Have you studied the doctrines of The United Methodist Church?
I first became a Christ follower during a week at a non-denominational Church Camp. When I got back to my hometown, there wasn’t a non-denominational Church for me to attend. My family had some very loose ties with the United Methodist congregation up the road. I started to get involved. They had some different practices from the non-denominational churches represented back at camp. I wanted to understand those differences and attempt to discern what fit best with what I was learning and experiencing in my own study and growth.
Obviously I ended up in The United Methodist Church, so that should say something about where my discernment led me…but that’s for a different reflection.
The United Methodist Church holds in common many doctrines with Christians everywhere. The Articles of Religion begin to spell out what it is that we affirm as United Methodist Christians. The unique doctrinal heritage of The United Methodist Church comes in the form of practical divinity. This means that we best express our doctrinal beliefs in the way that we allow them to be expressed through the way we live our lives. This is putting our faith into practice. The Book of Discipline states that “the thrust of the Wesleyan movement and the United Brethren and Evangelical Association was ‘to reform the nation, particularly the Church, and to spread scriptural holiness over the land.’” The Wesleyan emphasis on grace is something that particularly drew me to ministry in The United Methodist Church.
Through my years as a Christian, as a student of religion both in undergraduate college and Seminary, I have become a bit of a doctrine nerd. I believe that doctrine is extremely important to the life and growth of our Church. Unfortunately, today, it seems as if doctrine has taken a back seat. Many people in our churches are simply unaware of basic Christian doctrine and the unique contribution that United Methodism makes to doctrinal matters. I believe that we must wake up from our slumber when it comes to doctrine. “The time has long since past when we can pretend that basic Christian teaching is irrelevant to continued growth in grace and faith.” John Wesley also believed that doctrine was important to our task of spreading scriptural holiness. He once wrote:
I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid, lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case, unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out.
I believe that doctrine is extremely important. It’s extremely important for our pastors and laypeople to be able to clearly articulate, understand, and live out United Methodist doctrine.
Have you studied the doctrines of The United Methodist Church? I have studied them.
 Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, 2012, ¶ 102, p. 64.
 Abraham, William J. Waking From Doctrinal Amnesia: The Healing of Doctrine in the United Methodist Church. P. 74
 Wesley, “Thoughts Upon Methodism,” in Works (Jackson), 13:259