I just wanted to know that is John Wesley and his denomination Methodism more literalist, fundamentalist and strict in their interpretation of the Holy Bible or not?
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I contacted my local U.K. Methodist church and they sent me the following extract from The Book of Discipline (1996), which is the United Methodist view of Scripture (page 63):
“United Methodists share with other Christians the conviction that Scripture is the primary source and criterion for Christian doctrine. Through Scripture the living Christ meets us in the experience of redeeming grace. We are convinced that Jesus Christ is the living Word of God in our midst whom we trust in life and death.
The biblical authors, illumined by the Holy Spirit, bear witness that in Christ the world is reconciled to God. The Bible bears authentic testimony to God’s self-disclosure in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as well as in God’s work of creation, in the pilgrimage of Israel, and in the Holy Spirit’s ongoing activity in human history. ....
We are aided by scholarly inquiry and personal insight, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. As we work with each text, we take into account what we have been able to learn about the original context and intention of that text. In this understanding we draw upon the careful historical, literary, and textual studies of recent years, which have enriched our understanding of the Bible.
Through this faithful reading of Scripture, we may come to know the truth of the biblical message in its bearing on our own lives and the life of the world. Thus, the Bible serves both as a source of our faith and as the basic criterion by which the truth and fidelity of any interpretation of faith is measured.
While we acknowledge the primacy of Scripture in theological reflection, our attempts to grasp its meaning always involve tradition, experience, and reason. Like Scripture, these may become creative vehicles of the Holy Spirit as they function with the Church. They quicken our faith, open our eyes to the wonder of God’s love, and clarify our understanding (pp. 75-76)”.
Summary of the position of the U.K. Methodist Church:
“The Bible interacts with the tradition, experience, and reason of each of us individually, and as a community of God’s faithful. All of these tools influence and help shape our personal interpretation of Scripture in a process that endures over a lifetime. Through the constantly evolving context of our lives, we read Scripture anew, discovering guidance and inspiration that give Scripture authority for us.”
United Methodist Confession of Faith - Article 2:
“We believe in Jesus Christ, truly God and truly man, in whom the divine and human natures are perfectly and inseparably united. He is the eternal Word made flesh, the only begotten Son of the Father, born of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. As ministering servant he lived, suffered and died on the cross. He was buried, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven to be with the Father, from whence he shall return. He is eternal Saviour and Mediator, who intercedes for us, and by him all persons are to be judged.”
The 3 Main Doctrines: Repentance – the Porch to the church of God Faith – the Door to the church of God Holiness – the church of God itself
Summary: All need to be saved All can be saved All can know that they are saved All can be saved to the uttermost
Overview: In the essentials – unity In non-essentials – liberty In all things – charity
Source: The Methodist Heritage by Henry Carter, C.B.E., published 1951 by the Epworth Press
It is my personal experience (having associated with a U.K. Methodist church for several years) that they absolutely believe the Bible to be God's inspired Word, that they uphold fundamental Christian doctrines and beliefs, but they are probably one of the least "strict" denominations within Protestantism. Recently, a more liberal approach has penetrated into Methodist churches along with a desire to attain unity with other denominations (including Catholicism and Anglicanism). I daresay some Methodist churches are more or less liberal than others, given they have the freedom to govern themselves within local areas. Please read the Confession of Faith and Foundational Documents links.
Methodist are not literalists or fundamentalist, they are more middle of the road .... John Wesley’s theology is founded on original sin and the depravity of man. He preached, “it is only through prevenient grace, Grace that goes before, which precedes human action and reflects God’s heart for His creation. God is the initiator of any relationship with Him.
Methodist received their name because Wesley originally believed it was a combination of following certain methods and good works which lead to salvation. However, after his Aldersgate experience, brought about by meeting Peter Bohler a Moravian friend that he realized it is only through “Christ alone that we can achieve salvation”.