Do United Methodists believe that faith in Jesus Christ is necessary to go to heaven?
Yes, United Methodists do believe that faith in Jesus Christ is the only way the Bible gives as clearly God's gift and way of salvation and heaven. God can save anyone that God chooses to save and we cannot decide whom God will save. We simply trust the plain teaching of scripture. See John 3:16, Acts 4:12 and many other texts.
Our belief in this unique path of salvation can never be used to put down other religions and the gifts that they have to give to the world, even to Christians. That we have a gospel to proclaim is not grounds for hurting others. We can and must be friends with Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and others. In dialogue with them we learn and they learn. In a time when religion is so much in the news and on our minds, we need to be vigilant against our own hostility and follow Jesus in the way of love.
Our Book of Resolutions says, "While we as Christians respond faithfully to the call to proclaim the gospel in all places, we can never presume to know the full extent of God's work in the world, and we recognize the reality of God's activity outside the Christian church. It is central to our faith that salvation is accomplished not by human beings, but by God. We know that judgment as to the ultimate salvation of persons from any faith community, including Christianity and Judaism, belongs to God alone."
Rev. Dan Benedict
Center for Worship Resourcing
General Board of Discipleship
(Building New Bridges in Hope, The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church — 2000. Copyright © 2000 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.)