Did Charles not know his Wesleyan theology?

Would we argue that Charles Wesley had bad atonement theology?

I take it that many contemporary Christians and theologians resist the idea that Jesus’ death on the cross satisfied or turned back the wrath of God. It is not uncommon for this to be represented as something that neo-Calvinists or Baptists might say, but not we grace-oriented Methodists.

If so, have we written Charles Wesley out of our camp? I guess in one sense we have. Here are a couple verses from two of his hymns that are not in our hymnal.

A verse from “And Can It Be” that we don’t sing:

Still the small inward voice I hear,
That whispers all my sins forgiven;
Still the atoning blood is near,
That quenched the wrath of hostile Heaven.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.

A verse from “Depth of Mercy” not in our Hymnal:

Jesus speaks, and pleads His blood!
He disarms the wrath of God;
Now my Father’s mercies move,
Justice lingers into love.

I’ve not done a systematic study of Charles Wesley hymns. These were the first two I looked at when doing something else, and I was struck by the selection, which in both cases, dropped this kind of language. Could it be that Methodists think we reject a satisfaction model of atonement because we have purposely edited out such views from our own sung theology? I understand that there are various ways of comprehending the atonement. When, though, did we decide that Charles Wesley did not understand Wesleyan theology?


New music for ‘Let Us Plead for Faith Alone’

What a treat I got in my e-mail today.

Katie Yosua read my post about Charles Wesley’s hymn “Let Us Plead for Faith Alone” and got inspired to write a new tune for it.

I have the musical ability and knowledge of a sand flea, so can say nothing about her work other than how honored I am that something I wrote led someone to put their creativity and talent into motion.

Here’s a link to her composition for any who are interested in trying out her version of the hymn.

If anyone would like to get in touch with her directly, e-mail me and I’ll forward your message to her.

A word from Charles: Let us plead for faith alone

Let us plead for faith alone,
faith which by our works is shown;
God it is who justifies,
only faith the grace applies.

Active faith that lives within,
conquers hell and death and sin,
hallows whom it first made whole,
forms the Savior in the soul.

Let us for this faith contend,
sure salvation is the end;
heaven already is begun,
everlasting life is won.

Only let us persevere
till we see our Lord appear,
never from the Rock remove,
saved by faith which works by love.

I’m at a loss to think of a hymn or sermon of either Wesley that more compactly gets at the essentials of Wesleyan theology. What we need is a contemporary musician to come up with a catchy new tune so we can get a new generation of people singing their theology.