Is Methodism Protestant?
This seems like a ridiculous question for a United Methodist clergyperson to ask the Internets, but someone asked and my answer was insufficient for them. I ask now because I’ve always considered Methodism to not really be from the Protestant branch but closer to the Anglican Church, which does not consider itself to be Protestant.
- John Wesley lived and died an Anglican clergyperson.
- John Wesley started a revival within the Anglican church which then became the Methodist Episcopal Church. The “Episcopal” moniker acknowledged its heritage with the Episcopal Church, the American branch of the Anglican Church.
- The First General Conference defined the Methodist Church to be “an Episcopal Church.”
- Our Liturgy is closely patterned after the Book of Common Prayer.
- Why is this important? The Anglican Church doesn’t consider itself to be Protestant! From Wikipedia:
The question often arises as to whether the Anglican Communion should be identified as a Protestant or Catholic church, or perhaps as a distinct branch of Christianity altogether. The official position of the Anglican Communion is that, like the Roman Catholic and Orthodox communions, it is a full and distinct branch of the “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church,” created by Christ.
- Finally, David Hempton writes in his book Methodism: Empire of the Spirit that:
Although it had deep roots in the Pietist traditions that came out of the European Reformation, Methodism, it should not be forgotten, arose directly out of Anglicanism and expanded into those parts of the world where Anglicans and English speakers migrated.page 204
- Theologically, John Wesley was influenced heavily by Arminianism, which identifies itself from the Protestant Reformation
- Through our mergers (especially with the Evangelical United Brethren and Methodist Protestant Church) we have much tradition in the Protestant Church in today’s church.
- While there is great diversity in United Methodist worship, the Protestant worship style and format is predominant in the South and the Midwest.
Forgive me if this is stupid, but it’s a question of identifying between Protestant practices and Anglican DNA.
- If the Anglican Communion considers itself a separate branch of Christianity from Protestantism, does Methodism do the same?
- Or does Protestant polity and practice outweigh its Anglican DNA?
- Protestantism defined as “any non-Catholic church” is probably not helpful. Why? From Wikipedia:
While the faiths and churches born directly or indirectly of the Protestant Reformation constitute Protestantism, in common usage, the term is often used in contradistinction to Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. This usage is imprecise, however, as there are non-Roman Catholic and non-Eastern Orthodox traditions that predate the Reformation (notably Oriental Orthodoxy). The Anglican tradition, although historically influenced by the Protestant Reformation in what is called the English Reformation, differs from many Reformation principles and understands itself to be a middle path—a via media—between Roman Catholic and Protestant doctrines. Other groups, such as the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, reject traditional Protestantism as another deviation from true Christianity, while perceiving themselves to be restorationists.