Portal:Methodism

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Introduction

Methodism or the Methodist movement is a group of historically related denominations of Protestant Christianity which derive their inspiration from the life and teachings of John Wesley. George Whitefield and John's brother Charles Wesley were also significant early leaders in the movement. It originated as a revival movement within the 18th century Church of England and became a separate denomination after Wesley's death. The movement spread throughout the British Empire, the United States, and beyond because of vigorous missionary work, today claiming approximately 80 million adherents worldwide.

Wesley's theology focused on sanctification and the effect of faith on the character of a Christian. Distinguishing Methodist doctrines include the new birth, an assurance of salvation, imparted righteousness, the possibility of perfection in love, the works of piety, and the primacy of Scripture. Most Methodists teach that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for all of humanity and that salvation is available for all; in theology, this view is known as Arminianism. This teaching rejects the Calvinist position that God has pre-ordained the salvation of a select group of people. However, Whitefield and several others were considered Calvinistic Methodists and held to the Calvinistic position. Methodism emphasises charity and support for the sick, the poor, and the afflicted through the works of mercy. These ideals are put into practice by the establishment of hospitals, orphanages, soup kitchens, and schools to follow Christ's command to spread the gospel and serve all people.

Selected article

Wesley Memorial Church, a Methodist church in Oxford
The Methodist Church of Great Britain is the largest Methodist body in the United Kingdom, with congregations across Great Britain. It is a member of the World Council of Churches, the World Methodist Council and other ecumenical associations. In July 2014 it had approximately 202,000 members in 4,650 congregations and 575,000 adherents in total.

British Methodism arose as a revival movement in the 18th century, chiefly led by the Church of England cleric John Wesley. According to historians such as Elie Halevy, Eric J. Hobsbawm and E. P. Thompson, Methodism had a major impact in the early decades of the making of the English working class (1760–1820). In the 19th century, the Wesleyan Methodist Church experienced many secessions, with the largest of the offshoots being the Primitive Methodists. The main streams of Methodism were reunited in 1932, forming the Methodist Church as it is today.

Methodist circuits, containing several local churches, are gathered into thirty-one districts. The supreme governing body of the church is the annual Methodist Conference; it is headed by the president of conference, a presbyteral minister, supported by a vice-president who can be a local preacher or deacon.

Selected biography

John Wesley portrait
John Wesley (28 June [O.S. 17 June] 1703 – 2 March 1791) was an Anglican cleric and theologian, and is largely credited with founding the Methodist movement. He helped to organize and form Methodist societies throughout Britain and Ireland, small groups that developed intensive, personal accountability and religious instruction among members.

Under Wesley's direction, Methodists became leaders in many social justice issues of the day, including prison reform and abolitionism movements. Wesley's contribution as a theologian was to propose a system of opposing theological stances. His greatest theological achievement was his promotion of what he termed "Christian perfection" or holiness of heart and life. Wesley insisted that in this life, the Christian could come to a state where the love of God, or perfect love, reigned supreme in one's heart. His evangelical theology, especially his understanding of Christian perfection, was firmly grounded in his sacramental theology. He continually insisted on the general use of the means of grace (prayer, Scripture, meditation, Holy Communion, etc.) as the means by which God transforms the believer.

Today, Wesley's influence as a teacher persists. He continues to be the primary theological interpreter for Methodists the world over. Wesley's call to personal and social holiness continues to challenge Christians who attempt to discern what it means to participate in the Kingdom of God.

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