The doctrinal standards of the United Methodist Church are built upon four pillars: “ The Articles of Religion of the Methodist Church” (1808), “The Confession of Faith of the Evangelical United Brethren Church” (1963), The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, and Wesley’s Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament.
The Standard Sermons and Explanatory Notes are books and are thus too lengthy to reprint here. “The Articles of Religion” and “The Confession of Faith” are much briefer, and lend themselves to reprinting. However, the language used in these summaries of our faith can, at times, be archaic and difficult to understand. This is particularly true of “The Articles of Religion,” which were developed by John Wesley from “The Articles of Religion” of the Church of England in the 18th Century. For this reason only “The Confession of Faith” is reprinted in its entirety.
While “The Confession of Faith” is easier to read and comprehend by the 20th century mind, it’s language can still be difficult. For instance, the language about humankind is not gender neutral. Therefore all references to man and mankind should be read and understood to include both men and women. Also, in order to clarify difficult sections, I have added additional personal commentary and applicable portions of the Articles of Religion when I felt it necessary.
Doctrine is important for the Church Universal and for the United Methodist Church in particular. We have a rich and solid theological foundation. As the 1992 Book of Discipline states, “The heart of our task is to reclaim and renew the distinctive United Methodist doctrinal heritage, which rightly belongs to our common heritage as Christians, for the life and mission of the whole Church” (p. 54). I hope that you will examine the doctrine of our Church, meditate upon it in your heart, and appropriate it in your life.