John Wesley, in a short written exhortation entitled, “What is an Arminian?” Answered by a Lover of Free Grace, ended with his twelfth and final point below.
12. One word more: Is it not the duty of every Arminian Preacher, First, never, in public or in private, to use the word Calvinist as a term of reproach; seeing it is neither better nor worse than calling names? — a practice no more consistent with good sense or good manners, than it is with Christianity. Secondly. To do all that in him lies to prevent his hearers from doing it, by showing them the sin and folly of it? And is it not equally the duty of every Calvinist Preacher, First, never in public or in private, in preaching or in conversation, to use the word Arminian as a term of reproach? Secondly. To do all that in him lies to prevent his hearers from doing it, by showing them the sin and folly thereof; and that the more earnestly and diligently, if they have been accustomed so to do? perhaps encouraged therein by his own example!
There are at least three reasons why this might be important for us today when engaging the Calvinism vs. Arminianism debate.
- The chief and arguably only command of Jesus was to love one another as he has loved us.
- More emphatically, he at one point said this would be the way others would know we were his followers—by the way we loved one another.
- In his own intercession he prayed that his followers would be unified in the same way the Father and the Son are unified and that in fact that we would share in their one-ness. This is not to the end of creating a nice guy club, but so that the world might believe that he was the sent one from God. The corollary is also true.
- We are on the same team!
Bottom line: no matter how much we believe the other’s position is wrong or just plain bad theology, it is not OK to attack one another or to disdain the deceased progenitor of the theological position. Nothing stands to undermine our mission more than this kind of bearing toward one another.
So let us debate and write books and dig deeper into the truth as we understand it, but let us do so with the holy love of God for one another.
Sola Sanctus Caritas!