A Word on John Wesley’s Articles of Religion

Published November 3, 2022 by John Allen in 

In 1784, John Wesley adapted the 39 articles of religion of the Church of England for the budding Methodist movement in America. At a Christmas Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, the Methodist Episcopal Church was born. For almost 240 years, this document has stood as the doctrinal foundation for the Methodist movement. Since that Christmas conference in 1784, over 40 other denominations and Methodist associations have been started through separation or union. But the Articles of Religion continue to be the doctrinal heart and soul of these expressions of the Methodist movement.

While the current division in the United Methodist Church has been characterized as a difference of opinion over social issues, the fundamental issues at stake lie in the cultural exclusion of these theological doctrines. Most notable are the questions raised about:

  • the authority of Scripture,
  • our need for salvation,
  • the sufficiency of Christ for salvation,
  • Jesus Christ as the only way to God, and
  • the continuing work of the Holy Spirit for holiness and sanctification.

We have posted John Wesley’s foundational document for theology and doctrine, unchanged from its original and reflective of the language of the day. There are 25 articles listed, and Wesley adds two more unnumbered articles. For this reason, some refer to this document as the 27 Articles of Religion. These doctrinal statements remain the best and foremost doctrinal statements in Christendom.

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