The Methodist Articles of Religion
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Methodist study materials
[Bibliographical Note: The Articles of Religion are here reprinted from the
Discipline of 1808 (when the first Restrictive Rule took effect), collated
against Wesley's original text in The Sunday Service of the Methodists (1784).]
Explanation: The Methodist Articles of Religion are a statement of
how Methodists interpret the Holy Scriptures given to man by
the Holy Spirit, consisting of the 39 books of the Hebrew Bible, commonly
referred to by Christians as the Old Testament, and the 27 books of the New
Testament. Methodists are "followers" of John and Charles Wesley in
the sense that we agree with their theology, i.e., their interpretation of
Scripture. It is important to understand that like Protestant Reformers
such as Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli, the Wesleys did not claim any new
Several of the Articles directly refute specific Roman Catholic doctrines
or practices, e.g., Articles 5, 7, 9, 10, 13-21. Without an understanding
of the Catholic doctrines, the particular Article cannot be correctly understood.
It is also important to realize that the average Protestant, even the
average Protestant ordained clergy, is not familiar with the
particulars of Catholic doctrines such as the Catholic Mass,
transubstantiation, and "salvation by grace" instead of
"justification by faith". John Wesley was an Anglican priest, so
he did understand
What are the Methodist Articles derived from?
Compare: The 39 Articles of the Church
of England (Anglican Church)
It is important to understand that Roman Catholic theology regarding salvation,
the purpose of the clergy, the purpose of sacraments, and a number of
other critical areas is not based on the Bible. Hence, if you want to
know what 'Protestants Reformers' were 'protesting' against, and what they
were trying to 'reform', and what some of the Articles are refuting, you
will have to study materials outside the Bible and the Articles, particularly
the Catechism of the Catholic Church and books contrasting
Wesleyan/Methodist and Catholic theology.
Articles of Religion
(Section Headings are not part of the
Jump to Article:
WHAT WE BELIEVE
Article 1.-Of Faith in
the Holy Trinity
There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body or parts,
of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the maker and preserver of all things,
both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there are three
persons, of one substance, power, and eternity-the Father, the Son, and the
| Article 2.-Of the
Word, or Son of God, Who Was Made Very Man
The Son, who is the Word of the Father, the very and eternal God, of one
substance with the Father, took man's nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin;
so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood,
were joined together in one person, never to be divided; whereof is one Christ,
very God and very Man, who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried,
to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original
guilt, but also for actual sins of men.
Article 3.-Of the
Resurrection of Christ
Christ did truly rise again from the dead, and took again his body, with
all things appertaining to the perfection of man's nature, wherewith he ascended
into heaven, and there sitteth until he return to judge all men at the last
Article 4.-Of the Holy
The Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one substance,
majesty, and glory with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God.
WHAT WE BELIEVE
ABOUT THE SCRIPTURES AND ABOUT SIN
| Article 5.-Of the
Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation
The Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation; so that
whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required
of any man that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought
requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the Holy Scripture we
do understand those canonical books of the Old and New Testament of whose
authority was never any doubt in the Church. The names of the canonical books
are: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth,
The First Book of Samuel, The Second Book of Samuel, The First Book of Kings,
The Second Book of Kings, The First Book of Chronicles, The Second Book of
Chronicles, The Book of Ezra, The Book of Nehemiah, The Book of Esther, The
Book of Job, The Psalms, The Proverbs, Ecclesiastes or the Preacher, Cantica
or Songs of Solomon, Four Prophets the Greater, Twelve Prophets the Less.
All the books of the New Testament, as they are commonly received, we do
receive and account canonical.
| Article 6.-Of the
The Old Testament is not contrary to the New; for both in the Old and New
Testament everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ, who is the only
Mediator between God and man, being both God and Man. Wherefore they are
not to be heard who feign that the old fathers did look only for transitory
promises. Although the law given from God by Moses as touching ceremonies
and rites doth not bind Christians, nor ought the civil precepts thereof
of necessity be received in any commonwealth; yet notwithstanding, no Christian
whatsoever is free from the obedience of the commandments which are called
| Article 7.-Of Original
or Birth Sin
Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly
talk), but it is the corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally
is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from
original righteousness, and of his own nature inclined to evil, and that
Article 8.-Of Free
The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such that he cannot turn and
prepare himself, by his own natural strength and works, to faith, and calling
upon God; wherefore we have no power to do good works, pleasant and acceptable
to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have
a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will.
WHAT WE BELIEVE
ABOUT JUSTIFICATION AND WORKS
| Article 9.-Of the
Justification of Man
We are accounted righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord and
Saviour Jesus Christ, by faith, and not for our own works or deservings.
Wherefore, that we are justified by faith, only, is a most wholesome doctrine,
and very full of comfort.
| Article 10.-Of Good
Although good works, which are the fruits of faith, and follow after
justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of God's
judgment; yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and spring
out of a true and lively faith, insomuch that by them a lively faith may
be as evidently known as a tree is discerned by its fruit.
Article 11.-Of Works
Voluntary works-besides, over and above God's commandments-which they call
works of supererogation, cannot be taught without arrogancy and impiety.
For by them men do declare that they do not only render unto God as much
as they are bound to do, but that they do more for his sake than of bounden
duty is required; whereas Christ saith plainly: When you have done all that
is commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants.
| Article 12.-Of Sin
Not every sin willingly committed after justification is the sin against
the Holy Ghost, and unpardonable. Wherefore, the grant of repentance is not
to be denied to such as fall into sin after justification. After we have
received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given, and fall into sin,
and, by the grace of God, rise again and amend our lives. And therefore they
are to be condemned who say they can no more sin as long as they live here;
or deny the place of forgiveness to such as truly repent.
WHAT WE BELIEVE
ABOUT THE CHURCH
| Article 13.-Of the
The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men in which the
pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments duly administered according
to Christ's ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite
to the same.
| Article 14.-Of
The Romish doctrine concerning purgatory, pardon, worshiping, and adoration,
as well of images as of relics, and also invocation of saints, is a fond
thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warrant of Scripture, but repugnant
to the Word of God.
| Article 15.-Of Speaking
in the Congregation in Such a Tongue as the People Understand
It is a thing plainly repugnant to the Word of God, and the custom of the
primitive Church, to have public prayer in the church, or to minister the
Sacraments, in a tongue not understood by the people.
WHAT WE BELIEVE
| Article 16.-Of the
Sacraments ordained of Christ are not only badges or tokens of Christian
men's profession, but rather they are certain signs of grace, and God's good
will toward us, by which he doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only
quicken, but also strengthen and confirm, our faith in him. There are two
Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel; that is to say, Baptism
and the Supper of the Lord.
Those five commonly called sacraments, that is to say, confirmation, penance,
orders, matrimony, and extreme unction, are not to be counted for Sacraments
of the Gospel; being such as have partly grown out of the corrupt following
of the apostles, and partly are states of life allowed in the Scriptures,
but yet have not the like nature of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, because
they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God.
The Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon, or to be carried
about; but that we should duly use them. And in such only as worthily receive
the same, they have a wholesome effect or operation; but they that receive
them unworthily, purchase to themselves condemnation, as St. Paul saith.
| Article 17.-Of
Baptism is not only a sign of profession and mark of difference whereby
Christians are distinguished from others that are not baptized; but it is
also a sign of regeneration or the new birth. The baptism of young children
is to be retained in the church.
| Article 18.-Of the
The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought
to have among themselves one to another, but rather is a sacrament of our
redemption by Christ's death; insomuch that, to such as rightly, worthily,
and with faith receive the same, the bread which we break is a partaking
of the body of Christ; and likewise the cup of blessing is a partaking of
the blood of Christ.
Transubstantiation, or the change of the substance of bread and wine in the
Supper of our Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ, but is repugnant to the
plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a sacrament, and hath
given occasion to many superstitions.
The body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the Supper, only after a
heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the body of Christ is
received and eaten in the Supper is faith. The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper
was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshiped.
| Article 19.-Of Both
The cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the lay people; for both the parts
of the Lord's Supper, by Christ's ordinance and commandment, ought to be
administered to all Christians alike.
| Article 20.-Of the
One Oblation of Christ
Finished upon the Cross, the offering of Christ, once made, is that perfect
redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole
world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for
sin but that alone. Wherefore the sacrifice of masses, in the which it is
commonly said that the priest doth offer Christ for the quick and the dead,
to have remission of pain or guilt, is a blasphemous fable and dangerous
WHAT WE BELIEVE
ABOUT RITES AND CEREMONIES
| Article 21.-Of the
Marriage of Ministers
The ministers of Christ are not commanded by God's law either to vow the
estate of single life, or to abstain from marriage; therefore it is lawful
for them, as for all other Christians, to marry at their own discretion,
as they shall judge the same to serve best to godliness.
| Article 22.-Of the
Rites and Ceremonies of Churches
It is not necessary that rites and ceremonies should in all places be the
same, or exactly alike; for they have been always different, and may be changed
according to the diversity of countries, times, and men's manners, so that
nothing be ordained against God's Word. Whosoever, through his private judgment,
willingly and purposely doth openly break the rites and ceremonies of the
church to which he belongs, which are not repugnant to the Word of God, and
are ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly,
that others may fear to do the like, as one that offendeth against the common
order of the church, and woundeth the consciences of weak brethren.
Every particular church may ordain, change, or abolish rites and ceremonies,
so that all things may be done to edification.
WHAT WE BELIEVE
ABOUT CHURCH AND COMMUNITY/COUNTRY
| Article 23.-Of the
Rulers of the United States of America
The President, the Congress, the general assemblies, the governors, and the
councils of state, as the delegates of the people, are the rulers of the
United States of America, according to the division of power made to them
by the Constitution of the United States and by the constitutions of their
respective states. And the said states are a sovereign and independent nation,
and ought not to be subject to any foreign jurisdiction.
| Article 24.-Of Christian
The riches and goods of Christians are not common as touching the right,
title, and possession of the same, as some do falsely boast. Notwithstanding,
every man ought, of such things as he possesseth, liberally to give alms
to the poor, according to his ability.
| Article 25.-Of a
Christian Man's Oath
As we confess that vain and rash swearing is forbidden Christian men by our
Lord Jesus Christ and James his apostle, so we judge that the Christian religion
doth not prohibit, but that a man may swear when the magistrate requireth,
in a cause of faith and charity, so it be done according to the prophet's
teaching, in justice, judgment, and truth.