Methodist & Catholic Relationship


Hi all

What is the current relationship between the Catholic and Methodist relation? As in ecumenical realtion.

Are they Mainline Protestant or Fundamentalists?

Doctrinal Matters, are they similar to the Catholic Faith?

enlighten me :confused:

God Bless

little goblin



To my knowledge (and granted I could be wrong) the Methodist church grew out of the Anglican church so it would probably fall under mainline protestant.

correct me someone if I’m wrong!:yup:



Methodist is an offshoot of the Wesleyan Church and not very close at all to Catholicism.


Methodism began as a “revival” of 18th century Anglicanism and grew into a separate denomination. There was a reunion of the three main Methodist groups in 1939 into the United Methodist Church. Methodism is long on good works, short on theology. Founder was John Wesley, an Anglican priest, and secondarily his brother, Charles, also a (Protestant) priest.Since 1924, Methodists have been excused from subscribing from any creed or statement of belief. Instead they promise “loyalty to Christ.”

Go here for information about Catholic-Methodist relations:


[quote=Shibboleth]Methodist is an offshoot of the Wesleyan Church and not very close at all to Catholicism.

This needs a bit of correction. The current United Methodist Church traces its origin to John Wesley in 1784. Wesley was an Anglican priest, and remained so all his life. The United Methodist Articles of Religon, which define UM “doctrine” are almost identical to those of the Anglican Church.

Wesley was actually quite close to the Catholic Church in many respects. He did not believe in the “faith alone” teachings of Luther. In fact, Wesley’s greatest controversies were with the Lutherans and the Calvinists.

Of course, he was an English Protestant and had his differences with Catholicism. But he was for the most part on friendly terms with Catholics.

The Methodist stream was fed by the post-Reformation German Pietist movement. The current United Methodist Church is a union between the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church back in 1968.

Unfortunately, most United Methodists are quite unaware of the teachings of John Wesley, who was an ardent sacramentalist. The present-day UM church has strayed very far from its Wesleyan roots.

Within the UM church, which is mainline Protestant, is a very strong evangelical wing which continues to fight for the restoration of what they see as biblical Christianity. Things are very tense within the denomination right now after this year’s General Conference, which had big pro-gay demonstrations. Because of the increasinlgy leftward tilt of the church leadership, many evangelicals are predicting a split in United Methodism.

We’ll have to wait and see. United Methodists are very loyal to their denomination and it’s very hard to get them worked up over points of doctrine, at least enough to split their denomination. The abortion issue wasn’t enough to do it.


“How do I become a member of the United Methodist faith?”


Hi all

Thanks for the information… am also curious how do their pastor preach?

little goblin full of questions questions :stuck_out_tongue:


[quote=little goblin]Hi all

Thanks for the information… am also curious how do their pastor preach?

little goblin full of questions questions :stuck_out_tongue:

It depends on who the pastor is and to a large degree where he/she had their seminary training.

A substantial number of UM pastors are strongly evangelical in their preaching. Many of these have come out of seminaries like Asbury Theological Seminary. (That’s where I went.)

If you get one that came out of Garret Evangelical Theological Seminary, watch out. Don’t let the name “evangelical” fool you. This seminary is a hotbed of radical feminism/gay-lesbianism. Pastors from these seminaries might preach anything from a kind of nicey-nice humanitarianism to Wiccan theology.

By and large, if you are strongly evangelical, you will have some problems in some of the annual conferences. During the ordination process, it is not uncommon for an evangelical to experience a degree of harassment by his Conference Board of Ordained Ministry. These people, especially if they are anti-gay and pro-life, will not ordinarily get the “plum” appointments.

In assessing the strenght of preaching in the UMC you have to take each pastor on a case-by-case basis. It’s tough to generalize, because there can be so many exceptions to whatever general prinicples you think you have in hand to evaluate them.

My own journey into the Catholic Church (1995) started at Asbury Seminary and I received the concluding shove when I got into a terminal conflict with my Board of Ordained Ministry over a pro-life sermon I preached. Long story.


Howdy !!

I have a friend that was a non-practicing Catholic and is now a Methodist (his wife is Methodist and he was indifferent).

He's become quite active in his faith now, but we very few discussions.  I'm Catholic and a budding apologist.  I don't want to cause arguments, but want to be able to answer questions if he has them.

I need to know what some of their beliefs are.

Do they believe in the 'Real Presence', the 'Communion of Saints', ... ?

Thank you for any assistance.



As the husband of a United Methodist (in fact my parents have also recently joined the UMC), I have a few comments to make:

  1. UMC’s do have confessional statements (the 25 Articles, which are an adaptation of the Anglican 39 Articles; the Confession of Faith of the EUB, a German-American denomination that united with the Methodists some decades ago; and on a lesser level the sermons and exegetical notes of John Wesley–see True, the liberal wing of the UMC denounces the idea of authoritative creeds or confessions, and they have had a lot of influence in how Methodists understood and presented themselves. But the official teaching remains on the books, however poorly it’s promulgated.

  2. Tirian, I’m surprised to hear you say that the UMC is tilting in an increasingly leftward direction. Everything I know indicates exactly the opposite–that for a good few years now the conservatives are increasing in strength. Certainly the liberals seem to think so–a recent book called United Methodism at Risk warned in dire tones of an impending conservative takeover. A liberal Methodist pastor of my acquaintance told me several years ago that he was thinking of leaving because “the Asburyites are winning.” I know you Asbury folks like to think of yourselves as embattled heroes fighting overwhelming hosts of orcs at the gates of Mordor, but the tide really does seem to be turning (though the outcome is still very much in question).

  3. Specifically, several UMC seminaries are moving in a much more conservative direction. Duke, where I was a grad student for years, is the best example of this (I’m talking about the Divinity School, of course, not the university as a whole), but actually the new president of Garrett is also quite orthodox as far as I know, and I believe that your statements about that institution are becoming outdated. Perkins has a strong orthodox presence as well. Certainly there are some very liberal UMC seminaries, such as Claremont or Iliff or Drew (where my wife is a librarian, BTW–actually you may know her, since she was at Asbury from 1993 to 1997–her name is Jennifer Woodruff–now Jennifer Woodruff Tait!). But I’m not sure Garrett is among them any more, and certainly Duke is not.

In Christ,



Michel, in response to your questions:

Methodists are historically an interesting mixture of “low-church” (i.e., what you would think of as Protestant) and “high-church” (i.e., more Catholic) elements. They do not believe in eternal security, and their understanding of how faith and works are related is much closer to the Catholic view than the standard Lutheran/Reformed soteriology is. The distinctive Methodist doctrine is “Christian perfection,” which means that through grace a person can be entirely filled with charity and hence free from conscious attachment to sin in this life (think of the state of soul required to attain a plenary indulgence, and you more or less have it). Methodists believe in a kind of apostolic succession, but through presbyters rather than through bishops as a separate order (Methodist bishops are not seen as having a different kind of orders than presbyters do). Wesley believed in the Real Presence in a more spiritualized way than Catholics do (he didn’t think the elements themselves were changed, but he believed that they convey the Body and Blood of Christ to the believer). The Articles teach this view (believers receive the Body and Blood of Christ “in a heavenly and spiritual manner” through faith), but many Methodists slipped into a purely symbolic view. There’s been a resurgence of sacramentalism among Methodists in recent years. Same with communion of saints. The Articles condemn Catholic views on this subject, but I know Methodists (again, including my wife) who pray the Rosary, venerate icons, etc. The problem is that among Methodists these high-church leanings tend to go along with theological liberalism at least on issues like homosexuality, though this isn’t always the case and I have some hope that this is changing. (My wife belongs to a sacramental Methodist fellowship called the Order of St. Luke, but she often considers withdrawing from it because their official stance on homosexuality and similar issues is staunchly liberal.) So chances are that a self-described evangelical within the UMC will be less friendly to Catholic sacramentalism than a liberal, although of course the liberal will have other issues. There are som exceptions to this, as I said (my wife being one). See for instance the article in First Things some years ago (you can find it on the Web) by an evangelical UMC professor (at Asbury, where Tirian went), Jerry Walls, defending the doctrine of purgatory. William Abraham, also a Methodist theology professor, is another high-church conservative. He got up at the meeting of the Wesleyan Theological Society this year (which my wife and I attended) and basically denounced sola scriptura (he has criticisms of Catholicism as well–he seems to lean in a more Orthodox direction, which is actually a common trend among high-church Methodists).

I hope some of this is helpful. Let me know if you have further questions.

In Christ,



Edwin, thanks for the encouraging words. I really pray that you are right. I admit that I have been colored by some personal experiences that led me to this pessimistic position. Just this spring I heard Dr. James Heiddinger speak (he’s the head of Good News). He was very pessimistic about the direction things were going, especially after this year’s General Conference. For the first time, I heard some of the Good News people openly considering the necessity of a split in the denomination.

I said I was colored by personal experience. My own niece is a graduate of Garret-Evangelical. After serving a couple of charges in Wisconsin, she came out this winter and announced to the family that she was lesbian and was surrendering her credentials, not because she didn’t think that in the end gays would be ordained (she did) but that she just wanted to spend more time on her new “relationship.”

There are hopeful signs, as you pointed out. In fact, one of my mentors on the way to the Catholic faith is Thomas Oden. I"ve been gone from the UMC now for fifteen years, so my level of knowledge may be deficient. I hope you are right.



I had a look at the most recent issue of the Good News newsletter the other day, and Dr. Heidinger actually says that the latest General Conference shows that the UMC is turning away from “sexual libertarianism” (I think that was his phrase). However, he points out that the liberals are not about to give up, and I get the impression that his suggestion of “amicable divorce” was fueled by his belief that the battle is just going to go on and on, using up energy and resources that could be used far more profitably. You have heard him speak, as I have not, so you can tell me if that’s your sense as well. I have to say that I was rather annoyed when I heard that he had advocated separation–as an Episcopalian, I felt that Methodist conservatives don’t know when they are winning! (My parents’ pastor also talks about leaving the UMC; my parents recently joined the UMC, about a century after my great-great-uncle left the Methodist Episcopal Church to found his own holiness denomination, so we tend to feel that we’ve been there and done that and it didn’t turn out so good.) It seems to me that Dr. Heidinger’s point of view makes sense (and is even quite generous) from a purely political point of view. But from a Christian point of view I think it’s reprehensible. Of course, as a Catholic you may think it doesn’t matter, and I don’t think Protestant denominations matter as institutions. But the least we separated brethren can do is not start any new schisms.

In Christ,


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