What We Believe

            Although United Methodists often use creeds or affirmations of faith as aids to worship, The United Methodist Church is a “non-credal” denomination. By this we mean that we do not require a person to sign or profess a particular statement of faith to become a United Methodist. We require only that a person profess his or her faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, profess belief in “the Word of God as contained in the Old and New Testaments as the sufficient rule both of faith and of practice,” and promise that he or she will share in and uphold the work of Jesus through the church by his or her “prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness.”

            Our beliefs as United Methodists are rooted in grace—God’s unearned, undeserved love and favor toward humankind. Although our relationship with God is broken through our sin—our fundamental disobedience to God, God’s will, and God’s way—God seeks to restore that relationship and takes the initiative to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Through his Holy Spirit, God begins to draw us back to himself in what we call prevenient grace—grace that comes before we know God or have any inclination to serve or please him. This grace leads us toward convicting or convincing grace—we become aware of our sinfulness and our need for redemption. Through justifying grace, appropriated in our lives through our acceptance of God’s gift to us in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we are “made right” with God. United Methodists recognize that we cannot, by our own goodness or good works, mend our relationship with God—we are redeemed only through our faith in Jesus, through whom are sins are forgiven.
 
            This is not the end of our journey, however—for, in making us right with him, God gives us a new life: we are “born anew.” Yet we are also called to grow toward “Christian perfection in love”: habitual love of God and neighbor. We grow toward Christian perfection through sanctifying grace, through which God helps us to grow more and more like Jesus. The founder of Methodism, John Wesley, spoke of this in terms of the “means of grace,” specific ways in which God helps us to mature, and he divided them into two categories: “works of piety,” which include practices of personal and corporate devotion such as worship, personal and corporate prayer, personal and corporate reading and study of Scripture, receiving Holy Communion as frequently as possible, and fasting or abstinence; and “works of mercy,” in which we do all the good we can in meeting people’s spiritual and physical needs. Wesley believed, however, that a balanced Christian life practices both the works of piety and the works of mercy—without both, we cannot truly grow into love of God and love of neighbor. Yet he also emphasized that the works of piety and works of mercy do not make us right with God—they are done in response to God’s love made real for us in Jesus and through the Holy Spirit. But we believe that, if we faithfully practice these “means of grace,” we can be “made perfect in love” in this life—that we will grow into a state of naturally loving God with all that we are and all that we have, and we will love our neighbors as ourselves.
 
            For more information on our United Methodist beliefs, please visit www.umc.org.