Our Beliefs

United Methodists share a common heritage with all Christians. According to our foundational statement of beliefs in the Book of Discipline, we share the following basic affirmations in common with all Christian communities: 


Trinity

We describe God in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are commonly used to refer to the threefold nature of God. Sometimes we use other terms, such as Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. (Excerpt from What Every Teacher Needs to Know About Theology. Discipleship Resources, 2002, p.13)


God

We believe in one God, who created the world and all that is in it.

We believe that God is sovereign; that is, God is the ruler of the universe.

we believe that God is loving. we can experience God's love and grace. 

(Excerpt from What Every Teacher Needs to Know About Theology. Discipleship Resources, 2002, p.13)


Jesus

We believe that Jesus was human. He lived as a man and died when he was crucified.

We believe that Jesus is divine. He is the Son of God.

We believe that God raised Jesus from the dead and that the risen Christ lives today. (Christ and Messiah mean the same thing-God's annointed.)

We believe that Jesus is our Savior. In Christ we receive abundant life and forgiveness of sins. 

We believe that Jesus is our Lord and that we are called to pattern our lives after his.

(Excerpt from What Every Teacher Needs to Know About Theology. Discipleship Resources, 2002, p. 13-14)


The Holy Spirit

We bleieve that the Holy Spirit is God with us.

We believe that the Holy Spirit comforts us when we are in need and convicts us when we stray from God. 

We believe that the Holy Spirit awakens us to God's will and empowers us to live obediently.

(Excerpt from What Every Teacher Needs to Know About Theology. Discipleship Resources, 2002, p. 14)


Human Beings

We believe that God created human beings in God's image.

We believe that humans can choose to accept or reject a relationship with God.

We believe that all humans need to be in relationship with God in order to be fully human.

(Excerpt from What Every Teacher Needs to Know About Theology. Discipleship Resources, 2002, p. 14)


The Church

We believe that the church is the body of Christ, an extension of Christ's life and ministry in the world today.

We believe that the mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

We believe that the church is "the communion of saints," a community made up of all past, present, and future disciples of Christ.

We believe that the church is called to worship God and to support those who participate in its life as they grow in faith.

(Excerpt from What Every Teacher Needs to Know About Theology. Discipleship Resources, 2002, p. 14)


The Bible

We believe that the Bible is God's Word.

We believe that the Bible is the primary authority for our faith and practice.

We believe that Christians need to know and study the Old Testament and the New Testament (the Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Scriptures).

(Excerpt from What Every Teacher Needs to Know About Theology. Discipleship Resources, 2002, p. 15)


The Reign of God

We believe that the kingdom or reign of God is both a present reality and future hope.

We believe that wherever God's will is done, the kingdom or reign of God is present. It was present in Jesus' ministry, and it is also present in our world whenever persons and communities experience reconciliation, restoration, and healing. However, we believe that the perfect fulfillment of God's kingdom--the complete restoration of creation--is still to come.

We believe that the church is called to be both witness to the vision of what God's kingdom will be like and a participant in helping to bring it to completion. 

We believe that the reign of God is both personal and social. Personally, we display the kingdom of God as our hearts and minds are transformed and we become more Christ-like. Socially, God's vision for the kingdom includes the restoration and transformation of all of creation. 

(Adapted from Who Are We? Leader's Guide, p.28.)


Salvation-We Are Saved

What does it mean to be saved and to be assured of salvation? It's to know that after feeling lost and alone, we've been found by God. It's to know that after feeling worthless, we've been redeemed. It's to experience a reunion with God, others, the natural world, and our own best selves. It's a healing of the alienation -the estrangement- we've experienced. In salvation we become whole. Salvation happens to us both now and for the future. It's "eternal life," that new quality of life in unity with God of which the Gospel of John speaks- a life that begins not at death, but in the present. But how does salvation happen?


  *By grace through faith

Salvation cannot be earned. There's no behavior, no matter how holy or righteous, by which we can achieve salvation. Rather, it's the gift of a gracious God.   By grace we mean God's extraordinary love for us. In most of life we're accustomed to earning approval from others. This is true at school, at work, in society, even at home- to a degree. We may feel that we have to act "just so" to be liked or loved. But God's love, or grace, is given without any regard for our goodness. It's unmerited, unconditional, and unending love.

As we come to accept this love, to entrust ourselves to it, and to ground our lives in it, we discover the wholeness that God has promised. This trust, as we've seen, is called faith. God takes the initiative in grace; but only as we respond through faith is the change wrought in us. 

This is the great theme of the Protestant Reformers, as well as John Wesley and the Methodists who followed: We're saved by grace alone through faith alone. We're made whole and reconciled by the love of God as we receive it and trust in it. 


  *Conversion

This process of salvation involves a change in us that we call conversion. Conversion is a turning around, leaving one orientation for another. It may be sudden and dramatic, or gradual and cumulative. But in any case it's a new beginning. Following Jesus' words to Nicodemus, "You must be born anew" (John 3:7 RSV), we speak of this conversion as rebirth, new life in Christ, or regeneration. 

Following Paul and Luther, John Wesley called this process justification. Justification is what happens when Christians abandon all those vain attempts to justify themselves before God, to be seen as "just" in God's eyes through religious and moral practices. It's a time when God's "justifying grace" is experienced and accepted, a time of pardon and forgiveness, of new peace and joy and love. Indeed, we're justified by God's grace through faith.

Justification is also a time of repentance -turning away from behaviors rooted in sin and toward actions that express God's love. In this conversion we can expect to receive assurance of our present salvation through the Holy Spirit "bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God" (Romans 8:16).


  *Growing in Grace

Conversion is but the beginning of the new life of wholeness. Through what Wesley called God's "sanctifying grace," we can continue to grow. In fact, Wesley affirmed, we're to press on, with God's help, in the path of sanctification, the gift of Christian perfection. The goal of the sanctified life is to be perfected in love, to experience the pure love of God and others, a holiness of heart and life, a total death to sin. We're not there yet; but by God's grace, as we United Methodists say, "we're going on to perfection!"

-From United Methodist Member's Handbook, Revised by George Koehler (Discipleship Resources, 2006), pp.78-79. Used by permission. Source: http://www.umc.org/site/c.lwL4KnN1LtH/b.2299859/k.13B7/Our_Christian_Roots.htm