A Door Called Aldersgate

I get John Wesley. Before he became the guy who said, “I look upon all the world as my parish”* he preferred his parochial, amicable studies and libraries rather than the great halls. He was a cave-dweller. Ministerially, he was a good Oxfordite, a proper Anglican priest, who toed the party line and desired things be done decently and with order. He had some OCD in him, I’d wager. In short, he went with the program.

I do like my cave, but, granted, that last bit is quite unlike me. I have Baptistic roots but there are doors closed to me because of my ‘aberrant’ theology, and, likewise, I have not found a home among their polar opposites (I’m too Baptist I’m told). Ah, well, such is life. My wife quipped a few years ago that if I were the type of person to “play the game”, I would be set for life with meetings and denominational appointments. She followed that up by saying, “I respect you more because you don’t.”

She so completes me.

John-surnamed-Wesley was a fussy dresser, I’m told, always neat and fashionable without being conspicuous, starched to the gills and spotless. Hands soft and manicured, Wesley’s skin was probably sallowed from dwelling indoors by candle’s glow.

He’d heard of outdoor preaching but thought such was “almost a sin”** as it did not meet with the standards of Anglican piety. The party line reasoned that outdoor preachers  did so in violation of civil and canonical law. Those street preachers! How vexing and “uncouth”! If someone needed religion, it was required they come to the proper place.

All this before Aldersgate.

Until Aldersgate John was the typical minister of his day, interested primarily in maintenance and methodology (he never really departed from the latter), keeping the constituency enrolled as good Anglicans, filling his hours parsing the Greek and Latin texts, everything tidy and predictable. These, and straining to be holy enough.

Then, Aldersgate.

Thankfully, the Holy Spirit tampered with the diminutive priest (he stood barely five feet, six inches) and veered him away from idle religion. It took a failed ministry to the New World (Georgia, incidentally) to cause a downtrodden John to return to England where he would reevaluate his state of quo and not jibe with the man in the mirror. The perfunctory, finicky and methodical Wesley wound up at a meeting of Moravians in Aldersgate Street and learned for the first time he no longer needed to work his way to God by rigidly follow principles and being the best Anglican he could be.

He learned that salvation can be both instantaneous and processed and all the while have something known as the inner witness of the Spirit for complete assurance. He learned that Salvation and Rest and the Abiding Life are all listed together in the Thesaurus of Theology.

Aldersgate was like the release of pent-up, stifled air for the overstuffed, religious don. Aldersgate was the passing of religion and birthing of real living. For the first time in his 34 years, Wesley lay down for a nice long nap in Jesus’ pasture. So long Anglican-ism, hello Methodists.

There are two doors mentioned in Revelation that have everything to do with which side of Alders-gate we stand. One is a closed door (3:20) and has Jesus standing on the outside knocking.

Is anyone home? Will anyone invite me in?

The other door stands open (4:1) and invites those who respond to the call to see into the heavenlies. One door, being closed, forces Jesus to be part of what we are doing. If He comes late, or has to wait, so be it. We have our business to attend to. With or without Him.

The Second Door leads to a very wide room where choirs, thrones, angels, judgments, decrees, prayers, scrolls, horses, creatures, martyrs, armies, wedding parties and the Godhead fill the room. Through this door the Lord invites us to join Him.

Aldersgate is being freed from our safe caves of familiarity, self-effort, activity, striving, earning, doubt, and instability and ascending on eagles’ wings through a doorway into a vast cavernous place. I don’t quote from religious Elihu very often, but I like what he told Job: “Oh Job, don’t you see how God is wooing you from the jaws of danger–how He’s drawing you into wide open places…?” (Job 36:16) 

There’s a door we grudgingly open (or not), and a prodigious door that is already open, waiting for us, welcoming us, inviting us. Into His world. Which do you prefer?

I know which one John preferred.

So tell me about your Aldersgate.

****************************************

*The Letters of John Wesley, 1:286
**John Wesley: A Biography, by Stephen Tomkins

9 thoughts on “A Door Called Aldersgate

  1. […] In short, he went with the program. I do like my cave, but, … View full post on anglican – Google Blog Search Tagged with: Aldersgate • Called • Door • Green • P@stures  If you […]

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  2. brotherjohnny says:

    Gotta love the Moravians! Your article here ties in with a handful of other things that have been on my mind lately. I’m hoping to have the time and inspiration (not necessarily in that order!) to put it words and get it “out there”.
    It would seem as if Jon Huss was impressed with certain aspects of the Eastern Orthodox church… which has been on my mind lately, too (Google ‘River of Fire’ sometime if you are interested. I’m only about a 1/4 of the way through, but it is interesting to say the least!).

    It’s also interesting how CW didn’t seem to settle with the Moravian camp…, even though he was obviously deeply impressed. All in all, it’s a great testimony of the Grace of God in Christ– in unity *and* diversity!

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    • pasturescott says:

      To your last point, bro, how about what was presented in that Moravian meeting that night? A reading from Martin Luther’s preface to Romans!!!!

      Moravians, Reformed and Methodist together. Getting on God’s “page”. How’s that for unity and diversity? Ain’t God a hoot?

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      • brotherjohnny says:

        Luther? I praise God for His faithful “heretics!”🙂
        That *is* a hoot!

        As for my own Aldersgate and true ‘watershed moment’, I would have to say that I have had a few.
        Reading The Normal Christian Life by Nee was the first. It was his insight into the truth of Romans 6 and 7 that set_ me_ FREE!!

        There was a conference in Jacksonville, Fl. that I participated in with Gene Edwards, Frank Viola and a bunch of other Saints which was under the banner of “Beholding The Lord”. This was a deepening of the truth which I had seen by Nee and experienced in a corporate fashion. UNBELIEVABLE!!

        Taking in the written ministry of Norman Grubb helped to clear up some mental fog which needed to additional light concerning some confusion over who I am in Christ and who is in me and *as* me…

        Reading Tom Wright’s Surprised By Hope introduced me to the TRUTH involving Christs resurrection and what it means to be agents of the New Creation with the ministry of pulling Heaven and Earth together here and now as a foretaste of the Age to come.

        Each one of these experiences was like a new level of “salvation” for me at the time; a deep experience of God’s grace in Christ with profound effects on how I think and feel (and hopefully behave!).

        But, ever growing, ever learning, ever moving along… with an occasional bump in the road here and reinforced concrete wall there…🙂

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  3. Marie says:

    Can we have several Aldersgates? Say that word 10 times….. 🙂

    My first would be MasterLife – 1990 Until then, I thought I was a “good” Christian. HA

    Second would be – Walk to Emmaus (Jack & Kim Tidwell) – 1994 – Opened my eyes to the unity of all believers, no matter the denom. Also, heavy conviction at the foot of the cross. Changed me in ways that weren’t explainable.

    Third – John Brown – 2001 Opened my eyes to the Kingdom – and what that REALLY means. God brought me out of a very deep depression caused by bitterness toward someone and showed me that I was the one who allowed the bitterness and resentment to put me into the pit. Now, I know, the very same circumstances that “caused” the depression are the ones that grew me the most. I’m most thankful for that “suffering” that brought me outside of myself and gave me sensitivity towards others and broke my critical spirit.

    Fourth – New River – 2006 – Paradise🙂 Jerald and I were able to “rest”. Enough said. Thank you for that. The Lord ministered to us mightily through you with His love.

    You never really said what your Aldersgate was………………….

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  4. Jerald Hill says:

    I had wanted to read about the life of John Wesley and some years ago I saw a book called “A Heart Set Free” and bought it. It was only when I got it home that I discovered that it was not about John Wesley but his brother Charles. Instead of returning it, I kept it and am so glad I did.
    In chapter 5 of this wonderful book by Arnold Dallimore, it reveals that on Pentecost Sunday, May 21, 1738, Charles finally found Christ. As he said it, “I was in a new heaven and a new earth!” . It was three days later that his brother John had his experience at Aldersgate Street around 10 in the evening.
    I highly recommend this book about the man who God used to pen more than 3000 hymns and songs.

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    • pasturescott says:

      Dr. J! I had not heard this perspective from the narrative of the Wesley boys. Thank you for giving it light here. I have been greatly moved and intrigued to know that it was Charles who bridged the gap when John and Whitfield had estranged from one another for a season–over doctrine. God give us more Barnabas’ and Charlies! And Jeralds!

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