United Methodists share a common heritage with Christians of every age and nation. With Christians of other communions, we confess belief in the triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
We hold in common with all Christians a faith in the mystery of salvation through Jesus Christ. Scripture witnesses to the redeeming love of God in Jesus’ life and teachings, his atoning death, his resurrection, his sovereign presence in history, his triumph over the powers of evil and death, and his promised return.
We believe God reaches out to the repentant believer in justifying grace with accepting and pardoning love. This righting of relationships by God through Jesus Christ calls us to faith and trust as we experience a new birth, by which we are made new people in Christ. This process of justification and new birth is often referred to as conversion. This change may be sudden and dramatic, or slow and gradual. It marks a new beginning, yet it is part of an ongoing process. Christian experience as personal transformation always expresses itself as faith working by love.
We share the Christian belief that God’s saving love is made known in our lives by the work of the Holy Spirit. Through the Spirit, we come to faith in Jesus Christ in whom we are forgiven, reconciled to God and transformed as people of the new covenant. We are united with this community of faith by Baptism, receiving the promise of the Spirit that re-creates and transforms us. Through the regular celebration of Holy Communion, we participate in the risen presence of Jesus Christ and are thereby nourished for faithful discipleship. “Life in the Spirit” involves individual devotion through practices such as praying, fasting and inward searching in solitude. It also includes the communal life of the church in worship, mission, evangelism, service and social witness.
We insist that personal salvation always involves Christian mission and service to the world. By joining heart and hand, we affirm that holiness means more than personal devotion. Love of God is always linked with love of neighbor, a passion for justice and renewal in the life of the world.
We share with many Christian communions recognition of the authority of Scripture. As we open our minds and hearts to the Word of God through the words of human beings inspired by the Holy Spirit, faith is born and nourished, our understanding is deepened, and the possibilities for transforming the world become apparent to us. Thus, the Bible serves both as a source of our faith and as the basic criterion by which the truth and dependability of any interpretation of faith is measured.
Our understanding of Christian faith and life is grounded in grace. By grace we mean the undeserved, unmerited, and loving action of God through the ever-present Holy Spirit. God’s grace prompts our first wish to please God, our first glimmer of understanding about God’s will, and our longing for deliverance from sin and death. Grace moves us toward repentance and stirs us to accept by faith God’s pardoning and renewing love offered in Jesus Christ. We see God’s initiating, sustaining grace and human activity working together in the ongoing relationship of faith and good works, as the Spirit encourages and enables us to increase in love of God and neighbor.
To find out more about our beliefs as United Methodists, visit umc.org