Monday, November 29, 2010

Olsen on the "Two Evangelicalisms"

Wow, Roger Olsen is really saying what he thinks, he is even arguing an amicable split would be better than trying to continue together under the same label. I'm particularly interested that he traces this division to Whitefield and Wesley,

This is a reason why I increasingly view evangelicalism as two movements rather than one. We are like ships passing in the night even though we both call ourselves evangelicals and stand in that movement’s historical trajectory. Wesley and Whitefield have been pitted against each other. Indeed. Thank God they could both serve as catalysts for the Great Awakening, but their profoundly different views of God largely kept them apart. Wesley’s hermeneutic was captivated by God’s love revealed above all else in Jesus Christ. Whitefield’s hermeneutic was captivated by God’s glory revealed above all else in God’s sovereign election of individuals to heaven or hell.

Is this descrition valid, or does it obscure more through over simplification?  It strikes me as making sense, but then my knowledge of Whitfeld is limited and of Wesley only slightly less so.   Is this just another example of using complex historical situations as blunt instruments to pigeon hole opponents? But, interestingly, I think the target of Olsen's critique would probably be quite happy with his typology.

What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. As an enthusiastic Wesleyan, this resonates with something I've always felt. However, I always think that we have to be careful about stark dualisms.

    I know this is still in the Wesleyan camp but, on another blog, someone mentioned Randy Maddox's concept of "responsible grace". My own opinion about "grace verses works" is that we have to balance carefully on the fulcrum, neither denying the many biblical demands for obedience nor the fact that we can only be saved by the grace of God. (Still Wesleyan, of course!)