As United Methodists we have an obligation to bear a faithful witness to the living reality of Jesus Christ, which is at the center of our personal lives and the core of the Christian Church. To fulfill this obligation, we reflect critically on our biblical and theological inheritance, striving to faithfully express the witness we make in our own time.
United Methodists profess the historic Christian faith in God as revealed in Jesus Christ for our salvation and ever at work in human history through the Holy Spirit.
Living in a covenant of grace under the Lordship of Christ, we participate in the first fruits of God's coming reign and pray in hope for its full realization on earth as it is in heaven.
The United Methodist Church was founded by John Wesley. John Wesley believed that the "living core of the Christian Faith was revealed in scripture, illuminated by tradtion, vivified in personal experience and confirmed by reason." Contrasting the Methodist movement with other religious societies of his day, he said, "The Methodists alone do not insist on you holding this opinion or that opinion; but they think and let think."
Although not primarily a denomination of creeds, the United Methodist Church shares with other Christians the doctrinal heritage of the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds. Besides the Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren adaptations of the Articles of Religion of the Church of England, other United Methodist basic beliefs include:
The essential unit of Father, Son and Holy Spirit embraces the biblical witness to God's activity in creation, God's salvation in Christ, and God's continuing presence in our everyday lives.
The grace of God that precedes any and all conscious impulses. We are loved regardless of who we are or what we have done.
Also known as conversion, the process of being "justified" or restored to a right relationship with God through faith in Christ, is what Jesus described as being "reborn." We can expect to receive assurance of this forgiveness of our sins, or salvation, through the work of the Holy Spirit.
New birth is only the first step in the process of sanctification of "holiness." The Holy Spirit's "sanctifying grace" draws us toward Christian perfection, which according to Wesley is a heart "habitually filled with the love of God and neighbor."
Faith is the only response essential for salvation, but salvation evidences itself in good works. God's grace calls forth human response and discipline.
Our ecumenical commitment as United Methodists is to share our own religious heritage with the larger Christian family. We confess a belief in "one holy, catholic (or universal) and apostolic church" which calls us to Christian unity at local, national, and world levels.
Personal faith is nourished by the worshiping community which mobilizes connectional ties that bind us for service to the world. Personal salvation always involves Christian mission, and love of God is always linked with love of neighbor.
We believe in two Sacraments ordained by Christ, Baptism and the Lord's Supper, are symbols and pledges of the Christian's profession and of God's love toward us. They are the means of grace by which God works invisibly in us, quickening, strengthening, and confirming our faith in Him.
1 Excerpt from What Every Teacher Needs to Know About Theology (Discipleship Resources, 2002) p. 13
2 Excerpt from What Every Teacher Needs to Know About Theology (Discipleship Resources, 2002) p. 13
3 Excerpt from What Every Teacher Needs to Know About Theology (Discipleship Resources, 2002) p. 13-14
4 Excerpt from What Every Teacher Needs to Know About Theology (Discipleship Resources, 2002) p. 13-14
5 Excerpt from What Every Teacher Needs to Know About Theology (Discipleship Resources, 2002) p. 13-14
6 Excerpt from What Every Teacher Needs to Know About Theology (Discipleship Resources, 2002) p. 13-14
7 Excerpt from What Every Teacher Needs to Know About Theology (Discipleship Resources, 2002) p. 15
8 Adapted from Who Are We? Leader's Guide, pg. 28