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Questions / answers

Here are questions and answers, or links to answers, about United Methodist beliefs, Christian views of salvation, United Methodist Church positions on social issues and United Methodist Church viewpoints on other religions.

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Following are frequently asked questions on spiritual matters. Click on the colored bar containing the question to expand it for the answer. If you don't see your question and answer, feel free to contact us and ask it.

down arrow for accordion Why does the United Methodist Church ordain women?

Clergywomen have been part of Methodism since John Wesley licensed Sarah Crosby to preach in 1761. Although women were ordained in the Methodist tradition as early as the late 1800s, it was the May 4, 1956, General Conference vote for full clergy rights that forever changed the face of ordained clergy. Read more

down arrow for accordion Do United Methodists believe that animals have souls and go to heaven?

With other Catholic and Protestant denominations, we United Methodists do not teach that animals have souls and therefore need redemption and forgiveness or heaven in the same way humans do. Read more

down arrow for accordion What does the United Methodist Church teach about the Second Coming of Christ?

United Methodists have varied interpretations and understandings of the second coming of Christ as referenced in scripture. While you would find many who take a literal approach to belief in the second coming, most United Methodists would be uncertain about the meaning of the second coming. Read more

down arrow for accordion The United Methodist Church accepts cremation and organ donation. How is this consistent with resurrection of the body?

United Methodists do not insist on burial as the only appropriate means of committing our earthly remains to God, and so are generally open to cremation as a viable alternative. While United Methodists take no direct stand against cremation, we do take a very proactive stand to encourage organ donation. Read more

down arrow for accordion Does the United Methodist Church believe that babies are born in sin?

Yes, we do believe that babies, at birth, are contaminated by sin. The ancient teaching of the church on this is called the doctrine of original sin. Read more

down arrow for accordion Does a person who commits suicide go to hell?

A Christian perspective on suicide begins with an affirmation of faith that nothing, including suicide, separates us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39). Read more

down arrow for accordion Why do we say we believe in the "holy catholic church" in the Apostles' Creed? Is this a reference to the Catholic Church?

When the creed states, "I believe in the holy catholic church," it refers to the universal church rather than a specific branch of Christianity. Read more

down arrow for accordion Do United Methodists believe in saints?

United Methodists believe in saints, but not in the same manner as the Catholic Church. Read more

down arrow for accordion What is the Trinity?

We describe God in three persons. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are commonly used to refer to the threefold nature of God. Read more

down arrow for accordion What is the church?

We believe that the church is the body of Christ, an extension of Christ's life and ministry in the world today. Read more

down arrow for accordion Is there a future Kingdom of God?

The Bible may seem to be about the past, but its outlook is toward the future. From promises in the Book of Genesis to Abraham and Sarah for a new land, a son and countless descendants (Chapter 17), to promises in the Book of Revelation of a "new heaven and a new earth" (21:1), God was helping biblical people live into the vision of creation's ultimate goal. Read more

down arrow for accordion What is salvation? What is grace?

Grace is central to our understanding of Christian faith and life. Grace can be defined as the love and mercy given to us by God because God wants us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it. Read more

down arrow for accordion What happens after a person dies?

Throughout history, people have wondered what happens after death. While we may want a clear-cut answer, we are called simply to trust God that ultimately we will be in His care, and that His kingdom will come. Read more

down arrow for accordion Do United Methodists believe "once saved, always saved" or can we "lose our salvation"?

A short, but very incomplete answer, is that our church teaches we can end up "losing" the salvation God has begun in us, and the consequence of this in the age to come is our eternal destruction in Hell. We remain free to resist God's grace, to revert to spiritual torpor, and possibly experience spiritual death and Hell as its consequence. Read more

down arrow for accordion Do United Methodists believe that faith in Jesus Christ is necessary to go to heaven?

Yes, United Methodists do believe that faith in Jesus Christ is the only way the Bible gives as clearly God's gift and way of salvation and heaven. Read more

down arrow for accordion Does the United Methodist Church believe in universal salvation?

We believe that salvation is available to all persons, but salvation is not guaranteed to all persons. While God's grace is necessary for salvation and humankind cannot in any way attain salvation without God, there is certainly an element of awareness and cooperation on our part to order our lives after the image of Christ if we have the capacity to do so. Read more

down arrow for accordion Where does the "Rapture" fit into the United Methodist realm of beliefs?

John Wesley and his spiritual children are not into the future in the kind of rapture/left behind approach. He and we are into the present – living in love toward God and neighbor. Read more

down arrow for accordion Is the concept "saved, born-again" unique to evangelicals or Baptists? Does it apply to Methodists?

From its beginnings, Methodism has always been part of, and often at the vanguard of the broader movement within Protestant Christianity called "evangelicalism." Declaring the good news of God's salvation through Jesus Christ offered freely to all who wish to receive it is at the very heart of who we are as United Methodists. Where we may be different from other evangelicals (including some, but not all Baptists) is that we understand conversion to be a lifelong process, a continual turning of our lives and wills over to God for God's use and purposes. Read more

down arrow for accordion What does it mean to be saved, to accept Jesus as your personal savior?

The phrase being saved in the Christian tradition carries with it the obvious assumption that someone is in need of rescuing. Being saved in the Christian faith is really a two-part experience: being saved from something and being saved to something. Read more

down arrow for accordion Did people go to heaven before Jesus?

Christians have a different understanding than the original Hebrew beliefs. The Hebrew people believed that only very special or holy people went to heaven. In Christian thought and belief, there came the promise and hope that believers will be with Christ in heaven for eternity. Read more

down arrow for accordion What is the United Methodist position on abortion?

Our belief in the sanctity of unborn human life makes us reluctant to approve abortion. But we are equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother and the unborn child. Read more

down arrow for accordion What is the denomination's position on homosexuality?

The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers or appointed to serve in the United Methodist Church. Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches. Read more

down arrow for accordion What is the United Methodist Church's position on evolution?

We find that science's descriptions of cosmological, geological and biological evolution are not in conflict with theology. The United Methodist Church also opposes introducing theories such as creationism or intelligent design into public school curriculum. Read more
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