The United Methodist Church traces its community back to the Rev. John Wesley (1703-1791). He traveled 250,000 miles on horseback, preached over 30,000 sermons - described as "doctrinal, not dogmatic," wrote and edited some 400 publications, believed in a personal salvation and that it was crucial to "love your neighbor as you love yourself."
What We Believe series
Social holiness is the practice of obeying Jesus’ commandments to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind,” writes Dr. Steve Manskar. It also includes “loving your neighbor as yourself, and loving one another one another (fellow members of your local congregation) as Christ loves.” Citing a passage in 1 John, Manskar adds, “When Wesley says that holiness is social he means that the depth of your love for God is revealed by the way you love whom God loves.”^
We love because he first loved us. Those who say, ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also (1 John 4:19-21).
Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe, of the General Board of Church and Society, notes,
“Social holiness is unique to Methodism. United Methodists have a long commitment to social holiness.” Quite simply, she says, “It is in our DNA.”
Click here to see a video of Rev. Susan Henry Crowe talking about Social Holiness
From the Distinctive Wesleyan Emphases section of the 2016 Book of Discipline…
Faith and Good Works
—We see God’s grace and human activity working together in the relationship of faith and good works. God’s grace calls forth human response and discipline.
Faith is the only response essential for salvation. However, the General Rules remind us that salvation evidences itself in good works. For Wesley, even repentance should be accompanied by “fruits meet for repentance,” or works of piety and mercy.
Both faith and good works belong within an all-encompassing theology of grace, since they stem from God’s gracious love “shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.”
Mission and Service
—We insist that personal salvation always involves Christian mission and service to the world. By joining heart and hand, we assert that personal religion, evangelical witness, and Christian social action are reciprocal and mutually reinforcing. (p. 53)
Scriptural holiness entails more than personal piety; love of God is always linked with love of neighbor, a passion for justice and renewal in the life of the world.
^See Steve Manskar’s article, “No Holiness but Social Holiness” in Equipping Disciples.