Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Statement of Faith

      In the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), when Candidates are examined for ordination as Teaching Elders (Ministers) and when Teaching Elders (Ministers) are examined for transfer from one presbytery (Council / Regional Governing Body) to another, they are usually required to present a written Statement of Faith.  I recently presented the Statement of Faith below as I was seeking to transfer from one presbytery to another.  My self-imposed restrictions were to keep it to one page with twelve point type and one inch margins.


     I trust in Jesus Christ my Savior, acknowledge him Lord of all and Head of the Church, and through him believe in one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

     I accept the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be, by the Holy Spirit, the unique and authoritative witness to Jesus Christ in the Church universal, and God's Word to me. My favorite Scriptures are the Psalms and the Gospel According to John.

     I sincerely receive and adopt the essential tenets of the Reformed faith as expressed in the confessions of our church as authentic and reliable expositions of what Scripture leads me to believe and do, and I vow to be instructed and led by those confessions as I lead the people of God. My favorite confession is A Brief Statement of Faith.

     I affirm the faith of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, recognizing the canon of Scriptures and the Nicene and Apostles' Creeds with their definitions of the mystery of the triune God and of the incarnation of the eternal Word of God in Christ Jesus. I baptize "in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost" but recognize that "the church shall strive in its worship to use language about God which is intentionally as diverse and varied as the Bible and our theological traditions." The Celtic Christian tradition’s earthy and everyday emphasis on the Trinity and the Eastern Orthodox tradition’s concept of perichoresis has helped me better understand, appreciate, and experience the mystery of the triune God. 

     I affirm the tradition of the Protestant Reformation, including the rediscovery of God's grace in Jesus Christ as revealed in the Scriptures, and the Protestant watchwords—grace alone, faith alone, Scripture alone. I resonate with Calvin's definition of faith as "a firm and certain knowledge of God's benevolences toward us, both sealed upon our hearts and revealed to our minds by the work of the Holy Spirit" but fear we Presbyterians too often emphasize the intellectual dimension of faith while neglecting the affectonal and experiential dimension, including contemplative prayer and mysticism.

     I affirm the Reformed tradition, including the majesty, holiness, and providence of God, who creates, sustains, rules, and redeems the world in the freedom of sovereign righteousness and love. I also affirm the great themes of the Reformed tradition related to the central affirmation of God's sovereignty such as the election of the people of God for service as well as for salvation; covenant life marked by a disciplined concern for order in the church according to the Word of God, a faithful stewardship that shuns ostentation and seeks proper use of the gifts of God's creation including the enjoyment of God's good gifts, and the recognition of the human tendency to idolatry and tyranny, which calls the people of God to work for the transformation of society by seeking justice and living in obedience to the Word of God.

    I affirm the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper as means of grace. Baptism is the sign and seal of our incorporation into Christ. The Lord’s Supper is the sign and seal of our eating and drinking in communion with the crucified and risen Lord who is spiritually and mystically present.

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