Living Up to the Light We Have

John Wesley was the founder of Methodism and a tireless evangelist.  He devoted his life to spreading the gospel and initiated a revival that swept the English-speaking world.  So what did he say on the question of whether God’s grace and mercy extended only to “Christians”?  Are only those who assent to certain propositions–only those who “believe” certain things–admitted to the kingdom of Heaven?  Consider this, from his sermon “On Faith”:

The next sort of faith is the faith of Heathens, with which I join that of Mahometans. I cannot but prefer this before the faith of the Deists; because, though it embraces nearly the same objects, yet they are rather to be pitied than blamed for the narrowness of their faith. And their not believing the whole truth, is not owing to want of sincerity, but merely to want of light. When one asked Chicali, an old Indian Chief, “Why do not you red men know as much as us white men?” he readily answered, “Because you have the great Word, and we have not.”

It cannot be doubted, but this plea will avail for millions of modern Heathens. Inasmuch as to them little is given, of them little will be required. As to the ancient Heathens, millions of them, likewise were savages. No more therefore will be expected of them, than the living up to the light they had. But many of them, especially in the civilized nations, we have great reason to hope, although they lived among Heathens, yet were quite of another spirit; being taught of God, by His inward voice, all the essentials of true religion. 

No more was expected of them than living up to the light they had?  God’s inward voice can teach the essentials of true religion to those who aren’t “Christian”?

If John Wesley were alive today and made those comments, he’d catch some heat.  But he’d be in good company.

Love Wins