A Summary of John Wesley’s “A Plain Account of Christian Perfection”

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Years ago, I was in a systematic theology class looking at different models of sanctification from different Christian traditions.

Having more Reformed tendencies, I was able to read John Wesley’s A Plain Account of Christian Perfection.  While I don’t agree with Wesley’s doctrine of Christian perfection,  I did appreciate the opportunity to broaden my horizons.  Wesley did incredible things for the kingdom of God, for which I am grateful.

A one paragraph summary for those who are interested and may be confused by Wesley’s doctrine of Christian perfection:

Essentially, Wesley believes that Christians are able to become perfect in this lifetime.  Before we immediately dismiss him however, two things must be understood to put this into context: his understanding of sin, and his understanding of perfection.  He has a much narrower understanding of sin than the Reformed position, i.e., fewer things count as sin to him.  And second, he has a lower understanding of perfection: the perfect Christian can still make mistakes.  Perfection means to love God fully.

While I still disagree with this doctrine and think that Scripture reaches a different conclusion, reading his own argument helped me to realize the gap between us was much smaller than I first thought.


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