Do Methodists Believe in the Trinity?

It was essential to John Wesley (1703-1791), the founder of Methodism, that his movement of Christian devotion and spiritual transformation contain robust biblical theology. The doctrine of God, especially the Trinity, is central to biblical theology, so what does the Methodist denomination believe about it?

Methodism believes, teaches, and defends the doctrine of the Trinity with great conviction. Methodists believe one God exists in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who are each fully God. The second person of the Trinity, the Son, became a man at the incarnation called Jesus of Nazareth.

What exactly do Methodists believe about the Trinity? What is the biblical basis for their belief? Do all Methodists believe in the Trinity, including the United Methodist Church? Keep reading to learn more.

Also, see What Do Methodists Believe? to learn more.

three Christian crosses representing the Trinity
What did John Wesley believe about the Trinity? See below.

What Do Methodists Believe About the Trinity?

Methodists believe one God exists in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. While the word “trinity” doesn’t appear in the Bible, Methodists believe it’s an appropriate label to describe Scripture’s teaching on the triune nature of God. (Also see Do Methodists Believe in Predestination?)

This belief is similar to the word “communion,” as in the Lord’s Supper, which doesn’t appear in Scripture, but that Christian churches accept and use to describe the Bible’s teaching. These theological terms come from Latin, not New Testament Greek, because Latin was the language of Christian theologians for centuries.

The core convictions that makeup Methodism’s doctrine of the Trinity include,

  • There is one God: Methodists aren’t polytheists. There is one God, consistent with Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (ESV), which Jesus affirms in Mark 12:29.
  • The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are each God. There is one God who exists in three persons (Matt. 28:19). The Father is God (John 6:27), the Son is God (John 1:1, Heb. 1:8), and the Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4). Like in other Christian traditions, the Father is often referred to as the “first person of the Trinity,” the Son as “the second person of the Trinity,” and the Holy Spirit as “the third person of the Trinity.” (Also see Do Methodists Speak in Tongues?)
  • Each member of the Trinity is equal in essence, but have distinct roles: The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are equal in nature, will, and glory. The members of the Trinity aren’t different manifestations of the same person, meaning the Father didn’t become the Son, and the Son didn’t become the Holy Spirit. For example, Jesus, not the Father or the Holy Spirit, died on the cross as an atonement for sin.

While it’s common to refer to the Methodist “denomination,” the tradition comprises several different denominations. The largest Methodist denomination is the United Methodist Church (UMC).

The UMC’s belief in the Trinity is central, strong, and clear, “When we say the Apostles’ Creed, we join with millions of Christians through the ages in an understanding of God as a Trinity—three persons in one: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God, who is one, is revealed in three distinct persons. ‘God in three persons, blessed Trinity’ is one way of speaking about the several ways we experience God.” [1]

Also, see Can Methodists Dance? to learn more.

wooden crosses
What is the biblical support for the Trinity? See below

Did John Wesley Believe In the Trinity?

Methodists trace their history to the Church of England and the Protestant Reformation. John Wesley wanted to reform the Church of England, not start a new denomination, but leadership resisted his efforts, and he started a movement that became the Methodist tradition. (Also see The Methodist Symbol: 5 Interesting Facts)

Despite their differences, Wesley and his followers maintained the primary beliefs of Christianity and many of the Church of England, including the Trinity. The 39 Articles of Religion is the traditional belief statement of the Church of England.

“There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts or passions; of infinite power, wisdom and goodness; the Maker, and Preserver of all things both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” [2]

In a sermon titled “On the Trinity,” Wesley spoke about the importance of the doctrine. He said, “What God has been pleased to reveal upon this head is far from being a point of indifference, is a truth of the last importance. It enters into the very heart of Christianity: It lies at the heart of all vital religion.”

Wesley said there is no valid, genuine Christian faith without the Trinity: “The knowledge of the Three-One God is interwoven with all true Christian faith.” (Also see Methodist vs. Baptist: What’s the Difference?)

Methodist church
What Bible verse teach the Trinity? See below

What is the Biblical Basis for the Trinity?

In historic Christian theology, Methodist or otherwise, Matthew 28:19 supports the personhood of each member of the Trinity. At the same time, verses like Titus 2:13 and Acts 5:3-4 affirm the Godhead of each of the three persons. Interpreted together, along with many other verses, the reality that the nature of God is a Trinity emerges.

  • “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matt. 28:19); Methodists see allusions to the Trinity in texts like this one.
  • “while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13); Methodists believe Christ is referred to as God in texts like this one.
  • “Then Peter said, ‘Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.'” (Acts 5:3-4); Methodists see the Holy Spirit referred to as God in texts like this one.

Also see What Bible Translation Do Methodists Use?

[1] Source
[2] Source
[3] Source

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see his About page for details.

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