Three Things this Methodist Learned from Calvinists

The Gospel Coalition was kind to publish a piece of mine on a few ways I’ve been influenced by reading and listening to Reformed authors and teachers. Here’s the intro:

C. S. Lewis once cautioned against the blindness inherent in every age. Like others in our day, he warned, we are “specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes.” For Lewis, the solution was reading old books. New books share the presuppositions of our time; old books challenge our generational narrow-mindedness. The same warning could be issued with regard to theological tradition. If we read only those who share our basic framework and agree with us on most things, then we nurture devotional and theological nearsightedness. To counteract this tendency, we ought to be disciplined in reading other traditions and perspectives, not just to critique them but also to discover what we can take in from them. We may be surprised to find how much we have to learn.

I’m a United Methodist pastor, but I’ve learned a lot from reading Reformed authors and listening to Reformed preachers. While we certainly disagree on some important matters, we also stand together in the broad stream of Protestant orthodoxy. I’ve learned there is great wisdom and insight to be gained from Reformed voices both past and present. Here are three ways in particular that I’ve benefited from the Reformed tradition.

Click through to find out what those three things are

3 thoughts on “Three Things this Methodist Learned from Calvinists

  1. “So really, being a Calvinistic Methodist is much more true the roots of Methodism than the modern liberal Methodists”

    Excuse me, but Calvinism is not Methodism or at least Wesley style. I too became a Calvinist after leaving the UMC when 18 years old. Graduated from a leading Baptist university. But Robert Shank caused me to take another look at Methodist doctrine. Not that he is a Methodist, mind you. I find that the doctrines of early Methodism was not Calvinist, but Arminian. They believed the Book. Most Methodists, pastors and lay, to day are either to lazy to check those old theological writings out for themselves, or wrongly blame them for the fanatic liberalism and theological stupidity of modern United Methodism. While at the University I was required to read a lot of Calvinistic works, and I too benefited from them. On the same hand I also know their weakness. Today’s problem within Methodism, both liberal and conservative, seems to be preachers are ashamed of the Biblical Methodism of the past, and hence they don’t preach it. It worked before in making Methodism the largest protestant denomination in North America, and perhaps it could do it again.


  2. Matt, I saw a link to this article on the Aquila Report. You bring up a lot of things that remind me of what I went through as a UMC pastor about 20 years ago in the North Alabama Conference. As a result, I became a Calvinist, but still a big fan of John Wesley and the early Methodists, many of whom were Calvinists like George Whitefield. So really, being a Calvinistic Methodist is much more true the roots of Methodism than the modern liberal Methodists.


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