Faithlink Discussion: Essentials of the Faith

by Jacob Juncker

How do United Methodists reclaim and practice the essentials of our faith?

The theological diversity within The United Methodist Church is one of the things that appeals to me personally.  I enjoy the diversity of the church.  I am continually challenged by my fellow United Methodist brothers and sisters who believe differently than me.  Rather than seeing this as a challenge, I do my best to hear these differing viewpoints (even if I do not understand them) because they may reveal a side of God that I may never have seen before or have been unwilling to see in the past.

Willingness to hear anothers viewpoint does not mean that I necessarily agree nor does it mean that I cannot challenge the thought.  By hearing another’s point of view I am valuing their perspective.  We all have differing perspectives which when focused on God can give us a clearer picture of who God is and what God would have us do.

Yet, in the midst of our diversity there are “essentials” which bind us together as Christians and United Methodists.  The doctrinal statements–the statements which express that which we view as “essential” or defining–of the United Methodist Church are:

  1. The Articles of Religion of the Methodist Church
  2. The Confession of Faith of the Evangelical United Brethren Church
  3. The Standard Sermons of Wesley (by John Wesley)
  4. The Explanatory Notes upon the New Testament (by John Wesley)
  5. The General Rules of the Methodist Church

What are the real dangers of having little or no grounding in the essentials of Christian faith?  Have you had experiences in which you would have benefited from having better grounding in these essentials and in the distinctive emphases of United Methodism?