Do United Methodists believe that faith in Jesus Christ is necessary for salvation?
Yes, United Methodists do believe that faith in Jesus Christ is the only way the Bible unequivocally reveals as God's gift and way of salvation. God can save anyone that God chooses to save. Jesus Christ is the final judge, not us. We cannot decide whom God will save. We simply trust the plain teaching of scripture. See John 3:16, Acts 4:12 and many other texts.
Our belief in this unique path of salvation can never be used to put down other religions and the gifts that they have to give to the world, even to Christians. That we have a gospel to proclaim is not grounds for hurting others. We can and must be friends with Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and others. In dialogue with them we learn and they learn. In a time when religion is so much in the news and on our minds, we need to be vigilant against our own hostility and follow Jesus in the way of love.
The 2016 Book of Resolutions states, "Productive interfaith dialogue requires focused, sustained conversation based on willingness to recognize and probe genuine differences while also seeking that which is held in common. We are called to openness so that we may learn how God is speaking through our dialogue partners. As stated in the World Council of Churches’ “Guidelines on Dialogue”: “One of the functions of dialogue is to allow participants to describe and witness to their faith on their own terms. . . . Participants seek to hear each other in order to better understand each other’s faith, hopes, insights, and concerns.” Fruitful and respectful dialogue is centered in a mutual spirit of humility, trust, openness to new understanding, and commitment to reconciliation and the healing of the painful wounds of our history." We can and should pursue these paths, which in no way diminish our commitment and witness to Jesus as Savior and Lord.
Rev. Dan Benedict and Rev. Taylor Burton-Edwards
Dan and Taylor served as director of worship resources with Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church from 1992-2018.
("United Methodist Guiding Principles for Jewish-Christian Relations," The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church - 2008. Copyright © 2016 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.)