Question:

When you get a minute could you put up some of the things Wesleyans are teaching falsely on the web site?


Answer:

The Wesleyan Church has its roots in the Methodist Church. In fact, it originally used the name Wesleyan Methodist Church of America from 1843, at its founding, to 1968 when it merged with Pilgrim Holiness Church which shared its beliefs. After the merger it was just known as the Wesleyan Church.

The Wesleyan Methodists broke off from the main body of Methodist over disputes about slavery and the Methodist episcopacy. Wesleyan Methodists were staunch supporters of the anti-slavery movement. The episcopacy is a belief which the Methodists retained from their own break off from the Episcopal (or Anglican) Church. It is the idea that only bishops can appoint or ordain other men for roles in the church.

The idea of an episcopacy is that the role of the twelve apostles were passed down to other men, forming an unbroken chain of succession. The Wesleyan Methodists no longer wanted to be under the control of the Methodist bishops and thus broke the chain of succession.

From its roots in John Wesley's teachings, the Wesleyan Church focuses on a concept of entire sanctification. Members of the church "are required to disavow the use, sale, or manufacture of tobacco and alcoholic beverages and to refrain from membership in secret societies" [Handbook of Denominations in the United States, Frank S. Mead]. Most of the errors noted here are ones shared by other denominations which follow the teachings of John Wesley, such as the Methodists and the Church of the Nazarene.

Total Depravity

Wesleyans do not believe that Adam's sin is directly inherited, instead they believe that mankind has inherited a strong inclination to sin. "But since the fall of Adam, people are unable in their own strength to do the right. This is due to original sin, which is not simply the following of Adam's example, but rather the corruption of the nature of each mortal, and is reproduced naturally in Adam's descendants. Because of it, humans are very far gone from original righteousness, and by nature are continually inclined to evil" [The Wesleyan Church, "Our Core Values and Beliefs"]. This is close, but quite what Paul stated. "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned -- For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come" (Romans 5:12-14). Yes, all men sin, but the Scriptures teach that it is because all have chosen to sin, not because of an inherited inclination toward sin. In other words, we cannot blame our ancestors for the fact that we sin. Each person carries his own responsibility for the choices he made.

Required Intervention of God

Wesleyans believe that people can choose to follow God or not, but those who want to follow God cannot make such a choice until God intervenes. "They cannot of themselves even call upon God or exercise faith for salvation" [The Wesleyan Church, "Our Core Values and Beliefs"]. Such a statement takes the choice of salvation out of the hands of man places it solely in God's hand, leaving chosen men the opportunity to reject God's offer. The Bible does teach that man is unable to save himself, but it does not state that men are unable to call upon God or exercise faith. Instead, the problem lies in that men are unwilling to call upon God because of their sins. "There is none who seeks after God" (Romans 3:11). It did take the power of God to open a door to salvation, but this door was opened to everyone who chooses to enter. "Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life" (Romans 5:18).

Salvation by Faith Alone

Wesleyans believe in the necessity of repentance and faith in order to be saved. "Repentance is the precondition for saving faith, and without it saving faith is impossible. Faith, in turn, is the only condition of salvation" [The Wesleyan Church, "Our Core Values and Beliefs"]. It is puzzling how they conclude that a person needs to change his way of life before he has developed faith. I suspect that they realize that the New Testament is clear on the need of repentance in order to be saved, but by saying it comes before faith, they can claim to believe in salvation by faith alone. "We believe that justification is the judicial act of God whereby a person is accounted righteous, granted full pardon of all sin, delivered from guilt, completely released from the penalty of sins committed, by the merit of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, by faith alone, not on the basis of works" [The Wesleyan Church, "Our Core Values and Beliefs"]. Confession is relegated to a role for joining the church. "Saving faith is expressed in a public acknowledgment of His Lordship and an identification with His Church" [The Wesleyan Church, "Our Core Values and Beliefs"].

This is different from the teachings in the Bible. Faith comes from hearing God's Word: "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). Confession, along with faith, plays a role in salvation. "For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:10). Repentance is also necessary, along with faith, "testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21). But what is left out completely is the role baptism plays in God's plan for the salvation of man.

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19).

"He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:16).

"Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit"" (Acts 2:38).

"And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16).

"There is also an antitype which now saves us--baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (I Peter 3:21).

Two Levels of Salvation

Wesleyans believe a person can be saved, but does not reach a level of entire sanctification until a later point. Only when a person reaches entire sanctification do they believe that the person is baptized by the Holy Spirit. "Sanctification is initiated at the moment of justification and regeneration. From that moment there is a gradual or progressive sanctification as the believer walks with God and daily grows in grace and in a more perfect obedience to God. This prepares for the crisis of entire sanctification which is wrought instantaneously when believers present themselves as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, through faith in Jesus Christ, being effected by the baptism with the Holy Spirit who cleanses the heart from all inbred sin. The crisis of entire sanctification perfects the believer in love and empowers that person for effective service" [The Wesleyan Church, "Our Core Values and Beliefs"].

The problem is that the New Testament does not make a distinction between believers who are sanctified and those who are not. All believers are sanctified, "that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me" (Acts 26:18). Being saved at baptism is interconnected with all aspects of salvation, including sanctification. "And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (I Corinthians 6:11). "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word" (Ephesians 5:25-26).

It is hinted in Wesley's teachings that a believer who reaches the point of entire sanctification has move beyond sin. "Entire sanctification, or Christian perfection, is neither more nor less than pure love; love expelling sin, and governing both the heart and life of a child of God" [John Wesley, Letters to Mr. Walter Churchey, of Brecon]. This is contrary to the teachings of the New Testament. Sin is an ever present danger to the Christian. "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (I Peter 5:8). Thus, a Christian must always be on guard. "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (I Corinthians 10:12). For a Christian to believe that he is immune to sin is a sin in itself. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (I John 1:8).