Special letter and response section

Speaking Peace to God-Haters

Thank you for sending me the latest issue of Outside the Camp.

I feel that I must take you to task over your comments about John Wesley. Whilst it is true that he published an erroneous translation of Zanchius, and was very harsh in his comments about Toplady, we must remember that the age in which they both lived and ministered was an age of much polarisation when individuals took extreme positions, hurled tirades and anathemas at each other and were a lot less courteous than would be expected today.

To call Mr Wesley a "God hater" as you do on page 5 is rather "over the top" and unacceptable. The meaning of a "God hater" is one that hates God. The only ones that can be haters of God are those who have lifted themselves up against the Lord and are described in Psalm 2. In other words God Haters are heathens, Pagans, Satanists, New-Agers, etc. Wesley and other Arminians do not come into this category. The worst that can be said of them is that they are God-fearers i.e. they are afraid of God and out of a sense of fear they undertake their "duty" towards God.

Again, when we consider Mr Wesley and his Christian life we admit that he was in error on the doctrines of Grace but that does not deny that he was a true Christian. Whitefield certainly considered him to be so and Whitefield's successor at Moorfields Tabernacle, Rev. Torial Joss, welcomed Wesley into his pulpit to preach a funeral sermon for Whitefield on the text of Scripture, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his," (Numbers 23:10). Hardly the actions of a God-hater!

True, Wesley was exceedingly critical of Toplady, but Toplady was no less critical of Wesley who wrote such things as his tract The Old Fox Tarred and Feathered etc. etc. I venture to say that such conduct from professed ministers of the Gospel would, today, be completely unacceptable.

On what, then, was Wesley trusting for his salvation? Certainly not his Arminian doctrine. On his death bed Wesley was to quote the words of Watts' paraphrase: "I'll praise my Maker, while I've breath and when my soul is lost in death, praise shall employ my nobler powers," etc. Shortly before his death, in 1783, Wesley wrote, "I have been reflecting on my past life. I have been wandering up and down between fifty and sixty years, endeavouring in my poor way to do a little good to my fellow creatures, and now it is probable there are but few steps between me and death, and what have I to trust for salvation? I can see nothing which I have done or suffered that will bear looking at. I have no other plea that this 'I the chief of sinners am, but Jesus died for me!" These are most certainly not the words of a God-hater!

On what does a Calvinist trust for salvation? The fact that he hold to the Three Forms of Unity or The Westminster Standards will avail nothing in that Great Day, and there is probably many a Calvinist (sic) in hell. The only means of salvation is a personal knowledge of God in Christ (John 17:3), and without that knowledge all else is vain.

J.E. North

Jireh Chapel

Lewes, England

Editor's note: North is part of Berith Books. In the Spring 1998 issue of Berith BookNews, North wrote the following [with my comments in brackets]: "With this BookNews you will receive a copy of the prospectus for the three volume set Lives of the Early Methodist Preachers. Some may question the propriety of a Reformed publishing house undertaking such a publication. We have three reasons for so doing. [Here is why North is publishing a work promoting Arminians.] The first being the present denial of the phenomena of revival. One Christian organisation with which we were once connected has of late been denying that there is a work of God known generally as Revival. [North is speaking of the British Reformed Journal, in which the theme of Issue #19 was "Say - Shibboleth! Say.....Revival!"] We are therefore undertaking the publishing of some contemporary records, these being the autobiographical accounts and spiritual experiences of some of those men who were sent out to preach in the early days of the Evangelical Awakening. Our second reason is that there is a view coming to the fore that Arminians (so-called) are not and cannot possibly be truly converted. One journal recently going as far as labelling those who are not Calvinistic in their creed as being "God-hating Arminians." [In the same issue of the BRJ, my review of Iain Murray's Revival and Revivalism appeared in which I used this truthful phrase.] Whilst we accept that there are those with whom we disagree theologically, we would never put such a title upon such men as the Wesley brothers etc. (We are quite content to follow George Whitefield in his example of regarding Mr Wesley as his brother in Christ). Thirdly we have of late become concerned that much of what is paraded as Evangelical Calvinism is nothing but Sandemanianism. The intellect becomes all important and "the experience of God" is denigrated as being mysticism. Christianity is being reduced to a mere intellectual exercise and an acceptance of the Westminster Standards and the Three Forms of Unity. There is more to Christianity than this. A heart-felt spiritual experience of Christ in the Gospel is needed. We trust that the reading of these books will thrill your soul as you read of those who in bygone days walked and talked with the Saviour."

North and others like him believe that "experience" and "holy living" take precedence over doctrine. They believe that one's doctrine can deny the work of Christ, but as long as one has a "heart-felt spiritual experience" and a "Christian life," one can hold to a different christ and a different gospel.

The truth is that it is doctrine that distinguishes the true Christ and the true gospel from all counterfeit christs and counterfeit gospels. Without the doctrine of Christ, you do not have Christ. The "personal knowledge of God in Christ" includes the knowledge of how God is just to justify the ungodly - Christ's person and work (which no Arminian knows). God invariably gives this knowledge to everyone He regenerates, and no one who does not have this knowledge is a true Christian.

North gives some quotes from Wesley as if this would convince us of Wesley's salvation. So what if Wesley talked about "my Maker" and that "Jesus died for me." He said these things throughout his life. Yet his "Maker" was a counterfeit maker, and his "Jesus" was a counterfeit jesus. His "Maker" looked down through time and chose those whom he saw would believe, and his "Jesus" died for everyone, including those in hell. North is saying that Wesley "had a knowledge of God in Christ," showing that North has no idea what a knowledge of God in Christ is.

North would have us believe that "error on the doctrines of Grace" is not a life-and-death matter. He would have us believe that a regenerate person can believe in a doctrine such as universal atonement. This shows that he does not know what the true gospel is. The true gospel is the good news of salvation conditioned solely on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ. If anyone believes that his salvation is conditioned in any way on himself, he does not believe the true gospel. One who believes in universal atonement does not believe that the only difference between heaven and hell is the work of Christ; he believes that the sinner ultimately makes the difference. (I am not saying that every believer is able to systematize and articulate the doctrines of grace; but since every believer believes the gospel, he will not believe the antitheses of any of the doctrines of grace.)

I agree with North on one point: Many who say they hold to "Calvinism" or the Calvinistic creeds are unregenerate. For a prime example of this, just take a look at North himself (or Whitefield or Spurgeon, for that matter) - he says he holds to the Doctrines of Grace, yet he speaks peace to those who are ignorant of the righteousness of Christ revealed in the gospel. These kinds of "Calvinists" are truly lost.


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