A scene from the Leben der heiligen Altväter (1482)

“You’re a Calvinist, Right?”

The Gospel Coalition

I get this question a lot, from a certain kind of people: Calvinists who are excited about the gospel, discipleship, Bible study, and robust theology. We have so much in common that it sometimes comes as a shock to them to learn that I’m not actually on board with any more of The Five Points than, say, John Wesley was. This 2012 interview by John Starke was a very helpful explainer for the Reformed-ish part of my audience. Here’s how it starts:

I’ve been reading Fred Sanders’s blog for a long time, and when his book, The Deep Things of God, came out, I was eager to read it. He’s a good writer, he loves and quotes the Puritans, he’s a reasonable thinker, and he knows how to do careful exegesis.

He’s also a Wesleyan.

I don’t mean to declare that so menacingly. But the first time I learned Sanders—associate professor at the Torrey Honors Institute of Biola University—was a Wesleyan, I was a bit surprised. It’s not that Wesleyans and Arminians can’t be careful interpreters and reasonable thinkers—I just don’t often resonate with their writings and conclusions quite the way I do with Sanders’.

And so, I had to know: For a guy who loves, quotes, and depends upon Calvin and Calvinists, why isn’t Fred Sanders a Calvinist? We corresponded, and he explained the one thing he wished Calvinists would stop accusing Wesleyans of doing and why Wesleyanism is only the opposite of Calvinism in a very small thought-world.