Friday, September 20, 2013

John Wesley on Christian Perfection

In his Journal for June 1769 John Wesley succinctly explains what his doctrine of Christian perfection (entire sanctification) entails:
By Christian perfection, I mean 1) loving God with all our heart. Do you object to this? I mean 2) a heart and life all devoted to God. Do you desire less? I mean 3) regaining the whole image of God. What objection to this? I mean 4) having all the mind that was in Christ. Is this going too far? I mean 5) walking uniformly as Christ walked. And this surely no Christian will object to. If anyone means anything more or anything else by perfection, I have no concern with it. But if this is wrong, yet what need of this heat about it, this violence, I had almost said, fury of opposition, carried so far as even not to lay out anything with this man, or that woman, who professes it?
This really isn't so radical when one considers that John Wesley, an Anglican priest, simply took at face value a prayer at the beginning of the Mass from his own Book of Common Prayer.  From Thomas Cranmer's 1549 original:
ALMIGHTIE God, unto whom all hartes bee open, and all desyres knowen, and from whom no secretes are hid: clense the thoughtes of our hartes, by the inspiracion of thy holy spirite: that we may perfectly love thee, and worthely magnifie thy holy name: through Christ our Lorde. Amen. 
This, to Wesley, surely was reasonable and rational—nothing more, nothing less and nothing else.