Two theologies are compatible if and only if their core beliefs can coexist without resulting in conflict on issues of faith. Core beliefs may say the same thing in two different ways or may focus on different aspects of dogma. Core beliefs may, for example, be expressed as an ordered list of sequential items (as given below), an ordered list of God’s Decrees (Decrees of Reformed Theology) or even a Christian Manifesto in which the core beliefs are somewhat obscured (1646 Westminster Confession). But when the position of each theology on a given issue – such as God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, sin, prevenient grace or salvation -- is determined, those positions must be identical if the two theologies are compatible.
Incompatibility always results if a specific core belief of one theology is negated by a specific core belief of another theology. For example, several core beliefs of Wesleyan/Arminian theology are diametrically opposed to the corresponding core beliefs of Reformed theology; consequently, the two theologies are not compatible.
Only one instance of core belief negation is required to conclude that two theologies are incompatible; once that instance is found, there is no need to search for additional examples. Furthermore, once a single instance of core belief negation is found, any observed agreement between other core beliefs is irrelevant.
Wesleyan/Arminian core beliefs can be employed when comparing Christian Theology to other theologies – such as those of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, Scientology, Universalist Unitarian or Christian Science. The following formulation of Wesleyan/Arminian core beliefs is satisfactory for comparison.
- The Bible is the inspired, infallible and inerrant word of God.
- The one true God exists as three distinct, transcendent, immanent, infinite, eternal, and immutable persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
- Jesus Christ is God the Son. Jesus Christ is man. Jesus Christ is one person whose divine and human natures cannot be changed, divided, separated or mixed. Jesus Christ was resurrected bodily from the dead. Jesus Christ was born of a virgin.
- Every person since Adam and Eve, except Jesus Christ, was born with a sin nature and no person, except Jesus Christ, has lived a sinless life.
- Salvation from the consequences of sin is offered to all persons by the grace of God and the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ.
- The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all persons (Titus 2:11): (a) the requirements of the law are written by God on every heart (Rom. 2:15), (b) Jesus Christ knocks at the door of every heart (Rev. 3:20), (c) the Holy Spirit calls and convicts each person (John 16:8) and (d) God’s eternal power and divine nature are evident in the world around us (Rom 1:20). Nevertheless, many resist the grace of God.
- Each person who responds to God’s grace and the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ by confession of sin, remorse, repentance, faith and obedience receives the great gift of salvation. Each person who resists God’s grace is condemned to everlasting punishment.
- Faith precedes regeneration; faith is an act of human free will responding to the grace of God.
Thousands of Christian Denominations, Organizations and Cults thrive in the world today. Many of their diverse theological positions would not be compatible with the Wesleyan/Arminian core beliefs listed above. Even the Southern Baptist Convention is a disparate collection of theologies; some Woke, some Reformed and some Traditional Southern Baptist. Is God pleased by this state of affairs?