Differences Between Presbyterian vs. Methodist

Methodist and Presbyterian are both Christian religions, but the two have some extremely different tenets.

Christians base their core beliefs in the idea that Jesus Christ is lord and savior. Although different Christian religions practice their faith in a variety of ways, they share this common denominator. However, the variations in other aspects of Christianity are enough to drive a wedge between different kinds of Christian religions. Presbyterians and Methodists are two such Christian faiths with marked differences from one another.

1 Origins

John Knox, who had formally been a Catholic priest, founded the Presbyterian Church in 1560. The Presbyterian religion has roots in Calvinism. Knox used many of the church doctrines to construct the core Presbyterian beliefs, and he founded the faith in Scotland.

The Methodist Church burst on the scene in 1739 in England. A religious vigilante named John Wesley broke his ties with the Anglican Church to come up with his own religious doctrine, a philosophy known as Wesleyism. Wesley also based parts of the Methodist faith on Lutheranism.

2 Social Issues

The Presbyterian Church flatly opposes the death penalty. In contrast, the Methodist Church favors the death penalty but states specifically that society should reserve the death penalty for the most serious of crimes and should only administer the punishment in accordance with the law. The two faiths have slightly different views on another social issue, homosexuality. Methodists staunchly view homosexuality as a sin without exception. On the other hand, Presbyterians view homosexuality as a sin, but they also see it as a complex issue that is difficult to judge without further examination.

3 Church Governance

The Methodist Church uses a worship guide called "The Directory for Worship,” and the Presbyterian Church uses a worship guide called "The Book of Discipline.” Another aspect of church governance upon which the two religions differ is the selection of pastors for their churches. The Presbyterian faith hires, or “calls,” its own pastors to serve a faith community. On the other hand, Methodists have their pastors sent to each church location at the selection of Methodist bishops that preside over regions of Methodist churches.

4 Salvation

Methodists are concerned with “deeds not creeds,” meaning that the Methodist faith recognizes the good works of people as symbols of their faith. People cannot claim to be righteous without doing good works in the eyes of the Methodist faith. The Presbyterian faith believes in justification by grace alone and that the “predestined elect” alone will receive grace and go to heaven.

Sarah S. Terry began writing grants and reports for nonprofit and government agencies in 2002. She specializes in coverage of personal finance and education. In 2002, she had a chapter published in “Academic Writing: Stepping Stones to the Profession.” Terry holds a B.A. in sociology from the University of Louisiana at Monroe and an M.P.A. from Jacksonville State University.