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Thread: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

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    Senior Member Thomas Oord's Avatar

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    More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    Friends,

    Don Thorsen forwarded me an interesting graph published in the January edition of Christianity Today. The graph shows that more pastors today identify themselves as Wesleyan/Arminian than Reformed. (I assume these are pastors in the U.S., but I'm not sure.)

    Even more interesting, the largest margin of pastors who identify as Wesleyan/Arminian is in the 27-45-year-old range.

    I'm not sure what this means, but perhaps it's a sign of hope that the general form of theology we hold dear on Naznet is now becoming more influential than the form of theology we often criticize on Naznet.

    Tom

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    Tom,

    Is this the graph?



    Here's the associated article.

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    Senior Member Rich Schmidt's Avatar

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    Quote Originally Posted by Hal Paul View Post
    Here's the associated article.
    A couple of highlights from that article:

    For the past decade the Barna Group has been tracking the percentage of Protestant pastors who identify their church as "Calvinist or Reformed." Currently, about three out of every 10 Protestant leaders say this phrase accurately describes their church (31%). This proportion is statistically unchanged from a decade ago (32%). In fact, an examination of a series of studies among active clergy during the past decade indicates that the proportion that embraces the Reformed label has remained flat over the last 10 years.

    Pastors who embrace the term "Wesleyan or Arminian" currently account for 32% of the Protestant church landscape – the same as those who claim to be Reformed. The proportion of Wesleyan/Arminian pastors is down slightly from 37% in 2000. There has been less consistency related to this label during the past decade, with the tracking figures ranging from a low of 26% to a high of 37%.
    Kinnaman, who serves as Barna Group president, concluded, "there is no discernable evidence from this research that there is a Reformed shift among U.S. congregation leaders over the last decade. Whatever momentum surrounds Reformed churches and the related leaders, events and associations has not gone much outside traditional boundaries or affected the allegiances of most of today's church leaders. It is important to note that the influence of Reformed churches might also be measured through other metrics that are currently unavailable, such as the theological certainty of self-described adherents, their level of acceptance toward those who are not Calvinist, and the new methods Reformed leaders are using to market their views to their peers and to the public.

    "Nevertheless, the research shows that many pastors do not necessarily conform to traditional doctrinal perspectives when it comes to how they think about or operate in their ministries. In other words, most of the nation's 300,000 Protestant churches are in a state of theological flux, apparently open to identities and trends that do not necessarily fall within expected denominational or doctrinal boundaries. Given this profile, we expect that new theological, relational, as well as methodological networks that emerge will redefine the Protestant landscape over the next decade."

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    Senior Member Thomas Oord's Avatar

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    Yeah, that looks like the graph Don sent me...

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    Senior Member Thomas Oord's Avatar

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    Thanks, Rich.

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    Full Member Kevin Jackson's Avatar

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    Arminian theologian Roger Olson is suspicious of the results. He argues that the "Calvinist Resurgence" is not growing among pastors, but that it's a grassroots movement growing among college age students. These students are not yet leaders and pastors, so they are not reflected in the survey. But some day they will be leaders.
    Thanks Susan Unger, David Graham, Thomas Oord, Todd Erickson - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Benjamin Burch's Avatar

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Jackson View Post
    Arminian theologian Roger Olson is suspicious of the results. He argues that the "Calvinist Resurgence" is not growing among pastors, but that it's a grassroots movement growing among college age students. These students are not yet leaders and pastors, so they are not reflected in the survey. But some day they will be leaders.
    I think he's right. I think that, in general, the "literal" hermeneutic lends itself to Reformed thought, especially through dense, difficult passages such as Romans 9. Also, the logic of "justice" in Western thought makes PST make perfect sense, and when taken to its logical end it doesn't make much sense with Arminian thought. In my experience these combinations have led many young, conservative Christians with a generic Evangelical view of the Bible to embrace Calvinism as the most coherent, defensible position. Add to that an amazing Pastor and Pastoral thinker like John Piper, and you get some very powerful backing that is hard to disagree with. Who doesn't like John Piper? I can't stand a lot of his theology, but I could listen to him preach forever, and I certainly love his pastoral concern which dominates so much of what he says.

    These are the things that I have seen urge a lot of young folk towards Reformed Theology. They may not be the reasons for the growth, although it seems that the things I've read suggest it is.
    - Ben

    Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death! And to those in the tombs, bestowing life!
    Χριστὸς ἀνέστη ἐκ νεκρῶν, θανάτῳ θάνατον πατήσας! καὶ τοῖς ἐν τοῖς μνήμασι, ζωὴν χαρισάμενος!

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    Host Book, Movie & CE forums Ryan Scott's Avatar

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    Yeah, I was thinking about this when I heard it announced that Francis Chan will be a featured speaker at NYC this year. Most of the reaction seemed to be positive. I'm frustrated. I know Chan has lots of good things to say and he's a popular guy right now. There's a lot to like about him. However he's thoroughly reformed in his views and for teenagers, who are really just forming their understanding of theological foundation, this seems misplaced. We should be seeking to build a Wesleyan perspective from a young age.
    ...just my $.02.

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    Senior Member Eric Frey's Avatar

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    Quote Originally Posted by ryan scott View Post
    yeah, i was thinking about this when i heard it announced that francis chan will be a featured speaker at nyc this year. Most of the reaction seemed to be positive. I'm frustrated. I know chan has lots of good things to say and he's a popular guy right now. There's a lot to like about him. However he's thoroughly reformed in his views and for teenagers, who are really just forming their understanding of theological foundation, this seems misplaced. We should be seeking to build a wesleyan perspective from a young age.
    thank you!!!!
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    Senior Member Todd Erickson's Avatar

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    "Crazy Love" is making the rounds here in Arkansas, but just opening up the first page or two, it was apparent that the author is talking to a Reformed audience.

    Which makes the fact that it's so welcome by Nazarenes here in Arkansas all the more striking.
    Thanks Thomas Oord, Benjamin Burch - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Paul DeBaufer's Avatar

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Scott View Post
    Yeah, I was thinking about this when I heard it announced that Francis Chan will be a featured speaker at NYC this year. Most of the reaction seemed to be positive. I'm frustrated. I know Chan has lots of good things to say and he's a popular guy right now. There's a lot to like about him. However he's thoroughly reformed in his views and for teenagers, who are really just forming their understanding of theological foundation, this seems misplaced. We should be seeking to build a Wesleyan perspective from a young age.
    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Erickson View Post
    "Crazy Love" is making the rounds here in Arkansas, but just opening up the first page or two, it was apparent that the author is talking to a Reformed audience.

    Which makes the fact that it's so welcome by Nazarenes here in Arkansas all the more striking.
    I have seen Crazy Love make the rounds of Nazarene youth groups here as well. This then begs the question, Is Wesleyan/Arminian theology being replaced within the CotN? I know that it was at the church I came to Christ in and I have moved on to a Methodist church, because for me theology IS important.
    You can be right or you can be in relationship
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    Full Member Ed DiSante's Avatar

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    What about the long-standing practice of Nazarene Sunday Schools using the David Cook Sunday School Materials?

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    Senior Member Benjamin Burch's Avatar

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed DiSante View Post
    What about the long-standing practice of Nazarene Sunday Schools using the David Cook Sunday School Materials?
    What about them? (that is a serious question, not sarcasm).

    I don't know anything about them, or about him. I'm wondering what you mean by your question, and I would need a little more context/information before I could even hope to answer it. Thanks, Ed.
    - Ben

    Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death! And to those in the tombs, bestowing life!
    Χριστὸς ἀνέστη ἐκ νεκρῶν, θανάτῳ θάνατον πατήσας! καὶ τοῖς ἐν τοῖς μνήμασι, ζωὴν χαρισάμενος!

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    Senior Member Todd Erickson's Avatar

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    I'm guessing he means this guy (not sure what's up with the change in last name within Amazon):
    http://www.amazon.com/David-C.-Cook/...ntt_dp_epwbk_1

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul DeBaufer View Post
    I have seen Crazy Love make the rounds of Nazarene youth groups here as well. This then begs the question, Is Wesleyan/Arminian theology being replaced within the CotN? I know that it was at the church I came to Christ in and I have moved on to a Methodist church, because for me theology IS important.
    I know guys like Mark Driscoll have explicitly set out (and publicly stated) their aim of appealing to young people with a radical form of strong Calvinism. As I've said, some of the things they say are fantastic, but the theological foundation is, in my view, bad exegesis, and certainly contrary to Wesleyan thought.

    I really would like to write to NYI to express these thoughts, but I'm not sure I want to be "that guy."
    ...just my $.02.
    Thanks Paul DeBaufer - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Todd Erickson's Avatar

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Scott View Post
    I know guys like Mark Driscoll have explicitly set out (and publicly stated) their aim of appealing to young people with a radical form of strong Calvinism. As I've said, some of the things they say are fantastic, but the theological foundation is, in my view, bad exegesis, and certainly contrary to Wesleyan thought.

    I really would like to write to NYI to express these thoughts, but I'm not sure I want to be "that guy."
    Check out Matt Chandler as well.

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    Senior Member Benjamin Burch's Avatar

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Erickson View Post
    I'm guessing he means this guy (not sure what's up with the change in last name within Amazon):
    http://www.amazon.com/David-C.-Cook/...ntt_dp_epwbk_1
    I'm still curious as to "what about them?"
    - Ben

    Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death! And to those in the tombs, bestowing life!
    Χριστὸς ἀνέστη ἐκ νεκρῶν, θανάτῳ θάνατον πατήσας! καὶ τοῖς ἐν τοῖς μνήμασι, ζωὴν χαρισάμενος!

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    Senior Member Cam Pence's Avatar

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    From what I am seeing and convos I have had with my brother (a HUGE fan of everyone mentioned above), I think a younger generation is really attracted to the solidarity the "new Calvinists" hold in reformed theology. That is really all they need to agree on and the rest of non essential. (I know this is a sweeping statement and there are exceptions to every rule, but I am simply making a general statement based on my limited knowledge of what I see going on). While I can't speak for other Wesleyan denominations, it seems we certainly lack this kind of solidarity in agreeing on what is distinctly Wesleyan in our denomination and I think it goes a bit deeper than the usual concerned vs. postmodern fiasco. Our denomination is, or seems to be, severely divided on what Wesleyan theology really looks like and I can see how that might not be appealing to a younger generation who is seeking that kind of solidarity. Of course like I said, I have not done research on the subject and am only commenting based on what I have seen. Am I way off base here?
    "Love without holiness disintegrates into sentimentality. Personal integrity is lost. But holiness without love is not holiness at all. In spite of its label, it displays harshness, judgmentalism, a critical spirit, and all its capacity for discrimination end in nit-picking and divisiveness."-Mildred Bangs Wynkoop

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    Senior Member Benjamin Burch's Avatar

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    Quote Originally Posted by Cam Pence View Post
    From what I am seeing and convos I have had with my brother (a HUGE fan of everyone mentioned above), I think a younger generation is really attracted to the solidarity the "new Calvinists" hold in reformed theology. That is really all they need to agree on and the rest of non essential. (I know this is a sweeping statement and there are exceptions to every rule, but I am simply making a general statement based on my limited knowledge of what I see going on). While I can't speak for other Wesleyan denominations, it seems we certainly lack this kind of solidarity in agreeing on what is distinctly Wesleyan in our denomination and I think it goes a bit deeper than the usual concerned vs. postmodern fiasco. Our denomination is, or seems to be, severely divided on what Wesleyan theology really looks like and I can see how that might not be appealing to a younger generation who is seeking that kind of solidarity. Of course like I said, I have not done research on the subject and am only commenting based on what I have seen. Am I way off base here?
    I think you're on-base, and I think it draws with it a certain "essential" that is "non-essential" for us and is easily the biggest point of contention/division. The Scriptural authority and their "inerrancy."

    If you can subscribe to Calvinism, the only thing that can possibly make sense is an inerrant Scriptures. Certainly the God expressed in Calvinism would have taken care of that matter! The majority of people (clearly not all) who do not spend their time studying and training for ministry, etc, have a very hard time accepting "errors" because they're very hard to deal with. Most want an inerrant Scripture and fight to believe in it and have their church community believe in it. It is the fundamental issue at the bottom of all the division in our Church, and in Calvinist circles it's never an issue.

    So, I don't think we have more fighting or problems with "non-essentials", I think it's that one of the most important "essentials" for the large majority of Evangelical Christians is a non-essential for us, and this is unacceptable for many folks.

    Again, I think if we start with an inerrant Scriptures, and a God who takes care of all of that "understanding" stuff, it's a very short step towards affirming a "literal" hermeneutic. Not to mention most in Evangelicalism would have wanted to start there anyhow. The rest really follows in my opinion. There is no way out of John 6 or Romans 9 if you're reading it "literally"**.

    ** I use "" around the word literally because it's really not a fair term. The actual literal reading is the one which any author intended. Also, Romans 9 is not non-literal per se.
    - Ben

    Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death! And to those in the tombs, bestowing life!
    Χριστὸς ἀνέστη ἐκ νεκρῶν, θανάτῳ θάνατον πατήσας! καὶ τοῖς ἐν τοῖς μνήμασι, ζωὴν χαρισάμενος!
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    Senior Member David Morris's Avatar

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Erickson View Post
    "Crazy Love" is making the rounds here in Arkansas, but just opening up the first page or two, it was apparent that the author is talking to a Reformed audience.

    Which makes the fact that it's so welcome by Nazarenes here in Arkansas all the more striking.
    What in the first page or two makes it apparent that the author is talking to a reformed audience?

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    Senior Member Todd Erickson's Avatar

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    Quote Originally Posted by David Morris View Post
    What in the first page or two makes it apparent that the author is talking to a reformed audience?
    I would have to get ahold of a copy to tell you, but the language is precisely how somebody would talk to one of the many Baptist churches I've attended.

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    Senior Member David Morris's Avatar

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Erickson View Post
    I would have to get ahold of a copy to tell you, but the language is precisely how somebody would talk to one of the many Baptist churches I've attended.
    Sounds good. A bible study I participate in went through the DVD study of Crazy Love, and we throughly enjoyed it. Not only did it stir up some great conversations, it spurred us towards action. That was months ago, and there are still things we bring up from it.

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    Full Member Ed DiSante's Avatar

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    Quote Originally Posted by Benjamin Burch View Post
    I'm still curious as to "what about them?"
    Sorry Ben---Many Nazarene Churches use David Cook publishing for their Sunday School because it is cheaper and until recently had more "Glitz" than did Pub House. They are a Baptist Publishing House and the Calvinistic message comes through very clearly and gets ingrained into the minds of our youngest SS Kids
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    Senior Member Benjamin Burch's Avatar

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed DiSante View Post
    Sorry Ben---Many Nazarene Churches use David Cook publishing for their Sunday School because it is cheaper and until recently had more "Glitz" than did Pub House. They are a Baptist Publishing House and the Calvinistic message comes through very clearly and gets ingrained into the minds of our youngest SS Kids
    Ed,

    Thank you very much for taking the time to explain that! I would definitely say this is a problem!
    - Ben

    Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death! And to those in the tombs, bestowing life!
    Χριστὸς ἀνέστη ἐκ νεκρῶν, θανάτῳ θάνατον πατήσας! καὶ τοῖς ἐν τοῖς μνήμασι, ζωὴν χαρισάμενος!
    Thanks Shea Zellweger - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Cam Pence's Avatar

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed DiSante View Post
    Sorry Ben---Many Nazarene Churches use David Cook publishing for their Sunday School because it is cheaper and until recently had more "Glitz" than did Pub House. They are a Baptist Publishing House and the Calvinistic message comes through very clearly and gets ingrained into the minds of our youngest SS Kids
    as far as them being baptist, i'll take your word for it, but david c. cook press is an interdenominational publishing house. they produce reformed material such as "reformation press", as well as wesleyan material such as "wesley" magazine and others such as "anglican edition". i do not immediately see a leaning toward one over the other. (this is not to say there is not one, however from the website, it would not appear so.) here is the link check out under "curriculum". http://www.davidccook.com/curriculum/Wesley/
    "Love without holiness disintegrates into sentimentality. Personal integrity is lost. But holiness without love is not holiness at all. In spite of its label, it displays harshness, judgmentalism, a critical spirit, and all its capacity for discrimination end in nit-picking and divisiveness."-Mildred Bangs Wynkoop
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    Senior Member Cam Pence's Avatar

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    now if our nazarene churches are using the reformation press material, than the problem probably is not with david c. cook.
    "Love without holiness disintegrates into sentimentality. Personal integrity is lost. But holiness without love is not holiness at all. In spite of its label, it displays harshness, judgmentalism, a critical spirit, and all its capacity for discrimination end in nit-picking and divisiveness."-Mildred Bangs Wynkoop
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    Full Member Kevin Jackson's Avatar

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    There is no way out of John 6 or Romans 9 if you're reading it "literally"**
    Ben, good thoughts here, however, I would disagree that Romans 9 or John 6 have a "literal" hermeneutic that is Reformed. There are some excellent "literal" and contextual Wesleyan interpretations of these passages.

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    Senior Member Benjamin Burch's Avatar

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Jackson View Post
    Ben, good thoughts here, however, I would disagree that Romans 9 or John 6 have a "literal" hermeneutic that is Reformed. There are some excellent "literal" and contextual Wesleyan interpretations of these passages.
    That is why I tried to qualify "literal". I am thinking of the most straightforward reading of the text without doing study and looking beneath the bare surface. Certainly the words as they appear literally can work with Wesleyan theology bit it takes a little bit more time, attention, and thought. At least this seems to be my impression. I could always be wrong! Would not be the first time. I promise!
    - Ben

    Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death! And to those in the tombs, bestowing life!
    Χριστὸς ἀνέστη ἐκ νεκρῶν, θανάτῳ θάνατον πατήσας! καὶ τοῖς ἐν τοῖς μνήμασι, ζωὴν χαρισάμενος!
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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Oord View Post
    Friends,

    Don Thorsen forwarded me an interesting graph published in the January edition of Christianity Today. The graph shows that more pastors today identify themselves as Wesleyan/Arminian than Reformed. (I assume these are pastors in the U.S., but I'm not sure.)

    Even more interesting, the largest margin of pastors who identify as Wesleyan/Arminian is in the 27-45-year-old range.

    I'm not sure what this means, but perhaps it's a sign of hope that the general form of theology we hold dear on Naznet is now becoming more influential than the form of theology we often criticize on Naznet.

    Tom
    Tom, according to one 7 day Adventist we may want to add them to Wesleyan/Arminan group" http://www.adventistbiblicalresearch...ments/wesleyan this is mix up and all url I try does work so just google 7 day adventist and Wesleyan I think you will it interesting
    Thanks
    LP

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    Host Book, Movie & CE forums Ryan Scott's Avatar

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    Quote Originally Posted by David Morris View Post
    Sounds good. A bible study I participate in went through the DVD study of Crazy Love, and we throughly enjoyed it. Not only did it stir up some great conversations, it spurred us towards action. That was months ago, and there are still things we bring up from it.
    Our congregation used it as well, with great results. However it was done through the lens of a Wesleyan perspective, where some of his assumptions were countered and replaced by others. I think the words and example of Francis Chan, perhaps more than any other mainstream popular speaker these days, have challenging things to say to us and the Church. I just have issue with the fact that we're exposing teenagers to a speaker whose theological foundation is contrary to our own. It's difficult enough, as you well know, to introduce teenagers to concepts that are open ended, as they are just beginning to be able to handle those things in their intellectual development. It becomes even more difficult to do so when someone else is teaching something similar with a more black and white foundation.

    I'm not saying he's heretical or a bad speaker, just that exposing Wesleyan teenagers to an unfiltered message from someone so thoroughly Calvinist can be confusing and really detrimental to spiritual formation in the Wesleyan tradition.
    ...just my $.02.
    Thanks Benjamin Burch, Paul DeBaufer, Susan Unger - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Benjamin Burch's Avatar

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Scott View Post
    Our congregation used it as well, with great results. However it was done through the lens of a Wesleyan perspective, where some of his assumptions were countered and replaced by others. I think the words and example of Francis Chan, perhaps more than any other mainstream popular speaker these days, have challenging things to say to us and the Church. I just have issue with the fact that we're exposing teenagers to a speaker whose theological foundation is contrary to our own. It's difficult enough, as you well know, to introduce teenagers to concepts that are open ended, as they are just beginning to be able to handle those things in their intellectual development. It becomes even more difficult to do so when someone else is teaching something similar with a more black and white foundation.

    I'm not saying he's heretical or a bad speaker, just that exposing Wesleyan teenagers to an unfiltered message from someone so thoroughly Calvinist can be confusing and really detrimental to spiritual formation in the Wesleyan tradition.
    ^^^ this.

    I have no doubt that Francis Chan has great things to say. I know for a fact that John Piper has great things to say. But it needs to be presented in a Wesleyan context, where we're open about where we believe Piper/Chan are wrong, and what we believe.
    - Ben

    Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death! And to those in the tombs, bestowing life!
    Χριστὸς ἀνέστη ἐκ νεκρῶν, θανάτῳ θάνατον πατήσας! καὶ τοῖς ἐν τοῖς μνήμασι, ζωὴν χαρισάμενος!
    Thanks Paul DeBaufer, Ed DiSante, Greg Farra - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Benjamin Burch's Avatar

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    Quote Originally Posted by Cam Pence View Post
    now if our nazarene churches are using the reformation press material, than the problem probably is not with david c. cook.
    Thanks, Cam. I think this is a very important point. I've seen countless churches and small groups use stuff that just simply shocked me. The problem was certainly not with the publishers, but with a people who have so sold out to the Evangelical world that we seem to have forgotten exactly who we are and what we believe. That's part of the problem I see with the concerned crowd. I have no problem with them believing what they want to believe, but we have never been that Church. But we got so involved in the generic Evangelical mix and the Church growth movement for so long that except for holiness, people really seemed to sort of lose who we were and see ourselves as another one of those Evangelical churches.
    - Ben

    Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death! And to those in the tombs, bestowing life!
    Χριστὸς ἀνέστη ἐκ νεκρῶν, θανάτῳ θάνατον πατήσας! καὶ τοῖς ἐν τοῖς μνήμασι, ζωὴν χαρισάμενος!

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    Senior Member David Morris's Avatar

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Scott View Post
    Our congregation used it as well, with great results. However it was done through the lens of a Wesleyan perspective, where some of his assumptions were countered and replaced by others. I think the words and example of Francis Chan, perhaps more than any other mainstream popular speaker these days, have challenging things to say to us and the Church. I just have issue with the fact that we're exposing teenagers to a speaker whose theological foundation is contrary to our own. It's difficult enough, as you well know, to introduce teenagers to concepts that are open ended, as they are just beginning to be able to handle those things in their intellectual development. It becomes even more difficult to do so when someone else is teaching something similar with a more black and white foundation.

    I'm not saying he's heretical or a bad speaker, just that exposing Wesleyan teenagers to an unfiltered message from someone so thoroughly Calvinist can be confusing and really detrimental to spiritual formation in the Wesleyan tradition.
    Good words Ryan. However, I am hard pressed to find a Wesleyan teenager, and for that matter, a Calvinist one. Not to say they don't exist, but a 14-18 year old that can clearly explain their beliefs and theological position is the exception, not the norm. Perhaps in my own context it is due to my shortcomings as a pastor/teacher...I don't know, but I'm sure that plays a role. I'm sure some teenagers could tell you what a Wesleyan believes, but that doesn't mean they have owned it.


    Quote Originally Posted by Benjamin Burch View Post
    I have no doubt that Francis Chan has great things to say. I know for a fact that John Piper has great things to say. But it needs to be presented in a Wesleyan context, where we're open about where we believe Piper/Chan are wrong, and what we believe.
    Using Crazy Love as the source, could you list some areas where Francis is wrong? Sorry to make it sound like a term paper, not my intention. I will admit that I wouldn't have a problem recommending a student to read it. Not sure if that ruffles anyones feathers.

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    Senior Member Benjamin Burch's Avatar

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    Quote Originally Posted by David Morris View Post
    Good words Ryan. However, I am hard pressed to find a Wesleyan teenager, and for that matter, a Calvinist one. Not to say they don't exist, but a 14-18 year old that can clearly explain their beliefs and theological position is the exception, not the norm. Perhaps in my own context it is due to my shortcomings as a pastor/teacher...I don't know, but I'm sure that plays a role. I'm sure some teenagers could tell you what a Wesleyan believes, but that doesn't mean they have owned it.




    Using Crazy Love as the source, could you list some areas where Francis is wrong? Sorry to make it sound like a term paper, not my intention. I will admit that I wouldn't have a problem recommending a student to read it. Not sure if that ruffles anyones feathers.
    I'm simply using Francis Chan as a reference since everyone else seems to think so. I don't know anything about him. Consider him a name which I use in place of any other applicable one, as an example, in the context of this discussion.

    My bigger issue is the John MacArthurs and Albert Mohlers. Those two get way too much attention.
    - Ben

    Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death! And to those in the tombs, bestowing life!
    Χριστὸς ἀνέστη ἐκ νεκρῶν, θανάτῳ θάνατον πατήσας! καὶ τοῖς ἐν τοῖς μνήμασι, ζωὴν χαρισάμενος!

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    Host Book, Movie & CE forums Ryan Scott's Avatar

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    Quote Originally Posted by David Morris View Post
    Good words Ryan. However, I am hard pressed to find a Wesleyan teenager, and for that matter, a Calvinist one. Not to say they don't exist, but a 14-18 year old that can clearly explain their beliefs and theological position is the exception, not the norm.
    That's exactly my point. Teenagers don't have a theological foundation yet; they're forming one, usually subconsciously, through the things they hear from others. I really like most of what Francis Chan has to say, and very little of his overt words bother me. The problem is in his implied reasoning and the theological foundation with which he makes those claims. I can agree with his conclusion and disagree with his rationale because I've built a Wesleyan theological foundation that gives me other resources to use in approaching some of these issues. Teenagers generally do not have these resources, as you've said. That's my issue. Chan speaks the language of love over justice or wrath in ways I've not seen in many Calvinist speakers, but he's still doing so from a basis of substitutionary atonement and unconditional election. He doesn't emphasis those elements overtly in his speaking and writing, but a couple of critical questions leads one rationally back to that place.

    So I don't have a problem using his stuff (although there's better, more Wesleyan stuff out there), but I do think its important to do so through a Wesleyan filter, where we emphasize love from a slightly different theological perspective. This is especially important for teenagers who haven't built the foundation for these conclusions yet. We generally work backward when learning our theology, from conclusions to rationale. It's a natural process, but one we need to be careful with if we're being intentional about forming people in Wesleyan ways.
    ...just my $.02.
    Thanks David Morris, Benjamin Burch, Rich Schmidt, Susan Unger - "thanks" for this post

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    I am actually very happy to see this thread. When I was in my teens I could not really tell you the difference in theology between Wesleyan and Calvinist, except for free will. I would have have been more likely to go to a baptist church and agree as well as going to a Nazarene church and agreeing without even knowing the difference. I think it is very important to who we let our children and teens be influenced by unless we want them to be a nice mixture of each and not know which way is up or down later on in life. I know for me if I had not gone to SNU I would probably be so upside down and inside out now that I would be going to a baptist church thinking it was Nazarene. I will agree with Ben that one of the big issues is the in-errancy debate and doing a little research into how the word go place into our statements is even more interesting.
    "Means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek."

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    Re: More Wesleyan/Arminian Pastors than Reformed Pastors

    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Oord View Post
    Friends,

    Don Thorsen forwarded me an interesting graph published in the January edition of Christianity Today. The graph shows that more pastors today identify themselves as Wesleyan/Arminian than Reformed.
    Tom
    Tom, What do you what think of this? Adventist Theology: The Wesleyan Connection Woodrow W. Whidden Andrews University Thanks Larry
    While it is true that Adventist theology does not seem to be exclusively indebted to any one major Protestant theological tradition, the present article will argue that the more immediate and essentially formative baseline has been provided by the Wesleyan/Arminian Tradition. It is quite clear that there are distinct emphases in the Adventist tradition, especially when it comes to eschatology (such as imminence of the Second Coming and the Millennium). These eschatological accents arose out of the broad impulse of American millennialist concern in the early Nineteenth Century. Furthermore, there are some clear strands that have come down to the Seventh-day Adventist theological tradition from the Lutheran, Reformed/Calvinistic, Radical Reformation (Anabaptist), Puritan, Pietistic, and Restorationist Traditions. But I am suggesting that the way Wesleyans understood issues involved with soteriology and the closely related issues of the nature of man, law, and sin were most directly formative for the core of Adventist theology.
    Other formative issues with a Wesleyan flavor concern Adventist theological methodology, Trinitarianism, the way Biblical authority is understood and used, and church organization. This paper, however, will concentrate on salvation issues. These Wesleyan soteriological influences found their most notable witness in Ellen White. Under the broad category of soteriology, the most notable concepts deal with divine calling and election, and the ways justification and sanctification are taught, related and emphasized. With Wesleyans, Adventist have especially wanted to speak of salvation by grace through faith alone, but such a sola gratia, sola fide vision is intimately connected with an emphasis on faith understood as active participation in God's grace. And such a participating faith receives this grace in a responsible way. This conception of faith and grace has given strong emphasis to a vision (version) of Sanctification which involves extensive character transformation. It should come as no surprise that such an emphasis has led to a carefully nuanced understanding of perfection. What follows will be a preliminary analysis of these major perspectives, seeking to demonstrate how these Wesleyan/Arminian influences have affected Adventist theological formation.Human Nature and Sin While Adventists have not been comfortable with the Augustinian/Calvinistic understanding of original sin, taught in terms of original guilt, we are very much in what could be termed the "total depravity" tradition. John Wesley clearly argued for "original sin" as original guilt; but due to the effects of "prevenient grace" this guilt was canceled and the basic ability to freely respond to God's redemptive initiatives (popularly known as "free will") was recreated in the individual soul.[4]
    Redemptive Calling and Prevenient Grace Wesley always spoke of the redemptive response of the penitent as the fruit of free grace which was "preveniently" bestowed by the calling, convicting and converting work of the Holy Spirit. But it was always calling and conviction which took human freedom very seriously and sought to avoid the deterministic, predestinarian categories of Calvinism.[5] The concept of "prevenient grace" was one of Wesley's more finely nuanced teachings; but the essence of it goes like this: God comes to awaken sinners to a realization of His redemptive love and their great need caused by sin—both original and habitual. Such an understanding has helped Wesleyans avoid the extremes of deterministic Calvinism and Pelagianism.[6] This perspective understands that sinners do not naturally seek for God, but that He earnestly seeks for them to come into a redemptive relationship with Him. Such gracious seeking "creates" a proto-renewal which enables the convicted soul to respond to God's redemptive offer. While Adventist theology has not usually used the technical term "prevenient grace," its evangelical Arminianism certainly expresses the essence of the concept.Justification and Sanctification in Balance Wesley's teaching on justification by grace through faith alone was clearly in the Protestant tradition. His views stoutly opposed any concept that smacked of works righteousness as the ground of acceptance. He was opposed to the Augustinian/Tridentine version of justification which understood divine acquittal and forgiveness as the fruit of an infused righteousness. In other words, in the order of salvation, justification and sanctification are two closely related facets of redeeming grace, but facets that must be clearly distinguished.[8] While Wesley understood the priority of justification (logically, not temporally), he saw it as not just the door to sanctification, but its essential, constant accompaniment. He, however, was wary of the way that Protestants (especially the Reformed/Calvinistic wing of the 18th Century English Evangelical Revival) used the concept of the "imputed righteousness of Christ." The reason for his sense of discomfort (sometimes almost churlish opposition) was the way he perceived the Calvinists were using the concept to denigrate sanctification and open the door to both theological and practical antinomian attitudes and behavior. In other words, while Wesley was clear that justification granted gracious acceptance through the pardon of past sins, he was uncomfortable with the implications of the teaching that the life of Christ (His active obedience) was imputed, or reckoned to the believers account to "cover" present sins. He felt that such a concept of imputed righteousness imperiled sanctification. Many in the English Evangelical Revival were claiming that since Christ covers their present actions, sins included, therefore they need not be concerned with overcoming sin. For Wesley, justification by faith alone must be accompanied by sanctification by grace through faith. Such a vision of Christian life is certainly much more participatory than the conceptions of Calvin and especially his Reformed Scholastic heirs. In other words, for Wesley, believers "are pardoned in order to participate; the thought that pardoned believers could abdicate the life of active appropriation of Christ's character through the workings of the Holy Spirit was simply anathema to Wesley. Such a participatory model of Christian experience is better understood as a "way" of life rather than an order or series of discreet redemptive events having little causative relationship with one another. In this vein, Randy Maddox has argued that Wesley's view is better expressed as a via salutis rather than the more Reformed/Scholastic expression ordo salutis. This "way" of salvation involves distinct way-stops, but each one is intimately related to what has happened at previous stops and prepares the way for future events and pauses in the march to the kingdom. Maddox has probably caught the spirit of this via salutis imagery with his characterization of Wesley's key theological organizing principle as "responsible grace." What Maddox means by this is that each pause on the way of salvation is not only vitally related to what goes on before and after, but the work of God at each waystop calls for an appropriate "response" from the believer which will manifest itself in graciously "responsible" behavior—morally, spiritually, and socially. God's prevenient awakening and conviction are calls meant to elicit a "response" to God's pardon and pardon calls for "responsible" (as opposed to irresponsible) transforming participation. This "responsive" participation will result in "responsible" growth in grace that leads to fullness of transforming grace—Christian perfection.
    The resonance that such Wesleyan categories has with what one finds in Steps to Christ is quite striking. Adventism, under the powerful influence of the very Wesleyan Ellen White, has not been comfortable with emphases in salvation teaching which tend to denigrate either salvation by grace through faith alone or the importance of obedience and sanctification. Along with Wesley, we have sought to hold together both justification and sanctification. We have wanted to speak of salvation in terms of both juridical, or forensic metaphors (justification, satisfaction of divine justice, and judgment) and healing or therapeutic metaphors (reconciliation, recovery from sinful infection and participation with the Great Physician). Ellen White's presentations on justification and sanctification are for all practical purposes nearly identical to Wesley's. While she was not as reticent as Wesley in using such terms as "imputation" and the "covering" of Christ's righteousness, the differences in their respective understandings of justification by faith amount to mere theological quibbles or a "strife about words." Although the comparison of their thinking on sanctification and perfection calls for a more nuanced treatment than does justification, the gist of what they strove to express bear striking similarities. A brief outline of Wesley's teachings on sanctification and perfection will prove helpful. Sanctification and Perfection The appropriate response of the penitent to God's offer of regenerating pardon is transforming participation. Such character transformation had much more to do with an attenuated process than it did with discreet events. In other words, Wesley saw sanctification as a dynamic experience of growth in grace. But he did not exclude the necessity of reaching an important, instantaneous waymark which he variously referred to as "entire sanctification," "perfection," "Christian perfection," "perfect love," "holiness," and "fullness of faith." This waymark or state could be reached quite early in the "way", but more normally came after a lengthy walk with God—usually just The key to understanding the dynamics of perfection as a second, distinct work of grace, is to grasp Wesley's dualistic anthropology and his distinction between "sins proper" and "sins improper." Regarding his anthropology, Wesley made clear distinctions between soul and body. While the body was certainly affected by sin, the very seat of original sin was in the soul. What was understood to happen in the moment of perfection is that original sin was deemed to be eradicated. The practical result of this eradication was that the perfected would no longer feel the promptings of inward sin and the result would be that "sins proper" would no longer be manifest. What Wesley meant by "sins proper" was that there would no longer be willful sin of any kind. To choose to sin would cause a free-fall from grace. There, however, could (and usually would) still be "sins improper;" these were understood as nameless defects and lapses due to the lingering infirmities produced by the effects of sin. While these "sins improper" still needed pardoning grace, they were not in the same culpable category as the "sins proper."
    Such nuanced definitions amounted to a "mortal" sins versus "venial" sins distinction. Put another way, sins "proper" would be the freely chosen, high-handed sins of habit, presumption and rebellion, while sins "improper" would be more in the category of benign neglect, fruits of infirmity (forgetfulness, lack of knowledge, etc)—the blind side hits of life. Stated more positively, the perfected were full of love, praise, joy, humility, and rich in works of charity, service and obedience. But such an experience was subject to loss if the perfected believer did not persevere in a trusting participation in God's imputed and imparted grace. Ellen White, along with Wesley, wanted to emphasize sanctification as a process (a via), not simply a single event. In contrast with Wesley, however, her writings are replete with warnings about teaching sanctification as an instantaneous experience. Her favorite expression is that it is the "work of a lifetime." She tended to speak not in terms of eradicating original sin, but of gaining victory over sinful tendencies and habits.While Wesley never used the term "sinless perfection" to describe the state of the perfected, many understood it to be such and the door was opened to numerous bouts with fanatical perfectionism.[13] But for all practical purposes (minus the instantaneous eradication of original sin—possibly to be likened to the extraction of a rotten tooth),[14] Ellen White used most of Wesley's essential categories: a strong accenting of sanctification as process and the distinction between willful sin and the incidental sins of immaturity and infirmity. My own research into Ellen White's understanding of salvation has certainly revealed that her major emphasis, both by dent of theological accent and sheer bulk of literature, was on sanctification, perfection and character transformation.Many Adventists, especially those more directly influenced by Reformationist (especially Reformed/Calvinistic) categories are somewhat troubled by these holiness emphases. But what they really seek to preserve with their emphasis on Reformationist categories is an emphasis on justification by faith alone. Furthermore, what they want to avoid is anything that smacks of tendencies toward legalistic, salvation by works or the subtle inroads from Trent. I would suggest that when both White and Wesley are clearly understood, all of the "faith alone" categories that they would ever want to argue for are present. But they are not accompanied by such antinomian temptations presented by irresistible election and perseverance and the presumptuous use of such expressions as the "imputed righteousness of Christ." In other words, salvation is understood to be by grace through faith alone (not by works), but the nature of true salvation (in Christ) is that such a faith will never be alone. Participation in the grace of Christ will always lead to the fruits of faith—loving obedience, service, joyous witness and worship. Wesley's Synthesis and the "Investigative Judgment"The genius of Wesley's theological effort was to create a carefully drawn synthesis of the juridical categories of the Latin West (filtered through Luther and Calvin, especially Calvin) with the therapeutic categories of the Eastern Tradition.One other important fruit of this synthesis needs elaboration. While Wesley did not greatly inform Adventist eschatology, his emphasis on responsible grace led to his articulation of a concept which he designated as "final justification" or "final salvation."[15] This teaching has played an important, formative background role for the development of the Adventist doctrine of the investigative judgment.[16] In his polemical jousts with the Calvinists, Wesley often provoked their wrath when he spoke of "final justification." The essence of what he meant by this expression was: while we cannot "merit" final salvation or that our works are a prerequisite to God's acceptance, the truly saved person will have the evidence of genuine faith in the inevitable fruits of their experience of sanctification. Thus while sanctification is not "immediately" necessary for initial justification (only trusting faith is), it is evidentially necessary to final justification. It is the evidential fruits of participating faith that become the grist for any judgment according to works.
    The basic implications of this understanding of "final justification" go like this: If one accepts that salvation can be lost, as opposed to the predominant emphasis of the Magisterial Reformers that it could not be, then the next question to be raised is: on what basis can it be lost? Luther and Calvin, strongly influenced by Augustine, emphasized that salvation was bestowed irresistibly upon the elect. Since God irresistibly bestows this, then it is incumbent on Him to grant perseverance. But, the moment anything like Arminian categories of free-will are interjected, it is at this moment that the quality of the process of salvation takes on critical importance. Such a process then becomes just as essential to salvation as that which transpires during the early moments—i.e. justification and imputation. For Wesley, the responsible nature of grace calls for freely chosen initial acceptance and freely given constancy in on-going participation. It is the quality of this on-going participation of the responsible saints which finally legitimates the genuiness of their election. It is then only a very short leap to correlate the Biblical doctrine of a judgment according to works as the legitimate fruit and evidence of genuine saving faith. Believers are not saved by works, or faith plus works, but by a faithful participation in God's grace which works! It is no accident that the great enemies of Wesley's views on final justification (those shaped by the Reformed Tradition) are the very same enemies that have stoutly opposed the Adventist doctrine of the Investigative Judgment. While all of the works of sinful humans (including Wesley's perfected ones or Ellen White's harried but hearty saints—even those in the "time of trouble") need the merits of Jesus accounted to them, they nonetheless give witness to the genuiness of faith in the judgment. The moment any theologian posits anything like choice, free-will, or free-grace, or suggests that salvation can be lost, it is at that moment that an investigative judgment (pre-Advent, at the Advent, or post-Advent) becomes a distinct possibility. For Calvinists, such a judgment according to works becomes a rather perfunctory footnote to the history of salvation. For those in the Wesleyan Tradition, such a judgment reveals not only the will of God, but the evidence which justifies or vindicates the carefully weighed decisions of the judgment. I would suggest that Thomas C. Oden's use of the expression "investigative judgment" to refer to Wesley's teaching about the great judgment scene which transpires at the Second Coming is no carelessly chosen or accidental phrase. Again, let's be clear about these implications: the moment theologians open the door to choice and take faith participation seriously in the experience of sanctification—it is at that moment that a call for a real judgment of investigation is necessitated. Such a judgment will reveal the fateful choices that have truly determined the eternal destiny of God's professed people. No deterministic afterthoughts here!!! No salvation by good works, but the revelation of true faith which works by love and produces the evidence for acquittal. Again it must be emphasized that Wesley did not teach that such an investigative judgment was Pre-Advent. He, however, clearly taught that it was "co-Advent" and he deemed it to be a genuine judgment based on the evidence drawn from fruitful works of such who had trusted Christ's merits. In other words, their genuine, evidential works had arisen out of an experience of pardoned participation. Calvinists still see red when confronted with such a teaching.Conclusion Wesley's carefully nuanced expositions of "responsible grace" have certainly provided the more immediate backdrop for the Adventist soteriological developments by Ellen White). Adventist attempts to hold to a balanced synthesis of law and grace, faith and works, justification and sanctification, have been clearly anticipated and broadly mentored by the teachings of Wesley and his American children. It was such categories which helped to lay the foundations for the very core of Adventist soteriology and one of its distinctive contributions to eschatology—the Pre-Advent, Investigative Judgment.

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