“You appear to be designed by Divine Providence for an healer of breaches, a reconciler of honest but prejudiced men, and a uniter (happy work!) of the children of God that are needlessly divided from each other.” So wrote the Arminian John Wesley (1703-1791) to the Calvinist John Newton (1725-1807), in the midst of a pamphlet war between the two theological camps… Newton, an adult convert with a dark past, had seen too much of human depravity – and too much of God’s amazing, seemingly irressitible grace – to be anything but a Calvinist. But he was no controversialist. He tried, as much he once said, to “keep all shibboleths, and forms and terms of distinction out of sight, as we keep knives and razors out of the way of children,” opting rather to “talk a good deal about Christ.” Where others drew sharp lines to define their theology, Newton believed it best, in George Marsden’s playful phrase, to let sleeping dogmans lie.
The technologies may have changed from pamphlets to blogs and books, but I like Newton’s approach.
John Newton is an example of Amazing Grace, not only in coming to salvation, but in living it out with Christians of differing backgrounds and persuasions.