This is from John Piper’s post earlier this week about how Charles Simeon, a Calvinist, tried to reason with John Wesley, an Arminian, about the supremacy of God in the salvation and perseverance of Christians. I have adapted it to contemporary language.
So you call yourself an Arminian. People call me a Calvinist; and therefore we are supposed to argue about finer points of theology. But before we start fighting, may I ask you a few questions? Do you think that you are a depraved person, so depraved, in fact, that you would have never turned to God if God had not put it in your heart first?
Yes, I do indeed
And do you reject your coming to God with your works as the source of your righteousness, and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?
Yes, solely through Christ.
And since you were at first saved by Christ, do you try to continue to be saved by something other than him?
No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.
Since then you were first saved by the grace of God, do you need to keep yourself saved by your own power?
Are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, just like a baby in his mother’s arms?
And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you so that you will be able enter into his kingdom?
Yes, I have no hope but in Him.
Then, let me say, my friend, that this is what Calvinism is. This is election and justification by faith, and perseverance. This is really all there is to it and nothing else. Therefore, instead of searching for differences in language and definitions and having that be a source of contention between us, can we please be united in these things that we agree on?
Obviously, there is a lot more in Reformed theology than just this, but I think Simeon’s point is to show that “Arminians” and “Calvinists” have more in common than they think. Furthermore, I think that Simeon may have tried to show the inconsistencies in Arminian thought.
How do you think the conversation would have gone if Wesley had asked the questions?