As the local expression of the global United Methodist Church, we carry with us the same key theological views expressed in our Wesleyan Heritage.
Wesley and the early Methodists were particularly concerned about inviting people to experience God’s grace and to grow in their knowledge and love of God through disciplined Christian living. They placed primary emphasis on Christian living, on putting faith and love into action. This emphasis on what Wesley referred to as “practical divinity” has continued to be a hallmark of United Methodism today.
Grace is central to our understanding of Christian faith and life. Grace can be defined as the love and mercy given to us by God because God wants us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, described God’s grace as threefold:
Prevenient Grace - Wesley understood grace as God’s active presence in our lives. This presence is not dependent on human actions or human response. God’s grace stirs up within us a desire to know God and empowers us to respond to God’s invitation to be in relationship with God.
Justifying Grace - In his letter to the Roman Christians, Paul wrote: “But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). This verse demonstrates the justifying grace of God. It points to reconciliation, pardon, and restoration. Through the work of God in Christ our sins are forgiven, and our relationship with God is restored. This dimension of God’s grace is a gift. There are no hoops through which we have to jump in order to please God and to be loved by God. God has acted in Jesus Christ. We need only to respond in faith.
Sanctifying Grace - Salvation is not a static, one-time event in our lives. It is the ongoing experience of God’s gracious presence transforming us into whom God intends us to be. John Wesley described this dimension of God’s grace as sanctification, or holiness.
Faith and Good Works
United Methodists insist that faith and good works belong together. What we believe must be confirmed by what we do. Personal salvation must be expressed in ministry and mission in the world. We believe that Christian doctrine and Christian ethics are inseparable, that faith should inspire service.
Mission and Service
Because of what God has done for us, we offer our lives back to God through a life of service. As disciples, we become active participants in God’s activity in the world through mission and service.
Nature and Mission of the Church
For Wesley, there was no religion but social religion, no holiness but social holiness. In other words, faith always includes a social dimension. One cannot be a solitary Christian. As we grow in faith through our participation in the church community, we are also nourished and equipped for mission and service to the world.
For a more detailed overview of our Methodist roots, visit Our Wesleyan Heritage.
For more information on our doctrinal convictions, visit United Methodist Foundational Documents.