As United Methodists, we have an obligation to bear a faithful Christian witness to Jesus Christ, the living reality at the center of the Churchs life and witness. To fulfill this obligation, we reflect critically on our biblical and theological inheritance, striving to express faithfully the witness we make in our own time.
United Methodists share basic affirmations in common with all Christian communities.
Our Christian Roots: Who God isWhen we say the Apostles' Creed, we join with millions of Christians through the ages in an understanding of God as a Trinitythree persons in one: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. From early in our Judaic roots we've affirmed that God is one and indivisible, yet God is revealed in three distinct ways. "God in three persons, blessed Trinity" is one way of speaking about the several ways we experience God.
We also try to find adjectives that describe the divine nature: God is transcendent (over and beyond all that is), yet at the same time immanent (present in everything). God is omnipresent (everywhere at once), omnipotent (all-powerful), and omniscient (all-knowing). God is absolute, infinite, righteous, just, loving, mercifuland more. Because we cannot speak literally about God, we use metaphors: God is a Shepherd, a Bridegroom, a Judge. God is Love or Light or Truth.
What God does: We cannot describe God with certainty. But we can put into words what God does and how we experience God's action in our lives. God works in at least these seven ways:
God creates. In the beginning God created the universe, and the Creation is ongoing. From the whirling galaxies, to subatomic particles, to the unfathomable wonders of our own minds and bodieswe marvel at God's creative wisdom.
God sustains. God continues to be active in creation, holding all in "the everlasting arms." In particular, we affirm that God is involved in our human historypast, present, and future.
God loves. God loves all creation. In particular, God loves humankind, created in the divine image. This love is like that of a parent. We've followed Jesus in speaking of God as "our Father," while at times it seems that God nurtures us in a motherly way as well.
God suffers. Since God is present in creation, God is hurt when any aspect of creation is hurt. God especially suffers when people are injured. In all violence, abuse, injustice, prejudice, hunger, poverty, or illness, the living God is suffering in our midst.
God judges. All human behavior is measured by God's righteous standardsnot only the behavior itself but also the motive or the intent. The Lord of life knows our sinand judges it.
God redeems. Out of infinite love for each of us, God forgives our own self-destruction and renews us within. God is reconciling the individuals, groups, races, and nations that have been rent apart. God is redeeming all creation.
God reigns. God is the Lord of all creation and of all history. Though it may oftentimes seem that the "principalities and powers" of evil have the stronger hand, we affirm God's present and future reign.
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