Methodism was the most significant Protestant religious movement of the 18th century; today, over 80 million members from 138 countries in the various denominations make up the World Methodist Council. This figure does not include the many Methodist churches that are not members of the World Methodist Council, so that its actual presence in the world is larger still. Methodism’s central (although by no means only) founding figure was the Anglican priest John Wesley (1703–1791).

Profoundly influenced by continental Pietism as well as his own Anglican tradition, Wesley was one of the principal figures of the Evangelical awakening, an influential renewal movement made up of many nodes of influence on both sides of the Atlantic. A polymath with an encyclopaedic interest in most things but passionately ...

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