As we begin this series on the Articles of Religion for the Free Methodist Church, let me give a little background information. First, these doctrinal statements are called Articles of Religion because when Methodism first began as an independent Church in 1784, John Wesley took an abridged version of the Church of England’s doctrinal statements for that new Church. In the Church of England today, they still have their Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion. Also, in our official denominational book, the Book of Discipline, these are designated by paragraph numbers, so this first Article is actually ¶101. Finally, at the end of our Articles is one final section that gives Scriptural references for each Article.
For this series, I will give the Article, the Scriptural references, and then some brief commentary.
¶101 The Holy Trinity
There is but one living and true God, the maker and preserver of all things. And in the unity of this Godhead there are three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three are one in eternity, deity and purpose; everlasting, of infinite power, wisdom and goodness.
¶131 Scriptural References
The doctrines of the Free Methodist Church are based upon the Holy Scriptures and are derived from their total biblical context. The references below are appropriate passages related to the given articles. They are listed in their biblical sequence and are not intended to be exhaustive. Genesis 1:1-2; Exodus 3:13-15; Deuteronomy 6:4; Matthew 28:19; John 1:1-3; 5:19-23; 14:9-11; 15:26; 16:13-15; 2 Corinthians 13:14.
By affirming that we believe in the Trinity, we say that we stand in the historic flow of the Church. The doctrine of the Trinity is how the Church, through history, has explained the reality of God’s action in the world and in our lives. This belief sets us apart from Judaism and Islam in our basic and fundamental understanding of who God is. This also distinguishes us from Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses in our belief in God.
The reason why this doctrine must come first in our list is quite simply because Christianity is a relationship with the Living God, and we need to make sure we are talking about the right God. Belief in the Trinity also forms our beliefs in the ultimate reality of the universe. This is because, from before all time and unto the end of all things and beyond, there is a relationship. Our God is not a solitary, lonely being. We claim, with the Bible, that God is love. We can do this because the Father, Son, and Spirit are ever and always in relationship with each other. Before time began there was love. Even in the midst of the world today, there is love. When everything comes crashing down, there will be love. For all eternity, we have the potential to be with love.