My Calvinism

Charles Simeon, the father of Anglican evangelicalism, was called a Calvinist, but disliked the name and referred to himself, as  “a moderate Calvinist” or “a Bible Christian.” He was born in 1759 and died in 1836. Appointed vicar of Holy Trinity Cambridge at age 23, he also became a fellow of King’s College, Cambridge. His remarkable perseverance at Holy Trinity Cambridge is a story worth reading, and I have often valued the example of his determination to let Christ continue to revise his character–even into old age.

You can read more about Charles Simeon in a biography written by H.C.G. Moule, himself an Anglican of repute, at googlebooks .

The following dialogue recorded between Simeon and well-known Arminian John Wesley is one of my favorite commentaries on Calvinism vs. Arminianism.

[Simeon:] Sir, I understand that you are called an Arminian; and I have been sometimes called a Calvinist; and therefore I suppose we are to draw daggers. But before I consent to begin the combat, with your permission I will ask you a few questions. Pray, Sir, do you feel yourself a depraved creature, so depraved that you would never have thought of turning to God, if God had not first put it into your heart?

[Wesley:] Yes, I do indeed.

[S:] And do you utterly despair of recommending yourself to God by anything you can do; and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?

[W:] Yes, solely through Christ.

[S:] But, Sir, supposing you were at first saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to save yourself afterwards by your own works?

[W:] No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.

[S:] Allowing, then, that you were first turned by the grace of God, are you not in some way or other to keep yourself by your own power?

[W:] No.

[S:] What then, are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, as much as an infant in its mother’s arms?

[W:] Yes, altogether.

[S:] And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you unto His heavenly kingdom?

[W:] Yes, I have no hope but in Him.

[S:] Then, Sir, with your leave I will put up my dagger again; for this is all my Calvinism; this is my election, my justification by faith, my final perseverance: it is in substance all that I hold, and as I hold it; and therefore, if you please, instead of searching out terms and phrases to be a ground of contention between us, we will cordially unite in those things wherein we agree. (from Charles Simeon: Biography of a Sane Saint)

We would do well to likewise find common ground rather than entrenching ourselves in foxholes of peripheral issues.

I should also mention that the 21-volume lifework by Simeon titled Horae Homileticae is available at a fraction of the cost you would pay for the hard copy edition–that is if you can even find it–over at Logos.com.

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