I’ve posted several things by Charles Spurgeon recently. Also, I refer to various Baptist, Presbyterian, and other theologians/pastors from time to time. Just to clarify, I’m not a Calvinist, but align with Wesleyan Arminianism…. And, like Wesley, too, I do not view differences such as that particular tension to be reason to part ways…..For many, even some of the more contemporary divisive issues are also not necessarily reason to part ways, if, as Wesley noted, people can “agree to disagree”…..to “think and let think”. As long as the essential tenets of Christianity are intact. With regard to Calvinism and Arminianism,”the difference can be seen ultimately by whether God allows His desire to save all to be resisted by an individual’s will (in the Arminian doctrine) or if God’s grace is irresistible and limited to only some (in Calvinism). Put another way, is God’s sovereignty shown, in part, through His allowance of free decisions? Some Calvinists assert that the Arminian perspective presents a synergistic system of Salvation and therefore is not only by grace, while Arminians firmly reject this conclusion. Many consider the theological differences to be crucial differences in doctrine, while others find them to be relatively minor.”
With contemporary conflicts, although they appear to be rooted more in social/political differences than strictly theological differences, for many on both extremes, the probable outcomes are unacceptable. As has been noted in several recent articles, the moderate “middle” has essentially disappeared….the place where people were willing to “think and let think” or “agree to disagree” is hard to find.
Next week, I and others will be gathering in Montgomery, AL where the contemporary issues will be debated and votes will occur that may impact next year’s General Conference and the future of the UMC (although some suspect that the recent Connectional Table decisions have short circuited the process). I am pleased to be a part of the representation from LHUMC that will be there, but I am not looking forward to what may well be difficult discussions at the conference.