My Own Encapsulation of Wesleyan Theology

November 7, 2015

When Adam yielded to the temptation presented to him via a prideful spirit (Satan) his goodness left and he and all of his descendants became the same as orcs, here humans with no natural respect for the moral law.* All respect since that time is the instantaneous instigation of God, and all moral acts are impulsed by God and are merely not resisted by the human/orc.** If a person hears of the gospel of Jesus and complies with the ensuing (divine) impulse to repent and follow Jesus as Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in that human/orc.*** At some time before loss of consciousness in death, the orc element is removed entirely, and evil and sinful thoughts will no longer arise naturally**** or be entertained, and holiness will be achieved,***** making the individual fit to consort with God in the Garden of Paradise; a state or condition called “total sanctification”.

* This might be expressed in terms of a spiritual DNA, where nothing good and decent could arise anymore from Adam and Eve and their descendants. Again, this is similar to the makeup and capacity of Tolkien’s orcs, except here humanity does retain its ability to understand the moral law, though not to initiate moral actions on their own. In contrast the orcs cannot even understand the moral law, much less dream of complying with it. God then is able to utilize humanity’s understanding of the moral law and to instill what Kant called “moral respect” and what Wesley referred to as “natural conscience”, which would be impossible for a sheer orc.

** Such instigation and impulses are called “prevenient grace”, i.e., apriori or preceding grace. The only power in the free will of the human is the capacity to reject this prevenient grace and to refuse to undertake the good acts that are prompted and impulsed by God.

*** This is called “justifying grace”. And now there is no longer any need for prevenient grace since the Holy Spirit in residence in the Christian is able to direct the individual immediately and naturally. This corresponds also with the New Birth which leads eventually to holiness.

**** As was the original case with Adam, evil and sinful thoughts can still be instituted by another being, and can even be accepted and utilized, and which results in a “fall from grace” by that person and the reinstitution of the orc nature and a renewed need for salvation. As Wesley put it: “I am saved from the fear, though not the possibility, of a fall from grace.”

***** This is referred to as “sanctifying grace” and is the end goal of the New Birth.

God will not put a human/orc in hell at death unless that human/orc is conscious of having violated the moral law. Thus infants and young children will not be found in hell but in heaven (or perhaps in some pleasant limbo).

In fairness it might be assumed that people who had never heard of Jesus would find a clear presentation in the last stage of consciousness before death and would have the opportunity to accept him then as Savior and Lord, or to reject him.* This might account for those, e.g., Abraham, who died long before Jesus and who are nonetheless to be found in heaven (per the Christian scriptures). Such an endeavor is not mentioned in the scripture, but can be assumed due to the effect that God is love and loves all humans as His children.

* The “slowdown” of time can be dramatic as witnessed by people who have been in difficult situations. I remember being hit by a car while riding a motorcycle and of sailing through the air while facing, and looking up at, the sky. And during that sailing, while conscious that I might soon die or be severely injured, I was able to take notice of the beauty of the sky and the clouds. I also noticed (like Constantine?) as I was sailing along the sudden appearance of a cross in the sky and was conscious the entire time of being at ease and not troubled in any way. I landed flat on my back and without injury, and saw that the cross was on the top of a Methodist chapel on the corner of the street. However there is in the Christian scripture a suggestion that if the human/orc should be presented with the gospel in a very clear manner and still rejects the impulse for repentance, there will be no second chance in the afterlife.**

** Another take (with a hint of Wesleyan thinking) on how such a subsequent conversion might occur is The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis (who was not a Wesleyan). According to Lewis the ghosts in Hell*** are full of hatred and/or resentments toward others and are not fit to live in heaven. In order to help them realize their situation they are encouraged to go to a place (the outskirts of Heaven) where it is possible to enter Heaven after all. There they are met by some people from Heaven (full persons with perfect bodies, unlike the ghosts of Hell) and are told that if they give up their hatreds and prejudices and are truly willing to become totally transparent and spontaneous regarding all their thoughts and feelings, they may enter Heaven and become full persons instead of ghosts. Those few who agree are then accompanied and encouraged by these real people**** on this very painful trek toward complete liberty from hatred and fear and secrecy, and thus to fitness for Heaven.

*** Hell is a miserable place, trillions and trillions of square miles full of abandoned ghosts houses where no one wants any neighbors or to be in contact with anyone. As soon as someone moves into a ghost’s neighborhood, the ghost leaves and seeks another ghost house away from anyone else. So in Hell everyone prefers loneliness to any contact with other ghosts, in contrast to Heaven where everyone delights in the company of others and no one is left out nor wants others to be left out.

**** Perhaps the people of heaven, who come to help the ghosts leave Hell and become real people, play a Wesleyan role of God’s prevenient grace.

Note: See also the Awakening Atonement and especially Discussions Between Christians And Atheists, No. 7 Complaints against the “unfairness” of the Christians’ God regarding people who died having never heard of Jesus.

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