This is a series of posts. Please comment and share your input if you have had any thoughts along these lines.
What do the Reformed-Charismatics of today have in common with the Calvinistic-Methodists of Wales?
I graduated from a bible training center run by charismatic folks in India (2002). Upon graduation, I served as an intern during which my hunger for God’s word began to grow, like a new born baby thirsting for milk. I ended up in Japan (of all places) to study Theology at an Evangelical institution where I rediscovered my Reformed roots (which is Calvinistic-Methodist – currently the Presbyterian Church Of India). In my understanding, a Calvinistic-Methodist is simply a person who loves solid Reformed theology and seeks genuine Christian experience in the Spirit. Hence, Calvinistic-Methodists have always been Revival seeking Christians who, at the same time, subscribe to sound Reformation theology. This is, primarily, because my home-church was planted by Welsh Presbyterians (formerly Welsh Calvinistic-Methodists). Due to consecutive Gospel awakenings and revivals, the Church in Mizoram, India, is what it is now today! As a result of these revivals, the state is now one of the biggest Christian populations in modern India, with 98 % Christian. These revivals have also had tremendous impact on education. In the history of modern India, Mizoram has always been either the first or second highest literacy rate in India. All these owing to God’s abundant grace in Christ!
Now, can there be a synergy between Calvinism and Methodism?
I once met an American Presbyterian pastor in Japan, who, after introducing myself as a Calvinistic-Methodist, made fun of me as though these were contradiction in terms. He thought I was joking! In his peculiar understanding of Calvinism and Methodism, the two cannot be married together. It does sound like a weird combination for many. But before you make certain judgments, wait till you read this. “Many called [Martin Lloyd Jones] the last of the Calvinistic Methodist preachers because he combined Calvin’s love for truth and sound reformed doctrine with the fire and passion of the eighteenth-century Methodist revival.” (Desiring God). I do not know why Lloyd Jones was called the “last of the Calvinistic Methodist preachers,” because Calvinistic Methodism not only survived in North East India, it flourished among the Presbyterians in Aizawl, Mizoram where God has brought about mighty revivals through the sovereign work of the Spirit. However, Lloyd Jones, here, narrates a similar reaction I have just mentioned above: –
“I have often found during the years that people, both Arminians and Calvinists, have regarded this term as a contradiction in terms. ‘Calvinistic Methodism?’ they say; ‘this is impossible, it is a contradiction’. I remember speaking at an anniversary in a church not so far from here about 25 years ago. I said I was glad to be present as a Methodist and as the representative of Whitefield arid Calvinistic Methodism. And the then minister of that church said that he regarded this as a contradiction in terms. Well, that was because he was seriously defective in his understanding of the term Methodism. But there are others, on the other side, who have been astounded at this. The term ‘Methodism’ on the Continent in particular is a dirty word, and there are Calvinists who dislike any association between Calvinism and Methodism. Again this is due to a serious defective understanding, as I hope to show,of both Calvinism and Methodism. So it is clear that this is a subject that has a good deal to tell us at the present time.”
“The real beginning of Methodism is found in the mighty experience through which Whitefield passed in 1736, and through which the Wesley brothers passed in May 1738. In Wales Methodism was quite independent and spontaneous. Welsh Methodism owes nothing to English Methodism. It started before that in England, in 1735, with the conversion of both Howell Harris and Daniel Rowland, and again, quite independently. They had never heard of each other and knew nothing at all about one another. But the Spirit of God dealt with these two men in a most amazing way, and it was only in 1737 that they met and came together.”
George Whitefield was a Calvinistic-Methodist, as opposed to Wesley’s Methodism.
“These are historical points which are of considerable interest. The Methodism in Wales was entirely Calvinistic. The Wesleys visited there but they did not have any churches there until the beginning of the 19th century. But again I would emphasize this fact – that we have a Methodism that is common to both. This is a basic point. Actually the term ‘Calvinistic Methodist’ in Welsh emphasizes this very strongly, for it is not Calvinistic Methodism, but Methodism-Calvinistic. And so you have Methodism-Wesleyan. The Methodism comes first, and the other is all adjective describing the particular type. At first they all worked together, but, owing to the division, it was Whitefield who became most intimately associated with the men in Wales, and he was actually the Moderator of their first Association in 1743.”
According to Lloyd Jones, Jonathan Edwards was a Calvinistic Methodist.
“This is a most interesting point. We know that these Calvinistic Methodists read the Puritans a great deal. They fed on them. Puritan writings were their food next to the Bible, and they learned a great deal from them. Yet I am suggesting that Calvinistic Methodism was not a mere continuation of Puritanism. A new element has come in – this emphasis upon the feeling aspect, the revival aspect, and this whole matter of assurance, all the things I have been describing as the essence of Calvinistic Methodism. I venture again to suggest that Jonathan Edwards must be called a Calvinistic Methodist. You have the same combination in Edwards. I know the brilliant intellect tended to obscure this at times, but I would say that essentially Jonathan Edwards as a type was a Calvinistic Methodist, though actually a Congregationalist.”
More to come!