What Card Carrying United Methodist Christians Believe
A few years ago our St. Andrew pastors preached through the distinctive beliefs and doctrines of our Methodist tradition. Using John Wesley’s ‘order of salvation’ as a rough outline, the sermon series looked at what is traditionally called prevenient grace, justifying grace, obstacles to grace (sin), the means of grace, and sanctifying grace. Realizing that some of the traditional language needs a little translation to stay relevant, our pastors put together the following summary of what most ‘card carrying’ United Methodists affirm about the life of faith.
A Grace-Filled Life
We believe that we are on a journey—that our lives have a direction and a destination designed by God.
Though each of our lives will take its own route, we believe that we have the same map and guide that points us toward the same destination--new life in Christ.
The Power of Sin
We believe that human beings were created good, but we have all fallen far short of being the people God created us to be.
We are more likely to act in self-centered ways than care about others or God. The sad truth is that being self-centered always ends up being self-destructive.
What we cannot do for ourselves in regard to our self-centeredness, God stands ready, willing, and able to do in us and through us.
The Grace That Comes Before
We believe God comes to us and works in our lives long before we are ever aware of it.
We believe that God gives us everything we need to choose or reject Him.
We believe that God loves us for who we are. God will move heaven and earth in order to have a relationship with us simply because we belong to Him—because we are his children.
Just As If I Had Not Sinned
We believe that our sin is too deep and too wide to allow us to grab a hold of a relationship with God.
God cannot simply overlook our sin, ignore it, or dismiss it. God’s challenge has always been to deal ruthlessly with the sin while dealing graciously with the sinner.
We believe God has found the way to forgive us and transforms us through the life, death, resurrection, and spirit of Jesus Christ.
We believe that choosing a loving, faithful, and obedient relationship with God is not only possible—but is God’s greatest desire for us. In fact, our relationship with Jesus is how God holds us accountable and helps us grow beyond our self-concern.
Sacred Moments & Means of Grace
We believe that the once-in-a-lifetime water of baptism signals our dying to our old selves and being raised to a new kind of living. It includes the forgiveness of past sins, being reborn in the Spirit, and claimed by a whole new family of Christian brothers and sisters.
We believe that the bread and juice of communion are a regular way for us to experience all that Jesus has done for us in order to forgive us, what Jesus offers us now in terms of his living presence, and a ‘taste’ of what Jesus promises us in terms of eternal life with God.
God provides for us a wide variety of means to communicate his love and commitment to us, including but not limited to the Bible, prayer, worship, the church, and of course Jesus himself. We can experience these extraordinary gifts in the midst of the ordinary stuff of life.
We believe that becoming more and more like Jesus is the goal of life. In Jesus we see what it means to be fully alive and fully human, as well as what it means to have the kind of relationship with God and each other we were designed for.
The process of becoming like Jesus means being recreated in mind, heart, body, and spirit. We believe that this is a life-long process of getting rid of the old ways of the world and putting on the new ways of Christ.
We believe that the best evidence that this process is taking place is the transformation of people like us. The more honest and ‘transparent’ we can be about that change the greater impact we will have on the lives of others.
Blessed to be a Blessing
We believe that being a follower of Jesus Christ, becoming like him in our ability to love God and others, is something we dare not keep to ourselves. All the good things God gives us come to us, and pass through us, on the way to someone else. We have been blessed in order to be a blessing to others.
For those who are looking for a more concise statement of United Methodist beliefs, check out What United Methodists Believe from the denominations website.
Or you might be interested in a fun series of short video clips that illustrate a variety of United Methodist practices. Check out Chuck Knows Church.