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Theological Guidelines: Reason

Although we recognize that God’s revelation and our experiences of God’s grace continually surpass the scope of human language and reason, we also believe that any disciplined theological work calls for the careful use of reason.

  • By reason we read and interpret Scripture.
  • By reason we determine whether our Christian witness is clear.
  • By reason we ask questions of faith and seek to understand God’s action and will.
  • By reason we organize the understandings that compose our witness and render them internally coherent.
  • By reason we test the congruence of our witness to the biblical testimony and to the traditions that mediate that testimony to us.
  • By reason we relate our witness to the full range of human knowledge, experience, and service.

Since all truth is from God, efforts to discern the connections between revelation and reason, faith and science, grace and nature, are useful endeavors in developing credible and communicable doctrine. We seek nothing less than a total view of reality that is decisively informed by the promises and imperatives of the Christian gospel, though we know well that such an attempt will always be marred by the limits and distortions characteristic of human knowledge.

Nevertheless, by our quest for reasoned understandings of Christian faith we seek to grasp, express, and live out the gospel in a way that will commend itself to thoughtful persons who are seeking to know and follow God’s ways.

In theological reflection, the resources of tradition, experience, and reason are integral to our study of Scripture without displacing Scripture’s primacy for faith and practice. These four sources—each making distinctive contributions, yet all finally working together—guide our quest as United Methodists for a vital and appropriate Christian witness.

From "The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church 2012." Copyright 2012 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.