A post I wrote in January that comes to mind again this morning. I was reading the Didache with its powerful statement that there are two ways we can live: the way of life and the way of death.
It raises again for me the age old question of stark choices. There appear to be two options only. And yet we speak of degrees of faith and call on people to grow in grace. The relationship between the binary choices and the degrees of faith was one that Wesley worked with and through for most of his ministry.
Did John Wesley believe in something like purgatory? Something in a letter he wrote in 1770 to an unidentified recipient has me wondering.
The letter appears to be to a Methodist who has flagged in his faith. In the letter, he describes to the man the two ranks of Christians.
I have frequently observed that there are two very different ranks of Christians, both of whom may be in the favour of God, — a higher and a lower rank.
This statement is similar one in his 1787 sermon “The More Excellent Way,” which also describes a higher and lower path that a Christian may walk. It is worth noting, though, that even the lower path is much higher than many people in our churches today even long to journey. Here is how Wesley describes the two paths in his letter.
The [lower rank] avoid all known sin…
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