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Salvation

The Wesleyan tradition has a carefully nuanced understanding of the 'order of salvation', which John Wesley distinguished from both the Calvinist and Tridentine Catholic positions, e.g. in his sermon on Justification and in his contributions to the Calvinist controversy of 1770. He sets out the stages by which an individual comes to saving faith in his sermon on 'The Spirit of Bondage and Adoption'. First, the 'natural man' is content with his situation in blissful ignorance of the demands of God; then, 'under the law' he has the 'faith of a servant'; next, moved by prevenient grace and recognizing his sinfulness and the impending judgment of God, he repents and begins to produce 'fruits meet for repentance', but still lives in fear of judgment and in awareness of his inability to save himself; and, finally, receiving 'justifying faith' in Christ and the full sufficiency of his atonement, he is a 'son' with 'the spirit of adoption'. The process is not complete, however, until he has 'pressed on to entire sanctification' or 'perfect love'. In his open letter to Thomas Church (1746) W wrote of repentance as the 'porch' of religion, faith as its 'door' and holiness as 'religion itself'.

Sources

  • Harald Lindstrom, Wesley and Sanctification (1946)
  • C.W. Williams, John Wesley's Theology Today (1960)
  • R.L. Maddox, Responsible Grace: John Wesley's Practical Theology (Nashville, 1994)
  • Kenneth J. Collins, The Scripture Way of Salvation: the heart of John Wesley's theology (Nashville, 1997)

Entry written by: DJC
Category: Subject

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