The Articles of Religion is a term commonly used for the standards of doctrine of the United Methodist Church. The Articles stem from the abridgment of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England prepared by John Wesley for use in the American Methodist Episcopal Church organized in 1784; Wesley reduced the Thirty-nine Articles to twenty-four. The organizing conference added a twenty-fifth article (Article 23) outlining the church's relationships with the newly formed American government. This article replaced Article XXXVII of the Book of Common Prayer, a statement of the authority of the British monarch over the church, which Wesley had wisely omitted from his list.
The Articles of Religion as adopted by the 1784 Christmas Conference have remained intact throughout the history of the Methodist Episcopal Church and its successor bodies. The General Conference of 1808 helped to assure this continuity by removing the amendment of the Articles from the direct jurisdiction of succeeding General Conferences. It provided for amendment only upon a two thirds vote of any General Conference recommending change and a subsequent confirmation by a three fourths vote of all the Annual Conferences. The only change in the original doctrinal statement of the church has been the inclusion of the Confession of Faith of the United Brethren Church in the Book of Discipline at the formation of the present United Methodist Church in 1968. This addition introduced into the official doctrinal statement of the church, for the first time, an article on Christian perfection, a doctrine central to Wesleyan theology but never previously incorporated in the doctrines of the Discipline.
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The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 1980; H. M. DuBose, The Symbol of Methodism, Being an Inquiry into the History, Authority, Inclusions and Uses of the Twenty-Five Articles; A. A. Jimeson, Notes on the Twenty-Five Articles of Religion as Received and Taught by the Methodists in the United States.
Editor's Note: The article above appears to specifically refer to the Methodist Churches in the United States. It appears that in Great Britain, three branches of the Methodist Church united into the Methodist Church of Great Britain and Ireland in 1932, and those Churches adopted "The doctrinal standards of the Methodist Church" at that time. This is significant because many of the Methodist Churches in Africa, South America, the Caribbean and Asia were at that time "Overseas Districts" of the British Methodist Conference and that Methodists in South Africa, Australia, Canada and New Zealand also took their lead from the UK. When these churches became autonomous, the Doctrinal Standards were pretty much universally carried forwards and therefore, this document has much wider influence than might at first appear.
The doctrinal standards of the Methodist Church are contained as Clause 4 of the Deed of Union and published in the British Methodist Constitutional Practice and Discipline, which is presented below.
The Methodist Church claims and cherishes its place in the Holy Catholic Church which is the Body of Christ. It rejoices in the inheritance of the apostolic faith and loyally accepts the fundamental principles of the historic creeds and of the Protestant Reformation. It ever remembers that in the providence of God Methodism was raised up to spread scriptural holiness through the land by the proclamation of the evangelical faith and declares its unfaltering resolve to be true to its divinely appointed mission.
The doctrines of the evangelical faith which Methodism has held from the beginning and still holds are based upon the divine revelation recorded in the Holy Scriptures. The Methodist Church acknowledges this revelation as the supreme rule of faith and practice. These evangelical doctrines to which the preachers of the Methodist Church are pledged are contained in Wesley's Notes on the New Testament and the first four volumes of his sermons.
The Notes on the New Testament and the 44 Sermons are not intended to impose a system of formal or speculative theology on Methodist preachers, but to set up standards of preaching and belief which should secure loyalty to the fundamental truths of the gospel of redemption and ensure the continued witness of the Church to the realities of the Christian experience of salvation.
Christ's ministers in the church are stewards in the household of God and shepherds of his flock. Some are called and ordained to this sole occupation and have a principal and directing part in these great duties but they hold no priesthood differing in kind from that which is common to all the Lord's people and they have no exclusive title to the preaching of the gospel or the care of souls. These ministries are shared with them by others to whom also the Spirit divides his gifts severally as he wills.
It is the universal conviction of the Methodist people that the office of the Christian ministry depends upon the call of God who bestows the gifts of the Spirit the grace and the fruit which indicate those whom He has chosen.
Those whom the Methodist Church recognises as called of God and therefore receives into its ministry shall be ordained by the imposition of hands as expressive of the Church's recognition of the minister's personal call.
The Methodist Church holds the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers and consequently believes that no priesthood exists which belongs exclusively to a particular order or class of persons but in the exercise of its corporate life and worship special qualifications for the discharge of special duties are required and thus the principle of representative selection is recognised.
All Methodist preachers are examined tested and approved before they are authorised to minister in holy things. For the sake of church order and not because of any priestly virtue inherent in the office the ministers of the Methodist Church are set apart by ordination to the ministry of the word and sacraments.
The Methodist Church recognises two sacraments namely baptism and the Lord's Supper as of divine appointment and of perpetual obligation of which it is the privilege and duty of members of the Methodist Church to avail themselves.
This clause was amended, in minor respects, by the Conference in 1995.
The Scriptures have come to us through human authors who wrote, as God moved them, in the languages and literary forms of their times. God continues, by the illumination of the Holy Spirit, to speak through this Word to each generation and culture.
The Bible has authority over all human life. It teaches the truth about God, His creation, His people, His one and only Son, and the destiny of all mankind. It also teaches the way of salvation and the life of faith. Whatever is not found in the Bible nor can be proved by it is not to be required as an article of belief or as necessary to salvation.
The books of the Old Testament are: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, The Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.
The books of the New Testament are: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, Revelation.
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