In an age of non-denominational, independent churches and the mega church, one may feel that Methodism has nothing special to offer. Why, then, should we speak of an abiding significance for an organization whose founding fathers – John Wesley, Philip William Otterbein, Francis Asbury, and Jacob Albright – date back to the 1700’s. Because after all these years, it remains a mighty force within the Christian fellowship.
But how can it be a mighty force when there are no exclusively United Methodist doctrines? For, though we have distinctive emphases, we have no affirmations that are not also believed by other Christian groups. So some people ask, what is the place of United Methodism if it has no message all its own?
The answer to this is clear. While United Methodism rejects any narrow sectarianism, it brings to the community of believers its own special gifts. Two key words tell the story: vitality and balance. United Methodism is Christianity with a vital balance. And this is its abiding contribution to the Christian world.
United Methodism is vital because it calls us back to the one mighty fact of our religion: the grace of God in the hearts of people.
United Methodism strikes a vital balance by believing in and exalting the Bible as the Book of books. We rest our beliefs on the total insight of biblical revelation, not merely on the basis of a single verse or a few selected passages. The Bible is to be understood as confirmed in Christian experience. The Bible itself is, in large measure, the witness of people over many centuries to what God has done. Its promises, its great passages, its insights, its practical teachings—all of these are at last comprehended in their deeper meaning in the ongoing lives of believers. This keeps the Bible from being just another book and makes it the dynamic word of God. It is, therefore, why we are determined to give people throughout the world every chance to know this great Book.
Additionally, United Methodism strikes a vital balance by exalting the Christian moral life with a concern for both personal salvation and social responsibility. Individuals alone can be redeemed. God knocks on the doors of solitary souls. But the saved soul must do his duty while he lives on this earth. As Jesus said, “We must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day” (John 9:4). Whatever harms people strikes at Christ and stirs the Christian into action. So United Methodism is concerned about all forms of inhumanity and injustice and seeks to see the will of God realized the conduct of human affairs.
[Excerpts from Major United Methodist Beliefs by Mack Stokes]c