The Methodist Church: From Heaven or of Men?

Gene Hill

In considering human activity, we must always question by what authority any given behavior can be justified. Paul tells us, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Col. 3:17). The Jews asked Jesus for authority for His actions (Matt. 21:23-27), and He revealed by whom He was authorized (John 10:24-38). It is likewise necessary for us to order our thoughts, words, deeds in harmony with all that the Word teaches on any subject.

God has provided for us an infallible record to which we can go for our behavior to ensure that we are indeed walking in the light (1 John 1:6-10). Consequently, anything we need to begin and maintain a course of righteousness has been made available to us in God’s Word (2 Pet. 1:1-11). It is a revelation given through inspiration by the Holy Spirit (John 14:16:26; 15:26-27; 16:13; 1 Cor. 2:4-13). It is a revelation that can be understood by all and understood alike (1 Cor. 1:10). God’s Word is the source of Truth (John 17:17, 20-21). It is the Word that shall judge us all in the last day (John 12:48-50).

This article deals with the Methodist Church in order to determine whether it and its doctrine is from God or man. Methodist author, Mary Fairchild, wrote:

Methodist Church history traces back to the early 1700s, where it developed in England as a result of the teachings of John Wesley. Even though he is named co-founder of Methodism, Wesley remained a member of the Church of England until his death and never wished to form a denomination separate from the Anglican Church.

Methodist Co-Founders: Charles and John Wesley

John Wesley (June 28, 1703-Feb. 24, 1791) and his brother Charles were born into a strong Anglican home. His father, Samuel, was a priest, and his mother, Susanna, was a religion teacher who faithfully taught the Bible to her 19 children.

While studying at Oxford University in England, John, Charles, and several other students formed a Christian group devoted to Bible study, prayer, and helping the underprivileged. They were labeled “Methodists” as a term of criticism from fellow students because of the orderly way they used methods to go about their religious affairs. But the group happily embraced the name as a badge of honor.

The beginning of Methodism as a popular revival movement began in 1738. After returning to England from America, Wesley was bitter, disillusioned and spiritually low. He shared his inner struggles with a Moravian, Peter Boehler, who greatly influenced John and his brother Charles to undertake evangelistic preaching with an emphasis on conversion and holiness.

Although both Wesley brothers were ordained ministers of the Church of England, they were barred from speaking in most of its pulpits because of their evangelistic methods but preached in homes, barns, open fields, or wherever they found an audience.

Methodism Breaks Away From the Church of England

Wesley did not set out to create a new church but instead began several small faith-restoration groups within the Anglican church called the United Societies. Soon, however, Methodism spread and eventually became its own separate religion when the first conference was held in 1744. By 1787, Wesley was required to register his preachers as non-Anglicans, but he remained an Anglican to his death.

Wesley saw great opportunities for preaching the gospel outside of England. He ordained two lay preachers to serve in the newly independent United States of America and named George Coke as superintendent in that country. Meanwhile, he continued to preach throughout the British Isles.

Wesley’s strict discipline and persistent work ethic served him well as a preacher, evangelist, and church organizer. Inexhaustibly, he pushed on through rainstorms and blizzards, preaching more than 40,000 sermons in his lifetime. He was still preaching at age 88, just a few days before he died in 1791.

The Methodist church had its beginning in the early 1700s as a result of John Wesley’s teaching. It came as an offshoot of the Anglican church as these men were members of it. As previously noted in the above article, John Wesley continued to be a member of the Anglican Church until his death never wishing to found a new denomination.

The same article went on to say that George Whitefield was a great influence on Wesley but, being a Calvinist, parted company with Wesley over the doctrine of predestination. To at least some folks, doctrine is important even though that doctrine is not taught in Scripture in the first place.

One of the main sources claimed for authority for the Methodist Church is the document titled “The Articles of Faith”

The Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the Holy Scripture we do understand those canonical books of the Old and New Testaments of whose authority was never any doubt in the church. The names of the canonical books are:

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, The First Book of Samuel, The Second Book of Samuel, The First Book of Kings, The Second Book of Kings, The First Book of Chronicles, The Second Book of Chronicles, The Book of Ezra, The Book of Nehemiah, The Book of Esther, The Book of Job, The Psalms, The Proverbs, Ecclesiastes or the Preacher, Cantica or Songs of Solomon, Four Prophets the Greater, Twelve Prophets the Less.

All the books of the New Testament, as they are commonly received, we do receive and account canonical (The Articles of Faith, Article V, “Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation”).

In comparing Methodist Church teachings with the Bible, here are some things to be considered:

  1. When it was founded.

  2. Where it was founded.

  3. Upon Whose teachings it was founded.

  4. What one must do to be saved.

The answers to each of these foundational questions is of the utmost importance.

When and Where the New Testament Church was Founded

We begin in the book of Isaiah chapter 2, verses 1-4 for the prophecy of the founding of the church in order to establish when it was to be founded and the place of its founding.

The prophet clearly states in verse 2, “it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established.” In Hebrews 1:1-2 the writer uses the words last days to reveal how God spoke through His Son Jesus “in these last days.

In Daniel 2:28, the prophet Daniel begins the interpretation of the king’s dream of the great image and tells him that the dream would be fulfilled in the latter days. In that dream four world dominating kingdoms would be established in succession with the last one being that of the Roman empire. In that dream, in verses 34 and 35, a small stone smote the image breaking it in pieces. Daniel describes the results in verse 44 of a fifth kingdom that would consume all the others and would then stand forever. Isaiah tells us that Jerusalem would be the place while Daniel said it would be in the days of those kings. Paul tells us that it was in “the fulness of time” that Jesus came forth (Gal 4:4), while Luke says it was in the days of the Roman Caesar Augustus that Jesus was born (Luke 2:1-7), fulfilling the prophecies of Isaiah and Daniel as to the time.

In Luke 24:36-53 and Acts 1:4-2:47 we find the commandment of Jesus to His apostles to begin the spread of the gospel from Jerusalem. Note Acts 1:8: ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. Jesus promised to build His church (Matt 16:18). He then added the saved to it (Acts 2:47) and Paul told Timothy, “how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15)—the very thing Isaiah prophesied folks would go up to (Isa 2:2-3).

The Methodist Church Contradicts the Bible on Salvation

The Methodist Church teaches, “That we are saved by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine and very full of comfort (Art. 9, Methodist Discipline). The only place in the New Testament where the words faith only are found is in James 2:24: “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (Emphasis added). Methodist doctrine directly contradicts God’s word on what one must do to be saved.

There are specific terms of entrance into this church/kingdom/house of God. Jesus said one must be born again—of water and of the Spirit (John 3:3-5)—if he expects to see or enter into the kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit has provided a very thorough example of what this entails in Acts 2:14-47. It requires the gospel to be taught, to be believed, and then to be acted upon. Jesus said the Gospel is to be taught in order to draw souls to Him (John 6:44-45). He said it must be believed that He is the Christ (John 8:24). Repentance from past sins is required (Luke 13:3). Confession of Him before men is necessary (Matt 10:32-33 cf. Acts 8:37). Immersion in an amount of water sufficient for a burial is commanded (Mark 16:15-16; John 3:23; Rom 6:3-4; Col 2:12). Faithful living is also an element of salvation (Rev 2:10). Those are the things God’s Word requires for a man to be saved and be added to the church Jesus built.

It must be pointed out specifically, but lovingly, that there isn’t any scripture or series of scriptures, taken in context that when understood, personally applied and obeyed that will make one anything other than a Christian. There is nothing in the Bible, understood in context, that authorizes any religious organization larger than a local congregation while smaller than the church universal to exist. The terms for salvation are specific and simple enough to understand and obey and, when understood and obeyed, will result in the salvation of one’s eternal soul.

No ill will whatsoever is meant by anything contained in this article. Each soul reading this is responsible for his own feelings and thoughts. We encourage each person to study the scripture and compare what it teaches with what he is practicing to determine whether what he practices harmonizes with God’s revealed Word (1 Cor 2:9-13).

The church of Christ was founded by, and upon, Jesus Christ (Matt. 16:18) in Jerusalem in approximately 33 A.D. (Acts 2). He is its foundation (1 Cor. 3:11), its Head (Eph. 1:22-23), and its Savior (Eph. 5:23).

The Methodist Church was founded upon the wrong teachings of men (John and Charles Wesley), at the wrong place (England), at the wrong time (1744), and teaches the wrong plan of salvation (“Faith only”). The Methodist Church is, therefore not from heaven, but of men.

Works Cited

1. Fairchild, Mary, Methodist Church History, (article updated April 12, 2019)

http://www.thoughtco.com/methodist-church-history-700976, Accessed April 16, 2019.

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methodism

3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Articles_of_Religion_(Methodist)

   Send article as PDF   

Author: Editor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.