The incombatibility of the Free Methodist Church and fundamentalist theology: why Free Methodists are not fundamentalists

Munshaw, Robert Vernon (2020) The incombatibility of the Free Methodist Church and fundamentalist theology: why Free Methodists are not fundamentalists. PhD thesis, Middlesex University / London School of Theology. [Thesis]

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The purpose of this study was an investigation into the question of whether or not the Free Methodist Church is compatible with fundamentalism. Key research questions included whether the FMC at its inception would be predisposed to fundamentalism, why fundamentalism has at times been attractive to Free Methodists and why Free Methodists ultimately rejected fundamentalism.

Over the course of the thesis, I have used the literary tool known as reception theory to analyze the way in which leaders and governing bodies within the Free Methodist Church have received and responded to the doctrines and mindset of the fundamentalist movement in America. Chapters in the thesis cover the historic and theological context of the Free Methodist Church and the fundamentalist movement, and the way in which Free Methodists received and responded to two primary doctrines of fundamentalism: the revelation and interpretation of Scripture, and Premillennial Dispensational theology.

What I found in my analysis is that particularly as they worked towards merger with the Wesleyan Methodist Church, the FMC moved closer to fundamentalist positions, even officially embracing the position of inerrancy in their Articles of Religion for a time. However, it was clear that leaders within the FMC were never comfortable with these fundamentalist positions, and those positions were ultimately rejected by the FMC after merger with the WMC failed.

The FMC traces her roots back to John Wesley and the Church of England. Within that ecclesiological tradition, there is room for theological ambiguity that allows for varieties of interpretations. The FMC shares the catholic spirit of Wesley that centers on celebrating shared beliefs rather than focusing on differences and is thus not compatible with fundamentalism.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Sustainable Development Goals:
Research Areas: A. > School of Law
B. > Theses
C. Collaborative Partners > London School of Theology
Item ID: 35724
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 24 Aug 2022 10:46
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 18:26

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