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Religion Library: Methodist

Historical Perspectives

Written by: Ted Vial

In recent decades important trends in Methodist historiography involve moving beyond important figures or more narrow denomination or regional histories.In particular there are more studies that show the relationship of Methodism to other "holiness" movements in the United States (movements from which Methodists had often tried to distance themselves), and placing Methodism in the context of social movements that receive more attention in the academy these days.In the first category, particularly noteworthy is the work of Vincent Synan in such works as his 1997 Holiness/Pentecostal Tradition and 2001 The Century of the Holy Spirit.In the second category are works on race and Methodism, and on the history of African American Methodists, such as Harry V. Richardson's Dark Salvation:The Story of Methodism as It Developed Among Blacks in America (1976).Because of the structure of Methodism, women historically have been able to play larger leadership roles than they have in other denominations until quite recently.Also important, therefore, in this second category has been the pioneering work of Jean Miller Schmidt on the history of women in Methodism (especially Grace Sufficient: A History of Women in American Methodism (1999).


Study Questions:
     1.    What is meant by the term Arminian? Why was Wesley accused of this?
     2.    How was Methodism interpreted in the 20th century? What other founders were brought into light?
     3.    How is Methodism meshed into a greater social context? What historiographies display this?

 

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