What We Believe
What Do United Methodists Believe?
That's not an easy question, since United Methodists don't agree on all aspects of Christian doctrine. The distinguishing marks of a United Methodist are probably best illustrated by a commitment to the basics of Christianity and by a Christian lifestyle, rather than by assenting to a particular scheme of beliefs.
These guidelines are interdependent and allow for variety in theology. United Methodists come to their understandings of God by way of several heritages of faith, so we recognize that different theological positions grow out of circumstances and experiences of different groups. You will find widely different points of view even within the same community of believers. This allows all of us the opportunity to grow in our understanding of the nature and work of God.
Like most other Protestants, United Methodists recognize only those sacraments which Jesus Christ specifically instituted through his own actions. These two sacraments are baptism and the Lord's Supper. Of course we also recognize and share in a number of highly sacred moments in life such as marriage, healing, prayer, reconciliation, confirmation, and ordination. Although most of the major denominations of Protestant Christianity share the basic theological doctrines of the faith, there are differences in the ways we share in the sacraments.
Holy Communion or the The Lord's Supper recalls the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and celebrates the unity of all the members of God's family. It is a holy meal of bread and wine (or grape juice) that symbolizes the body and blood of Christ. By sharing this meal, we give thanks for Jesus' sacrifice for our sins and receive grace to empower us to move forward in our Christian living. Like Baptism, we believe that the Lord's Supper offers an invitation from God to come into a closer relationship with our Creator through Jesus Christ. Therefore, the table is open to all who wish to come and share, regardless of age or church membership.
United Methodist also share a vision of life for all humanity. We believe that the role of the family is to nurture people in mutual love, respect, and fidelity. We believe that God's world is one world and that war is incompatible with the teachings and example of Jesus. We believe we are called to work toward a society where each person's value is recognized, maintained, and strengthened. We believe that human beings are the stewards of the earth and are called to protect its natural resources. For United Methodists social consciousness has always gone hand in hand with faith. Methodists have been at the forefront of every major social movement to advocate for basic human rights. These included working against slavery, illegal traffic of liquor, gambling, industrial exploitation, and the exploitation of women and children. We continue to work for the rights of men, women, children, youth, the aging, and persons with disabilities; for the improvement of the quality of life; and for the rights and dignity of racial, ethnic, and religious minorities. We dedicate ourselves to peace throughout the world, to the rule of justice and law among nations, and to individual freedom for all people in the world.