John Wesley and George Whitefield

“And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.  And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.” Luke 9:49-50

John Wesley was an Arminian. George Whitefield was a Calvinist. They had written letters to each other and preached very strong rebukes concerning the topic. What I find interesting is their continuing love for one another even while displaying deep doctrinal chasms.

“It is said that when Wesley and Whitefield were at odds on theology and ecclesiastical matters, one of Wesley’s adherents asked him, “Do you think we shall see Mr. Whitefield in heaven?” “No,” he answered, “I do not. I think he will be so near the Throne, and you and I so far away, that we shall not get within sight of him.” {From The Pastor amidst His Flock G. B. Wilcox 1890}

Together these two men turned much of the English speaking world upside down. It has been said that Whitefield preached 18,000 sermons and Wesley 40,000 sermons. It is estimated that Whitefield preached to over ten million people in his lifetime. Wesley had travelled throughout Great Britain some 225,000 miles which would equal nine times around the earth. They were both {along with John’s brother Charles} considered founders of the Methodist movement. John Wesley preached George Whitefield’s funeral. Though Christians may not agree on these weighty doctrinal issues we should still try to be Christ-like to one another.                                                                                                                                       Spurgeon who was a Calvinist said the following;  “We give our hand to every man that loves the Lord Jesus Christ, be he what he may or who he may. The doctrine of election, like the great act of election itself, is intended to divide, not between Israel and Israel, but between Israel and the Egyptians – not between saint and saint, but between saints and the children of the world. A man may be evidently of God’s chosen family, and yet though elected, may not believe in the doctrine of election. I hold there are many savingly called, who do not believe in effectual calling, and that there are a great many who persevere to the end, who do not believe the doctrine of final perseverance. We do hope that the hearts of many are a great deal better than their heads. We do not set their fallacies down to any willful opposition to the truth as it is in Jesus, but simply to an error in their judgments, which we pray God to correct. We hope that if they think us mistaken too, they will reciprocate the same Christian courtesy; and when we meet around the cross, we hope that we shall ever feel that we are one in Christ Jesus.”

In another place, he also said: “Far be it from me to imagine that Zion contains none but Calvinistic Christians within her walls, or that there are none saved who do not hold our views”                                                                                                                       

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2 Responses to John Wesley and George Whitefield

  1. Nice Spurgeon quote. As I recall he was once heard to pray, “Lord, save all of the elect and then elect some more!”

  2. Pingback: A Calvinist and Arminian walk into a Bible study …

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