Methodism and the Bible

Authored by: Peter Phillips

The Ashgate Research Companion to World Methodism

Print publication date:  February  2013
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9781409401384
eBook ISBN: 9781315613789
Adobe ISBN: 9781317040996


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Ever since John and Charles Wesley’s grouping at Oxford was nicknamed the ‘Bible Moths’, there has been an essential link between Methodists and the Bible. But how do contemporary Methodists engage with the Bible? Indeed, what do we mean by contemporary Methodists – now a worldwide body of huge variety and richness. In fact, Methodism in the twenty-first century is hugely diverse. In its many hues, it embraces over 75 million people worldwide. There are differences within each branch of Methodism – reflecting many of the theological opinions of the present day, not to mention the many branches of the Wesleyan/Methodist family – the Holiness Movements, the Salvationists, the Nazarenes, the Independent Methodists, British Methodists and the United Methodists of the USA and beyond. Indeed, as Methodist and Wesleyan churches grow in confidence and strength in Africa, Asia and Latin America, so different understandings of ‘Methodism’ and also the Church’s understanding and use of the Bible will naturally develop. 1 1

For an introduction to the development and breadth of Methodist/Wesleyan traditions across the globe, see R. L. Maddox and J. E. Vickers (eds), The Cambridge Companion to John Wesley (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), Part IV, 245–316.

So how could one essay embrace such diversity? Is there some general approach to the Bible which could be a common element across the rich diversity of contemporary Methodism?

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