Thursday, March 19, 2009

Charles Wesley on the Free Grace of God for All

I just finished reading the first two essays in a little book I picked up during the meeting of the Wesleyan Theological Society titled "Prints" and Practices of Love Divine, edited by Maxine E. Walker, Point Loma Press, 2007. The first essay, which I mentioned on Facebook, is called Wesleyan Hymns as Icons of the Wesleyan Tradition. It was written by S. T. Kimbrough, Jr, and was, as I said on FB, wonderful and fascinating! I highly recommend it, and it is worthy of much comment here, on my blog.

However, in light of this Sunday's Gospel Lesson (viz., John 3:16), I thought I would, at this time, make mention of the second essay and post one of Charles Wesley's hymns quoted therein. The essay is titled Father of Everlasting Love" and the Struggle Against Calvinism (my Reformed friends are going to love this!), and it was written by the Rev'd. Dr. Leslie Griffiths (Lord Griffiths of Burry Port). Dr. Griffiths is the Superintendent Minister at Wesley's Chapel, City Road, London England.

(As an aside; I had the opportunity to visit Wesley's Chapel in 2001. I also had the opportunity to hear Dr. Griffiths preach on the Sunday of the World Methodist Conference in Brighton, England that year. - Anyway . . .)

Dr. Griffith points out that the hymn is a fiery and unrelenting attack on the Calvinist understanding of Predestination. However, he also notes that, while the hymn was published with a small collection of other hymns, it was not included in the great 1780 hymnbook.

Although the hymn is a polemic against Calvinism, as a Wesleyan-Arminian Christian, I view it as simply expressing the amazing and abundant love and grace of our God poured out to all through Christ Jesus. It is in that same spirit that I post it, here.

Father, whose everlasting love
Thy only Son for sinners gave,
Whose grace to all did freely move,
And sent him down the world to save:

Help us thy mercy to extol,
Immense, unfathomed, unconfined;
To praise the Lamb who died for all,
The general Saviour of mankind.

Thy undistinguishing regard
Was cast on Adam's fallen race;
For all thou hast in Christ prepared
Sufficient, sovereign, saving grace.

The world he suffered to redeem;
For all he has the atonement made;
For those that will not come to him
The ransom of his live was paid.

Arise, O God, maintain thy cause!
The fullness of the nations call;
Lift up the standard of thy cross,
And all shall own thou diedst for all.


Anonymous said...

No comment about the hymn except--spot on.

Q1: Could you change the background color of your home page to match the liturgical season, or are you pretty much stuck with the light green?

Q2: How does you congregation as a whole accept your "high church" Nazareneness? I have found more rejection by a large NAZ church with a W & T service that was shut down after 10 as being "non-Nazarene." We (a few friends and I) would like to start an Anglican-Wesleyan congregation, but are too enmeshed in Naz credentialling to risk it again.

Q3 What is the "critical mass" in terms of number of like-minded people needed to get a Word & Table service going, in your opinion?

If you'd like to discuss this, I will give you my email address off site.

Todd Stepp said...

You've asked some good questions.

1. As for the colors, I've thought about that, but don't know my way around enough to know for sure how to do that. - Green is my favorite color, so I just stuck with it. But I might look into it, again.

2. My congregation is not high church, at all.

I would be happy to discuss more of this off site.

Anonymous said...

Well, I haven't discovered an e-mail address on the blog to send you mine privately.
So, I'll put mine here and no longer be anonymous: