On the cross Jesus Christ suffered excruciatingly, and He became the propitiation for our sins. Propitiation is a theological word that means He completely satisfied God’s wrath towards our sin and turned God’s wrath away from us. As I recently explained, the Gospel is a Gospel of propitiation. That God’s wrath was turned away from us in Christ is very very very good news. It is the evangelical message.
While Calvinistic Evangelicals have historically taught this, have Arminians? Theological differences exist between the two camps, but John Wesley did teach propitiation.
John Wesley (1703-1791) was a leader of the Great Awakening in England and America. He was the founder of Methodism, and along with his brother Charles he is the namesake of Wesleyanism. Unlike his Calvinist contemporary George Whitefield, John Wesley was an Arminian. Like Whitefield, he did teach propitiation.
In one sermon he said,
[I]t is the blood of Christ alone whereby any sinner can be reconciled to God; there being no other propitiation for our sins, no other fountain for sin and uncleanness. Every believer in Christ is deeply convinced that there is no merit but in him; that there is no merit in any of his own works.
To Wesley, the blood of Christ is our propitiation. Notice the exclusivity of his statement. Words like “alone” and “no other” indicate Wesley taught that Christ’s propitiation of God is the only way of salvation.
Similarly in another sermon in reference to 1 Peter 2:24, he said that Christ bearing our sins in His body “is the sole meritorious cause…of our pardon and acceptance with God.” To Wesley then there is no other possible way to be right with God. Only through the death of Christ can our sins be taken away.
Commenting on Romans 3:25, Wesley defined propitiation as “to appease an offended God.” He then said that God’s “essential character and principal office is to punish sin.” Similarly commenting on 1 John 2:2, he defined propitiation as “the atoning sacrifice by which the wrath of God is appeased.” According to Wesley, God must punish sin. It is His “essential character.” Christ received that punishment on our behalf. His propitiation appeased “an offended God.”
John Wesley, a devout Arminian and namesake of Wesleyanism, taught that the Gospel is a Gospel of propitiation. Where there is no propitiation there is no Gospel.