Thursday, November 1, 2012

UMC 101

 I do post, from time to time, theology from the Catholic Church. Mainly in areas where we see things the same (or nearly so). When it comes to "All Saints Day", we see things differently. It occurred to me recently that a United Methodist Church 101 posting about certain issues might be a good idea.

Celebrating All Saints Day

Do United Methodists believe in saints?

United Methodists believe in saints, but not in the same manner as the Roman Catholic Church.
We recognize Matthew, Paul, John, Luke and other early followers of Jesus as saints, and countless numbers of United Methodist churches are named after these saints. We also recognize and celebrate All Saints Day (Nov. 1) and "all the saints who from their labors rest." 

All Saints' Day is a time to remember Christians of every time and place, honoring those who lived faithfully and shared their faith with us.  On All Saints' Day, many churches read the names of their members who died in the past year.

However, our denomination does not have any system whereby people are elected to sainthood. We do not pray to saints, nor do we believe they serve as mediators to God.  United Methodist believe "... there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human who gave himself a ransom for all" (1 Timothy 2:5-6a). 
United Methodists call people "saints" because they exemplified the Christian life. In this sense, every Christian can be considered a saint.

John Wesley believed we have much to learn from the saints, but he did not encourage anyone to worship them. He expressed concern about the Church of England's focus on saints' days and said that "most of the holy days were at present answering no valuable end."
Wesley's focus was entirely on the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

An interesting article about "The Saints among us"...

John Wesley was fascinated by examples of living saints. As a missionary pastor in Georgia, he met one such saint and later wrote about him in his Journal. When Wesley met Henry Lascelles in 1736, he was dying. Wesley was astounded to note Mr. Lascelles' complete serenity and peace.

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