The Basics of our Faith
As United Methodists, we have an obligation to bear a faithful witness to Jesus Christ, the living reality at the center of the Church's life and witness. To fulfill this obligation, we reflect on our biblical and theological inheritance, striving to express faithfully the witness we make in our own time.
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:
Distinctive Emphases: Wesley and the early Methodists were particularly concerned about inviting people to experience God’s grace and to grow in their knowledge and love of God through disciplined Christian living. They placed primary emphasis on Christian living, on putting faith and love into action. This emphasis on what Wesley referred to as “practical divinity” has continued to be a hallmark of United Methodism today.
The distinctive shape of our theological heritage can be seen not only in this emphasis on Christian living, but also in Wesley’s distinctive understanding of God’s saving grace. Although Wesley shared with many other Christians a belief in salvation by grace, he combined them in a powerful way to create distinctive emphases for living the full Christian life.
Just as creeds such as the Apostles' Creed summarize the belief of all Christians, the Articles of Religion of The Methodist Church and the Confessions of Faith of The Evangelical United Brethren Church form a foundation of doctrine for United Methodists. They, along with Wesley's Sermons on Several Occasions and Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament, are "standards" of doctrine for United Methodists.
Our Faith Journey: Faith is the basic orientation and commitment of our whole being—a matter of heart and soul. Christian faith is grounding our lives in the living God as revealed especially in Jesus Christ. It’s both a gift we receive within the Christian community and a choice we make. It’s trusting in God and relying on God as the source and destiny of our lives. Faith is believing in God, giving God our devoted loyalty and allegiance. Faith is following Jesus, answering the call to be his disciples in the world. Faith is hoping for God’s future, leaning into the coming kingdom that God has promised. Faith-as-belief is active; it involves trusting, believing, following, hoping.
The United Methodist Church recognizes two sacraments in which Christ himself participated: baptism and the Lord's Supper.
Taking an active stance in society is nothing new for followers of John Wesley. He set the example for us to combine personal and social piety. Ever since predecessor churches to United Methodism flourished in the United States, we have been known as a denomination involved with people's lives, with political and social struggles, having local to international mission implications. Such involvement is an expression of the personal change we experience in our baptism and conversion.
Excerpt from The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church 2016. Copyright © 2016 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.
To help guide our thinking and acting about how we live in, and are in engaged in ministry in the world, The United Methodist Church has created statements to guide the church in its efforts to create a world of justice.
"Our Social Creed" is a basic statement of our convictions about the fundamental relationships between God, God's creation and humanity. This basic statement is expanded in a more lengthy statement called the "Social Principles." This statement explains more fully how United Methodists are called to live in the world. Part of our Book of Discipline, the "Social Principles" serve as a guide to official church action and our individual witness.