Across Thirty Years: A Short History of the Fundamental Wesleyan Society,
Dr. Vic Reasoner
THE ARMINIAN MAGAZINE. Issue 2. Spring 2013. Volume 31.
Date Posted Nov. 03, 2013
Elmer Long had conducted his "soul clinics" annually at Clinton Camp
in Clinton, PA. However, after the Fundamental Wesleyan Society organized, all his meetings "dried up." Harold Schmul was instrumental in getting Long back to the Clinton camp. However one night at Clinton Camp, Long's sidekick Homer Sawyer read Richard Watson's sermon "Power From On High." You can read it by going to The opposition was so fiery that Long later said he thought an opposing preacher was going to punch him. While Schmul came to their defense, telling the crowd that they were Wesleyan, not heretics, neither Long nor Sawyer were ever invited back.
About this same time we experienced an internal conflict. One of the founders was accused of adultery. Members from his congregation drove to another state to make the accusation to another of the founders. The charges had to be addressed and momentum was lost in the tragedy.
In 1993 I was asked a second time to edit The Arminian Magazine. This time I was free to accept the responsibilities. I enrolled in Asbury with the promise that if I expanded my master's thesis under Dr. Laurence Wood that it would be published by Zondervan. While that promise was never kept, I did take a class taught by Dr. Steven Harper entitled "Spiritual Formation in the Wesleyan Tradition." That class opened a new dimension of Methodism to me. I learned that Methodism was not only a doctrinal position, it was a discipline. The conservative holiness movement rejected any accountability and the only discipleship they offered was at the close of an altar call.
We decided it would be more Methodist to become a "conference" rather than a "convention." We covenanted together to meet yearly; report monthly on the agreed questions; fast weekly; and pray daily for each of our partners. Initially there were two groups formed, one failed because of this methodology. Joe McPherson has served as our online "class leader" since we began our monthly accountability around twenty years ago.
Our meetings took on the atmosphere of a retreat instead of a convention. We did launch Fundamental Wesleyan Bible Institute in 1995 and started calling in lecturers. All of those sessions were recorded and are now posted on our website. Dennis Hartman has served as our webmaster since its inception.
In time some of our men were asked to lecture in other educational institutions and our own institute morphed into a cooperative effort. My systematic theology notes became the basis for Fellowship Foundations, published in 2003 by the International Fellowship of Bible Churches. The same year I became an adjunct lecturer at West Africa Theological Seminary and have taught systematic theology there eight times. I am now actively involved in helping produce curriculum for the Wesley Institute produced by the Southern Methodist Church.
Across the years The Arminian Magazine has gained a degree of respectability. The conservative holiness movement modified their opposition, in part due to their own internal conflicts. Our influence has expanded and we have tried to address a broader range of issues.
John Wesley originally founded The Arminian Magazine to be an alternative to current Calvinistic magazines. His design was for it to deal with theological controversy, "principally as an engine of polemical theology." The original Arminian magazine was described as more of a sword than a trowel and Wesley's preface in the premiere 1778 issue was described as a declaration of war. Thus, we have taken on the broader issues of Calvinism v. Arminianism.
In the early 1960s Robert Brush and Thurman McCoy flew to Marion, Indiana to express some concerns about the Sunday School curriculum produced at that time by the Wesleyan Methodist Church. Specific concerns included a suggestion in the Sunday School literature that Jesus and "Doubting Thomas" might be twins. The Sunday School literature also taught that the Red Sea was only three feet deep at that time of year, but that "well-meaning scribes" had corrupted the biblical text describing the exodus. Brush asked George Failing, the editor, how scribes could be described as "well-meaning" if their intention was to corrupt the Word of God. The only answer he received was that they should pray more for their leaders and criticize them less.
When the Wesleyan Theological Society was organized in 1966 their statement of faith affirmed biblical inerrancy. However, there has been a radical departure from their founding statement and we have attempted to defend the historic Methodist view on the authority of Scripture.
None of these positions have improved our popularity with the academic guild, but many who are bewildered by the flood of liberalism disguised as Wesleyanism now look to us for guidance. We also exist for our own encouragement and theological support. Core members are affiliated with the Fellowship of Bible Churches, the Church of the Nazarene, the Wesleyan Church, the Southern Methodist Church, the Association of Independent Methodists, the Free Methodist Church, the Christian and Missionary Alliance, and the United Methodist Church. We cannot measure our influence internationally. We are referenced in the Historical Dictionary of the Holiness Movement (2001).
And we also exist as a publishing company. Our books are cataloged in the two-volume index, The Wesleyan Holiness Movement (2005). Our goal is to promote a reformation and lay the foundation for revival. We feel that the basic theology and practice of early Methodism are the closest to apostolic Christianity and that a return to early Methodist doctrine and practice will provide the strongest foundation upon which future generations can build.