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Methodist Origins: 6 Things That Led to Development of Protestant Christian Denomination

By    |   Friday, 06 Feb 2015 05:19 PM

The origins of the Methodist Christian denomination began in the 18th century when ordained Anglican minister John Wesley and his brother Charles sought to reform the Church of England. Like other Protestants, the brothers were unsatisfied with the religious assumptions of the time and sought clarity through study and prayer.

By many accounts, the Wesley brothers and their peers at Lincoln College were nicknamed "Methodists" because they chose to lead extremely disciplined lives and because of the "methodical" way in which they practiced their faith.

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Here are six things that led to the development of the Methodist Christian denomination:

1. According to Lincoln College, around 1729, John Wesley and a "group of like-minded individuals began to meet together on a regular basis, forming what became known as a 'Holy Club'. It grew rapidly so that soon it included a member from almost every college in Oxford. The club met together to read, study scripture and undergo rigorous self-examination of their Christian lives."

2. Before the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, a Christian movement in what is now the Czech Republic also sought reforms in the Roman Catholic Church. This Bohemian Reformation placed an emphasis on the Bible and a disdain for papal authority and wealth. The Protestant Moravian Church rose out of the reformation and members of the church had an influence on the development of the Methodist Church.

3. In 1738, the Moravian Church became involved in English religion and began to minister in London. They developed the Fetter Lane Society and although there is some factual debate on whether John Wesley and his brother Charles were actual members, they were involved in the society. During one meeting, Wesley had an experience in which he felt touched by God's grace, which further motivated his quest for spiritual truth. In his journal Wesley wrote, "I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death."

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4. The Moravians believed that complete faith was tied to salvation and that doubt and sin indicated a need for salvation. The only way to acquire faith was to wait for God and not partake in worship, prayer or communion until complete faith was obtained. At a certain point, Wesley challenged that view after which he and his brother were no longer welcome in the society. In 1740, John Wesley formed his own group, the Foundry Society and approximately 72 members of the Fetter Lane Society migrated to the new group.

5. The Foundry built chapels and in 1742, the expense of doing so led to the Methodist practice of collection of funds based upon a class system. Henry C. Sheldon of Boston University writes, "The societies were divided into classes of twelve, one of the twelve serving as collector, and being responsible for a penny a week for each member. Forthwith it was discerned that this class system could be made useful for other than financial ends, that, indeed, it could be made to serve as a beneficent means of discipline and religious edification. So the financial became an eminently religious institution, and the collector, or class leader, a kind of sub-pastor."

6. The most notable contribution of Charles Westley to the Methodist Christian denomination is the over 5,000 hymns that he wrote. Many are still sung in current times and it has been postulated that more people have been touched and taught by those hymns than have learned from the founder of the denomination, John Westley.

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The origins of the Methodist Christian denomination began in the 18th century when ordained Anglican minister John Wesley and his brother Charles sought to reform the Church of England.
Methodists, Protestant, Christian, Denomination
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2015-19-06
Friday, 06 Feb 2015 05:19 PM
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