Does The United Methodist Church believe in universal salvation?
The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church includes a section titled Doctrinal Standards and Our Theological Task, which records the official theology of The United Methodist Church.
The section on Distinctive Wesleyan Emphases includes a description of prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying grace. When a person, by the grace of God, accepts God's "pardoning love," he or she enters into a transformational process of salvation.
The Articles of Religion of The Methodist Church make the same point. Article XX -- Of the One Oblation of Christ, Finished Upon the Cross affirms the salvific act of crucifixion and resurrection of Christ for salvation for all persons. The added Article "Of Sanctification" states that position in other words. The Confession of Faith of the Evangelical United Brethren Church echoes the beliefs stated in the doctrinal statements of The Methodist Church (see particularly Articles VIII, IX, XI, and XII).
While these statements of doctrine state that salvation is AVAILABLE to all persons, they stop short of saying that salvation is GUARANTEED to all persons. There is the stated or implied condition that, while God's grace is necessary for salvation and that humankind cannot in any way attain salvation without God, that 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.
Rev. Dr. Diana Hynson
Director of Learning and Teaching Ministries in the Congregation
General Board of Discipleship