Church History · Wesley and Whitefield
George Whitefield’s relationship with John Wesley was one of the more interesting examples of reconciliation of church history. These two men along with John’s brother Charles, were important figures in British and American history.
They started the Methodist movement. Whitefield was like a little brother to the Wesleys. He admired them and referred to John Wesley as his “spiritual father in Christ.” In 1739, they were working in close partnership. When Whitefield was seeing a large number of converts, he relied on the Wesleys to help organize and instruct them.
“My business seems chiefly in planting;” Whitefield said, “if God sends you to water, I praise his name.”
While Whitefield was having massive success in the American colonies in 1740, John Wesley wrote a tract and preached against Whitefield’s Calvinistic views.
When George returned to England he found that “many of my spiritual children . . . will neither hear, see, nor give me the least assistance: Yes, some of them send threatening letters that God will speedily destroy me.”
Wesley reported that Whitefield would “not join with me or give me the right hand of fellowship, but was resolved publicly to preach against me and my brother, wheresoever he preached at all.”
The Methodist movement was forever fractured into two camps, Calvinist and Armenian. However, despite their deep theological differences, they were soon able to reconcile their friendship. Although their camps would never merge, Whitefield and the Wesleys would not let their differences destroy their friendship. Whitefield was occasionally invited by Wesley to preach among his societies, and when Whitefield died in 1770, he had John Wesley preach at his funeral. When Whitefield was asked if he would see Wesley in heaven he said, “I fear not, for he will be so near the eternal throne and we at such a distance, we shall hardly get sight of him
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