We are orthodox, Protestant, evangelical, and Methodist (in that order).
We are orthodox, which means that we are Bible-believing Christians who affirm historic Christian teaching and ethics, including on matters of gender and sexuality. Ours is “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3), summarized in the great ecumenical Creeds: Apostles‘, Nicene, and Athanasian.
We are Protestant, which means that we uphold the supreme authority of Scripture (sola scriptura) and the doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone (sola fide) in Christ alone to the glory of God alone.
We are evangelical, which means that we emphasize the necessity of being born again, having a personal relationship with God, and putting our faith into practice through good works and holy living.
We are Methodists, which means that our roots run back to John Wesley and the Anglican Church with its 39 Articles of Religion, abridged by Wesley in the 25 Articles of Religion. In his pamphlet “The Character of a Methodist,” Wesley wrote,
A Methodist is one who has the love of God shed abroad in his heart, by the Holy Spirit given unto him: one who loves the Lord his God with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his mind, and with all his strength. God is the joy of his heart, and the desire of his soul; which is constantly crying out, “Whom have I in heaven but you, and there is none upon earth that I desire beside you! My God and my all! You are the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever!”
While Methodists seek to be “mere Christians,” simply following the method laid out in Scripture for pursuing God and holiness, the great Methodist theologian William Burt Pope identified several distinctive emphases of Methodist doctrine, including:
- the love of God;
- the reconciliation of the whole world to God through the substitutionary atonement of Christ;
- the pouring out of God’s grace upon the entire human race through the Holy Spirit;
- the possibility of all being saved (contra Calvinism);
- the personal witness of the Holy Spirit in the heart of believers;
- the importance of the sacraments as instruments by which God administers his grace;
- the need for believers to persevere in faith and holiness;
- and the entireness of Christian sanctification as the most glorious privilege of the life of faith upon earth.
A simplified summary of Methodist theology was popularized by W. B. Fitzgerald in the four “alls” of Methodism:
- All people need to be saved;
- All people can be saved;
- All people can know that they are saved;
- All people can be saved to the uttermost.