Portal:Methodism

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The Methodist Portal

Methodism is an evangelical movement within Protestant Christianity, encompassing various denominations. The Methodist movement traces its origin to the evangelistic teachings of John Wesley, who was an Anglican priest. It originated in 18th century Great Britain, and through vigorous missionary activity, spread throughout the British Empire, the United States, and beyond. Originally it appealed especially to workers, agricultural workers, and slaves. Soteriologically, most Methodists are Arminian or on rare occasions moderately Calvinist, emphasizing that Christ accomplished salvation for every human being, and that humans must exercise an act of the will to receive it (as opposed to the traditional Calvinist doctrine of monergism). Methodism is traditionally low church in liturgy, although this varies greatly between individual congregations; the Wesleys themselves greatly valued the Anglican liturgy and tradition. There are also a number of Calvinistic Methodists in Wales. An estimated 75 million people worldwide belong to the Methodist community.

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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 Christian theologian, and is largely credited with founding the Methodist movement. The Methodist movement began when Wesley took to open-air preaching in a similar manner as George Whitefield at Hanham Mount, Kingswood, and Bristol.

Wesley 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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