A STATEMENT OF FAITH

 

 

My personal beliefs begin with my belief in God whose existence I affirm in terms of a Triunity uniting the persons of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and the functions of Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. These aspects of the Divine Providence represent how God is known and named, how God's grace was distinctly displayed in human history, and how God is continually experienced. God is ever existent, omnipotent and omniscient. God is Creator of the universe and is continually active in the process of creative evolvement. Since the dawn of human consciousness, humankind has sought a covenant relationship with the Creator, which is understood as a God-inspired and God-intended relationship of interdependence. Because of the nature of God's revelation through the work of creation, this relationship is not understood as being limited to the world of human activity and thought, but includes the entire world of nature where all life is held in reverence and stewardship is a practice to be universally applied.

 

As a Christian, I affirm that God's most decisive act of grace was demonstrated through the faith, life and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth who died on a cross and was raised from the dead to live eternally with God and in the hearts of all God's people who, by faith, freely choose to follow in God's way. The gospels preserve Jesusí message of good news, which is understood in terms of repentance, freedom, responsibility before God, newness of life, peace, and wholesome relationships. The historical act of God known as the Christ Event not only reaffirmed the sovereignty of God but also, and more especially, the love of God for humankind which brings peace, the mercy of God which brings understanding, and the grace of God which brings power into human life. The divinity of Christ is affirmed and the reality of incarnation is illustrated wherever and whenever there is an active witness to this act of love, mercy and grace.

 

God's active presence in creation is understood through the work of the Holy Spirit. God's Spirit empowered Jesus and is continually available, as Jesus affirmed, to all faithful people who earnestly seek to follow in the way of God's truth. The influence of the Spirit reaches beyond the faithful to lead even the unbeliever into a trusting faith and a personal relationship with God and God's people.

 

The Church Universal is the physical body of believers, which demonstrates the unifying power of the Spirit, the interdependence of believers, and the corporate nature of faith. The Church is also known as the Body of Christ, reminding the faithful of their relationship to God through God's Son whose faith demonstrated guidance and comfort and certainty in a world of aimlessness, conflict and ambiguity. The purpose of the Church is to worship God, to proclaim the living Word of God in all its fullness through preaching and teaching, to administer the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper as ordained by Christ, to draw all people together in the spirit of reconciliation and Christian nurture, and to challenge people collectively and individually to ethical action so that the Church may truly be a witness for peace and justice in the world, stabilize society, practice good stewardship, and contribute directly to the upbuilding of God's Kingdom. The Church exists not as a saved community in isolation but as a redeemed community in dialogue with all of God's people. The Church's active participation in the work of God's Kingdom illustrates both the immanence and the transcendence of God who actively desires the transformation of the world into a state of blessing and blessedness, which is the measure of the fulfillment of God's Kingdom. Therefore, the Church's practice of social righteousness before God and the promotion of justice and peace among God's people are essential aspects of the Church's reason for existence.

 

Baptism is a sign of membership in the family of God known as the Church. Entrance into this new relationship with God and God's people is symbolized by cleansing with water, signified by naming and the response of the gathered community of faith, and blessed by the presence of God's Spirit.

 

The Lord's Supper, also known as the Eucharist and Holy Communion, is celebrated as a meal shared in the spirit of remembrance, symbolizing the forgiveness of our sins, the continual nurture of God's presence through Christ who is made real to us through the work of the Holy Spirit, the promise of renewed life and the blessing which comes through sharing our faith with others.

 

My understanding of the Bible, which underlies the formation of my beliefs and the foundation of my ministry of the Word, is best described in terms of its nature and authority, which I believe is appreciated by recognizing scripture as the God-inspired rule of faith and conduct. However, as the literature itself indicates, the truth borne by the scriptures is not self-evident; it demands interpretive activity that will allow the believer to witness to the truth both in word and in deed according to the believer's measure of faith and understanding. Through the ministry of the Word, statements of faith, and the collective faith and knowledge of the Body of Christ, guidance and edification are provided for the process of interpreting the scriptures and applying their truths in daily life.

 

My faith includes belief in the great biblical hopes and promises of resurrection and final judgment, which express the love of God for the whole person, the assurance of the eventual cessation of human uncertainty, and the ultimate victory of the goodness of God over the collective evil of humanity and over the earthly enemies of sin and death.