Could a methodist explain the various beliefs in his/her church, it’s founding, and how it’s different from other protestant groups
Not an expert, but Methodists seem to be all over the place theology wise.
And there are different varieties of Methodists.
Ranging from very liberal to very conserevitive. In the south they tend to be more Baptist. One Methodist church where I lived before actually had a Baptist style tub in their church for adult submersion type baptisms.
It depends on where you are located. One time my campus United Ministries
shared a retreat including Catholics with a Methodist group at the Rio Grande river.
The Methodist minister persuaded the group of his followers that they were not validly baptized as infants and went ahead and dunked them all in the river.:eek:
After that the Catholics ceded from UCM and a separate Newman Club was began.
They started out as an evangelical revival movement within Anglicanism. You can still see a lot of Anglican influence. As the previous poster said, they are diverse. You have theological conservatives and theological liberals. You have your more formal Methodists as well as your more revivalistic Methodists. However, much of the revivalistic Methodists split off into holiness denominations such as the Wesleyan Church and the Church of the Nazarene.
The United Methodist Church has information on a number of their historic confessions such as the Articles of Religion written by John Wesley. These documents will give you a good idea about what Methodists have historically believed across time. umc.org/what-we-believe/foundational-documents
Would be cool to be a Methodist. Luv the name!
Although I’m not formally a Methodist (it is currently the main alternative to Catholicism for me, but since I have trouble giving up on my desire to become Catholic–or finally following through on it–I remain formally Episcopalian at the moment), here’s a bit more elaboration of the good summary Itwin provided:
Methodism derives from Anglicanism, but a very “pietist” or evangelical form of Anglicanism. That is to say, the founders of Methodism (John and Charles Wesley) were Anglican clergy who experienced an evangelical “conversion” in which they became confident that God had forgiven their sins on the basis of faith in Christ. They combined this typically evangelical Protestant message with a stress on holiness and on the sacraments that many folks here would think of as more typically Catholic. In America, where Methodism became one of the most important Protestant traditions (the largest for a while, although it was then overtaken by the Baptists), the sacramental emphasis faded and the understanding of “holiness” came to be focused on a “second work of grace” in which, through a further act of faith and consecration, a person was baptized in the Holy Spirit and was freed from sinful tendencies (“entirely sanctified”–basically made a saint instantaneously). This “holiness movement” led to the foundation of a bunch of new denominations (some of which became what we call “Pentecostals” today), as the leadership of the main Methodist denomination became more and more hostile to “holiness” teaching. By the end of the 19th century liberal theology was becoming dominant in Methodism, and the revivalistic “holiness” wing of Methodism was treated as a kind of embarrassing lapse in taste from which Methodists were recovering. Since about the 1960s two things have happened that have changed this picture:
- The more elite, liberal wing of the denomination has rediscovered the Wesleys’ sacramental teaching, partly of course under the influence of the ecumenical movement and a greater openness to Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican theologies; and
- The evangelical wing has had a major revival, both because of its own growth and because the denomination as a whole has lost numbers, leaving the evangelicals as the most successful part of the UMC. (Also, the UMC has a lot of members in Africa and other parts of the Third World.
The third and to my mind most promising development is that the evangelicals have started to discover sacramental piety too, and indeed the old dichotomies between respectable “high-church” urban liberals and shouting, uncouth rural revivalists have broken down to a great extent.
John Wesley was very critical of Calvinism and double predestination. Oddly enough a Calvinistic Methodism did emerge and become dominant in Wales, which demonstrates how diverse a movement it is. I have ancestors who were Wesleyan Methodists, in fact one of my ancestors from England was among the first followers of Wesley in Leeds and had been baptized by the famous George Whitefield, the father of the First Great Awakening, whom he took pride in being named after. His wife Hannah was a class leader in the movement, which always impressed me since its very egalitarian for 1770. I also have Irish Methodist ancestors. I’m a bit of a fan of the Wesley brothers and Methodist theology me’self.
Thanks for the replies guys! I appreciate them!
I am a former Methodist, and my father is a retired Methodist minister. What others have said is basically on the mark. Right now, the church in the USA is sort of stagnating and declining. The UMC is in the midst of a struggle between the more liberal theology branch and the more conservative branch. This struggle isn’t anything new, but it does exasperate a more pressing problem within the church. The most damaging struggle is that the hierarchy has seemed to have neglected to really care about the smaller parishes. They tend to put new pastors or seminarians (who are still in school) in these small churches. And many of them are just not cut out for the job. Some of them are really good, but most are just bad. They have no business being a pastor, but no one has the courage to tell them so other than a few parishioners. So the membership declines dramatically in these small churches. But the council of bishops in each region don’t seem to care. They only care about the larger parishes. For them, the smaller parishes are merely guinea pigs for newbs to cut their teeth on. It is somewhat of an understandable view, but when they refuse to fire bad pastors, it becomes a serious issue. Things look even worse when head bishops are building multimillion dollar homes while the smaller parishes suffer, which recently occurred in the Louisiana Conference of Bishops.