John Wesley’s Ecumenism

“By these marks, by these fruits of a living faith, do we labour to distinguish ourselves from the unbelieving world from all those whose minds or lives are not according to the Gospel of Christ. But from real Christians, of whatsoever denomination they be, we earnestly desire not to be distinguished at all, not from any who sincerely follow after what they know they have not yet attained. No: ‘Whosoever doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.’ And I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that we be in no wise divided among ourselves. Is thy heart right, as my heart is with thine? I ask no farther question. If it be, give me thy hand.”

+ John Wesley (1703–1791), the founder of Methodism, played a leading role in the development of the Holiness and Pentecostal movements. He wrote prolifically on diverse subjects such as salvation, the power of music, and anti-slavery, and his tracts were widely distributed. In “The Character of a Methodist” he refers to the “marks” of a Methodist as loving God and loving neighbor, praying without ceasing, rejoicing always, giving thanks in everything, and desiring only to please God. At his death Wesley was considered by some the “most loved man in England.”

Source: Ways Forward for Western Evangelicals – Fuller Studio

God’s Way With People

“God sees according to his wisdom, so he can make an impression on each soul in the best, that is, most effective, way. The methods, occasions, and hours are different for all so that one cannot determine it. The Lord takes hold of one in preaching, another in his house, overcomes a third in the street, another again out in the field, and seizes a fifth in the very act of sinning. Therefore, it is not in accordance with the gospel to lay down fixed rules, or to set forth methods and forms in which souls must first be situated, or to expect a coincident method in the seeking and gathering of souls. One must entrust to the Savior’s free grace and judgment how he can and will reach souls.”

+  from Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf und Pottendorf (1700–1760) in Christian Life and Witness: Count Zinzendorf’s 1738 Berlin Speeches. Zinzendorf was a reformer of the Moravian church, an acclaimed hymnwriter, and ultimately was named an Anglican saint.

Source: What Does Fuller Mean by “Evangelical”? – Fuller Studio

Evangelism in a Day of Revolution

This article is a little lengthy, but WELL worth taking the time to read. It was written by Leighton Ford (Billy Graham’s Associate Evangelist) fifty years ago during the tumultuous 60’s. It is as relevant today as ever.

“The Church stands with all mankind at a crossroad, sharing a common concern: Which way do we go to make a new world? There are some who say, ‘Learn’—education is the way. Some say, ‘Earn’—economic development will solve our problems. Some voices are crying, ‘Burn’—society is so corrupt we must destroy it. There is truth in all of this. But Jesus Christ says, ‘Turn. Be converted. Put your trust in God. Seek first his will. Then you can be part of the new world God is making.’ Most revolutions fail because they are not revolutionary enough. They fail to grasp the fundamental problem, the problem of the human heart.”

Christianity Today, October 24, 1969

The Downside of Christendom

In case you are in the mood for a little theology, here is something I ran across during my reading today that is worth thinking about:

“Certainly the reduction of mission in Western theology has to do with the so-called Christianization of Western cultures. Once the Christian religion had become the only allowed religion within the boundaries of Christendom, mission was not seen as the central task of the church. Rather, her theological definition gradually came to focus on the care and tending of the salvation of her members […] Further, the eschatological shaping of the Gospel, so central to the New Testament, was distorted and reduced. Jesus’ message was the inbreaking reign of God, and the early church confessed him as the one who is and brings that reign into human history. […] That sense of radical and transforming anticipation of living hope that profoundly shapes the ‘now’ of the corporate Christian witness, was gradually reoriented to an individualistic emphasis on the second coming at the end of time with its threatening judgment that determines where each soul will spend eternity. The biblical emphasis on the ‘resurrection of the body’ is replaced by the Hellenistic concept of the immortality of the soul, which changes the nature of Christian eschatology and diminishes the strong biblical emphasis upon the integrated wholeness of the human person as body, spirit, and soul. Life now was understood not so much as faithful witness in hope but as wearisome and often anxious preparation in this vale of tears for what must come hereafter. Salvation is a question of where one spends eternity rather than the larger biblical witness to the restorative and salvific reign of God breaking in now, whose consummation is yet to come. […] The individualism of such a reductionist soteriology has only intensified in the self-centered and consumerist culture of present-day North America. The church’s focus on the tending and maintenance of the ‘saved’ is well attested today in churches that advertise themselves as ‘full-service’ congregations and function as purveyors of the religious programs and products their member-consumers want. The partnership of church and state, has, after the end of Christendom, effectively been replaced with the partnership of church and marketplace.”[1]

Happily, Guder also recounts,

“the wise words of the pastor from Malawi who told my class one day about all the changes the gospel had brought when the missionaries came to his tribe. ‘And,’ he concluded, ‘you must realize that we could always tell the difference between Jesus and the missionaries.’”[2]

Bibliography

Guder, Darrell L. “The Church as Missional Community.” In The Community of the Word : Toward an Evangelical Ecclesiology, edited by Mark Husbands and Daniel J. Treier, 114-28. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2005.


[1] Darrell L. Guder, “The Church as Missional Community,” in The community of the Word : toward an evangelical ecclesiology, ed. Mark Husbands and Daniel J. Treier (Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2005), 118-20.

[2] Guder, 120.