The Genesis of Methodism

The Genesis of Methodism

The Genesis of Methodism

The Genesis of Methodism

Synopsis

"Methodism arose under the leadership of John Wesley in England in the eighteenth century. What its antecedents really are is a question that often divides historians. Was Wesley a man who was primarily a Dissenter and a sectarian in his inspiration or an Anglican and a churchman? Evidence can be cited on both sides of the debate. Frederick Dreyer takes a new look at the question and reaches a fresh conclusion. Methodism in its origins owes nothing to either Anglicanism or Dissent. In its defining characteristics, it derives from the Moravian revival, an evangelical movement arising in Germany in the eighteenth century." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

In history, it is often hard to say when things get started. methodism counts as a happy exception, for a commencement can be claimed that is precise to the very day: Wednesday, 23 July 1740. On that day, John Wesley and a small group of friends assembled in the London suburb of Moorfields on the premises of an old, disused iron works known as the Foundery. Wesley had acquired the lease and after the meeting of the 23rd the Foundery was to serve as the headquarters of the Methodist revival. Three days before the meeting, Wesley and his friends had seceded from a devotional society that met in Fetter Lane. What distinguished the Foundery from Fetter Lane was the latter’s connection with the United Brethren in Germany. the Brethren, in English usage, are better known as the Moravians. in 1738, Fetter Lane had been set up under the direction of Peter Böhler, a missionary who belonged to the United Brethren and who was passing through London on his way to the American colonies. in 1740, membership of the Fetter Lane was being guided by a second missionary, Philip Molther. Wesley seceded from Fetter Lane in protest against Molther’s leadership. No formal tie linked Fetter Lane with the Brethren. But in its purpose and constitution, it resembled societies that the Brethren had founded elsewhere. Fetter Lane would reform itself in 1742 as a society and assume an identity that was explicitly Moravian.

What provoked the schism was a dispute over who possessed saving faith and who was entitled to receive holy communion as a member of the society. in Brethren societies in Germany, members attended the local church together to receive the sacraments. This practice was followed at Fetter Lane. in Germany, of course, the local church would be Lutheran or Reformed; in London, it was Anglican. We know that, on at least two occasions, the Fetter Lane society attended St. Paul’s for joint communion. Wesley’s brother, Charles . . .

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