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How Methodism got its name

January 02, 2022

In the sermon “The Foundation of City Road Church,” John Wesley gave a brief history of Methodism’s beginnings. He says that in the year 1725 a young Oxford student (himself) was moved by reading two books (Kempis’s “Christian Pattern” and Bishop Taylor’s “Rules of Holy Living and Dying”). He sought to live in accordance of these teaching and sought others to walk along with him, but found no one. But in the year 1729 he found one other person who would join with him and by the end of the year they were joined by two others. They soon agreed to spend two or three hours together every Sunday evening. Soon they were spending two evenings together and then, six evenings a week, spending that time reading the Bible and provoking one another to love and good works.

This regular, unusual behavior provoked a young gentleman of the college to say, “I think we have got a new set of ‘Methodist,’” alluding to a set of physicians who began to flourish in Rome about the time of Nero and continued for several ages. The name was new and quaint. It stuck to the group immediately and from that time forward, those four young men and all who were connected with them were distinguished by the name METHODIST.

The Rev. Dave Hanson is a retired pastor and John Wesley scholar.

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