... No, these don't all go together, but I thought it would peak your curiosity more than "Thoughts I've Had Today."
Wesley and Soterianism
I was reflecting today in class about the fact that the ordo salutis ("order of salvation") was the defining feature of Wesley's theology, and I was connecting this fact to my take-away from Scot McKnight's recent King Jesus Gospel that the very terms of the Reformation got us out of focus on the gospel in the process of correcting an overemphasis on the church as the agent of salvation.
Let me put it in my own terms. The focal point of the Reformation was the argument over the role of works in salvation, indulgences in particular. (The other emphases of the Reformation followed naturally on this focal issue. The argument over Scripture was about the ground rules of the debate. The foci on Christ and grace had to do with the theological framework of the question of works)
The result is that Protestantism has always tended to overemphasize Paul and overemphasize anthropology at the center of theology. That is to say, the terms of Luther's debate inevitably has led us to focus on the human problem and its solution as the center of theology. Rather, God should be the center of theology.
Wesley was simply playing out the terms of the Reformation on the details. So he took justification from Luther, extended sanctification from Calvin, appropriated the Arminian wing of the Calvinist tree, and threw in some assurance of salvation from the Moravians for good measure. Since he was Anglican, he remained closer to Roman Catholicism than Luther or Calvin.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Finished the second and third chapters of The Metaphysical Club on the plane home yesterday. Felt quite sorry for Holmes in chapter 2 as the naive "all or nothing" abolitionist/idealist got a real life lesson in the absurd violence of the Civil War. It is a good reminder for anyone who is excited about war. War should always, always be a last resort when everything else has failed.
But I didn't like the post-Civil War Holmes. He came to consider individual lives as generally unimportant in comparison to society doing its thing. Rules became simply conventional for him and his big deal was simply following them, no matter who got run over in the process.
Having started quite interested in the man, I ended that section with little identification with him at all.