The Holy Bible is our primary source of Christian doctrine. Biblical authors testify to God's self-disclosure in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as well as in God's work of creation, in the pilgrimage of Israel, and in the Holy Spirit's ongoing activity in human history.
Our attempt to understand God does not start anew with each generation or each person. Our faith also does not leap from New Testament times to the present as though nothing could be learned from all Christian thinkers and preachers in between. We learn from traditions found in many cultures, but Scripture remains the norm by which all traditions are judged.
In our theological task, we examine experience, both personal and churchwide, to confirm the realities of God's grace attested in Scripture. Experience is the personal appropriation of God's forgiving and empowering grace. Experience authenticates in our own lives the truths revealed in Scripture and illumined in tradition.
Although we recognize that God's revelation and our experiences of God's grace continually surpass the scope of reason, we also believe that disciplined theological work calls for the careful use of reason. By reason we read and interpret Scripture. By reason we determine whether our Christian witness is clear. By reason we ask questions of faith and seek to understand God's action and will.
With Christians of other communions, we believe in a triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We believe in God's self revelation as three distinct, but inseparable, parts.
We believe in one true, holy and living God who is creator, sovereign and preserver of all things visible and invisible. God is infinite in power, wisdom, justice, goodness and love and rules with gracious regard for the well-being and salvation of all people.
We believe that God is best known in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. He is the source and measure of all valid Christian teaching. We believe in the mystery of salvation in and through the redeeming love of God found in the teachings of Jesus, in his resurrection, and in his promised return. The Son is the Word of the Father and one substance with the Father. Through him we are forgiven and reconciled to God.
We believe that God's love is realized in human life by the activity of the Holy Spirit, both in our personal lives and in the church. The Holy Sprit, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is a constant presence in our lives, whereby we find strength and help in time of need. The Spirit comforts, sustains and empowers us.
By grace we mean the undeserved, unmerited and loving action of God in human existence through the ever-present Holy Spirit. Although the grace of God is undivided, it precedes salvation as "prevenient grace," continues in "justifying grace," and is brought to fruition in "sanctifying grace in the life of the believer."
In spite of suffering, violence, and evil, we assert that God's grace is present everywhere. Despite our brokenness, we remain creatures brought into being by a just and merciful God. The reign of God is both a present and a future reality.
God summons us to repentance, pardons us, receives us by grace given to us in Jesus Christ, and gives us hope of life eternal.
In justification we are, through faith, forgiven our sins and restored to God's favor. This process of justification and new birth is often referred to as conversion. Such a change may be sudden and dramatic or gradual and cumulative. In either case it marks a new beginning, yet is also part of an ongoing process.
We believe God reaches out to the repentant believer in justifying grace with accepting and pardoning love.
We hold that the wonder of God's acceptance and pardon does not end God's saving work, which continues to nurture our growth in grace. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are enabled to increase in the knowledge and love of God and in love for our neighbor.
We see God's grace and human activity working together in the relationship of faith and good works. God's grace calls for human response and discipline, Faith is the only response essential for salvation. However, salvation evidences itself in good works. Both faith and good works belong within an all-encompassing theology of grace since they stem from God's grace and love.
Personal salvation always involves service to the world. Personal faith, witness to that faith, and social action are mutually reinforcing.
We believe that there are two sacraments, ordained by Christ as symbols and pledges of God's love for us—Baptism and Communion.
Entrance into the church is acknowledged in Baptism and may include persons of all ages. Baptism is followed by nurture and the awareness of the baptized of Christ's claim upon their lives. For persons baptized as children, this claim is ratified by the baptized in confirmation, where the pledges of Baptism are accepted.
We believe the Lord's Supper is a memorial of the suffering and death of Christ, and a symbol of the union Christians have with Christ and with one another. All persons, regardless of age and regardless of church affiliation, are invited to the table of our Lord.
With other Christians, we declare the essential oneness of the church in Christ Jesus. Our unity with other Christian communities is affirmed in the historic creeds as we confess on holy, catholic (universal), and apostolic church. We are initiated into this community of faith by Baptism and through the celebration of Holy Communion
John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, said there was no religion except for social religion. In his name and in his spirit The United Methodist Church reaches out to establish peace and justice in the world.