Satan and the Methodists

Jesus stood up to him. Plenty of Christians talk about him. And some blame all sorts of evil on him. But likely you won’t hear his name tossed around much in a United Methodist Church.

Could it be… Satan?

“For the most part, you don’t hear mainline Protestants talking about Satan, the devil or the demonic,” said Jaime Clark-Soles, associate professor of New Testament at Perkins School of Theology. “I think we’ve handed that kind of language over to the fundamentalists.”

Though Methodism founder John Wesley talked about Satan in his sermons, the United Methodist Church has no official doctrine on the devil or the demonic. Few Methodist ministers in the U.S., it seems, preach about Satan as a personal being active in the world today.

While Satan turns up frequently in Scripture, the notion of Satan and demons “certainly plays a larger part in the biblical context than we give it in our context,” said Douglas Wingeier, a retired United Methodist pastor and author of What About the Devil? A Study of Satan in the Bible and Christian Tradition (Abingdon Press, 2006).

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