Portal:Methodism
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Portal:Methodism

The Methodism Portal

Methodism, also called the Methodist movement, is a group of historically related denominations of Protestant Christianity which derive their doctrine of practice and belief from the life and teachings of John Wesley. George Whitefield and John's brother Charles Wesley were also significant early leaders in the movement. They were named Methodists for "the methodical way in which they carried out their Christian faith". Methodism 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.

Wesleyan theology, which is upheld by the Methodist Churches, focuses on sanctification and the transforming effect of faith on the character of a Christian. Distinguishing doctrines include the new birth, assurance, imparted righteousness, the possibility of entire sanctification, and the works of piety. Scripture is considered as a primary authority, but Methodists also look to Christian tradition, including the historic creeds. Most Methodists teach that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for all of humanity and that salvation is available for all. This is an Arminian doctrine, as opposed to the Calvinist position that God has pre-ordained the salvation of a select group of people. However, Whitefield and several other early leaders of the movement were considered Calvinistic Methodists and held to the Calvinist position.

In addition to evangelism, Methodism emphasises charity and support for the sick, the poor, and the afflicted through the works of mercy. These ideals, collectively known as the Social Gospel, are put into practice by the establishment of hospitals, orphanages, soup kitchens, and schools to follow Christ's command to spread the good news and serve all people. (Full article...)

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The baptism of the Holy Spirit
Christian perfection, also known as entire sanctification and various other names, is a Methodist doctrine which holds that the heart of the regenerant (born-again) Christian may attain a state of holiness where there is a total love for God and others and empowers them to reject the sinful nature of ones humanity by the means of a deep cleansing of that nature through the divine grace of God.

Perfection is the process of sanctification which is both an instantaneous and a progressive work of grace. It may also be called entire sanctification, in which the heart of the believer is cleansed from inbred sin by the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Christian perfection, according to John Wesley, is "purity of intention, dedicating all the life to God" and "the mind which was in Christ, enabling us to walk as Christ walked." It is "loving God with all our heart, and our neighbour as ourselves". It is "a restoration not only to the favour, but likewise to the image of God," our "being filled with the fullness of God."

Wesley was clear that Christian perfection did not imply perfection of bodily health or an infallibility of judgement. It also does not mean one no longer violates the will of God, for involuntary transgressions remain. Perfected Christians remain subject to temptation, and have continued need to pray for forgiveness and holiness. It is not an absolute perfection but a perfection in love. Furthermore, Wesley did not teach a salvation by perfection, but rather says that, "Even perfect holiness is acceptable to God only through Jesus Christ."

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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