The Wesleys and Ecumenical Spirit

Quote about the ecumenical spirit of the Wesleys:

„The Wesleys were able to hold together a „Protestant“ understanding of salvation (justification by grace through faith) and a „Roman Catholic“ vision of the Christian life that is oriented more toward holy living or perfection in love (sanctification). While the Protestant traditions have always tended to emphasize faith as the means to salvation, the Catholic heritage has stressed love as the goal of life in Christ. The Wesleys wanted to hold this means and this end together. To become a loving person, you must put your trust in Christ (faith is the means to love’s end). But faith in Christ is not the goal; to become loving, as Christ is loving, is the purpose of your discipleship (love is the end toward which you move from faith’s foundation). Some have claimed that this vision of the Christian life is what makes the Wesleyan tradition unique in the history of the church.

Along these same lines, Albert Outler, one of the greatest students of John Wesley, once described him as an „evangelical-chatholic“. While pessimistic about humanity in its brokenness (Protestant evangelicalism), Wesley was supremely optimistic about the potency of God’s grace (Roman Catholicism). What holds these two perspectives together is the Wesleyan conception of God’s grace as relationship. Always initiated from God’s side, the process of salvation is reconceived as a relational process, the purpose of which is healing and the restoration of wholeness in our lives. Not only did Wesley bridge the gap between evangelical and Catholic; he also opened up the possibility of dialogue with the Eastern Orthodox tradition, which views salvation essentially as the restoration of God’s image in our lives and communities.“ (Paul Wesley Chilcote; Recapturing the vision of the Wesleys)

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