The United Methodist Church is an 11-million-strong global church
that opens hearts, opens doors and opens minds through active
engagement with our world.
John Wesley and the early Methodists 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. Here are some beliefs that
are central to the United Methodist Church and by way, TCU Wesley.
All statements below are adapted from umc.org.
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United Methodists share a common heritage with all Christians.
According to our foundational statement of beliefs in The Book
of Discipline, we share the following basic affirmations in
common with all Christian communities:
Trinity: We describe God in three persons. Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit are commonly used to refer to the threefold nature of God.
Sometimes we use other terms, such as Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer.
God: We believe in one God, who created the world and all that is in it. We believe that God is sovereign; that is, God is the ruler of the universe. We believe that God is loving. We can experience God’s love and grace.
Jesus: We believe that Jesus was human. He lived as a man and died when he was crucified. We believe that Jesus is divine. He is the Son of God. We believe that God raised Jesus from the dead and that the risen Christ lives today. (Christ and messiah mean the same thing—God’s anointed.) We believe that Jesus is our Savior. In Christ we receive abundant life and forgiveness of sins. We believe that Jesus is our Lord and that we are called to pattern our lives after his.
The Holy Spirit: We believe that the Holy Spirit is God with us. We believe that the Holy Spirit comforts us when we are in need and convicts us when we stray from God. We believe that the Holy Spirit awakens us to God’s will and empowers us to live obediently.
Human Beings: We believe that God created human beings in God’s image. We believe that humans can choose to accept or reject a relationship with God. We believe that all humans need to be in relationship with God in order to be fully human.
The Church: We believe that the church is the body of Christ, an extension of Christ’s life and ministry in the world today. We believe that the mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. We believe that the church is “the communion of saints,” a community made up of all past, present, and future disciples of Christ. We believe that the church is called to worship God and to support those who participate in its life as they grow in faith.
The Bible: We believe that the Bible is God’s Word. We believe that the Bible is the primary authority for our faith and practice. We believe that Christians need to know and study the Old Testament and the New Testament (the Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Scriptures).
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. We read in the Letter to the Ephesians: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Our United Methodist heritage is rooted in a deep and profound understanding of God’s grace. This incredible grace flows from God’s great love for us.
Conversion is the process of salvation that involves a change in us that we call conversion. Conversion is a turning around, leaving one orientation for another. It may be sudden and dramatic, or gradual and cumulative. But in any case, it’s a new beginning. Following Jesus’ words to Nicodemus, “You must be born anew” (John 3:7 RSV), we speak of this conversion as rebirth, new life in Christ, or regeneration. Following Paul and Luther, John Wesley called this process justification. Justification is what happens when Christians abandon all those vain attempts to justify themselves before God, to be seen as “just” in God’s eyes through religious and moral practices. It’s a time when God’s “justifying grace” is experienced and accepted, a time of pardon and forgiveness, of new peace and joy and love. Indeed, we’re justified by God’s grace through faith. Justification is also a time of repentance—turning away from behaviors rooted in sin and toward actions that express God’s love. In this conversion we can expect to receive assurance of our present salvation through the Holy Spirit “bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:16).
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. The integration of personal piety and social holiness has been a hallmark of our tradition. We affirm the biblical precept that "faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead" (James 2:17).
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. Love of God is always linked to love of neighbor and to a passionate commitment to seeking justice and renewal in the world.