Calvinism/Arminianism, Mailbag

The Mailbag: Should I leave a Wesleyan church?

Readers, please note:
Comments attempting to debate Calvinism vs. Arminianism, or questioning the salvation of Calvinists or Arminians, will not be published.

A few years ago, we had to leave our church. In the area we live in, church teaching is mostly fluffy and there’s a lot of worldliness. We “settled” for a church in which we know the pastor and his wife personally. The pastor lives the Word he preaches.

The problem I have with the church is the doctrine of the denomination. They are a Wesleyan holiness background – Arminian. This past year I’ve done some doctrine study on my own to understand the differences in the Calvinism / Arminian camps more fully. I do not agree with some of the doctrinal stances of the church. Are these big enough issues to leave? Am I being too critical?

Finding a doctrinally sound church is probably the number one problem I hear about from readers, and it just breaks my heart. I dearly wish every church out there taught sound doctrine so this would no longer be an issue for Christians. If your pastor preaches sound doctrine and makes sure it’s taught in your church, be sure to give him a hug and tell him thank you.

I needed a quick brush up on Wesleyan theology, and some of my readers may not be too familiar with it, so let me start off with recommending two brief articles: Wesleyan-Holiness Theology and Who are the Wesleyans, and what are the beliefs of the Wesleyan Church?

Let me also clarify that, while Wesleyans who hold to the tenets outlined in these articles are Arminians*, not all Arminians would agree with all of the tenets of Wesleyan theology. (Kind of an “All Wesleyans are Arminians, but not all Arminians are Wesleyans,” thing.)

To illustrate, I know a great many Southern Baptists whose beliefs could technically be classified as Arminian, but they would reject the Wesleyan notions of sinless perfection and the idea that a genuinely regenerated Christian can lose his salvation.

There’s a broad spectrum of Arminianism. Some Arminian churches are so biblical and handle God’s Word so well that a Calvinist could joyfully join one and find minimal disagreement with the preaching and teaching. I am Reformed and I happen to be a member of just such a church.

You don’t state which Wesleyan doctrine(s) you find troublesome, so I’m not comfortable saying whether or not you’re being too picky and whether or not you should leave this church.

Another factor at play is how hard this pastor hammers the doctrines you’re uncomfortable with. A pastor who, for example, reluctantly keeps sinless perfection in the back closet because the church sign says “Wesleyan” but never talks about it from the pulpit is a different situation from a pastor who regularly preaches on sinless perfection and says you can’t be saved if you don’t believe this doctrine.

You also need to consider what your other options for churches are if you leave this one. Are there any churches within achievable driving distance that are more doctrinally sound than the one you’re attending? (You might find the resources in the “Searching for a new church?” tab at the top of this page to be helpful.)

The final piece of the puzzle, and probably the determining factor, is your husband. What does he think about all of this, and how is he leading your family? Is he saved? Generally doctrinally sound? I’m surmising the two of you are at least somewhat on the same theological page since you left the last church together and settled on this one together. If he is not leading you to sin, you will need to submit to his decision on this matter.

My counsel would be for you and your husband to make an appointment with your current pastor to ask questions and find out where he stands on all the Wesleyan doctrines. Then, you and your husband should take some time (a few weeks, a few months, whatever it takes) to search the Scriptures and pray about it together, as well as look at your options for other churches. Give your husband your input and let him know you’ll support whatever decision he makes.


*Just a little FYI for Christians who find themselves in discussions about Arminianism. ArmInian is spelled with an “I” in the middle. An ArmEnian (with an “E” in the middle) is a citizen of the Asian nation of ArmEnia. It is quite possible to be either a Calvinist Armenian or an Arminian Armenian :0)


Additional Resources

What is Arminianism, and is it biblical? at Got Questions

Calvinism vs. Arminianism – which view is correct? at Got Questions

Arminianism and Calvinism at Theopedia


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

 

7 thoughts on “The Mailbag: Should I leave a Wesleyan church?”

  1. I really look forward to your posts and appreciate your grounded responses. This dilemma seems to be so prevalent in these last days of compromised churches. I wonder if, at times, it would be better to ‘live stream’ a godly service at home, perhaps invite others? Home fellowships might be a possibility?
    P.S. THANK YOU for distinguishing Arminian and Armenian!! Sincerely, your Armenian reader! ☺

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    1. Hi Lisa- Thank you so much!

      I would only recommend that lay people with no church planting experience start a home church if:

      1. They have researched every single church within a two hour drive (or whatever is the maximum drive time their health and logistics – not preferences – permit) and have found every single one of them to be apostate (not “it doesn’t meet my preferences” or “it has a few problems”)

      2. They are absolutely unable to relocate at this time (finding a good church is important enough that if you need to move somewhere else to find one, you should)

      3. They have contacted their denominational headquarters and/or church planting organizations and have been unable to convince someone to come to their area and plant a church.

      I explain more here: https://michellelesley.com/2017/08/03/throwback-thursday-six-ways-not-to-forsake-the-assembly/

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Michelle, you are such a blessing! I’m so happy I discovered your blog. I’m presently a member of a wonderful reformed church where the word is faithfully preached, but in a couple of years my husband plans to retire and we’ll be moving to a rural area where there are no reformed churches within driving distance that I’m aware of. However, there is a country Baptist Church I’ve been investigating that appears to be conservative and faithfully preaching God’s Word. If they are reformed friendly, I believe I could attend Worship there knowing I’m with fellow believers. Please accept my thanks for your blog and sharing your wisdom with others as you’ve helped ease my mind about our future move.

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    1. Thank you so much, Angela! Let me this opportunity to say a couple of things that might not apply specifically to your situation, but may apply to others reading your comment who are in similar situation:

      If you are in a situation where you are going to move and have a choice of where to move, research the church situation as diligently and as seriously (in fact, more diligently and seriously) as you would the school system, the economy, housing, and whatever other factors you consider important when choosing a place to move to. Finding a solid church is important enough to use as a basis for where you choose to move to.

      Next, if you know you’re going to move to a certain place and it’s a couple of years down the road, research the church situation now. If there’s not a doctrinally sound church in that town, you could get in touch with a church planting organization and see if they might start working toward planting a church there.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I would leave if the doctrine was causing me to sin.

    What I mean by that is this: my family and I left our church about 2 years ago due to the leadership believing in “cheap grace”…ie. praying a prayer saves you, you don’t have to want anything to do with God other than his gift of salvation, Christian and disciple aren’t synonyms, etc. Also, other things such as being hyper-dispensationalists (Israel is God’s bride, the Church is Jesus’ and so on).

    We found we could not sit through a sermon without searching for the bad. We stopped being fed spiritually and became fault finders. We had many talks with the pastors about our concerns, finally decided we had to leave, and left on good terms.

    Our present church, and God willing, our forever church is an OPC church (orthodox presbyterians). From day 1 we loved that church, but we are not presbyterians. The big disagreement being we do not believe in infant baptism, though we DO understand their view and can respect/tolerate it. It is, however, the only reformed church in the area. We are techically reformed BAPTISTS, but we would not change churches if a reformed baptist church came into the neighborhood. We are committed.

    So, sorry long winded! I am just saying if you find yourself not being fed, find a new church for sure. But do not expect a perfect church, it doesn’t exist!

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