Methodist Neighbour

Hi,

I have a neighbour I’ve been seeing often at the bus stop that picks up our kids. He is a pastor and I’m able to work at home along with my wife.

Anyway, he said he was Methodist. I asked him if he was Calvinist or Wesleyan. He said his church was Arminian.

I have no real experience talking to protestants. Any tips on how to approach someone with his background? We have kept things very social so car, and my kids play with their kids. So I don’t want to push him into a debate or anything like that. But what kinds of things might provide food for thought for someone like him who is a pastor? Any really effective seeds I can plant! :slight_smile:

I found this wiki on Classical Arminianism. Maybe we could start here?

[LIST]
*]Depravity is total: Arminius states “In this [fallen] state, the free will of man towards the true good is not only wounded, infirm, bent, and weakened; but it is also imprisoned, destroyed, and lost. And its powers are not only debilitated and useless unless they be assisted by grace, but it has no powers whatever except such as are excited by Divine grace.”[16]
*] Atonement is intended for all: Jesus’s death was for all people, Jesus draws all people to himself, and all people have opportunity for salvation through faith.[17]
*] Jesus’s death satisfies God’s justice: The penalty for the sins of the elect is paid in full through Jesus’s work on the cross. Thus Christ’s atonement is intended for all, but requires faith to be effected. Arminius states that “Justification, when used for the act of a Judge, is either purely the imputation of righteousness through mercy… or that man is justified before God… according to the rigor of justice without any forgiveness.”[18] Stephen Ashby clarifies: “Arminius allowed for only two possible ways in which the sinner might be justified: (1) by our absolute and perfect adherence to the law, or (2) purely by God’s imputation of Christ’s righteousness.”[19]
*] Grace is resistible: God takes initiative in the salvation process and his grace comes to all people. This grace (often called prevenient or pre-regenerating grace) acts on all people to convince them of the Gospel, draw them strongly towards salvation, and enable the possibility of sincere faith. Picirilli states that “indeed this grace is so close to regeneration that it inevitably leads to regeneration unless finally resisted.”[20] The offer of salvation through grace does not act irresistibly in a purely cause-effect, deterministic method but rather in an influence-and-response fashion that can be both freely accepted and freely denied.[21]
*] Man has a freed will to respond or resist: Free will is granted and limited by God’s sovereignty, but God’s sovereignty allows all men the choice to accept the Gospel of Jesus through faith, simultaneously allowing all men to resist.
*] Election is conditional: Arminius defined election as “the decree of God by which, of Himself, from eternity, He decreed to justify in Christ, believers, and to accept them unto eternal life.”[22] God alone determines who will be saved and his determination is that all who believe Jesus through faith will be justified. According to Arminius, “God regards no one in Christ unless they are engrafted in him by faith.”[22]
*] God predestines the elect to a glorious future: Predestination is not the predetermination of who will believe, but rather the predetermination of the believer’s future inheritance. The elect are therefore predestined to sonship through adoption, glorification, and eternal life.[23]
*] Christ’s righteousness is imputed to the believer: Justification is sola fide. When individuals repent and believe in Christ (saving faith), they are regenerated and brought into union with Christ, whereby the death and righteousness of Christ are imputed to them for their justification before God.[24]
*] Eternal security is also conditional: All believers have full assurance of salvation with the condition that they remain in Christ. Salvation is conditioned on faith, therefore perseverance is also conditioned.[25] Apostasy (turning from Christ) is only committed through a deliberate, willful rejection of Jesus and renunciation of saving faith. Such apostasy is irremediable.[26]
[/LIST]

I suppose I could start with Sola Fide. Seems like the easiest place to start. But I’m not reallly prepared for verse slinging… Seems like to start with such topics is just to play into his strong points. Like a head on attack that will likely alienate rather than plant useful seeds.

Perhaps focusing on theology of the body might be a better approach. He has four kids, I have five… But maybe that is too personal…

God bless,
Ut

If it were me I wouldn’t bring up any of the issues you cited. Just be a good neighbor to him and his family. Invite them over for a BBQ, chat when you meet, be there if they need help. IOW, show your faith in your actions. If he wants to discuss theology let him be the first to say something. We don’t have to go out of our way to convert other Christians. Rather, we should be a good witness of our Catholic faith and pray for them. The first rule of evangelization is to be a loving friend, pray and let the Holy Spirit draw others to what you have–access to the fullness of grace in the Sacraments. If it shows in your daily life others will want to know what it is you have that makes you spiritually attractive. Does that make sense? :slight_smile:

Perfect sense!

Getting into these issues just seems like building up walls than breaking down walls. Especially with a pastor.

Thanks Della

You’re welcome. :tiphat:

I agree with Della, but I’d have no problem exploring ideas. You can always just ask him gentle questions. Ask him about the beliefs of his church. Ask him about the history of his church. Don’t be combative, or challenge or compare everything he says with Catholicism. But occasionally, when it seems prudent, you could present Catholic teaching or understanding. Asking questions of others shows interest, which should be genuine, and opens up the possibility for deeper conversation.

Good point exnihilo. So maybe ask questions from him about his faith in a non combative way. And answer any questions he may have about my own. Then just leave it at that.

I think I’ve been doing this so far. But still, I have the tendency to get argumentative. I need to resist that tendency. I’ve been in forum arguments that have lasted months! I don’t know if anything good was achieved in these discussions though. Certainly I did not end up convincing my opponent. The very fact that I’m talking about these people like they were my opponents seem to show that I failed somehow. But they came to this forum to pick fights. I suppose we can’t leave their challenges unanswered.

But still, there was no underlying friendship in these conversations, while with this pastor, I think I have an opportunity to develop a friendship. I don’t want to risk that by letting the conversation become a battle.

I remember I had a Mormon co-worker who was constantly discussing his faith with me. We had some good discussions, and I got him to read the church fathers. But I remember we started talking about 1st Corinthians 7 and he pulled out his Mormon bible where the translation was “corrected” and I just lost it. I got angry. We never talked about religion again after that. I’m still kicking myself for losing control over my emotions.

God bless,
Ut

If you have a tendency to argumentative or “lose it”, I would think it would be best to just leave things alone and continue as you are, being a witness. When such arguments occur, they are not from the Holy Spirit, but from the evil one who seeks to divide. In my experience in my life, the Methodists I know are good and kind people who are reasonable people to discuss things with and are not prone to Catholic-bashing, etc. I know that was not always true in the past (from family), but it seems to be the case now. This man sounds like a very nice gentleman to be friends with.

His church is Anglican. It was invented by disciples of John Wesley, who was an Anglican priest. Unlike Martin Luther (a Catholic priest who left Catholic ministry), Wesley remained an Anglican priest in good standing up to his death. He always viewed methodism as a subset of Anglicanism. Wesley never established a Methodist parish (he established Anglican parishes, including one in Savannah, GA, which is my hometown).

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