The Five Most Important Dates in the History of the Church #5

So often man gets out of step with God’s will that he must experience failure before God can do a great work. God is in the business of using failure in man to achieve His end. The apostles Peter and Paul are prime examples. Peter was considered by some a coward. Paul encouraged the stoning and subsequent death of at least one Christ-follower as found in Acts 8.1.

The failure of John Wesley

Had Wesley stayed in America, God may have used his life for some great purpose. The fact is we will never know. God altered Wesley’s course and he returned to England. Approximately 3 ½ months later on May 24, 1738 Wesley attended a Bible study where God worked a change for Wesley, and his faith was renewed. Almost a year later, Wesley began his outdoor preaching ministry.

Not only did Wesley preach outdoors but he took every opportunity to replicate himself, training over 600 traveling preachers.

The Methodology of John Wesley

With this type of process John was able to reach people to Christ in a way that was compared to the Apostle Paul, Luther and Calvin. Wesley organized the church in a way that had never been done. He defined the role of the preacher through his example and teaching of lay-preachers. Wesley challenged conventional thinking by opposing Calvin’s five theological points. John Calvin (1509-1564) lived and died shortly after Luther (1483-1546). Calvin accepted the four pillars or points previously discussed in this paper and added a fifth, which was: glory to God alone, meaning that all ecclesiastical hierarchy in the Roman Catholic Church, and particularly dead saints, should be exempt from the glory their followers were rendering them. Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609) expressed a view counter to Calvin; however, the disagreement was not this fifth point. Their primary difference is man’s role in his salvation. Calvin’s view was that God acts alone in saving the sinner.

Arminianism Revisited

Arminius stated some 200 years before Wesley that man must choose to accept the gift of salvation, or better stated God’s election involves choice. Atonement for all people, God’s grace can be resisted, and salvation is contingent upon continued faith are all counter to Calvin’s opinion as well.

Wesley embraced Arminius’ view and made it popular. After Wesley’s death the Methodist Church was formed, and took on the organizational style and influence of Wesley. (1) To date no leader had as large a following as John Wesley, whose presence is felt even today. From Wesley we have the United Methodist Church, the Holiness movement, Pentecostalism and the Christian and Missionary Alliance.

About the author: Creed is an accomplished leader and Professional Certified Coach motivated by a passionate drive to help individuals and organizations reclaim their clarity for personal achievement and organizational effectiveness.

(1) North, James. The History of the Church. College Press. Joplin, Missouri, 1983