Saints in Methodism

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Methodism has historically followed the Protestant tradition of referring to sanctified members of the universal church as saints. However, as a title, Saint is usually used to refer to biblical people, Christian leaders, and martyrs of the faith. While most Methodist churches place little emphasis on the veneration of Saints, they often admire, honor, and remember the saints of Christendom.

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, believed that there was much to learn from studying renowned saints, but he discouraged the 'worship' of them. He expressed concern about the Church of England's focus on saints' days and said that "most of the holy days were at present answering no valuable end."[1] As such, Methodism does not have any system whereby people are canonised.[1]

Honoring the saints[edit]

Saint Mark United Methodist Church, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
Methodist churches dedicated to a particular saint are not very common.

John Wesley's belief was that Christianity should be Christ-centered. Article XIV of the Articles of Religion of the Methodist Church states that

Explicitly, Methodism denies Purgatory, relics, and prayer to saints—considering them to be distractions from the Christ-focused life and unfounded in Scripture.

While Methodists as a whole do not practice the patronage or veneration of saints, they do honor and admire them. Some Methodist congregations observe All Saints' Day (if they follow the liturgical calendar) in which the Church Universal, as well as the deceased members of a local congregation, are honored and remembered.[1][3]

The title Saint in Methodist churches is commonly bestowed to those who had direct relations with Jesus Christ, or who are mentioned in the Bible. Occasionally, some esteemed, pre-Reformation Christians are addressed using the title Saint; the theologian Saint Augustine of Hippo being an example. However, there is no established rule as to the use of the title. Some Methodist churches are named for historic heroes and heroines of the faith such as the Twelve Apostles (excluding Judas Iscariot), Timothy, Paul, John the Baptist, Mary Magdalene, Virgin Mary, and Joseph; an example being the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew (New York City). Although, most churches are named after geographical locations associated with an early circuit or prominent location.

The 2008 and 2012 General Conferences of the United Methodist Church voted to officially recognize Dietrich Bonhoeffer (2008) and Martin Luther King Jr. (2012) as modern-day 'martyrs'. The vote recognized people who died for their faith and stand as Christian role models.[4]

Virgin Mary[edit]

Mary is honored as the Mother of God in the United Methodist Church, and by Methodists of the High Church tradition. However, Methodists reject the doctrines of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of Mary, stating that Christ was the only person to live a sinless life and to ascend body and soul into Heaven.[5]

Some Methodists, including John Wesley, believe that the Virgin Mary was a perpetual virgin.[6][7] In general, Methodism holds that Mary was a virgin before, during, and immediately after the birth of Christ.[8][9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Do United Methodists believe in saints?". United Methodism Church. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  2. ^ "The Twenty-Five Articles of Religion (Methodist)". CRI / Voice, Institute. Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  3. ^ The Rev. J. Richard Peck (2011). "Do United Methodists believe in saints?". The United Methodist Church. Retrieved 31 October 2011. "We also recognize and celebrate All Saints' Day (Nov. 1) and "all the saints who from their labors rest". United Methodists call people "saints" because they exemplified the Christian life. In this sense, every Christian can be considered a saint." 
  4. ^ See United Methodist News Service, "United Methodists declare MLK Jr. a modern-day martyr" May 1,2012
  5. ^ "What does The United Methodist Church teach about the Immaculate Conception and the Virgin Birth?". Archives.umc.org. 2006-11-06. Retrieved 2013-09-30. 
  6. ^ Wesley’s Letters, The Wesley Center Online, 1749 
  7. ^ "Mary's Perpetual Virginity". Davidmacd.com. Retrieved 2013-09-30. 
  8. ^ "What does The United Methodist Church teach about the Virgin Mary?". Archives.umc.org. 2006-11-06. Retrieved 2013-09-30. 
  9. ^ "Comparing Christian Denominations – Beliefs: Nature of Mary". Christianity.about.com. 2013-07-30. Retrieved 2013-09-30.