“The living core of the Christian faith is revealed in Scripture, illumined by tradition, vivified in personal experience, and confirmed by reason. ”
United Methodists are Christians first and foremost. We hold much in common with other Christians. Our Book of Discipline, which is the statement of how United Methodists agree to live their lives together, speaks to this.
We hold in common with all Christians a faith in the mystery of salvation in and through Jesus Christ.
We share the Christian belief that God’s redemptive love is realized in human life by the activity of the Holy Spirit, both in personal experience and in the community of believers.
We understand ourselves to be part of Christ’s universal church when by adoration, proclamation, and service we become conformed to Christ.
With other Christians, we recognize that the reign of God is both a present and future reality.
We share with many Christian communions a recognition of the authority of Scripture in matters of faith, the confession that our justification as sinners is by grace through faith, and the sober realization that the church is in need of continual reformation and renewal.
We affirm the general ministry of all baptized Christians who share responsibility for building up the church and reaching out in ministry and service to the world.
With other Christians, we declare the essential oneness of the church in Christ Jesus (from paragraph 60).
So what is distinctive about United Methodists? Our Wesleyan theological heritage points to an emphasis on practical divinity. That is, the implementation of genuine Christianity in the lives of believers. We believe, with John Wesley, that the living core of the Christian faith is revealed in Scripture, illumined by tradition, vivified in personal experience, and confirmed by reason. There is also an emphasis on grace – God’s unmerited favor towards us. Following is a summary of our emphases, again taken from our Book of Discipline, paragraph 60.
Prevenient Grace – God’s love surrounds all humanity and precedes all of our conscious impulses.
Justification and Assurance – We believe God reaches out to the repentant believer in justifying grace with accepting and pardoning love.
Sanctification and Perfection – We believe that the wonder of God’s acceptance and pardon does not end God’s saving work, which continues to nurture our growth in grace. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are enabled to increase in the knowledge and love of God and in love for our neighbor.
Faith and Good Works – We see God’s grace and human activity working together in the relationship of faith and good works. God’s grace calls forth human response and discipline. Faith is the only response essential for salvation, but salvation evidences itself in good works.
Mission and Service – We insist that personal salvation always involves Christian mission and service to the world. Love of God is always linked with love of neighbor, a passion for justice and renewal in the life of the world.
Nurture and Mission of the Church – We emphasize the nurturing and serving function of Christian fellowship in the Church. The personal experience of faith is nourished by the worshiping community.
Want to know more? Visit the official United Methodist Church website for a wealth of information on beliefs and other topics. www.umc.org