We Are a Christian People

As members of the Church Universal, we join with all true believers in proclaiming the Lordship of Jesus Christ and in affirming the historic Trinitarian creeds and beliefs of the Christian faith. We value our Wesleyan-Holiness heritage and believe it to be a way of understanding the faith that is true to Scripture, reason, tradition, and experience.

We are united with all believers in proclaiming the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We believe that in divine love God offers to all people forgiveness of sins and restored relationship. In being reconciled to God, we believe that we are also to be reconciled to one another, loving each other as we have been loved by God and forgiving each other as we have been forgiven by God. We believe that our life together is to exemplify the character of Christ. We look to Scripture as the primary source of spiritual truth confirmed by reason, tradition, and experience.

Jesus Christ is the Lord of the Church, which, as the Nicene Creed tells us, is one, holy, universal, and apostolic. In Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit, God the Father offers forgiveness of sin and reconciliation to all the world. Those who respond to God's offer in faith become the people of God. Having been forgiven and reconciled in Christ, we forgive and are reconciled to one another. In this way, we are Christ's Church and Body and reveal the unity of that Body. As the one Body of Christ, we have "one Lord, one faith, one baptism." We affirm the unity of Christ's Church and strive in all things to preserve it (Ephesians 4:5, 3).

Jesus Christ is the holy Lord. For this reason, Christ's Church is not only one but also holy. It is to be holy in its parts and in its totality and holy in its members as it is in its Head. The Church is both holy and called to be holy. It is holy because it is the Body of Christ, who has become for us righteousness and holiness. It is called to become holy by God, who chose us before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless. As Christ's one Body, our life together as a Church should embody the holy character of Christ, who emptied himself and took on the form of a slave. We affirm the holiness of Christ's Church, both as a gift and as a calling.

Jesus Christ is the Lord of the Church. For this reason, the Church is not only one and holy but also universal, including all who affirm the essential beliefs of the Christian faith. We affirm the apostolic faith that has been held by all Christians everywhere and at all times. We embrace John Wesley's concept of the universal spirit, by which we have fellowship with all those who affirm the vital center of Scripture, and we extend toleration to those who disagree with us on matters not essential to salvation.

Jesus Christ is the Lord of the Scriptures. For this reason, the Church is not only one, holy, and universal but also apostolic. It is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets and continually devotes itself to the apostles' teaching. The Church especially looks to the Scriptures, which are the Church's only norm of faith and life. The Lordship of Jesus over the Scriptures means that we are to understand the Scriptures through the witness of the Holy Spirit as they testify to Jesus. To confirm and correct our understanding of the Scriptures, we honor and heed the ancient creeds and other voices of the Christian tradition that faithfully explain the Scriptures. We also allow our understanding of the Scriptures to be guided by the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to us in repentance, faith, and assurance. Finally we test our understanding of the Scriptures by seeking the reasonableness and coherence of their witness to Jesus Christ.

We are especially called to witness to the holiness of Christ's Church as embraced in the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition. We affirm the principles of salvation by grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ our Savior. In doing so, we continue to affirm that Christ's Church is one, universal, and apostolic. But our special calling is to hold before the eyes of the world and the Church the centrality of holiness and to encourage the people of God to live in the fullness of the Father's holy love. For this reason we affirm the Wesleyan-Holiness understanding of the Christian faith and seek to remain faithful to its principal teachings: God's prevenient grace and the means of grace, repentance, faith, the new birth, justification, entire sanctification, assurance, the Christian community and its disciplines, and the perfection of love.

All Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.