I love my church and the tradition in which it belongs – the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Granted, I have questions, critiques, and challenges for it, but in a way, that’s a sign of my appreciation for the peculiar ways we approach some aspects of our faith.
One of our core principles is one of interpretation – that every Christian has the freedom to read the Bible and try to make sense of it on their own terms. There is no central authority, no right or wrong theology. An individual believer must check their understandings against their own community and the witness, life, and ministry of Jesus. This simple framework was an attempt to step away from the schisms and rampant, sometimes violent disagreements in church life. We have freedom to disagree with one another and remain connected and in conversation as brothers and sisters.
However, the downside to all of this is that it makes it difficult to tell folks who are unfamiliar with my tradition what it is we believe. After a few core things like Jesus, baptism, communion, and scripture, there is a lot of wiggle room. This is awesome for someone who is coming at faith in a time of skepticism and searching – there is room to explore different opinions and ideas in our tradition. But it may not be so comforting for someone who is coming from a church that did have a black & white theology. While we have plenty of church folk in our tradition who have a “rigid” theological understanding, we don’t explicitly claim it alone. That can be frustrating or disorienting.
The closest we get to a statement of faith is just an affirmation – a nod at some of the broad notions that we find connect us:
As members of the Christian Church,
We confess that Jesus is the Christ,
the Son of the living God,
and proclaim him Lord and Savior of the world.
In Christ’s name and by his grace
we accept our mission of witness
and service to all people.
We rejoice in God,
maker of heaven and earth,
and in God’s covenant of love
which binds us to God and to one another.
Through baptism into Christ
we enter into newness of life
and are made one with the whole people of God.
In the communion of the Holy Spirit
we are joined together in discipleship
and in obedience to Christ.
At the Table of the Lord
we celebrate with thanksgiving
the saving acts and presence of Christ.
Within the universal church
we receive the gift of ministry
and the light of scripture.
In the bonds of Christian faith
we yield ourselves to God
that we may serve the One
whose kingdom has no end.
Blessing, glory, and honor
be to God forever. Amen.
In worship at the Table this Sunday, we’ll use this piece as we explore who we are and where we have come from. I wonder what that affirmation speaks to you. Do you find that you enjoy the wiggle room? Do you wish it said more? What is missing? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Regardless, we’ll be saving a space for you around Christ’s table on Sunday!