George Whitefield

Wesley Against Calvinism (Part 1)

In 1739, George Whitefield sailed for the American Colonies. He was headed back to the colony of Georgia, having just concluded a great ministry in London, Gloucester, Bristol and points in-between. He had returned to England to raise funds for an orphan home he planned to establish in Georgia. While raising these funds, finding the pulpits of many Church of England congregations closed to him, Whitefield began to preach in the open air.

He didn’t invent the practice, but he certainly implemented it with unparalleled effect. Whitefield regularly drew crowds in the thousands in the fields. As he made ready to return to Georgia, Whitefield handed the reigns of this ministry over to John Wesley, who had recently returned to England in disgrace from a failed missionary post in Georgia. With this new task, Wesley finally came into his own. However, his doctrinal differences with Whitefield accelerated greatly as he took leadership of this ministry and Whitefield sailed over the horizon for the new world.

In 1739, after casting a lot to determine whether he should preach and publish his views on predestination, Wesley received a favorable result and thus preached a message entitled Free Grace. In it, he attacked the doctrines of grace with passion.1 His sermon is below:

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The Almost Christian

In this excerpt from George Whitefield’s sermon The Almost Christian, he explains what he means by the term:

An almost Christian, if we consider him in respect to his duty to God, is one that halts between two opinions; that wavers between Christ and the world; that would reconcile God and Mammon, light and darkness, Christ and Belial. It is true, he has an inclination to religion, but then he is very cautious how he goes too far in it: his false heart is always crying out, Spare thyself, do thyself no harm. He prays indeed, that “God’s will may be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” But notwithstanding, he is very partial in his obedience, and fondly hopes that God will not be extreme to mark every thing that he willfully does amiss; though an inspired apostle has told him, that “he who offends in one point is guilty of all.”

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