John Wesley was an English theologian and cleric who, with his fellow cleric George Whitefield and brother Charles, founded Methodism.
Methodism grew from 4 to 132,000 in his lifetime. In 1791, John Wesley died and left behind a movement with approximately 60,000 in America and over 72,000 members in the British Isles.
Originally, Methodism was popular with poor farmers, workers, and slaves. Also, the early Methodists reacted against the apathy of the Church of England, established Methodist societies wherever they went and became open-air preachers.
The term “Methodist” was applied in 1729 to a small group of students at Oxford University who devoted themselves to a strict method of religious practice and study.
In the present day, global membership numbers passed 70 million people and there are Methodist Churches in nearly every country in the world.
The Methodist Church is the fourth largest Christian Church in Britain, after the Church of Scotland and the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches.
John Wesley taught four essential points fundamental to the Methodist Church:
- Christians in this life are capable of Christian perfection and are commanded by God to pursue it.
- The Holy Spirit assures Christians of their salvation directly, through an inner “experience.”
- All people who are obedient to the gospel according to the measure of knowledge given them will be saved.
- A person is free not only to reject salvation but also to accept it by an act of free will.
- Missions and Evangelism – The Methodist Church puts great emphasis on missionary work and other forms of spreading the Word of God and his love for others.
- Public Worship – Methodists practice worship as the duty and privilege of man. They also believe that it is essential to the life of the Church and that the assembling of the people of God for worship is required for spiritual growth and Christian fellowship.
- Sacraments – John Wesley taught his followers that holy communion and baptism are not only sacraments but also sacrifices to God.
Presbyterianism has long prided itself on deep faith and tradition, and it is one of the earliest religions to come from the Reformation.
The background for Presbyterian beliefs was established by John Calvin (Jean Caulvin), a French pastor, theologian, and reformer. His teachings were based on the belief in a sovereign God, that is a fundamental element of Presbyterian belief.
The first Presbyterian Church was organized in America in the early 1700’s in Philadelphia. Currently, there are over 76 million Presbyterian Christians worldwide with 2.5 million belong to the Presbyterian Church – USA.
In the Presbyterian church, teaching elders and ruling elders are ordained and responsible for their local congregation.
Famous Presbyterians include actors Jimmy Stuart and John Wayne, late-night talk show host David Letterman, astronaut John Glenn, and author Mark Twain.
- they believe that all aspects of their lives are to be lived to the glory of God under the Lordship of Jesus Christ as they wait for the day of his glorious appearing;
- they believe that Jesus will return on the last day, bodily and visibly, to judge all mankind and to receive His people to Himself;
- they believe that having come to saving faith in Christ, believers can never be lost, but being kept by the power of God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit;
- they believe that the Holy Spirit indwells God’s people and enables them to trust Christ and follow Him;
- they believe that the Bible is the revelation of God’s truth and is authoritative in all matters of faith and practice;
- they believe that the Bible is the written word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit and without error in the original manuscripts;
- they believe that outside the church there is no ordinary possibility of salvation;
- they believe that the church is the covenant community of God and the sphere within which the grace of God is available to all, through the administration of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and the teaching and preaching of the Bible;
- they believe that God is faithful and gracious to His people not simply as individuals but as families in successive generations according to His covenant promises;
- they believe that the only way to acceptance with God is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone;
- they believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, who through His perfect obedience and sacrificial death as the representative and substitute of his people, atoned for the sins of all who would trust in Him alone for salvation;
- they believe that His choice is based solely on His grace, not on any merit found in his people, their foreseen faith, or their religious activity;
- they believe that this salvation is the work of God alone;
- they believe that all people are sinners by nature, are guilty in God’s sight, and they totally unable to save themselves from God’s displeasure;
- they believe in the Holy Trinity. There is one God, unchanging and infinite, who exists eternally in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Bottom Line – Methodist vs Presbyterian
Methodism in the United States dates back to 1736 when Charles and John Wesley came to the New World to spread the movement they began as students in England.
The Methodist Church is traditionally known as non-conformist since it does not conform to the authority and rules of the established Church of England. John Wesley and the early Methodists placed primary emphasis on Christian living, on putting love and faith into action.
The roots of the Presbyterian Church trace back to John Calvin, a French reformer. According to John Calvin’s theory of church government, the church is a community or body in which Christ only is head and all members are equal under him.
Calvin also believed that the greatest danger was idolatry, the pursuit of, longing for, and trust in things and persons in place of God.