Nine Reasons to be Methodist

In Why We Belong six evangelicals explain why they belong to their respective Protestant denominations. Gerald Bray: Anglican; Timothy George: Baptist; Douglas Sweeney: Lutheran; Timothy Tennent: Methodist; Byron Klaus: Pentecostal; and Bryan Chapell: Presbyterian. The essays are narrative and don’t follow any particular pattern. Timothy Tennent, however, lays out quite nicely nine reasons why he is Methodist which makes for a nice blog post. Here are his reasons with a short excerpt from each point.

  1. First, I am Methodist because I believe in prevenient grace. For Wesley, the spiritual life has no hope of a beginning without God’s prior action on behalf of the sinner.” “For Methodists, prevenient grace is the bridge between human depravity and the free exercise of human will.” (134-35)
  2. Second, I am Methodist because I believe in the ‘means of grace.’” “Wesley saw that in the years since the invigorating message of the Reformation, the churches were doctrinally and theologically sound, but the lived experience of Christians was still at a very low ebb. He responded by developing a more robust understanding of how God’s grace works throughout the life of a believer.” “Wesley went on to identify three primary means of grace that God has given to us: prayer (private or public), Scripture (reading or listening), and the Lord’s Supper.” “What makes Wesleyan thought distinctive is that he saw these means of grace as a channel to convey not just sanctifying grace, but also preventing (prevenient) and justifying grace. In other words, Wesley understood that prayer, Scripture reading, and even the Lord’s Supper can be used by God to convert someone to faith.” (137-38)
  3. Third, Methodists affirm (along with most evangelical movements) the importance of conversion.”
  4. Fourth, I am a Methodist because of Wesley’s strong emphasis on the importance of holiness in the life of the believer and the necessity of Christian sanctification.” “The doctrine of entire sanctification is one of the most misunderstood of all Methodist doctrines. . . . For Wesley sanctification is not primarily a forensic term. You could be justified alone on a deserted island, but sanctification, in contrast, is inherently relational since it involves the whole of our daily interactions.” “We are justified by faith in Jesus Christ, but we are sanctified by faith as we come into full relationship with the triune God. Wesley taught that we are justified by faith and we are sanctified by faith.” “Methodists believe that even if you were to eradicate every sin in your life, you would only be halfway there. Because, for Wesley, holiness is never just about sins we avoid; it’s about fruit we produce!” (139-41)
  5. “The fifth reason I am a Methodist is the strong emphasis on discipleship in our tradition.” “What is distinctive about the Methodist emphasis is how it seeks to go beyond simply giving correct answers to doctrinal questions. For Wesley, catechesis was learning to echo the entire rhythms of the Christian life (the catechesis comes from the root word meaning ‘to echo’).” (142)
  6. “The sixth reason I am a Methodist is that Methodism has managed to retain its DNA as a missional movement.” “Not only was the world his parish, but for Wesley the world also is God’s greatest spiritual workshop. It is on the anvil of a suffering world that God shapes and forms his disciples to understand what it means to take up their cross and follow him.” (143-44)
  7. The seventh reason I am a Methodist is the wonderful way Wesley combined doctrinal clarity with a generous, warmhearted spirit toward other Christians.” “On the one hand, he was able to embrace considerable diversity among Christians who held different convictions than his own on various points. On the other hand, Wesley frequently found himself embroiled in various controversies with Roman Catholics, Anglican bishops, and Calvinistic thinkers.” (144)
  8. The eighth reason I am a Methodist is Wesley’s early appreciation for the possibility of what we know today as ‘global Christianity.’ Few have given proper recognition to the fact that Wesley is one of the leading forerunners of conceptualizing the church in its full global, rather than sectarian, dimensions.” “The world is my parish.” (146)
  9. The ninth reason I am a Methodist is Methodism’s great emphasis on worship. Methodists sing their theology! Wesley knew that it was not enough merely to believe and to confess the great truths of the faith. We must enter into the very presence of the triune God in worship. Music was one of the main ways early Methodists passed on the faith.” (147)

“. . . as I review the top nine reasons why I am a Methodist, I am painfully aware that many Methodist churches do not exhibit these great truths today. However, if we all are but stewards of a worship and a witness summoned forth by the Father through Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, and heralded through the ages by countless millions, then our voices join the great chorus of other faithful Christians throughout the world and back through time.”

Why we Belong

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About Louis

I am a 1997 graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
This entry was posted in Church History, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

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