace of God, The Bondage of the Will, II:365ff. However, not all Arminians are persuaded of the Adamic effect. A. M. Hills (very similar to his favorite theologian, Charles Finney) says, ‘Men are born with a nature full of propensities to sin, which lead them universally to commit sin; but they are not born sinners. They make themselves sinners by their own wicked choices’ (Fundamental Christian Theology [Salem, OH: Schmul Publishing Co., 1980] I:406). Man is not truly guilty, but very capable of being culpable (see A Contemporary Wesleyan Theology, I:263).
34 I say ‘generally speaking’ because they do end up saying that some of the effects of Original Sin exists in all, even the elect, I mean, even in the believers. But it is not entirely consistent so the statement is true in a sweeping sort of way.
35 John Miley, Systematic Theology, reprint ed. (New York: Hunt & Eaton, 1893) II:246.
36 These are simply his conclusions and statements. Consider the following: ‘Therefore, if we hold the doctrine of native depravity, we must either admit a universal helping grace of the atonement or deny that the present life is probationary with respect to our salvation. Such denial must imply two things: a limited atonement, with a sovereignty of grace in the salvation of an elect part, which for them precludes a probation; and a reprobation of the rest which denies them all probational opportunity for salvation. Arminianism readily accepts the issue at this point; but the present section is not the place for the treatment of the questions involved’ (Ibid., II:247).
37 All the quotes were taken from Wiley, Christian Theology, II:134-6.
38 Grider, A Wesleyan-Holiness Theology, 353.
39 Wynkoop, Foundations, 99 [emphasis is in the original text].
40 H. T. Hudson, The Methodist Armor (Nashville, TN: Publishing House of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 1892) 34-5.
41 Pope, A Higher Catechism of Theology (Nashville, TN: Publishing House of the M. E. Church, n. d.) 208.
42 ‘We are sure the Spirit begins this work [of prevenient grace] as soon as the child can understand anything, so as to lead the child to a knowledge of God and his will’ (Jones, Theology of Holiness and Love, 216). This quote is taken from his section entitled, ‘Meaning of Prevenient Grace.’
43 S. Wesley Ariarajah, ‘Evangelism and Wesley’s Catholicity of Grace,’ in The Future of the Methodist Theological Traditions, M. Douglas Meeks, ed. (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1985) 144.
44 The writer further asked if this sort of reasoning killed our sense of urgency in evangelism. He says that one cannot draw that conclusion since Wesley was so urgent in his evangelism. In other words, Wesley’s practice denies the charge.
45 Shedd gave it a passing comment and Berkhof engaged it more thoroughly. Cf. L. Berkhof, Vicarious Atonement of Christ (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1936) 125-136.
46 See article by T. Nettles, ‘John Wesley’s Contention with Calvinism: Interactions Then and Now,’ in The Grace of God and The Bondage of the Will, II:297ff. Similarly, see Robert Oliver, ‘The Arminian Controversy of Eighteenth Century Methodism’ in Divisions and Dissensions: Papers Read at the 1987 Westminster Conference (England: The Westminster Conference, 1987) 78-93.
47 J. Hervey, The Works of the Rev. James Hervey, A. M. (Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson, 1839) 477.
48 Faith Cook, William Grimshaw of Haworth (Edinburgh: BOT, 1997) 238-40.
49 Adam Clarke, Christian Theology (London: Thomas & Son, 1835) 156, 158.
50 Wynkoop, Foundations, 116: ‘The idea of a transfer of righteousness from Christ to man (or imputed righteousness) is the exact antithesis of the biblical concept of holiness. It relieves man of the necessity of any real heart change.’
51 See J. Fletcher, Checks to Antinomianism, 3rd American ed. (New York: J. Soule and T. Mason, 1820).
52 R. Watson, Theological Institutes, 300. This reference is also found in Berkhof’s Vicarious Atonement, 135.
53 Wynkoop, Foundation of Wesleyan-Arminian Theology (Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1967) 110.
54 J. K. Grider, A Wesleyan-Holiness Theology, 362.
55 Kenneth Jones, Theology of Holiness and Love, 179 [emphasis mine].
56 John Miley argued that we are now put in a probationary state after the atonement. Orton Wiley proposed that we were no longer be condemned for original sin (see my section on ‘Prevenient Grace’).
57 They are careful not to explicitly state that as their ground of acceptance but their extreme statements almost lead to that conclusion.
58 S. Wakefield, A Complete System of Christian Theology (Cincinnati, OH: Hitchcock & Walden, 189) 411-413.
59 W. F. Tillett, Personal Salvation: Studies in Christian Doctrine pertaining to the Spiritual Life (Nashville, TN: Publishing House of the M. E. Church, 1902) 217ff.
60 O. A. Curtis, The Christian Faith (New York: Eaton & Mains, 1905) 362.
61 Miley, Systematic Theology, II:310-11.
62 A. M. Hills, Fundamental Christian Theology: A Systematic Theology (Salem, OH: Schmul Publishing Co., 1980) II:184.
63 In his Catechism, this question is squarely addressed in Pope, A Higher Catechism of Theology, 228:
‘Is the personal righteousness of Christ Himself reckoned to the believer as his own?
Assuredly not; any more than the personal sin of the sinner was reckoned to be Christ’s. Moreover, as the Divine Son of God could not have our individual sins imputed to Him, so His Divine-human obedience was altogether beyond the range of man’s obedience to the law. There could not be any such personal transfer.’
64 A. Clarke, Christian Theology, 155.
65 Wakefield, Christian Theology, 414. Pope’s observation about his own school of thought is worth noting: ‘Methodism has always maintained a firm protest against the distinct imputation of the active obedience of the Substitute of man; but has been reluctant to give up altogether the thought of an imputation of Christ’s righteousness generally’ (A Compendium of Christian Theology, II:446). This vascillation is what I have been noticing in their thinking.
66 ‘The personal guilt of Adam’s transgression was never imputed to his descendents, nor that of the elect to Christ; though Adam’s descendents do suffer certain consequences of his sin, and Christ’s sufferings were in consequence of sin not his own’ (W. F. Tillett, Personal Salvation: Studies in Christian Doctrine pertaining to the Spiritual Life [Nashville, TN: Publishing House of the M. E. Church, 1902] 219).
67 Wakefield, Christian Theology, 418.
68 J. L. Girardeau, Calvinism and Evangelical Arminianism, 439.
69 J. Miley, Systematic Theology, II:319.
70 T. Oden, Systematic Theology: Life in the Spirit, Vol. III [San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1992] 126.
71 Ibid., 124.
72 Ibid., 127: ‘…faith is imputed to us for righteousness.’
73 In fairness to him, he seems to have gotten this right; he denounces Cardinal Newman and opts for declarative justification. He does not confuse the issue by using impartation. Actually, Newman sounds more like most of the Arminians I already cited.
74 John Mark Hicks, ‘The Righteousness of Saving Faith: Arminian Versus Remonstrant Grace,’ Evangelical Journal 9.1 (1991) 34. John Hicks did his doctoral work on this very issue. See The Theology of Grace in the Though of Jacobus Arminius and Philip van Limborch: A Study in the Development of Seventeenth Century Dutch Arminianism (Ph.d. Dissertation, Westminster Theological Seminary, 1985).
75 William Pope, A Compendium of Christian Theology, II:442-448.
76 Hicks, The Theology of Grace, 314.
77 To quote only one will suffice: ‘The Methodist Church was raised up to spread holiness over the land’ (Hudson, The Methodist Armor, 110). This comment is in the context of the author’s teaching on perfection or entire sanctification.
78 Wynkoop, Foundations, 122.
79 ‘If Methodists give up the doctrine of entire sanctification, or suffer it to become a dead letter, we are a fallen people. Holiness is the main cord which binds us together. The original design of Methodism was to raise up and preserve a holy people’ (Hills, Christian Theology, II:257).
80 Bad, bad, bad, Mark. Be nice.
81 Ibid., II:223.
82 In William Grimshaw’s Creed we read: ‘I BELIEVE it is by the SPIRIT we are enabled, not to eradicate, as some affirm (for that is absurd) but to subjugate, the old man: To suppress, not extirpate, the exorbitancies of our fleshly appetites: To resist and overcome the world and the devil; to grow in grace, gradually, not repentively , [i.e. suddenly, or all at once] unto the perfect and eternal day. — This is all I know, or acknowledge to be Christian Perfection, or Sanctification.’ See Faith Cook, William Grimshaw of Haworth (Edinburgh: BOT, 1997) 320.
83 Clarke, Christian Theology, 227.
84 Wiley, Christian Theology, II:497.
85 Ibid., II:511.
86 Pope, A Compendium of Christian Theology, III:48. This is not an improper conclusion since they invest the power to sin many times to the body itself. Wesley says this perfection is not inconsistent with imperfection in conduct because ‘for want of better bodily organs, they sometimes inevitably think, speak, or act wrong’ (O. Curtis, The Christian Faith, 377). Sheldon, on the other hand is quick to observe that this is not the case, System of Christian Doctrine (Cincinnati: Jennings & Graham, 1903) 464.
87 Pope, A Compendium of Christian Theology, III:53. ‘Christian perfection, entire sanctification, or perfected holiness… is attainable in this life, whenever we comply with the conditions prescribed in the gospel’ (Ralston, Elements of Divinity [Nashville, TN: Cokesbury Press, 1924] 466-7).
88 Ralston, Elements of Divinity, 467. Oden also argues in the same manner. See Life in the Spirit, 242-3.
89 Pope, A Compendium of Christian Theology, III:57.
90 Ibid., II:60.
91 A Contemporary Wesleyan Theology, I:564.
92 Clarke, Christian Theology, 223.
93 Ibid., 231.
94 Curtis, The Christian Faith, 383.
95 Ibid., 384. Gamertsfelder’s statement is helpful: ‘The essential element of entire sanctification is the removal of certain carnal remains that occasionally becloud the consciousness of being a child of God, or weaken the disposition of holy love implanted in regeneration’ (S. J. Gamertsfelder, Systematic Theology [Harrisburg, PA: Evangelical Publishing House, 1921] 532).
96 S. J. Gamertsfelder, Systematic Theology, 544.
97 Before we go on, the reader should recognize the contradiction here. They say that this holiness is perfect enough to endure the divine scrutiny and yet they argue for gradation and probation.
98 Pope, A Compendium of Christian Theology, III:58.
99 Ibid., III:59-60.
100 Miley, Systematic Theology, II:376.
101 Ibid., II:375-6.
102 ‘Holiness admits of an infinite number of degrees; and there is set before us an eternal progression in holiness’ (Ibid., II:376). ‘The goal keeps ever ahead, not because it is unattainable or unattained, but because every height that is scaled reveals a higher height and a wider horizon’ (Tillett, Personal Salvation, 326).
103 Wiley, Christian Theology, II:499-500.
104 Wakefield, Christian Theology, 447; Ralston, Elements, 459. Curiously, Ralston points to Adam (before the Fall) and Jesus as support for this doctrine.
105 H. O. Wiley and P. T. Culbertson, Introduction to Christian Theology (Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1946) 330.
106 Field, Handbook of Christian Theology, 239.
107 Wiley, Christian Theology, II:507.
108 Sheldon almost says this in his System of Christian Doctrine, 466 though his particular example is a moot point (a point no one is challenging, though it should be challenged).
109 Wakefield, Christian Theology, 454.
110 Sheldon, System of Christian Doctrine, 466: ‘Some advocates of the possibility of entire sanctification have answered this objection by urging that, although a man may be completely healed of sin, so far as moral contamination is concerned, he still bears its effects in infirmities, or in lack of the spiritual and intellectual statures which continuous exercise in holiness would have given, and so has need to beseech forgiveness. But this is a very doubtful line of argument.’
111 Ibid., 466-7.
112 Wiley, Christian Theology, II:454. The word he uses is ‘sanctification’ but that was not his criticism in the previous page. Wiley believes our theory of justification led to our denial of perfection: ‘Thus with their peculiar form of a substitutionary atonement, they held to a belief in the imputation to Him of our sins, and to us of His righteousness for our justification, and for our sanctification also, in so far as it applied to the cleansing from guilt’ (II:453).
113 Wakefield, Christian Theology, 448.
114 Thomas Oden’s magisterial Systematic Theology (Life in the Spirit, 235-236) is curious on this issue. His theological project was to be ecumenical and catholic (which he does admirably in many portions of the volume). Yet, he is stuck in his Arminian Wesleyan tradition on the issue of perfectionism. He addresses the Lord’s Prayer in the same way as all the other Wesleyans; there is nothing ecumenical about the approach. He seems to have forgotten that ‘perfectionism’ is a new doctrine.
115 W. R. Cannon, The Theology of John Wesley With Special Reference to the Doctrine of Justification (Nashville: Abington, 1946) 115.
116 Ibid., 114.
117 K. J. Collins, Wesley on Salvation: A Study in the Standard Sermons (Grand Rapids: Francis Asbury Press of Zondervan Pub. House, 1989) 54.
118 Pohle & Preus, Grace Actual and Habitual: A Dogmatic Treatise (St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1934) 311-12.
119 Wiley, Christian Theology, II:355.
120 A. M. Hills, Fundamental Christian Theology, II:204-206. Those who are familiar with Charles Finney will begin to see the similarity here. Hills has been greatly influenced by Finney and the above bold statement can similarly be found in Finney’s own systematic theology.
121 Ibid., II:220.
122 Ralston, Elements, 432-3.
123 Miley, Systematic Theology, II:336-7.
124 Pope, A Compendium of Christian Theology, II:365.
125 J. Kenneth Grider, A Wesleyan-Holiness Theology, 353, 355.
126 One may think I am unfair here. However, Roman Catholic theologians who have studied Arminianism have pointed out that Arminianism in some sense is very close to Roman Catholicism. The celebrated RC theologian of Tübingen Johann Adam Möhler concluded that the Arminian view of grace is just like the Tridentine formula. ‘But if the Remonstants reject these Calvinistic views of grace, they yet willingly retain those doctrines respecting it, without which the character of Christianity cannot be preserved. The grace of God, according to them, determines the beginning, the progress, and the consummation of all good. Their articles of belief on these points are nearly identical with the Catholic; and therefore, like the Council of Trent, they speak of a resuscitating grace, which only awakens the dormant powers yet existing in fallen man, in opposition to the Lutheran theory…’ (Symbolism: Exposition of the Doctrinal Differences between Catholics and Protestants as Evidenced by their Symbolical Writings, trans. James B. Robertson [rpr. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997] 501).
127 This can seen from Miley’s statement: ‘We hold fully the helplessness of man for any religious duty simply on the footing of nature. Such is the doctrine of our article of religion on this question [Article viii, Of Free Will]. But, with this doctrine of native powerlessness for any spiritual duty, we hold the doctrine of a universal helping grace. This we have pointed out, and also verified by our best authorities. The necessary grace for the present probation is an immediate benefit of the atonement, and the possession or the privilege of every man. This is the Arminian position.’ (II:247)
128 J. L. Girardeau, Calvinism and Evangelical Arminianism, 159.
129 Pope, A Compendium of Christian Theology, II:365. Pope should have taken a course in logic. One cannot merely assume the very position he seeks to prove. If something is taken for granted, then it cannot itself be the sufficient evidence.