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The Twenty-Five Articles of
Dennis Bratcher, ed.
The Twenty-five Articles of
Religion of the Methodist Church, from the Discipline of 1808
collated against Wesley's original text in The Sunday Service of the
These 25 Articles of Religion were John Wesley's adaptation of the
Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion from the Anglican Church in which
Wesley had been a priest. Several of the Articles are aimed directly at
distinguishing the beliefs held by Wesley, as well as by Anglicans, from
Roman Catholicism. These especially relate to the basis of religious
authority (Articles 5-6), justification by grace through faith (Articles
9-11), the nature of the church (Articles 13, 22), the rejection of the
doctrine of purgatory (Article 14), the rejection of services in Latin
(Article 15), the nature of the sacraments and the rejection of the
concept of the Mass (Articles 16-20), and the rejection of a celibate
clergy (Article 21).
Two of the articles (7, 8) also clearly reject Pelagianism, a heresy
contending that human beings are capable of choosing God by exercising
their own inherent free will without the necessity of grace. While
Wesley never held this position in even a modified form, he was often
accused of doing so by Calvinists promoting total predestination and the
lack of any
role for the human will in salvation (see Article 8
and TULIP Calvinism Compared with Wesleyan Perspectives).
There are also included two provisions adopted by the Uniting
Conference of 1939 that produced the Methodist Church, a
forerunner of the modern United Methodist Church (1968).
These are not properly a part of the Articles of Religion, but are
included as additional statements of belief. The article Of Sanctification was from the Discipline
of the Methodist Protestant Church, one of the three major groups that
came together in 1939 to form the Methodist Church (US).
The article was
preserved, but not adopted as a new Article of Religion. The article
Of the Duty of Christians to the Civil Authority was adopted to
clarify and interpret for worldwide Methodists Article 23, Of the Rulers of the United States of America.
The Articles of Religion
of the Methodist Church
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 Holy Ghost.
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 day.
Article 4—Of the Holy Ghost
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
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 Old Testament
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 moral.
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 continually.
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
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 Works
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 of Supererogation
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 After Justification
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.
Article 13—Of the Church
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 Purgatory
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.
Article 16—Of the Sacraments
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
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
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 Lord's Supper
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,
Article 19—Of Both Kinds
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 deceit.
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
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.
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
Article 24—Of Christian Men's Goods
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.
Sanctification is that renewal of our fallen nature by the Holy Ghost,
received through faith in Jesus Christ, whose blood of atonement cleanseth
from all sin; whereby we are not only delivered from the guilt of sin, but
are washed from its pollution, saved from its power, and are enabled,
through grace, to love God with all our hearts and to walk in his holy
It is the duty of all Christians, and especially of all Christian
ministers, to observe and obey the laws and commands of the governing or
supreme authority of the country of which they are citizens or subjects or
in which they reside, and to use all laudable means to encourage and
enjoin obedience to the powers that be.
-Dennis Bratcher, Copyright ©
Bratcher, All Rights Reserved
(No copyright claims are made for the text of the original document.)
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