19.05.2018 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin

Methodism is a denomination of Protestant Christianity found mostly in the United States and Great Britain.

Methodism appeared in the 1720s in Oxford, as an offshoot of the Anglican Church. Then in the 18th century, having demanded that the church follow the Gospel norms, Methodists separated into an independent denomination.

John Wesley and George Whitefield were the founders of Methodism, as well as Countess Selina Hastings, who made a significant contribution to the formation of the religion.

The geographical location of Methodism is extensive, with about 75 million people and more than 130 countries. The United Methodist Church, which includes 7.5 million parishioners, is the largest in the United States.


History of the emergence

John Wesley and Charles Wesley formed the “Holy Club” in Oxford, where John Wesley worked as a teacher. It was there, in the 1720s, when Methodism first appeared. The Holy Club meetings, where Communion took place, were held weekly.  Members of the club fasted and took care of the sick and people in difficult life situations. So, taking spirituality as a basis in their activities, and calling it “method”, they began to be called “Methodists”.

Initially Methodists did not isolate themselves from Anglicanism. They believed that it was necessary to return to the period of early Christianity. Methodist communities spread across Britain rapidly by the end of the 18th century. They represented the so-called “classes” where followers confessed to each other, carried out missionary work and engaged in charity, which helped members of the community to build trusting relationships with each other.

Helping the poor was an important feature of their activities.

Thanks to the efforts of John Wesley, who called for the abolition of slavery, the creation of credit institutions, the reorganization of prisons and the spread of medicine among the poor, Methodism became popular with the working classes.

Initial beliefs of Methodists include:

  1. Everybody sins.
  2. Man is justified by faith.
  3. Through faith, one acquires holiness inside and outside.

Another founder of Methodism, George Whitefield, studied at Oxford on the same course as the Wesley brothers. For their unorthodox views, these three were eventually excommunicated from the Anglican Church together.

Different views on certain issues among the founders of Methodism led to various discussions. John Wesley preferred the Moravian Church and the teachings of Jacobus Arminius and rejected the doctrine of predestination. While George Whitefield and Selina Hastings were Calvinist sympathizers.

George Whitefield travelled throughout England preaching in the open air. As a result of his activities, the Free Church of England appeared. But after his death, Calvinism in Methodism declined, and the followers sided with John Wesley.

In 1784, when John Wesley elevated some of the first clergymen to missionary work in North America, Methodism separated from the Anglican Church.

From 1788, the number of Methodists in Britain began to grow, reaching about 800,000 by 1906.

John Wesley died in 1795, and the Methodists created their own church and completely separated from Anglicanism. In 1932, the Methodist Church of Great Britain appeared. It combined the Wesleyan Methodist Church, the United Methodist Church, and First Methodist Church.

Methodism also spread across the colonies of Great Britain. For example, the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church appeared in Africa.

To date, the United Methodist Church is the largest organization and church that belongs to the Protestant mainstream of the United States.

In 1923, the United Methodist Church built the Chicago Temple with a 173-meter spire. It remains the oldest skyscraper in the city.

Fundamentals of the faith

Fundamentals of the faith

Methodists preach the orthodox Christian teaching of the Most Holy Trinity and orthodox teaching that Jesus Christ is of human and divine origin.

Methodists use the Apostolic and Nikeo-Constantinople symbols of faith.

Baptism and Holy Communion are the only two Anglican rituals that Methodists recognize. They believe that they “receive the Body and Blood of Christ, who gives redemption in Holy Communion.” They believe in the existence of other sacramental means of grace.

Methodists, using the spiritual practice of John Wesley as a basis, continue to maintain an important role in the teachings of holy fathers in religious activity. The Holy Tradition is not considered part of the Holy Scriptures but is used only to interpret the latter.

In Methodism, there is the concept of “The Wesleyan Quadrilateral”– Sola Scriptura, Prima Scriptura, Hermeneutics and Christian Tradition. This is followed by Methodists in the doctrine of the manifestation of Divine Revelation.

Followers of Methodism believe that salvation is possible through missionary activity and service to the world. The Love of God is always love for one’s neighbor and justice.

Thirteen weeks before Advent and after Pentecost, Methodists have a “Tide Time”, when charity becomes especially important. There is also a special annual, Sunday spiritual practice “Covenant”, during which, using the worship service “Prayer of the Covenant”, Methodists renew their promise to God.