The Standards of Our Doctrine
The doctrines we teach are based upon basic Christian standards:
- the Bible
- the Apostle’s Creed
- the twenty-five Articles of Religion (borrowed and adapted from the Church of England’s Articles, along with portions of the Book of Common Prayer),
- Fifty-two Standard Sermons by John Wesley
- Wesley’s Notes on the New Testament(which is a brief commentary on the New Testament)
- and the Confession of Faith of the Evangelical United Brethren (a denomination which united with Methodism to form the United Methodist Church in the mid-1960s)
Basic Christian Affirmations
- We confess belief in the triune God–Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- We hold in common with all Christians a faith in the mystery of redemption or salvation in and through Jesus Christ.
- We share the Christian belief that God’s redemptive love is experienced in our lives by the activity of the Holy Spirit, both through personal experiences 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 more like Christ.
- With other Christians we recognize that the reign of God is both a present and a future reality.
- We share with many Christian communions a commitment to the authority of Scripture in matters of faith, a trust that our justification as sinners is by God’s active grace through our faith, and the sober admission that the church and human society are in need of continual reform and renewal.
Distinctive Wesleyan Emphases
We give distinctive emphasis to what is called the “order of grace”. All humanity is surrounded by divine love. And God provides us with a variety of opportunities to grow in grace.
God’s prevenient grace prompts our first wish to please God. It gives us our first exposure to discovering that God’s will for our lives might be different from our own. This grace also helps us to recognize our own sins against God’s love and our neighbor’s needs. This grace begins in us a desire to repent, to be profoundly transformed, so that we might live in love toward God and neighbor.
God’s justifying grace reaches out to us through Christ’s atoning sacrifice with acceptance and forgiveness, so that our hearts might be decisively changed. This is necessary because of sin. Since the penalty of sin is death, we believe that Christ died for us, in our place, paying our penalty. Because of that action, we may be forgiven. We hope through Christ to experience profound personal transformation. We receive God’s assurance that we are accepted children of God.
God’s sanctifying grace works in us to nurture our growth in love. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we become more like Christ and are enabled to increase in the knowledge and love of God and in love for our neighbor. We increasingly receive the mind and the motives of Christ.
Faith and Works of Mercy
United Methodists express our gratitude to God through works of compassion and works of devotion. We reach out to our neighbors privately through acts of mercy and kindness. We worship alongside our neighbors and join with them to transform the world with an eye to justice and compassion. In private, we devote ourselves to the teachings of Christ and prayerful meditation upon Scriptures. Scriptural holiness involves both personal piety or intimacy with God, and a strong desire to love the neighbor God gives to us. We work for justice and the renewal of life in the world. The Social Principles of the United Methodist Church offer detailed analysis and guidance about the social, economic and political responsibilities of United Methodist Christians. Copies are available at local United Methodist churches all over the country.