The United Methodist Church is an 12.5-million-strong global church that opens hearts, opens minds, and opens doors through active engagement with our world. John Wesley and the early Methodists placed primary emphasis on Christian living; putting faith and love into action. This emphasis on what Wesley referred to as "practical divinity" has continued to be a hallmark of Methodism from the birth of the movement through to our present day world. We invite you to learn more about our rich theological heritage. Read below to learn some of our core Christian beliefs. You can also click on the section titles or on this FAQs link to ask questions and find more answers at the United Methodist Church's website.
While there are differences in doctrine between all denominations, and even between local congregations within a denomination, United Methodists affirm a faith, taught and exemplified by the first century Jewish rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth. This central affirmation is shared by all faithful Christians, with United Methodists putting particular emphasis on God's grace and on Christian living.
Rev. John Wesley
Founder of the
What do United Methodists believe about God?
We believe God to be the omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent Creator of all things; the earth and all that lives therein, the universe in all it's infinite expanse and wonder, the heavens beyond this realm and beyond human perception, and humanity in all it's variety of life and expression. We believe God has ordered creation according to God's will. And we believe that God's defining quality is love for all peoples and creation. This love is inclusive of all peoples of the world with no exceptions and no exclusions.
What do United Methodists believe about Jesus?
We believe Jesus of Nazareth to be the Son of God, God incarnate, who is both fully human and fully divine, who was born to the Jewish maiden Mary, betrothed to Joseph. Jesus came to teach and preach a new way of being God's people centered around the practice of all people sharing in an intentional community that exemplifies the unconditional love of God. In the ultimate sacrifice of God's love for humanity, Jesus gave himself over to death, taking on the world's sin, so that salvation would be poured out on all peoples and their relationship with God would be restored. In the ultimate triumph over the power of sin and death, Jesus arose from the dead, appeared physically to many, and ascended to heaven where he reigns as Lord and Christ (King) with God the Creator.
What do United Methodists believe about the Holy Spirit?
We believe Spirit to be at work in the world in all things, guiding and sustaining us. Spirit is constantly working on us, enabling us to perceive the divine truth of God and God's grace, even if we do not fully understand it. It is by Spirit we receive the gifts of life and our varied talents so we might add communally to the beauty of human expression in the world.
What do United Methodists believe about the Bible?
We believe the Bible, and the scripture lessons contained within it, to be inspired by God. However (and this may vary within our denomination), we do not understand the Bible to be "God-breathed" or "inerrant." The Bible contains the history of our faith. Within these stories, recorded by human authors, the people's relationship with God unfolds. In these stories we find truth's that point to the mystery of who and what God is. In this mystery, scripture is to be wrestled with, so that by the struggle, we might come to the truth of the revelation of God's love for the world.
What do United Methodists believe about the presence of evil in the world?
We believe Evil, in whatever characterizations Evil is depicted, is a very real intelligent presence in the world. We believe Evil works on us, using the fallen nature of humanity to turn us against each other, dividing us in ways that make it a great challenge for us to stand firm and true in the love of God and love of neighbor. Evil weakens us through our insecurities, encouraging our selfish impulses, and distorting our ability to perceive God's love and truth in its wholeness. By this manipulation, Evil works to bring us to the precipice, wishing us to fall over into sinful living.
What do United Methodists believe about sin?
We believe sin to be that which separates us from a full and profoundly nurturing relationship with God. Sin is not the fault of Evil. Evil does not control us as though we are helpless puppets. Sin takes hold when we choose, by our own human free will, to act in an unloving, self-centered, manipulative, demoralizing, neglectful, divisive, abusive, and/or violent way toward our siblings in humanity and creation. It is through God's mercy and love that the way of salvation has been made. By choosing to live in God's loving grace of our own free will, and guided by Spirit, sin no longer has the power to separate us from a full and profoundly nurturing relationship with God.
What do United Methodists believe about salvation and repentance?
As Christians, we believe salvation comes through the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, who giving himself as a sacrifice of atonement for the world, was put to death on a cross. We believe Jesus arose from the dead three days later, the victor over sin and death. By this atoning sacrifice and the salvation offered through Christ Jesus, true repentance is made possible. We believe repentance is the act of recognizing ourselves as sinful beings, taking responsibility for our own sinful actions, and actively working to better ourselves through loving God and loving humanity in ways that build relationship and restore humanity's dignity.
What do United Methodists believe about salvation through faith vs. salvation through good works?
We believe salvation is a gift from God that comes through faith alone. We as humans, by our fallen nature, can not ever perform enough good works to earn our way into God's good graces. Therefore, salvation can only ever be a gift from God. Good works do have their place, though. While we can not earn our way into God's good graces, if we truly have faith and trust in God's love freely given, and live by the teachings of Christ Jesus, our own loving behavior and actions (our good works) will be witness to our faith. Beyond this, such compassionate living will be witness to God's loving presence in the world.
These statements help guide our thinking and actions on how we live in, and engaged in, ministry in the world.
Click on each section title to read the full text of each principal or creed.
The Social Principles are a prayerful and thoughtful effort of the General Conference (The United Methodist Church's governing body) to speak to the issues in the contemporary world from a sound biblical and theological foundation.
We affirm our unity in Jesus Christ while acknowledging differences in applying our faith in different cultural contexts as we live out the gospel.
All creation is the Lord’s, and we are responsible for the ways in which we use and abuse it.
We believe we have a responsibility to innovate, sponsor, and evaluate new forms of community that will encourage development of the fullest potential in individuals.
We affirm all persons as equally valuable in the sight of God's sight. We reject discrimination and assert the rights of minority groups to equal opportunities.
We claim all economic systems to be under the judgment of God no less than other facets of the created order.
We hold governments responsible for the protection of people’s basic freedoms. We believe that neither church nor state should attempt to dominate the other.
God’s world is one world. We pledge ourselves to seek the meaning of the gospel in all issues that divide people and threaten the growth of world community.
Our Social Creed is a statement of faith reflecting our Social Principles.