Yeah, this blog’s title sounds like an impossibility. Today’s Methodists and Wesleyan’s descend from the lineage of Jacobus Arminius by way of John Wesley. These brothers and sisters disagree with significant doctrinal concepts that I believe to be true, yet have much to contribute to the Christian tradition! Did I mention that I’m one of those Calvinists who love Wesley? I am. You don’t have to agree with everything people say in order to love them and appreciate lots of things they did and taught. And Wesley would take great issue with today’s liberal Methodists too.
But what about Calvinist Methodists? Are their such a thing? Let’s just start by saying two words: George Whitefield. Whitefield, my favorite person from the Great Awakening, was a Calvinist Methodist who also loved Wesley. But who were these Calvinist Methodists? Were there others? What makes their tradition unique?
An article in the New Dictionary of Theology answers some of these questions and. For starters, how did the Calvinist Methodists express their theology?
“Its theology found expression in their sermons, in the prose and poetical works of William Williams of Pant-y-celyn (1717–91), and in the Confession of Faith which appeared in 1823 from the Welsh Calvinistic Methodists.” (p.124)
Poetry? Yeah, not all Calvinists are stodgy linear thinkers who lack passion or emotion. Plus, Calvinistic Methodism has some unique features to it’s theology that draw upon more than just the intellect. No, there’s much more to Calvinist Methodists that rigorous exegesis…
“It can be described as theology for the heart, giving expression to a mainline Calvinism within an experimental and practical framework. It drew heavily and heartily on earlier Puritanism, and yet shared unashamedly the individual pietism of contemporary (Arminian) Methodism. As such, it confessed a biblical authority for matters of faith and conduct, and a Trinitarian, Protestant and evangelical faith.” (ibid.)
“The distinctives of Calvinistic Methodism lie in the prominence given to the Holy Spirit’s influences in man’s salvation, and in the experimental ethos of its soul culture. Light and life, holiness and love, submission to the divine will and the realization of human dignity, were to be held in biblical balance. They were also to be enjoyed and nurtured in the disciplined context of warm but heart-searching fellowship or ‘society’ meetings.” (pp.124-25)
So I love Calvinist Methodists. Part of me draw’s heavily upon that tradition within Christianity. I love the emphasis on Scripture, the Holy Spirit, God’s sovereignty, and authentic spirituality.