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What Does It Mean to Be Methodist? Clarifying What's Distinctive and What's Essential

I've been asked several times of late to put together a list of beliefs that are distinctive of or essential to Methodism. The context for these requests is the birth of a new Methodist denomination - the Global Methodist Church. Several other pastors and theologians in the denomination are providing similar summaries of key Wesleyan teaching. The context is important because it means these lists don't arise in a vacuum. They are the product of a very specific historical context. Our emphases will reflect the conflict in the United Methodist Church out of which we've come, and they will potentially reflect the specific interests or concerns of the one making the list. None of us are unbiased commentators. We all have hopes and desires with regard to what this new denomination will ultimately look like.

Be sure to watch the video on this page for a promo code to get $10 OFF early registration for Reconstructing Methodism.

One other qualification is in order. The following summary of Methodist essentials could be nuanced and developed in detail and at far greater length. I've attempted to make the resource accessible and useful, and to that end, it is brief. There are aspects of this I would develop further in other contexts. Additionally, readers will notice that I offer more detail regarding the sacraments than any other section. That is because I perceive, in some spheres, a general lack of clarity with regard to Wesleyan/Methodist sacramental theology; in other spheres, I perceive some tension budding around the way we articulate our sacramental theology. Those things are not to be feared or run from. This is a season in which we must decide who we will be as a Church. That requires prayerful reflection and robust discussion. All of this is aimed at contributing to that.

That said, here's the list: "The Marks of Methodism." Remember you can check out the video for additional commentary (and get that promo code for Reconstructing Methodism).

O'Reilly - FINAL - The Marks of Methodism
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You can also watch an extended discussion with Jeffrey Rickman on PlainSpoken. And be sure to subscribe to his channel for news and commentary on all things Methodist.



Dr. Matt O’Reilly is Lead Pastor of Christ Church in Birmingham, Alabama, Director of Research at Wesley Biblical Seminary, and a fellow of the Center for Pastor Theologians. A two-time recipient of the John Stott Award for Pastoral Engagement, he is the author of Paul and the Resurrected Body: Social Identity and Ethical Practice, The Letters to the Thessalonians, and Bless the Nations: A Devotional for Short-Term Missions. Connect at and follow @mporeilly.


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