Predestination according to the views of James Arminius and John Wesley
Domocmat, Lowel J.
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This study employed the historical and theological method of investigation, which is geared to ascertain the predestination views of James Arminius and John Wesley and their similarities and differences toward postulating an Arminian-Wesleyan doctrine of predestination. Wesley scholars asserted that the Arminianism of Wesley did not come from Arminius; it was mainly the result of his readings of Anglican divines. However, in the course of this investigation, it became plain that Wesley had striking similarities with Arminius on predestination. They both held predestination as Christ-centered, based on divine foreknowledge, founded on grace, and consistent with free will. The theological developments of Arminius and Wesley were presented in Chapters 2 and 3, with particular emphases on the circumstances that ushered in the formulation of their understandings on predestination. Arminius and Wesley lived during two different periods, places, and situations in history. But they had commonly formed their doctrines of predestination as the outcome of their intense study of the Scriptures and contests against their foes. Arminius and Wesley both argued that the predestination doctrine must be in harmony with all the attributes of God manifested in the Scriptures. The mistake of the Calvinists, according to them, was their insistence on the sovereignty of God at the expense of His moral attributes of love, justice, and mercy. In Chapter 4, the similarities and differences of Arminius and Wesley were examined. In spite of their apparent similarities they had disagreements, particularly on their views of unconditional election and irresistible grace. Wesley reasoned that unconditional election is also evident in the choosing of some men for distinct functions in the world and that prevenient grace works irresistibly at some point in the awakening and empowering of the human will. Arminius did not adopt these views. There are several conclusions stipulated as the result of the examination of the views of Arminius and Wesley on predestination. (1) Arminius and Wesley held apparently identical doctrines of predestination. (2) Predestination is the conditional election of classes of people—the believers and unbelievers. (3) Christ is the cause and not the result of predestination. (4) The act of predestination is based on God’s foreknowledge of the belief and unbelief of people. (5) The doctrine of unconditional election and unconditional damnation is contrary to God’s moral attributes of love, justice, and mercy. (6) The predestination views of Arminius and Wesley are consistent with the exercise of free will. And (7) there is an aspect of grace that is irresistible; it is wrought by prevenient grace in awakening and empowering one’s sensitivity and will to be able to respond to God’s salvation.