Our Doctrine and Theology
is based on the ministry and preaching of the Rev. John Wesley
Methodists have always been clear that no-one is beyond the reach of God's love. Salvation is there for everyone who turns to God, and not just for the chosen few (the elect). We recognize that salvation is not earned or gained by good works: it is a measure of God's grace!
The United Methodist Church is founded on a Wesleyan theology of grace which is anchored in Scripture, and professes faith in the teachings, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the continuing movement of the Holy Spirit.
Methodists traditionally use a fourfold approach to learn about our Christian faith and apply it to contemporary issues and to our Christian practice. Scripture is the primary authority in the Church and we use sacred tradition, reason, and experience to interpret it, with the aid of the Holy Spirit.
Faith must be experienced in the heart and soul of each of us, and made real in the way we live our lives. No holiness but social holiness was John Wesley’s way of saying that the depth of our love for God is revealed by the way we love those whom God loves. Every believer who receives in their heart the love of God by faith must share this love with others, especially with the poor and marginalized.
Often Methodists agree to disagree, at least on some of the details. Nevertheless, our emphasis on social holiness is reflected in our Social Principles, which are continually being updated.
Head and heart are both essential for living the Christian life. Feeling our faith deeply within our beings is important, and using our intellects and reason is also necessary. None of us have all the answers and we challenge one another to continually grow in our understandings and knowledge.
Living by the Wesleyan theology of grace is a life-long endeavor accomplished with grace of many forms:
Prevenient Grace, the grace God gives before we even acknowledge God
Justifying Grace, the grace of God that restores us to and lines us up with God every time we go off track
Sanctifying Grace, the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit that changes us so that our lives are increasingly conformed to the mind of Christ. John Wesley called this lifelong process sanctification or becoming “perfected in love.”
Sanctifying grace draws us toward Christian perfection, which, according to Wesley, is having a heart “habitually filled with love of God and neighbor” and as “having the mind of Christ and walking as Christ walked.”
Works of piety and works of mercy are the Means of Grace, the ways in which we access that grace of God: prayer, scripture reading and study, fasting, holy conferencing and worship, the sacrament of holy communion, and serving others by feeding the hungry, tending the sick, lifting up the downtrodden, liberating the oppressed and imprisoned, and more.
The United Methodist Church is a mainline Protestant church with a storied past. While starting as a small group of clergymen from the Church of England, the Methodist movement gained great traction during the colonial period of North America, particularly through tent revivals and small group ministries known as societies. The movement has reflected and reacted to the American experience ever since. Today, Methodism takes many shapes and is found among the people and cultures worldwide, with United Method congregations in North America, Africa, Europe and Asia.