Methodist Apostolic Succession

I have heard multiple theories about apostolic succession in the Methodist tradition and would like to know what all of you think of it. From what I understand, they elect bishops from the priesthood and claim that it is based on an ancient decision from Alexandria. Is that correct? Is there any truth to it?

Really interesting article on this subject posted here:

This is what they believe:

Baptism is a sacrament or ceremony in which a person is anointed with water to symbolize being brought into the community of faith.

Communion is a sacrament in which participants eat bread and drink juice to show that they continue to take part in Christ’s redeeming resurrection by symbolically taking part in His body (the bread) and blood (the juice).

How do you reconcile that with what the Apostles believed?

When Peter or Paul laid the hands on someone and annointed them they believed the Holy Ghost was transferred. An outward sign CAUSED something to happen and our sacraments are all outward signs that act on us. Not mere “symbols”.

How can they justify the apostolic succession if they do not have a valid sacrament to begin with. They can elect an officer or representative in their church but they cannot make a Bishop or a Priest for they lack the means to do it.

Bishops could be validly selected in numerous ways, and election from the priesthood could work in theory.

However, a bishop must be validly ordination for apostolic succession to occur. As Methodism is an offshoot of Anglicanism, it lacks valid holy orders, thus whatever method it chooses to select bishops is moot. Its bishops are purely symbolic from a sacramental perspective, and would have only legal authority of the church corporation and no true spiritual authority over the congregants.

There is a story of dubious credibility that John Wesley was consecrated Bishop by Greek Orthodox Bishop Erasmus of Arcadia in London in 1763. This detailed in the link above. I wonder if Wesley were indeed so consecrated, whether he would have taken greater pains to preserve that line among those whom he later ordained. It is an odd story, but odd stories sometimes are true (witness some of the unbelievable scandals going around these days).

I don’t know what words are used to ordain Methodist bishops. If the apostolic succession were valid, it would not be valid with female bishops (at least as far as Catholics, Orthodox, and conservative Anglicans are concerned), but if there were always a male bishop as co-consecrator the line could be intact.

You forgot to bold ‘juice’ too. It should be wine.

This is completely untrue. This is taken from the Wikipedia page on the United Methodist Church, but it is easily confirmed with other more reliable sources:
"Sacraments. The UMC recognizes two sacraments: Holy Baptism and Holy Communion. Other rites such as Confirmation, Ordination, Holy Matrimony, Funerals, and Anointing of the Sick are performed but are not considered sacraments. In Holy Baptism, the Church believes that “Baptism is not only a sign of profession and mark of difference whereby Christians are distinguished from others that are not baptized; but it is also a sign of regeneration or the new birth.[31] It believes that Baptism is a sacrament in which God initiates a covenant with individuals,[32] people become a part of the Church,[32] is not to be repeated,[32] and is a means of grace.[33] The United Methodist Church generally practices Baptism by sprinkling, pouring, or immersion[34] and recognizes Trinitarian formula[35] baptisms from other Christian denominations.[36] The United Methodist Church affirms the real presence of Christ in Holy Communion, but does not hold to transubstantiation.[37] The church believes that the bread is an effectual sign of His body crucified on the cross and the cup is an effectual sign of His blood shed for humanity.[38] Through the outward and visible signs of bread and wine, the inward and spiritual reality of the Body and Blood of Christ are offered to believers. The church holds that the celebration of the Eucharist is an anamnesis of Jesus’ death,[39] and believes the sacrament to be a means of grace,[40] and practices open communion.[41]”

Assuming the Anglican orders were actually invalid, of course.

That is a good point.

an·am·ne·sis (nm-nss)
n. pl. an·am·ne·ses (-sz)
1. Psychology A recalling to memory; recollection.
2. Medicine The complete history recalled and recounted by a patient.
In other words it is not an Eucharist.**

Why they have to use obscure words so people can’t understand what they mean easily?
Do you know why?

Ahhh but that is exactly the point it was the resormation that threw out the “Sacrament of Holy Orders” without which you can’t have a validly ordained Bishop or Priest or Deacon.

In the sixteenth century this doctrine of a priesthood endowed with mystical powers was pronounced superstitious by most of the Protestant Reformers, who, accordingly, rejected Holy Order from among the number of their sacraments. They recognized, however, that from primitive times downwards there had always been a body of clergy set apart for the pastoral duties, and this they desired to retain in their separated communions; in some cases organizing it in two degrees only, of presbyters and deacons, in others of three degrees, which, in accordance with ancient practice, they continued to designate by the names of bishops, priests, and deacons. But their doctrine in regard to these ministers was that they could possess no powers beyond those of other men, but only “authority in the congregation” to preach and teach, to govern churches, and to preside over services and ceremonies; and that the rites, of imposition of hands or otherwise, whereby candidates were inducted into the grades of their ministry, were to be regarded merely as simple and impressive external ceremonies employed for the sake of decency and order.

Can you find a Sacrament of Holy Order in the Methodist church? NOPE it is not there they only recognize 2 sacraments!

Check Mate! :thumbsup:

Anamnesis is a term that is also used in discussions of the theology of the Eucharist, even in Catholic and Orthodox contexts. It refers both to the specific part of the Eucharistic prayer that refers to remembering or memorializing the events of our Lord’s Passion and to the sacrament itself as making the events of our Lord’s Passion and Resurrection present for us. While it is a term that is not familiar to many who have little theological training, I would not call it an obscure term.

Familiar amongst Anglicans, in the context of the Eucharistic sacrifice, and the Real Presence, too.


I’m almost certain that this is not correct. I have two theological degrees from Duke Divinity School, which is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, and I have never heard this.

Wesley, first of all, did not intend to start a different church, and indeed, he remained a priest of the Church of England until he died. However, he saw the inevitability of the Methodist movement in America as a separate Church, and, reluctantly, began ordaining ministers for the Methodists in America. He did this after having convinced himself that the offices of bishop and presbyter are the same office, sacramentally.

From my time in the Episcopal Church, I would agree with that. However, I don’t think it is a term familiar to many Catholic lay persons who lack some formal training in sacramental theology.

Interesting… Too bad Jesus founded His Church on Simon/Peter/Cephas/The Rock and not Paul.

It’s clear that some will stop at nothing to portray the illusion of legitimacy.

Wouldn’t surprise me at all. I got it in the catechism/confirmation class. One of my late rector favorite concepts.


No, they are simply using the words used by the Savior himself when he said, «τοῦτο ποιεῖτε εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν.» There is nothing at all heretical in pointing out that the Eucharist is an anamnesis.

Which they are, as evidenced by the dozens of Anglican clergyman re-ordained when they entered the Catholic Church. There are valid Catholic or Orthodox priests who became Anglican ministers, but they are a tiny exception.

Catholics believe that as well! Not exclusively of course but they still view it as a way to remember Jesus and his sacrifice. It’s ridiculous to say otherwise. When you take the Holy Eucharist, do you remember and think about Jesus and his sacrifice? Of course!

You are ignoring the very clear language a few lines above the word you are quoting, where they very clearly say it is the Real Presence.

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