Introducing the Social Principles of the United Methodist Church

What Difference Do the Social Principles Make for the Church?

The Social Principles embody another way to understand the role of the church as it speaks and acts upon its convictions in the public sphere.  The Social Principles are The United Methodist Church’s attempt to accomplish three important tasks:

Speak prophetically.  What shall the church say and what shall the church so to transform the world into the beloved community – the kingdom of God – imagined by Jesus and taught by his disciples?

    Remember while the prophets did not attempt to predict the future, they were passionate about trying to change it.  They sought to address social problems and resolve social tension.  Their faith was public and personal but never private.

    The Social Principles are prophetic statements intended for both the church and society.  Change of transformation must happen through an inward as well as an outward spiritual journey.  Social transformation to create a more hospitable, just, and Christlike world demonstrates a deeper conversion than a single decision to follow Christ.

    When the Social Principles speak prophetically, they do not polarize people based on adherence to a particular position.  Rather, they name problems and pose possible solutions appropriate to the context in which we live.

Respond biblically.  When biblical faith is spoken prophetically, persons are challenged in deep, abiding love to realign their personal habits, behaviors, and attitudes more closely with the will of God.  In Jesus Christ, the Almighty came to deliver, liberate, and restore persons and communities to live in a way that exhibits the restoration of God’s image in the world.

    Social holiness is always evangelical; it is always invitational.  Social holiness compels us to expand our heach of humility, mercy, compassion, justice, and reconciliation in the spirit of Jesus.  Social holiness requires us to speak our convictions and stand by them in the public square.

Act pastorally.  How shall the church respond to epople’s hurts, pains and struggles?  How does the plight of the world’s needs would our souls?  We have a responsibility to care for one another, especially the vulnerable among us, with mutual concerns and love.

    The Social Principles identify personal and social crises and offer a pastoral response.  In this sense, the Social Principles are understood less as legalistic public statements and more as therapeutic in purpose.  They go well beyond the pragmatic problem solving.  They direct us to prioritize the restoration and mending of our relationships with God, nature, our neighbors, our enemies, and with ourselves.

Justice in Everyday Life, pp. 12-13.