Methodist Church Beliefs and Practices

Rural Church in Wisconsin
JenniferPhotographyImaging / Getty Images

The Methodist branch of the Protestant religion traces its roots back to 1739 when it developed in England as the result of a revival and reform movement begun by John Wesley and his brother Charles. Wesley's three basic precepts that launched the Methodist tradition were:

  1. Shun evil and avoid partaking in wicked deeds at all costs
  2. Perform kind acts as much as possible
  3. Abide by the edicts of God the Almighty Father

    Methodism has experienced many divisions over the past several hundred years, and today it is organized into two primary churches: the United Methodist Church and the Wesleyan Church. There are over 12 million Methodists in the world, but fewer than 700,000 Wesleyans.  

    Methodist Beliefs

    Baptism - Baptism is a sacrament or ceremony in which a person is anointed with water to symbolize being brought into the community of faith. The water of baptism may be administered by sprinkling, pouring, or immersion. Baptism is symbolic of repentance and inner cleansing from sin, a rebirth in the name of Christ, and dedication to Christian discipleship. Methodists believe baptism is God's gift at any age but should be performed as soon as possible.

    Communion - During the sacrament of communion, participants symbolically partake of the body (bread) and blood (wine or juice) of Christ. In so doing, they acknowledge the redemptive power of His resurrection, make a memorial of His sufferings and death, and extend a token of the love and union that Christians have with Christ and with one another.

    The Godhead - Methodists believe, as all Christians do, that God is one, true, holy, living God. He has always existed and will forever continue to exist. He is all knowing and all powerful possesses infinite love and goodness and is the creator of all things

    Trinity - God is three persons in one, distinct but inseparable, eternally one in essence and power, the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit.

    Jesus Christ - Jesus is truly God and truly man, God on Earth (conceived of a virgin), in the form of a man who was crucified for the sins of all people, and who was physically resurrected to bring the hope of eternal life. He is an eternal Savior and Mediator, who intercedes for his followers, and by him, all men will be judged.

    The Holy Spirit - The Holy Spirit proceeds from and is one in being with the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit convinces the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. It leads men through faithful response to the gospel into the fellowship of the Church. It comforts, sustains, and empowers the faithful and guides them into all truth. The grace of God is seen by people through the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives and their world.

    The Holy Scriptures - Close adherence to the teachings of Scripture is essential to the faith because Scripture is the Word of God. It is to be received through the Holy Spirit as the true rule and guide for faith and practice. Whatever is not revealed in or established by the Holy Scriptures is not to be made an article of faith nor is it to be taught as essential to salvation.

    The Church - Christians are part of a universal church under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and they must work with fellow Christians to spread the love and redemption of God.

    Logic and Reason - The most fundamental distinction of Methodist teaching is that people must use logic and reason in all matters of faith.

    Sin and Free Will - Methodists teach that man is fallen from righteousness and, apart from the grace of Jesus Christ, is destitute of holiness and inclined to evil. Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. Without divine grace, man cannot do good works pleasing and acceptable to God. Influenced and empowered by the Holy Spirit, man is responsible for the freedom to exercise his will for good.

    Reconciliation - God is Master of all creation and humans are meant to live in holy covenant with him. Humans have broken this covenant by their sins, and can only be forgiven if they truly have faith in the love and saving grace of Jesus Christ.

    The offer g Christ made on the cross is the perfect and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, redeeming man from all sin so that no other satisfaction is required.

    Salvation by Grace Through Faith - People can only be saved through faith in Jesus Christ, not by any other acts of redemption such as good deeds. Everyone who believes in Jesus Christ is (and was) already predestined in him to salvation. This is the Arminian element in Methodism.

    Graces - Methodists teach three types of graces, with which people are blessed at different times through the power of the Holy Spirit:

    • Prevenient grace is present before a person is saved
    • Justifying grace is given at the time of repentance and forgiveness by Go
    • Sanctifying grace is received when a person has finally been redeemed from their sins

    Methodist Practices

    Sacraments - Wesley taught his followers that baptism and holy communion are not only sacraments but also sacrifices to God.

    Public Worship - Methodists practice worship as the duty and privilege of man. They believe it is essential to the life of the Church, and that the assembling of the people of God for worship is necessary for Christian fellowship and spiritual growth.

    Missions and Evangelism - The Methodist Church puts great emphasis on missionary work and other forms of spreading the Word of God and his love for others.