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United Methodist Beliefs: A Brief Introduction Paperback – April 19, 2007

3.8 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Methodist bishop and noted preacher Willimon (Pastor, and, with Stanley Hauerwas, Resident Aliens), opens his lucid and thought-provoking overview of Methodist beliefs with the counterintuitive claim that Jesus actually wasn't principally concerned about beliefs. He wanted people to follow him, not necessarily assent to a set of "cool intellectual propositions" about him. Still, Methodists do have doctrines, which Willimon feels are worthy, God-given guideposts to following Jesus. Willimon first tackles the Trinity, underscoring that "a decisive change in the human heart can and does occur under the prompting of grace and the guidance of the Holy Spirit." He then moves on to Methodist beliefs about Jesus, salvation, grace and good works. Especially important is his chapter on the church, where, reprising themes that pervade his earlier writing, Willimon argues that although Americans desire to go the spiritual life alone, Methodism teaches that people become most fully conformed to Christ when they are part of the larger ecclesial body. Methodist church life, says Willimon, is a tad schizophrenic, appreciating order while also seeking "radical renewal." Written with Willimon's characteristic dry wit, this highly readable book brings to life doctrines that in other hands would seem dry and dusty. Willimon has produced the most insightful introduction to Methodism available today. (May)
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About the Author

William H. Willimon is the Presiding Bishop of the Birmingham Area of the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church. Recognized as one of the most effective preachers in the English-speaking world, he is the author of several books, including United Methodist Beliefs: A Brief Introduction and The Early Preaching of Karl Barth, both published by WJK.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press (April 19, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0664230407
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664230401
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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Although interested in the Methodist denomination (I am not Methodist), I found the author to be a very articulate, thoughtful, apologist for Christianity as a whole. There are very few theologians who are truly intellectual enough, and yet deeply spiritual as well, whom I believe could defend the Christian faith and stand up to any atheist or agnostic in a debate (and I've watched quite a few of these kinds of debates with much embarrassment on Youtube). Yet, William Willimon would be a match for the famed atheists Richard Dawkins or, the now deceased, Christopher Hitchens. In short, this book is a truly insightful and enjoyable read.
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This is a great little book for those thinking about joining the Methodists or for those new to the faith. It was extremely helpful to me in my quest for understanding the basic tenets of the Methodist faith. After being a Baptist for most of my life, I wanted to be sure that the Methodist faith was comparable to my lifelong beliefs. This book provided that information without a great deal of technical jargon as is found in some books regarding Christianity. It was an easy read without the feel of a "textbook."
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As a late arrival to the Methodist Church, I found this book to be both enlightening and inspiring (even the footnotes were helpful). Frankly, at this stage of my life, I'm not interested in any church that doesn't challenge me to become like Jesus. However, my experience in this tradition so far indicates to me that there are an awful lot of Methodists that are either uninformed or unconvinced by the values and doctrines espoused by Dr. Willimon. Despite that, I remain in this tradition because I'm inspired by the potential for transformation if these beliefs were ever truly practiced. One wonders if the rapid decline in the Methodist church could be reversed simply by Methodists becoming who they say they are. After reading this book, I'm convinced that such a revival could occur just that way.
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I teach theology at a middle-of-the-road/progressive United Methodist school; in several courses I try to present classic Christian theology in a clear format. This book fits the bill well. The author and I may disagree on this point or that point, but as I say, the book presents classic theology in a clear way--can't ask for more than that!
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Methodist Doctrine isn't the most scintillating of subjects… let's be honest. But Bishop Willimon puts his Southern storytelling abilities to work and makes (what can be) a dull subject come alive. He's practical and yet true to the essence of Wesleyan thought. Great gift for seminarians WHILE IN school, but also a good way for career clergy to brush up on long-forgotten or under utilized doctrinal ideas.
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Have you ever attempted to read the Book of Discipline (Methodist Doctrine)? If you are Methodist, studying Methodism or just like church theology, then this book offers a clear view on Methodism from the perspective of a lifelong Methodist and bishop. Find out just why John Wesley "accidentally" created a new Christian denomination that actually lives up to the call of Christ! Methodists, read this book and you can't help but fall in love with John Wesley and Methodism all over again.
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I found this book to be very informative. I am a basic Lay Speaker in the United Methodist Church. I used this book recently to help me write a sermon.
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A bit strident but well written.
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