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John Wesley had a significant impact on the Reformation through his contributions which affected the Church and the Wider Community. “The Reformation occurred during the 15-17th century and was the catalyst of the century’s religious ideas and activity in Europe that was an attempt to change and improve the Catholic Church and resulted in the Protestant Churches being established” (Cambridge, 2019). John Wesley was an English reformer (born June 17, 1703-Died March 2, 1791) famous for breaking away from the church and founding the Methodist movement in England (Britannica, 2019). This essay will outline his major contributions, impact on the Church and the wider community.
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John Wesley was an English reformer situated in the Anglican Church (catholic) as a deacon; a member of the clergy who was somewhat of a servant to the Church not dissimilar to a bishop. Wesley was a catholic at the beginning of his lifetime in his religious endeavours, however, became a reformer (protestant) and founded the Methodist movement (Britannica, 2019).
Wesley’s contributions were significant in the founding of the Methodist movement/faith as a branch in the Anglican Church (England) in the 18th century (Christianity Today, n.d). Wesley never had problems with the Church of England, but the spark for his founding of the Methodist denomination was said to have started after he joined his brother and a few friends to form a religious group in Oxford. This study was called ‘The Methodists’ and taught Wesley the basics of the methodical theology (Britannica, 2019). He later sought to share his Methodist theology with the unchurched masses (Christianity Today, n.d). In doing so he spread his teachings, faith, concepts and religion (Christianity) to many people throughout England. Wesley was said to have travelled 4,000 miles and 40,000 sermons (Christianity Today, n.d). This in turn allowed his movement to gain followers at an exponential rate, as he and his fellow leaders were also preaching to people who were also being neglected by the Church (Christianity Today, n.d). The surplus of new followers then allowed Wesley to organise the new denomination into groups across England, while placing ‘superintendents/leaders’ in each area to monitor the followers. In turn making the denomination a stable faith, which has continued to gain new followers to this day.
While Wesley’s influence on the Church via his preaching spread throughout England very quickly, he viewed his preaching as one within the Church of England not against it. But, as time went by, his following grew (Christianity Today, n.d). The grouping Wesley’s following was becoming stable and well-known. He later became an authority/leader in the group and separated the groups. However, even if he had a morally good cause many bishops from within the Church still stated their opposition towards Wesley. They also grouped their public disdain to ordain Methodist clergy. Sadly, this forced Wesley to separate from the Church of England rather than reforming it. In-turn leading him to sign a deed of declaration of 1784, which allowed for the practice of Methodism (Christianity.com, 2019)
Wesley’s impact on the wider community did not go unnoticed either as Methodism had an immense impact on England and English society. Methodism brought Christianity to the masses of England, who were neglected by the Church of England due to the rise of the industrial revolution (Your-Dictionary, 2019). Methodism also had been very beneficial to the Church of England as it also helped opposing congregations; at the core, values of Methodism are morality, self-discipline and welfare to the derived class (Christianity, 2000). Wesley has also been coined by historians in the 21st century to have stopped the upheaval of revolution in England and widespread social unrest (Britannica. 2019). Wesley was said to be a conservative, a critic and an enemy to both the American and French revolutions.
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In conclusion, John Wesley had a significant impact on the Reformation. He attempted to reform the Church from within, however, broke away from the Church and by doing so created his own denomination called the Methodist Church. He also deeply affected the Church of England and the wider community of England, via his contributions to society. This led him to revive dying virtues in the Church such as morality, self-discipline and thrift to the derived class.
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