We are continuing our series this month on “What do United Methodists believe?” Sometimes it is easier to understand your beliefs when you contrast them with what other people believe. One belief that separates Methodists from other denominations is the doctrine of free will. There are churches that teach that an ‘elect’ group of people have been chosen by God to be ‘predestined’ to be saved. This doctrine of ‘predestination’ is found in many Baptist, Presbyterian, Fundamentalist, and Evangelical churches. One problem with this view is that if God elects some for salvation, God must elect others for damnation. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, strongly disagreed with this belief. He argued that if God has predetermined who is saved, all preaching is vain. Predestination does away with the need for Christian revelation and practice, because nothing could change the eternal decree of God. Predestination makes God into a false, unjust one who condemns many who earnestly desire salvation.
Wesley taught the following three key points fundamental to Methodism:
- Man is free not only to reject salvation but also to accept it (free salvation) by an act of human will.
- All people who are obedient to the Gospel according to the measure of knowledge given them will be saved (universal salvation).
- The Holy Spirit assures man of his salvation directly, through an inner ‘experience’ (sure salvation).
But let me ask this question: Why should I let man’s logic require that I have to believe in a double predestination? That God predestines people to be conformed into the image of His Son and live with joy in heaven forever and that likewise God predestines people to be conformed into the image of Satan and live with agony in hell forever? Why?
This is a crucial question in the I-15 Corridor.