Agonizomai: Blasts From the Past<br>The Wesleyan Doctrine of Sinless Perfection

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Blasts From the Past
The Wesleyan Doctrine of Sinless Perfection

I am presently reading (though very slowly) B.B. Warfield's work called "Perfectionism". In it, he traces and critiques what came to be known as Oberlin Perfectionism, named after the College seminally founded by John J. Shipherd, established by Asa Mahan as President and joined by C.G. Finney as Professor of Theology. It is an interesting read.

Oberlin Perfectionism, though different from the Wesleyan variety, nevertheless owes something of its emergence to Methodistic teaching on the topic. Whether Oberlin or Wesleyan, I agree with Warfield that Perfectionism is a dangerous and unorthodox doctrine which has lent much to later movements, such as the "Higher Life Movement", "Pentecostalism" and others.

I was pleased the other day to stumble upon a short article entitled "Wesleyan Doctrine of Sinless Perfection", published over at Michael Bremmer's blog, Sola Scriptura! The original is from the mind and pen of R. L. Dabney - a 19th Century theologian and teacher whom we have quoted with pleasure before, on the nature of the will.

So I decided to record this article, not only for my own enrichment as an adjunct to the Warfield book, but also to share with others the intricacies, arguments and dangers of perfectionist teaching. I'm not reprinting the article here. If you want to read along with the audio, or if you want to download/read the original article, it can be found here. Enjoy...

Wesleyan Doctrine of Sinless Perfection - R. L. Dabney


6 Comments:

Blogger Derek Ashton said...

Tony,

This series is ever so good. This particular installment was way over my head, but I did pick up a few things. He certainly shows how perfectionism is part of the downward progression that starts with an unyielding commitment to the supremacy of human "free will" in salvation. The very stubbornness with which that belief is held is evidence that man's "free will" can only lead one way: away from God and grace.

Blessings,
Derek

11:44 am  
Blogger agonizomai said...

Derek,

Thanks for the encouragement.

I like recording material from the saints triumphant and may do that in place of starting a new Bible Study series after Hebrews.

We'll see. But for now there are a few more blasts in the arsenal. Let me know if there are any oldies you want to hear from and I'll see what I can do.

Blessings,


Tony

12:06 pm  
Blogger Derek Ashton said...

Tony,

How about a sermon from Horatius Bonar? Or perhaps Augustine? Those would be good ones.

Derek

12:27 pm  
Blogger agonizomai said...

Derek,

Thanks for the suggestions. I'll take them into consideration.


Blessings,


Tony

1:00 pm  
Blogger Roxylee said...

Exactly right. The first church I attended had a Wesleyan bent to it's teachings, and all it accomplished was a false piety on the outside, with ever increasing discouragement and sin on the inside (whitewashed tombs). We were continually falling into sin, because we were under the bondage of a works righteousness. Thank God for His sovereign grace and for men who rightly divide the Word and proclaim it!

5:40 pm  
Blogger agonizomai said...

Roxylee,

There's no denying your experience of course - and lots of churches in many denominations harbor legalists, or fail to teach grace properly.

But there are many wonderful Christians in Methodistic churches. I guess the tares must grow up with the wheat all over.

I know you do your part to make sure that the gospel of grace is not only taught, but also seen wherever you may be.

Blessings,


Tony

11:15 pm  

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