*** Notes for Today’s Show ***
It is the 24th of May 2021. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. I’m Dan van Voorhis.
A very happy Aldersgate Day to you, and especially if you know what that is.
A kind of spiritual birthday for the Methodist church. It is the day on which John Wesley claimed to have had his “heart strangely warmed” at a small group meeting on Aldersgate Street in London. Wesley had been listening to Martin Luther’s preface to his commentary on Romans when he felt that “I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”.
His brother, Charles, had a similar experience a few days prior and the two men would become the figureheads of the new Methodist movement. So, who are the Methodists?
They come from the Anglican tradition. “Methodist” was originally a disparaging term for the Wesley’s and their friends who believed that holiness could be achieved by following self-prescribed “methods”.
After the American Revolution, it became, unsurprisingly, problematic to swear theological featly to the church of England. Anglicans in America (who would also begin using the word “Episcopalian”) found Wesley’s personal faith and concern for the poor had parallels in Puritanism and Pietism. Methodism, Puritanism, and Pietism were all versions of the European Reformation traditions that would grow in the fertile American religious soil.
Methodism would have room for both Arminianism and Calvinism- see the Wesley’s and George Whitefield.
The earliest African Americans to be ordained in an American church body were Methodists. Richard Allen, the AME, etc.
They contribute to one of the three major streams of Methodism in America. The African American tradition, the Wesleyan/Holiness/Pentecostal tradition, and the mainline tradition (see today’s UMC).
What do they believe?
All need to be saved – the doctrine of original sin
All can be saved – Universal Salvation
All can know they are saved – Assurance
All can be saved completely – Christian perfection
The Methodists began as a group of 4. By the time of Wesley’s death, there were over 100,000. Today there are upwards of 50 million.
Today we remember the genesis of the worldwide movement, John Wesley’s “Aldersgate” moment on this, the 24th of May in 1738.
The last word for today comes from 1 Peter, the first chapter starting with the 3rd verse:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 24th of May 2021 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by a man whose favorite fictional Methodists include Clark Kent and his parents as well as the Hill family from King of the Hill, he is Christopher Gillespie.
The show is written and read by a man who contends that a church body that gave us Nina Simone, Roberta Flack, Dionne Warwick, and Beyonce must be doing something right with the music—Dan van Voorhis.
You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.