United Methodists share a common heritage with all Christians. According to our foundational statement of beliefs in The Book of Disciple, we share the following basic affirmations in common with all Christian communities.
We believe in one holy and living God, infinite in power, wisdom, justice, goodness and love, creator of all things visible and invisible, who rules with gracious regard for the well-being and salvation of humanity. We believe the one God reveals himself in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, distinct but inseparable, eternally one in essence and power.
We believe Jesus is the Christ (Messiah/ the anointed one), truly God and truly man, the Savior who came to earth in the flesh to reveal God to humans and to restore all of fallen humanity to a personal relationship with God. He is the eternal Word made flesh, the only begotten Son of the Father, born of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. As ministering Servant he lived, suffered and died on the cross. He was buried, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, where he lives and reigns, and from whence he shall return. Jesus is our Lord and Savior, who intercedes for us, and by him all will be judged.
Holy Spirit -
We believe in the Holy Spirit who proceeds from and is one in being with the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit convinces the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgement. The Holy Spirit is the divine presence in the lives of Jesus' followers, illuminating God's word for understanding and application, progressively transforming each follower into the image of Christ, and is actively working within the Christian community and world at large to bring about God's plan of redemption for all people and all creation.
The Holy Bible -
We believe the scriptures of both the Old and New Testaments, reveals the Word of God as far as it is necessary for our salvation. It is to be received through the Holy Spirit as the true rule and guide for faith and practice.
The Church -
We believe the Christian Church is the community of all true believers under the Lordship of Christ. We believe it is one, holy, apostolic and catholic. The Church is the redemptive fellowship in which the Word of God is preached by those divinely called, and the sacraments are duly administered. Under the discipline of the Holy Spirit the Church exists for the maintenance of worship, the edification of believers and the redemption of the world. We believe in the priesthood of all believers: everyone in relationship with Christ is gifted, empowered and called to serve within God's mission to reach the world.
The Sacraments -
We believe the Sacraments, ordained by Christ, are symbols and pledges of the Christian's profession and of God's love toward us. They are means of grace by which God works invisibly in us, quickening, strengthening and confirming our faith. Baptism and Holy Communion are the two Sacraments ordained by Christ our Lord.
We believe Baptism signifies entrance into the household of faith, and is a symbol of repentance and inner cleansing from sin, a representation of the new birth in Christ Jesus and a mark of Christian discipleship. Persons of any age can be baptized. We believe children are under the atonement of Christ and as heirs of the Kingdom of God are acceptable subjects for Christian Baptism. Children of believing parents through Baptism become the special responsiblitiy of the Church. They should be nurtured and led to personal acceptance of Christ, and by profession of faith confirm their Baptism. A person receives the sacrament of baptism only once in his or her life. The mode of Baptism may be by sprinkling, immersion, or pouring.
We believe Holy Communion (Lord's Supper, Euchrist) is a representation of our redemption, a memorial of the sufferings and death of Christ, and a token of love and union which Christians have with Christ and one another. Those who rightly, worthily and in faith eat the broken bread and drink the blessed cup partake of the body and blood of Christ in a spiritual manner until he comes. We practice "open Communion," welcoming all who love Christ, repent of their sins, and intend to live a godly life.
We believe that God created human beings in God's own image and are the supreme object of God's creation. Because we are made in God's image, we are rational and moral beings, each person possesses great self-worth, the capacity to be in relationship with God and one another, and the ability to choose (free will). Although each person has tremendous potential for good, all persons are marred by an attitude of self-centeredness which the Bible calls "sin." This attitude and its resultant actions separate us from God and one another. So pervasive is our sinful nature that people are not capable of a positive response to God. Only through the work of God can people be saved from the corruption of sin and restored to the relationship which God has intended for us.
Having our relationship with God restored is what the Bible calls salvation. Salvation is God's free gift to us. We can never earn it or achieve it by self-imporvement or good works. We accept God's gift of new life when we turn from our self-ruled life and accept Jesus as our Savior. The new life that God gives us is an abundant life in this world and eternal life in the world to come.
A Theology of Discipleship