#1 Why Do Methodists Sprinkle?

Although the word baptism comes from the Greek term baptizo, meaning “to immerse, to dip, to submerge, or to overwhelm,” Methodists believe in a sprinkling of the water during a baptism, as opposed to a full immersion.

The leader of the Methodist revival movement, John Wesley,led what would later become known as The Church of England. Wesley said that immersion was acceptable to “all the children who were able to endure it” (Arthur Carl Piepkorn, Profiles in Belief, Volume 2, p. 538).

In fact, Wesley was a strong proponent for immersion baptisms and would argue that many infants should be fully immersed. At this time, he required proof that the child was not able to endure it due to being ‘weakly.’ Especially in the early days of his ministry, if a parent did not provide sufficient evidence of feebleness, Wesley would insist on a full immersion for infants, and allow adults to be baptized as they saw fit.

Today, this tradition has evolved. The contemporary Methodist Church writes:

“While immersion is one valid mode, so are sprinkling and pouring equally valid modes. It is the custom in our Church to sprinkle water upon the person being baptized.” – Mode of Baptism, Doctrine of the Church and Eschatology.

Therefore, today, a person can be baptized into the Methodist religion by their choice of full immersion or sprinkling.

Figure 1 – Newark Methodist Church

Related Scripture(s):

  • “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.” – Matthew 3:16.  
  • As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.” –  Acts 8:36-39.

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#2 Why Don’t Methodists Drink Alcohol?

Although the consumption of alcohol and addictive substances is strongly discouraged by the Methodist denomination, there is no law or regulation to prohibit it, and many Methodists do drink. It is more likely that a Methodist would not get publicly intoxicated or outwardly drink ‘too much,’ but may indulge in the occasional drink every now and then.

This is not to say the Church does not attempt to dissuade church members, as they strongly do.

The Official website of the United Methodist Church states:

“The alcohol and other drug crisis has reached global proportions. More alcohol and other drugs are produced and consumed than ever before. In consuming countries, with their attendant problems of poverty, racism, domestic violence, hopelessness, and material despair, alcohol and other drug abuse is a part of a continuing cycle of economic and spiritual turmoil.

Abuse of legal drugs (alcohol, tobacco, and pharmaceuticals) remains a leading cause of disease and death around the world.”

Not only this, but scriptural evidence is commonly utilized to dissuade drinking, such as Numbers 6:3 “He shall abstain from wine and strong drink.”

A 2017 study finds that “62 percent of Methodists acknowledge taking a drink from time to time — compared to 33 percent of Baptists.”

Methodists will certainly not allow alcohol in the churches, and a person should always be publicly seen as modest and in-control. A person with temptations to alcohol could be seen as being tempted by the devil, or at least inappropriate behavior for a devout Methodist Christian.

Arguing that they understand this response to alcohol is a sign of the brokenness in our world, UMC.org states the best courses of action against the consumption of alcohol includes:

  • Prevention
  • Intervention
  • Treatment
  • Community organization
  • Public advocacy
  • Abstinence
Figure 2 – Polls Show Methodist’s Shifting Views – UMNEWS.org

Related Scripture(s):

  • “He shall abstain from wine and strong drink; he shall drink no vinegar, whether made from wine or strong drink nor shall he drink any grape juice nor eat fresh or dried grapes.” – Numbers 6:3.

Related Video(s):

#3 Why Do Methodists Say ‘Trespasses?’

With the term ‘debt’ being utilized in the bible (Matthew 6:12), older versions of the English bible reference the term’ trespasses,’ meaning sins.

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, one of the definitions of trespass is:

 “1a: an unlawful act committed on the person, property, or rights of another especiallya wrongful entry on real property

bthe legal action for injuries resulting from trespass

2a: a violation of moral or social ethicsTRANSGRESSION especially SIN

ban unwarranted infringement.”

Even used in The Lord’s Prayer, Methodists will recite, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name…Give us this day our bread. And forgive our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

DesiringGod.org writes of the reasoning behind this practice:

How we recite that phrase usually depends more on what English-speaking Christian tradition influenced us than what Bible translation we use. Those raised in Presbyterian or Reformed traditions are more likely to say “debts.”

Those who come from Anglican/Episcopal, Methodist, or Roman Catholic traditions are more likely to say “trespasses.” Those whose churches were influenced by ecumenical liturgical movements of the late twentieth century are probably more likely to say “sins.”’

Based predominantly on your denomination and what term has been culturally-embraced by that denomination, any of these phrases are acceptable.

Figure 3 – St. Paul United Methodist Church

Related Scripture(s):

  • And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” – Matthew 6:12

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#4 Why Were Methodists Persecuted?

Starting in 1739 and onward, the founder of the Methodist religion, John Wesley, and his followers were persecuted by The Church of England’s clergymen, magistrates, and followers due to a multitude of reasons.

Resulting in mob attacks, eviction of society members from their jobs, homes, and towns, and intense social banishment with a threatening manner – Methodists were running from persecution throughout the century.

The reasons why the Methodists were persecuted are due to reasons such as:

  • Wesley and early Methodists persecuted Evangelicalism, resulting in convergent persecution and official separation from The Church of England in 1784.
  • Wesley sought to appoint additional priests during a shortage, attempting to alter the regulations around parishes and priest authorities.
  • The Church of England saw this as a direct threat, stating that they were heathens seeking to cause religious disturbances, ‘leading people astray, claiming miraculous gifts, attacking the clergy of The Church of England, and trying to re-establish Catholicism.’
  • Wesley did not see eye-to-eye with these clergy members and could not find common ground. Viewing them as corrupt and unable to offer out legitimate repentance against sinners.
  • Wesley determined that it was his holy duty and God-given-right to create a revival within the Church.
  • In 1739, Wesley appointed men to preach that were not ordained under The Church of England regulation, and this was the final straw that led to the official commencement of the Methodist persecution.

During this time, people would even throw stones at Methodist worshippers (Exeter 1745 as well as Norwich 1752). Women and children were beaten to dysmorphia or death, and this was not a simple time to be a Methodist.

Figure 4 – Church History Review – Surrounded by the Mob

Related Scripture(s)/Resource(s):

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#5 Why Do Methodists Allow Female Pastors?

At a time when Methodists were short on pastors and also seeking to expand the religion’s efforts, Wesley supported the idea to embrace women as pastors within the Methodist Church. With roughly half of all major religions allowing women to be ordained for a leadership position, Methodist is one of the leading pioneers of this concept at a time where women were undoubtedly not considered equal to men.

A major reason of why female pastors were initially allowed into these roles was due to Wesley’s worsening relationship with The Church of England, seeking to expand against them at a faster rate than would be possible without female pastors.

During this period of arguable desperation, Wesley was ordaining nearly everyone he could to ensure the stability, longevity, and success of his religion at a time when its existence was being threatened by one of the most powerful forces in the country.

In 1956, the United Methodist Church ordained their first two female ministers as part of what would later become the Presbyterian Church of the United States. UMC.org writes:

“Clergywomen have been part of Methodism since John Wesley licensed Sarah Crosby to preach in 1761. Although women were ordained in the Methodist tradition as early as the late 1800s, it was the May 4, 1956, General Conference vote for full clergy rights that forever changed the face of ordained clergy.

The United Methodist Church continues to declare its belief in the full equality of women and the importance of women in decision-making and leadership positions at all levels of the Church.”

Female Methodist Pastors

Related Scripture(s):

  • “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.” 1 Timothy 2:11-12
  • “The women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in Church.” 1 Corinthians 14:34-35

Related Video(s):

#6 Why Do Methodists Change Pastors?

Reverend Belton Joyner describes that “John Wesley believed that itinerant preachers who moved from place to place were more effective than those who settled in, grew comfortable, and wore out what they had to say.”

Giving more than 40,000 sermons in his life, John Wesley felt that one could grow stagnant when they’ve preached at the same Church for too many years. Inspired by the introduction of new crowds and new audiences to preach to, the founder of the Methodist religion found that this created the right type of excitement and freshness to keep the message from growing stale.

With the offering to move every year, many pastors in modern culture decide to stay put.

The entire process is up to each individual and is seen as a calling to cover more ground. Throughout the deliberation or transfer, prayer will be utilized as a support of intentional guidance.

Figure 5 – Why Do Methodist Pastors Change? UMC.org

Related Scripture(s):

  • “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.” – Acts 13:2-14:7.

Related Video(s):

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