The 2000 Dunkirk Colloquy in Dunkirk, New York, brought together members of the United Church of Christ for reflection and conversation on the authority of scripture for Christians. Keynote presenters included the Rev. John H. Thomas, General Minster and President of the United Church of Christ, and the Rev. Frederick Trost, Wisconsin Conference Minister. The Rev. Paul Hammer led Bible study.
The Bible both unites and divides us as a church. Our spiritual ancestors have never agreed, even in the first generations of the Christian community, about the right way to read and apply Scripture. Today, views in the UCC (like all other mainline denominations) range from conservative to liberal. Scripture often quoted by all sides in the ethical conflicts that divide us as well as many other churches. The Bible is God's gift to the church, to be read for our instruction and comfort, but we often use it as a hammer to strike down the arguments of our opponents, or even to exclude each other from the Body of Christ.
Right interpretation of Scripture necessarily includes right living, that is, we cannot hear God's word in the Bible if our minds and hearts are closed to each other. These were some of the issues that were explored at Dunkirk.
UCC President Thomas proposes a reading of the Bible that takes its origins seriously and is heard liturgically in the context of a community united in worship.
Fred Trost argues that when the Bible is taken seriously, ordinary people can do extraordinary things.
Paul Hammer finds the unity of the Bible enriched by its diversity.
Theology is the work of the whole Body of Christ—not only of ordained ministers or academic theologians. Everyone who loves Jesus Christ and tries to be faithful to the Gospel is a Christian theologian. We want the Theology Page to be useful to you in your growth in the faith.
Are wars ever just? A debate between two famous brothers
As our church and the world continue to struggle with issues of war and peace in the aftermath of Sept. 11, we present as a resource a debate between two of the theological parents of the United Church of Christ: the brothers Reinhold Niebuhr and H. Richard Niebuhr. Both theologians—who taught two generations of UCC pastors—reacted to the Japanese invasion of China with thoughtful but opposed interpretations of what the Christian faith requires in time of international conflict. The debate was aired in the pages of the Christian Century. Also included as a resource: a paper by UCC theologian Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite applying the Just War tradition to the war against Iraq, and General Synod's 1985 pronouncement on "Just Peace"—an alternative to "Just War."
Taking Bible Seriously
Three papers by on the authority of scripture in the church.
Should the church affirm vowed relationships by gay and lesbian couples?
The meaning today of the Cambridge Platform—a watershed event in the evolution of the congregational idea of church relationships.
Just War or Just Peace?
The classic debate by the Niebuhr brothers on just war, plus General Synod on "Just Peace."
We believe in God the Father,
infinite in wisdom, goodness, and love,
and in Jesus Christ, his Son, our Lord and Savior,
who for us and for our salvation lived and died and rose again
and liveth evermore,
and in the Holy Spirit,
who taketh of the things of Christ
and revealeth them to us,
renewing, comforting, and inspiring the souls of men.
We are united in striving to know the will of God
as taught in the Holy Scriptures,
and in our purpose to walk in the ways of the Lord,
made known or to be made known to us.
We hold it to be the mission of the Church of Christ
to proclaim the Gospel to all mankind,
exalting the worship of the one true God,
and laboring for the progress of knowledge,
the promotion of justice, the reign of peace,
and the realization of human brotherhood.
Depending, as did our fathers, upon the continued guidance
of the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth,
we work and pray for the transformation of the world
into the Kingdom of God,
and we look with faith for the triumph of righteousness,
and the life everlasting.
We believe in the freedom and responsibility
of the individual soul, and the right of private judgment.
We hold to the autonomy of the local church
and its independence of all ecclesiastical control.
We cherish the fellowship of the churches,
united in district, state, and national bodies,
for counsel and cooperation in matters of common concern.
The Wider Fellowship
While affirming the liberty of our churches,
and the validity of our ministry,
we hold to the unity and catholicity of the Church of Christ,
and will unite with all its branches in hearty cooperation;
and will earnestly seek, so far as in us lies,
that the prayer of our Lord for his disciples may be answered,
that they all may be one.
The section on "Faith" is from the Book of Worship of the United Church of Christ. The Book of Worship is available from United Church Resources at 800-325-7061.
About this testimony
The Kansas City Statement was the most important affirmation of faith adopted by the Congregational Churches in the 20th century. In 1913, the churches' National Council met in Kansas City to affirm traditional congregationalist principles in a form that would meet the needs of the new century. The preamble of the new Constitution adopted then said the churches sought to reaffirm "the faith which our fathers confessed, which from age to age has found its expression in the historic creeds of the Church universal and of this communion." The Statement's form reflects both classical creeds received by Congregationalists from the catholic (universal) church and the confidence—inherited from the church's Puritan forebears—that God was in control of history and would lead humanity to a reign of justice, community and peace. Written on the eve of World War I, its belief in "the reign of peace," "the realization of human brotherhood" and "the transformation of the world into the Kingdom of God" are particularly poignant. But these are beliefs that echo down to the 21st century, and which the United Church of Christ still holds today—although not in the exclusively masculine terms of 1913.
(Revised Edition 1929)
The Evangelical Catechism was the product of Evangelical unionist efforts on the early Missouri frontier, successfully combining Lutheran and Reformed themes to express the ecumenical theology of German Evangelicals. It went through two major revisions in its history. In the 1860s, it was reorganized to shorten it from 219 questions to 137 questions and to make it more useful for instruction. (See vol. 4:53.) In the 1890s, Daniel Irion wrote a commentary on the 1867 revision (see vol. 4:54), and then in 1929 the catechism was revised again.
Walter Brueggemann notes that for most of its history the "catechism served an immigrant church in a particular cultural context." But as time went on the church changed along with its context and u adapted a very different notion of its relation to its cultural setting." Brueggemann suggests that we need to "value the catechism as our rootage without being subservient. It is a delicate matter to celebrate it faithfully without being locked in" (Walter Brueggemann, "The Evangelical Catechism Revisited: 1847-1972" [St. Louis, Mo.: Eden Publishing House, 1972], 13).
In the twentieth century, as the German Evangelical Church left its immigrant identity behind, the catechism finally changed. In 1929 a committee revised it to reflect more social action versus personal salvation perspectives. Although many of the scriptural citations and questions remained the same, the 1929 version changed the structure slightly, placing the Decalogue under the first article, on God's attributes. New answers were written for new questions (92-95 and 112-14) stressing a new perspective on God's dominion and a new explanation of why prayers are necessary and how we should pray.
The revisions, overall, were conservative—following the desire of the church to avoid unnecessary disturbance of those who had learned the old catechism, to avoid useless and time-robbing theological controversy, and to remain as faithful as possible to the highest values in Evangelical traditions.
1. What should be the chief concern of man?
Man's chief concern should be to seek after the Kingdom of God and his righteousness. Matt. 6:33, Matt. 16:26.
2. How do we obtain righteousness?
We obtain righteousness through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we are saved. Acts 16:31.
3. What then must we do to be saved?
We must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. John 6:40.
4. Where are we told what we must do to be saved?
God has told us what we must do to be saved in his Word, the Holy Bible, which was written by men who were moved by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter. 1:21; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; Ps. 119:105.
5. In what two ways has God in the Bible revealed his will toward man?
In the Bible God has revealed his will toward man by the Law and by the Gospel.
PART I: GOD AND HIS ATTRIBUTES
6. What has God revealed about himself in the Bible?
In the Bible God has revealed to us that he is One God, that he is Spirit, and that he is Life, Light, and Love. Deut. 6:4; John 4:24; 1 John 5:20; 1 John 1:5; 1 John 4:8.
7. What do we mean when we say: God is Life?
"God is Life" means that he is eternal, unchangeable, and ever present. God is eternal: Ps. 90:1-2; Rev. 1:8; Isa. 26:4. Unchangeable: Mai. 3:6. Jas. 1:17. Ever present: Jer. 23: 3-24; Acts 17:27-28; Ps. 139:7-10; Ps. 23:4.
8. What do we mean when we say that God is Light?
"God is Light" means that he is true, all-knowing, all-wise, holy, almighty, and just. God is true: Num. 23:19; 1 John 5:10; Ps. 119:89-90. All-knowing: Ps. 139:1-4; 1 Sam. 16:7; Matt. 6:8. All-wise: Isa. 55:8-9; Ps. 104:24; Rom. 8:28; 1 Pet. 5:7; Jas. 1:5. Holy: Lev. 19:2; Isa. 6:3; Rev. 15:4; 1 Pet. 1:15-16. Almighty: Gen. 17:1; Luke 1:37; Ps. 38:8-9; Isa. 40:26. Just: Ps. 145:17; Ps. 103:6; Ps. 5:4; Rom. 2:6. Isa. 41:10; Ps. 37:25.
9. What do we mean when we say: God is Love?
"God is Love" means that he is blessed, good, gracious, and merciful. God is blessed: 1 Tim. 6:15-16. Good: Ps. 145:9; Ps. 107:1; Ps. 36:5. Gracious and merciful: Ps. 103:8-10; Ps. 103:13; Ps. 103: 17-18; Lam. 3: 22- 23; 2 Chron. 30:9; Luke 6:36.
10. What mystery concerning God does the Bible reveal?
The Bible reveals to us the mystery that in the one God there are three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and that these three are one. Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14; Matt. 3:16-17; Num. 6:24-26.
PART II: THE THREE ARTICLES OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
11. In what creed does the Christian Church confess its faith in the Triune God?
The Christian Church confesses its faith in the Triune God in the Apostles' Creed.
THE APOSTLES' CREED
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth: And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord: who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate: was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit; the one holy universal Christian Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.
THE FIRST ARTICLE OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
12. What is the First Article of the Christian Faith?
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
13. Of \vhat does the First Article of the Christian Faith treat?
The First Article of the Christian Faith treats of God the Father and of the work of creation.
14. What do we mean when we say, "God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth" ?
In the beginning God created heaven and earth by the power of his Word. Gen. 1:1; Ps. 33:6; Heb. 11:3.
15. How does God constantly prove himself to be the Creator?
God constantly proves himself to be the Creator by his fatherly providence, whereby he preserves and governs all things. Gen. 8:22. Ps. 145:15-16. Deut. 8:10. Matt. 6:25. Ps. 121:3-4. Gen. 50:20. Prov. 16:9.
16. What has God done for you?
I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that he has given me and still preserves my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses also food and clothing, home and family, and all my possessions.
17. What does God still do for you?
God daily and abundantly provides me with all the necessaries of life, protects and preserves me from all danger.
18. Why does God do this for you?
God does all this out of sheer fatherly and divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness on my part.
19. What do you owe God for all this?
For all this I am duty bound to thank, praise, serve, and obey him.
20. What are the angels?
The angels are ministering spirits who are sent forth by God to do his will. Ps. 103:20. Heb. 1:14. Ps. 91:11-12. Ps. 34:7. Luke 15:10.
21. Have all the angels always obeyed the will of God?
No; for many of the angels once sinned against God and were banished to hell as enemies of God and man. The chief among the evil spirits is called the devil, or satan. 2 Pet. 2:4. Eph. 6:12. 1 Pet. 5:8. Jas. 4:7.
22. What is the principal creature on earth?
The principal creature on earth is man, created in the image of God, so that we could know him and live in blessed fellowship with him. Gen. 1:27. Gen. 1:31.
23. Did man remain as he was created?
No; for our first parents fell away from God when they permitted satan to lead them into unbelief and disobedience. Read Genesis 3.
24. What were the sad consequences of this fall of man?
By this fall man lost the strength and beauty of God's image and came under the power of satan, sin, and death. This corruption has been transmitted from Adam to all mankind. Gen. 2:17. Gen. 3:17-19. Rom. 5:12. Rom. 7:14. 1 John 3:8.
25. What is man's condition since the fall?
Since the fall, man is not prepared to do good, but inclined to do evil. This inherited corruption is called original sin. Gen. 8:21. John 3:6. 1 John 1:8.
26. What is sin?
Sin is unbelief and disobedience in thought and desire, word and deed, whereby evil is done or good is neglected, whether thoughtlessly or willfully. Ps. 19:12. Matt. 15:18. Jas. 4:17. Luke 12:47. 1 Tim. 5:22.
27. What is the punishment of sin?
The punishment of sin is death, as it is written—Romans 6:23.
28. How manifold is this death?
This death is threefold: physical, spiritual, and eternal. Ps. 90:7-8. Matt. 10:28. Matt. 25:41. Eph. 2:1.
29. What did God in his mercy resolve to do to save mankind from sin and its punishment?
God in his mercy resolved from all eternity to save fallen mankind through his only begotten Son. 2 Tim. 1:9.
30. How did God prepare mankind for the coming of the Saviour?
God prepared mankind for the coming of the Saviour by the promises given in Paradise and to the patriarchs of Israel, by the Law delivered to Moses, by forms of worship in the Old Covenant, and by the preaching of the prophets. Gen. 3:15. Gen. 22:18. Gen. 49:10. Jer. 33:15-16. Mic. 5:2. Isa. 9:6. Acts 10:43.
THE LAW OF GOD
31. Where do we find the law of God in brief form?
We find the law of God briefly given in the Ten Commandments. (Exod. 20:1- 17; Deut. 5:6-21.)
32. What is the First Commandment?
"I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me."
33. What is meant by the First Commandment?
God forbids all idolatry and requires that we fear, love, and trust in him above all things. Eccles. 12:13. 1 John 5:3.
34. What is the Second Commandment?
"You shall not make yourself a graven image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the father upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments."
35. What is meant by the Second Commandment?
God forbids us to worship him in any image; He requires us to worship him as he has taught us in his Word and revealed himself to us in his Son Jesus Christ. Isa. 42:8. Isa. 40:18. John 1:18.
36. What is the Third Commandment?
"You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain."
37. What is meant by the Third Commandment?
God forbids that we profane or abuse his name by cursing, false swearing, witchcraft, or unnecessary oaths, and requires that we use his holy name with fear and reverence. Jas. 3:10. Lev. 19:12. Rom. 10:13. Ps. 50:15. Matt. 10:32-33. Ps. 92:1.
38. What is the Fourth Commandment?
"Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it."
39. What is meant by the Fourth Commandment?
God requires that we hallow the Lord's Day by resting from worldly employment, by diligently going to church, and by using the day for the welfare of ourselves and others, and thus to the honor of God. Ezek. 20:20. Col. 3:16-17. Ps. 26:6-8. Heb. 10:25. Eccles. 5:1. Luke 11:28. Exod. 20:24.
40. What is the Fifth Commandment?
"Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the LORD your God gives you."
41. What is meant by the Fifth Commandment?
God requires that I always honor father and mother by loving, obeying, and serving them, and caring for them in sickness, need, and old age; likewise, that I should respect all who, in God's providence, are my superiors. Prov. 1:8. Eph. 6:1-3. Prov. 19:26. Prov. 30:17. Heb. 13:17 Rom. 13:1. Eph. 6:5-7. Acts 5:29.
42. What is the Sixth Commandment?
"You shall not kill."
43. What is meant by the Sixth Commandment?
God forbids not only murder, but every deed, word, and thought, whereby my own life or the life of my fellow-man is shortened or embittered; God requires that I help my fellow-man in every need and seek his welfare for this life and the life to come. Gen. 9:6. Rom. 12:19. Matt. 5:21,22.1 John 3:15. Matt. 5:44- 45. Eph. 4:32. Isa. 1:17. Matt 5:7. Prov. 24:1-2.
44. What is the Seventh Commandment?
"You shall not commit adultery."
45. What is meant by the Seventh Commandment?
God forbids the breaking of the marriage vow and requires all of us to be chaste in thought, word, and deed. Matt. 5:8. 1 Cor. 6:19-20. Prov. 4:23. 1 Cor. 3:17. Eph. 5:3-4. 1 Cor. 15:33.
46. What is the Eighth Commandment?
"You shall not steal."
47. What is meant by the Eighth Commandment?
God forbids not only robbery and theft, but all unfair and dishonest dealings, and requires that we should help to improve and protect our neighbor's possessions and livelihood. Hab. 2:9. Deut. 25:13-15. Deut. 27:17. Ps. 37:21. Jer. 22:13. Eph. 4:28. 1 Thess. 4:11-12. 2 Cor. 9:7.
48. What is the Ninth Commandment?
"You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor."
49. What is meant by the Ninth Commandment?
God forbids perjury, slander, and all manner of falsehood, and requires not only that we should be truthful and sincere in our lives, but also that we should protect the honor and good name of our fellow-man. Prov. 19:5. Ps. 34:13-14. Eph. 4:25. Lev. 19:16. Luke 6:37. Isa. 5:20. Phil. 4:8.
50. What is the Tenth Commandment?
"You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor's."
51. What is meant by the Tenth Commandment?
God forbids all evil lusts and desires for wrongful possession or enjoyment, and requires that we seek our joy in him and in his loving care for us. Jas. 1:14-15. Rom. 6:12. 1 John 2:15-17. Ps. 37:4.
52. What is the summary of the Ten Commandments?
"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might." (Deut. 6:5.) "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Lev. 19:18.) "On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets." (Matt. 22:40.)
53. What does God declare concerning these Commandments?
God says: "Cursed be he who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them." (Deut. 27:26; Gal. 3:10.) "You shall therefore keep my statutes and my ordinances, by doing which a man shall live: I am the LORD." (Lev. 18:5; Luke 10:28.)
54. What is meant by this declaration?
God threatens to punish all who break his Commandments, but to those who keep them he promises grace and blessing. We should therefore fear to do wrong and seek to do God's will.
55. Have you, or has anyone, ever perfectly kept the Law of God?
No man has ever perfectly kept the Law of God. By nature we are inclined to evil and have in many ways disobeyed God's Commandments and therefore well deserve the curse of the Law. Ps. 130:3. Ps. 143:2. Rom. 3:20.
56. Can we in any way escape the curse of the Law and be saved?
We can escape the curse of the Law and be saved through the grace of God, by which the Gospel of Jesus Christ is given to us.
57. What has God in his grace and mercy done to save us?
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16.) But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Gal. 4:4-5.)
THE SECOND ARTICLE OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
58. What is the Second Article of the Christian Faith?
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only begotten son, our Lord: who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried, he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
59. Of what does the Second Article of the Christian Faith treat?
The Second Article treats of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and of the work of redemption.
60. Who is Jesus Christ?
Jesus Christ is true God and true man in one person, my Saviour, Redeemer, and Lord.
61. How does the Bible testify that Jesus Christ is true God?
In the Bible Jesus Christ is called God; furthermore, the Bible testifies to his divine nature and works, and demands divine honors for him. John 1:1-3. John 10:30. John 20:28. John 17:5. John 8:58. Matt. 11:27. John 5:21,26. Matt. 9:6. John 5:22-23. Col. 2:9. John 9:35-37.
62. How does the Bible testify that the Son of God became true man?
Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary; he thereby entered into human nature and became in all things as we are, yet without sin. Luke 1:35. John 1:14. Luke 2:52. Matt. 4:2. John 19:28. John 4:6. Luke 19:41. John 11:35. John 19:30.
63. How did Christ reveal himself as the Saviour before his death?
Christ revealed himself as the Saviour before his death by his holy life, in which he perfectly fulfilled the Law of God; by his preaching the forgiveness of sin through faith in him; by his miracles, which are all works of life. John 4:34. John 8:46. Mark 1:15. Luke 19:10. Acts 10:38. John 5:36.
64. Whereby did Christ accomplish our redemption?
Christ accomplished our redemption by his suffering and death, in which he endured, in our stead, the wrath of God against sin, thereby redeeming us from sin, satan, and death. Isa. 53:4. 2 Cor. 5:19. 2 Cor. 5:20. 2 Cor. 5:21. 1 Pet. 1:18-19. Titus 2:14. 2 Tim. 1:10. Col. 1:13-14. 1 John 3:16. 1 John 4:10.
65. Why was the death of Christ necessary for our redemption?
The death of Christ was necessary for our redemption because we, lost sinners, could be redeemed neither by teaching nor by example, but only by the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ in his suffering and death. 1 Cor. 2:2.1 Cor. 1:23- 24. John 1:29. Heb. 7:26-27. John 15:13.
66. Of what importance is Christ's burial?
Christ's burial is a testimony that he had really died.
67. What is meant when we say, "He descended into heir ?
This statement means that Jesus went to the place of departed spirits and brought them the message of salvation. 1 Pet. 3:18-20.
68. What does it mean to us that Jesus Christ arose from the dead?
The resurrection of Jesus Christ proves that he is the Son of God; that he is our Redeemer, in whom we have newness of life; and that we also shall be raised from the dead. Rom. 4:25. Rom. 1:4. 2 Cor. 5:15. 1 Cor. 15:17-18. 1 Cor. 15:20-21. Rom. 8:11. Rom. 6:4. John 11:25-26.
69. What does it mean to us that Christ ascended into heaven?
Forty days after his resurrection, Christ was visibly taken up into heaven, there to prepare a place for us. John 14:2-3. John 17:24. Read Acts 1:1-11.
70. What do we confess by the words "He sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty" ?
By these words we confess that the risen and ascended Christ is in heaven in the full power and glory of God. Ps. 110:1. Eph. 1:20-23. Rom. 8:33-34.
71. What do we confess with the words "From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead" ?
With these words we confess that Christ will come again on the last day with great power and glory to take into eternal life those who believe, and to deliver into eternal death those who do not believe. Acts 1:11. Luke 21:27-28. Matt. 25:31-32. 2 Cor. 5:10.
72. In which passage of Holy Scripture do we find the humiliation and the exaltation of Christ briefly described?
We find the humiliation and the exaltation of Christ briefly described in the passage Philippians 2:5-11.
73. A Summary of the Second Article of the Christian Faith.
1. Who is Jesus Christ?
I believe that Jesus Christ—true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary—is my Lord.
2. What did Christ do for you?
He has redeemed, purchased, and delivered me, a lost and condemned creature, from all sins, from death and from the power of satan.
3. How did he redeem you?
Not with silver or gold, but with his holy, precious blood, and with his innocent suffering and death.
4. To what purpose did he redeem you?
That I might be his own, live under him in his kingdom, and serve him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, even as he is risen from the dead, lives and reigns in all eternity.
THE THIRD ARTICLE OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
74. What is the Third Article of the Christian Faith?
I believe in the Holy Spirit; the one holy universal Christian Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.
75. Of what does the Third Article of the Christian Faith treat?
The Third Article of the Christian Faith treats of God the Holy Spirit and of the godly life which he makes possible.
76. What do we believe about the Holy Spirit?
We believe that the Holy Spirit is the third person in the Holy Trinity, with the Father and the Son, true and eternal God, a Lord and distributor of all gifts, who enables us to come to Christ, our Lord, and to remain with him forever.
77. By what means does the Holy Spirit do his work?
The Holy Spirit works through the Word of God and the Holy Sacraments, which are the means of grace. Jas. 1:21. Acts 2:38. 1 Cor. 10:16.
78. In what manner does the Holy Spirit lead us to Christ?
The Holy Spirit makes known to us the call of God to come to Christ; he teaches us how, because of our sin, we need Christ; he leads us by repentance and faith to accept and follow Christ; he enables us thus to begin and live the new life of a child of God. Heb. 3:7-8. John 15:26. John 14:26. Rom. 8:9, 14.
79. What is repentance?
True repentance consists in conviction of sin, sorrow for sin, confession and renunciation of sin, and longing for grace. Ps. 38:4. 2 Cor. 7:10. Matt. 5:4. Ps. 51:17.1 John 1:8-9. Jas. 5:16. Prov. 28:13. Isa. 55:7. Luke 19:8. Luke 15:18-19. Luke 18:13. Matt. 5:6.
80. What is faith?
Faith is complete trust in God and willing acceptance of his grace in Jesus Christ. Heb. 11:1. Heb. 11:6. Him. 1:15. John 6:40. John 6:68-69. Acts 16:31.
81. What does God do for us when we come to him in repentance and faith?
When we come to God in repentance and faith, he forgives us our sins for Jesus' sake, counts the merit of Christ as belonging to us, and accepts us as his children. This is justification. 1 John 3:1. Gal. 3:26. Rom. 3:23-24. Rom. 3:28. Eph. 2:8-9.
82. How does the Bible speak of the change in our life brought about by repentance and faith?
The Bible speaks of this change as being born again, or as being converted.
83. What does it mean to be born again?
To be born again means the beginning of the new life within us by the power of God's word and the sacrament of baptism. This is regeneration. John 3:3. John 3:5. Gal. 3:27. 1 Pet. 1:23.
84. What does it mean to be converted?
To be converted means to turn from the broad way of the sinful life and to enter the narrow way of the godly life. (This is conversion.) Matt. 7:13-14. Ezek. 33:11. Ezek. 18:21. 1 Pet. 2:25.
85. Whereby are we assured of our justification?
We are assured of our justification by the testimony of the Holy Spirit, as it is written Romans 8:15-16: For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" It is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God.
86. What is necessary for us to continue in the godly life?
In order that we may continue in the godly life, the Holy Spirit must daily transform and renew us in all our thoughts and actions and make us acceptable to God. This is sanctification. 1 John 5:4. 2 Cor. 5:17. 2 Pet. 3:18. 1 Pet. 2:1-2. Eph. 4:22-24. Phil. 3:12. Heb. 12:14. 1 Thess. 5:23.
87. What is meant by "Church" in the Apostles' Creed?
By the one holy universal Christian Church we mean the entire body of true Christians. John 17:20-21.
88. Why is the Church called "one" Church?
The Christian Church is called the "one" Church because it has one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, as it is written Ephesians 4:3-6.
89. Why is the Church called holy?
The church is called holy because the Holy Spirit works mightily in it by Word and Sacrament to the end that all its members shall be made holy. Eph. 5:25- 27. 1 Pet. 2:9.
90. Why is the Church called universal?
The Church is called universal because God has meant it for all men, and because everyone finds in it what he needs. John 10:26. Mark 16:15.
91. Why is the Church called the "Christian" Church?
The Church is called Christian because Christ alone in its foundation, its head, and its ideal. 1 Cor. 3:11. Col. 1:18. Eph. 4:13. Eph. 4:15.
92. What is the mission of the Church?
The mission of the Church is to extend the Kingdom of God, that is, to lead men to Christ and to establish Christian principles in every relation of life. Acts 1:8. Isa. 52:7. Rom. 10:14. Luke 9:2. Matt. 24:14. Luke 13:19. Matt. 13:33.
93. What is the Kingdom of God?
The Kingdom of God is the rule of God established in the hearts and lives of men. Luke 17:20-21. John 18:36. Luke 6:31. Luke 6:44-45. Matt. 5:16. Matt. 5:44^5.
94. Where did Christ set forth the principles of his Kingdom?
Christ set forth the principles of his Kingdom in the Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew, chapters 5-7. Luke, chapter 6, verses 20-49.)
95. Has the Church already become all that we confess concerning it?
The Church has indeed existed at all times as the true Church, but has frequently erred and been corrupted; its future perfection, however, is certain, according to God's promise. Matt. 16:18. Matt. 13:24-26.
96. What do we understand by the communion of saints?
By the communion of saints we understand that all Christians, as members of one body, should love and help one another in all things. 1 Cor. 12:12-13. Phil. 2:2^k 1 Cor. 12:26.
97. What do we mean by the words "I believe in the forgiveness of sins" ?
The forgiveness of sins is present in Christ for all mankind, and is offered by the grace of God to all sinners. Luke 24:46-47. Mark 3:28. 1 John 2:1-2. Isa. 1:18.
98. What do we understand by the resurrection of the body?
On the last day Christ will raise up all the dead, as it is written in John 5:28-29. 1 Cor. 15:42-44. Phil. 3:20-21. John 17:24. 2 Cor. 5:10.
99. What do we mean by the life everlasting?
By the life everlasting we mean that in the resurrection all children of God shall receive the glory of Christ in body and soul and shall abide with him forever. 1 John 3:2. 1 Cor. 13:12. Matt. 25:34. Isa. 35:10. Rev. 21:3-4.
100. A summary of the Third Article of the Christian Faith.
1. How do you become a true Christian?
I believe that I can not by my own reason or strength believe in my Lord Jesus Christ, or come to him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, sanctified and preserved me in the true faith.
2. Through what institution does the Holy Spirit work?
The Holy Spirit calls, gathers, enlightens, and preserves the whole Christian Church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.
3. What do you receive in the Church through the Holy Spirit?
In the Christian Church the Holy Spirit daily and abundantly forgives me and all believers all sins.
4. What is your hope for the future?
On the last day Christ will raise up me and all the dead and will give to me and all believers everlasting life. This is most certainly true.
PART III: PRAYER
101. What is prayer?
Prayer is the conversation of the heart with God for the purpose of praising him, asking him to supply the needs of ourselves and others, and thanking him for whatever he gives us. Ps. 19:14. Ps. 34:3. Ps. 103:1-4. Matt. 6:6. Matt. 7:7- 8. Matt. 18:19-20. Matt. 21:22. Ps. 92:1. 1 Tim. 2:1-2. 1 Thess. 5:17.
102. In what prayer has the Lord Jesus taught us how to pray?
Jesus taught us to pray in the Lord's Prayer: "Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors; And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil." For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen. (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:1^4.)
103. What is the meaning of "Our Father who art in heaven" ?
Our heavenly Father desires us and all his children to call upon him with cheerful confidence, as beloved children entreat a kind and affectionate father, knowing that he is both willing and able to help us. Matt. 7:9-11. John 16:27. Rom. 10:12. Ps. 121:1-2.
104. What do we pray for in the first petition: "Hallowed be thy name" ?
We pray in this petition that God's name may be kept holy among us as it is holy in itself. This is done when the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we as the children of God lead a holy life in accordance with it. Ps. 72:18-19. Matt. 5:16.
105. What do we pray for in the second petition: "Thy kingdom come" ?
In the second petition we pray that we and all others may share in the Kingdom of God which was established by the redemption through Jesus Christ, and that its rule may be extended over all the world. Luke 17:20-21. Rev. 11:15. Compare Matt. 13:44, the parable of the mustard seed, and Matt. 13:45, the parable of the leaven.
106. What do we pray for in the third petition: "Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" ?
In the third petition we pray that God's good and gracious will may be done by us and all men as cheerfully as it is done by the angels in heaven. 1 John 2:17. Rom. 12:2. Heb. 13:20-21.
107. What do we pray for in the fourth petition: "Give us this day our daily bread"?
In the fourth petition we look to God as the One who supplies the needs of our body as well as of our soul, and we ask him to make us truly thankful for these his gifts. Matt. 5:45. Ps. 145:15-16. Prov. 30:8-9. Matt. 6:34. Ps. 127:1-2. 2 Thess. 3:10. Deut. 8:10. Matt. 4:4.
108. What do we pray for in the fifth petition: "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors" ?
In the fifth petition we ask God for gracious forgiveness of our sins, and for willingness and strength to forgive others. Ps. 51:1-3. Matt. 6:14-15. Matt. 18:21-22.
109. What do we pray for in the sixth petition: "Lead us not into temptation" ?
In the sixth petition we pray that whenever we are tempted by satan, the world, and our flesh to do evil, God may protect and keep us from sinning. Jas. 1:13.1 Cor. 10:13. 1 Pet. 2:11. 1 John 5:4-5.
110. What do we pray for in the seventh petition: "But deliver us from evil" ?
In the seventh petition we pray that the heavenly Father may deliver us from every evil of body and soul; and finally, when our last hour has come, graciously take us from this world of sorrow to himself in heaven. John 17:15. 2 Tim. 4:18. Rom. 8:23.
111. What is the meaning of the closing words: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever?
By these closing words we mean to express our confidence that God will hear and answer our petitions; for he himself has commanded us thus to pray and promised that we shall be heard. Amen: That is, Yea, yea, it shall be so. 2 Cor. 1:20. Eph. 3:20.
112. Why is prayer necessary?
Prayer is necessary because God will give his grace and his Holy Spirit only to those who earnestly and without ceasing ask them of him and render thanks unto him. Luke 18:7-8. Luke 11:13. Ps. 55:16-17. Jas. 5:16.
113. How should we pray?
We should pray humbly because of our need and unworthiness; and yet with faith, believing that for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Lord, God. will certainly hear our prayer. Dan. 9:18. Matt. 21:22. John 15:7. Jas. 1:6.
114. Are all our prayers answered?
All prayers are answered either in the way we expect God to answer them or in the way God knows will be best for us. 2 Cor. 12:8-9. Ps. 40:1. Hab. 1:2. Gen. 32:26. Ps. 10:17.
PART IV: THE SACRAMENT OF HOLY BAPTISM
115. What is a sacrament?
A sacrament is a holy ordinance of the Church instituted by Christ himself in which by visible signs and means he imparts and preserves the new life.
116. How many sacraments has Christ instituted?
Christ has instituted two sacraments, Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper.
117. With what words did Christ institute the sacrament of Holy Baptism?
Christ instituted the sacrament of Holy Baptism with words in Matthew 28:18-20.
118. What does God do for us in Holy Baptism?
In Holy Baptism God imparts the gift of the new life unto man, receives him into his fellowship as his child, and admits him as a member of the Christian Church.
119. What does Holy Baptism require of us?
Holy Baptism requires of us that we by daily repentance renounce all sinful longings and desires, and by faith arise to a new life. Rom. 6:3-4. Col. 3:9-10.
120. Why should little children be baptized?
Little children should be baptized because the new life is a gift of God's love, which little children need as much and are as able to receive as adults, for the Lord Jesus has promised unto them his Kingdom. Acts 2:39. Mark 10:13, 14, 16.
121. What does the baptism of children require of the parents?
The baptism of children requires of the parents that they help their children to grow in godly life by Christian teaching and training, by prayer and example. Matt. 28:20. Eph. 6:4.
122. What is confirmation?
Confirmation is the renewal of the baptismal covenant. The baptized children, having been instructed in the Christian faith, publicly confess their faith in their Saviour Jesus Christ, promise obedience to him until death, and are received by the Church into active membership.
PART V: THE SACRAMENT OF THE LORD'S SUPPER
123. With what words did Christ institute the sacrament of the Lord's Supper or Holy Communion?
The Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also he took a cup, after supper, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." Matt. 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20;! Cor. 11:23-25.
124. What are the visible signs and means of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper?
The visible signs and means of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper are bread and wine, partaken of by the communicant.
125. What is the Lord's Supper?
The Lord's Supper is the sacrament by which we receive the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ as the nourishment of our new life, strengthen the fellowship with Christ and all believers, and confess that he has died for us.
126. What blessings do we receive as we eat and drink in the Lords Supper?
As we eat and drink in the Lord's Supper we receive forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. For so it is written: Broken and shed for you for the remission of sins. John 6:51. John 6:55-56. Eph. 5:30. 1 Cor. 10:17.
127. On what condition do we receive the blessings of the Lords Supper?
We receive the blessings of the Lord's Supper only as we eat and drink with heartfelt repentance and true faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Cor. 11:28.2 Cor. 13:5. Ps. 139:23-24. 1 Cor. 11:27. 1 Cor. 11:29-30. Matt. 5:23-24.
128. What does our communion daily require of us?
Our communion requires that we daily keep in remembrance the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus, and that we consider well how hard it was for our Saviour to bear our sins and the sins of the whole world, and to gain eternal salvation for us by offering up his life and shedding his blood. And since our sins caused the Lord Jesus the greatest sufferings, yea bitter death, we should have no pleasure in sin, but earnestly flee and avoid it; and being reclaimed by our Saviour and Redeemer we should live, suffer and die to his honor, so that at all times and especially in the hour of death we may cheerfully and confidently say:
Lord Jesus, for thee I live,
for thee I suffer,
for thee I die!
Lord Jesus, thine will I be in life and death!
Grant me, 0 Lord, eternal salvation! Amen.
SOURCE: Evangelical Synod of North America, Evangelical Catechism, rev. ed. (St. Louis, Mo.: Eden Publishing House, 1957).
In view of the errors of the "German Christians" and of the present Reich Church Administration, which are ravaging the Church and at the same time also shattering the unity of the German Evangelical Church, we confess the following evangelical truths:
1. "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6
"Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold through the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved." John 10:1,9
Jesus Christ, as he is attested to us in Holy Scripture, is the one Word of God whom we have to hear, and whom we have to trust and obey in life and in death.
We reject the false doctrine that the Church could and should recognize as a source of its proclamation, beyond and besides this one Word of God, yet other events, powers, historic figures and truths as God's revelation.
2. "Jesus Christ has been made wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption for us by God." 1 Cor. 1:30
As Jesus Christ is God's comforting pronouncement of the forgiveness of all our sins, so, with equal seriousness, he is also God's vigorous announcement of his claim upon our whole life. Through him there comes to us joyful liberation from the godless ties of this world for free, grateful service to his creatures.
We reject the false doctrine that there could be areas of our life in which we would not belong to Jesus Christ but to other lords, areas in which we would not need justification and sanctification through him.
3. "Let us, however, speak the truth in love, and in every respect grow into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body is joined together." Eph. 4:15-16
The Christian Church is the community of brethren in which, in Word and Sacrament, through the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ acts in the present as Lord. With both its faith and its obedience, with both its message and its order, it has to testify in the midst of the sinful world, as the Church of pardoned sinners, that it belongs to him alone and lives and may live by his comfort and under his direction alone, in expectation of his appearing.
We reject the false doctrine that the Church could have permission to hand over the form of its message and of its order to whatever it itself might wish or to the vicissitudes of the prevailing ideological and political convictions of the day.
4. "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to have authority over you must be your servant." Matt. 20:25-26
The various offices in the Church do not provide a basis for some to exercise authority over others but for the ministry [lit., "service"] with which the whole community has been entrusted and charged to be carried out.
We reject the false doctrine that, apart from this ministry, the Church could, and could have permission to, give itself or allow itself to be given special leaders [Führer] vested with ruling authority.
5. "Fear God. Honor the Emperor." 1 Pet. 2:17
Scripture tells us that by divine appointment the State, in this still unredeemed world in which also the Church is situated, has the task of maintaining justice and peace, so far as human discernment and human ability make this possible, by means of the threat and use of force. The Church acknowledges with gratitude and reverence toward God the benefit of this, his appointment. It draws attention to God's Dominion [Reich], God's commandment and justice, and with these the responsibility of those who rule and those who are ruled. It trusts and obeys the power of the Word, by which God upholds all things.
We reject the false doctrine that beyond its special commission the State should and could become the sole and total order of human life and so fulfil the vocation of the Church as well.
We reject the false doctrine that beyond its special commission the Church should and could take on the nature, tasks and dignity which belong to the State and thus become itself an organ of the State.
6. "See, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matt. 28:20 "God's Word is not fettered." 2 Tim. 2:9
The Church's commission, which is the foundation of its freedom, consists in this: in Christ's stead, and so in the service of his own Word and work, to deliver all people, through preaching and sacrament, the message of the free grace of God.
We reject the false doctrine that with human vainglory the Church could place the Word and work of the Lord in the service of self-chosen desires, purposes and plans.
The Confessing Synod of the German Evangelical Church declares that it sees in the acknowledgment of these truths and in the rejection of these errors the indispensable theological basis of the German Evangelical Church as a confederation of Confessing Churches. It calls upon all who can stand in solidarity with its Declaration to be mindful of these theological findings in all their decisions concerning Church and State. It appeals to all concerned to return to unity in faith, hope and love.
The Word of God will last for ever.
Adapted from Robert McAfee Brown, Kairos: Three Prophetic Challenges to the Church, published in 1990 by Wm. B. Eerdmans.
About this testimony
The Barmen Declaration, 1934, was a call to resistance against the theological claims of the Nazi state. Almost immediately after Hitler's seizure of power in 1933, Protestant Christians faced pressure to "aryanize" the Church, expel Jewish Christians from the ordained ministry and adopt the Nazi "Führer Principle" as the organizing principle of church government. In general, the churches succumbed to these pressures, and some Christians embraced them willingly. The pro-Nazi "German Christian" movement became a force in the church. They glorified Adolf Hitler as a "German prophet" and preached that racial consciousness was a source of revelation alongside the Bible. But many Christians in Germany—including Lutheran and Reformed, liberal and neo-orthodox—opposed the encroachment of Nazi ideology on the Church's proclamation. At Barmen, this emerging "Confessing Church" adopted a declaration drafted by Reformed theologian Karl Barth and Lutheran theologian Hans Asmussen, which expressly repudiated the claim that other powers apart from Christ could be sources of God's revelation. Not all Christians courageously resisted the regime, but many who did—like the Protestant pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Roman Catholic priest Bernhard Lichtenberg—were arrested and executed in concentration camps. The spirituality of the Barmen Declaration profoundly influenced many of the first generation of pastors and laypeople who formed the United Church of Christ in 1957.
We, the regularly constituted representatives of the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church, moved by the conviction that we are united in spirit and purpose and are in agreement on the substance of the Christian faith and the essential character of the Christian life;
Affirming our devotion to one God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our membership in the holy catholic Church, which is greater than any single Church and than all the Churches together;
Believing that denominations exist not for themselves but as parts of that Church, within which each denomination is to live and labor and, if need be, die; and
Confronting the divisions and hostilities of our world, and hearing with a deepened sense of responsibility the prayer of our Lord "that they all may be one";
Do now declare ourselves to be one body, and do set forth the following articles of agreement as the basis of our life, fellowship, witness, and proclamation of the Gospel to all nations.
The name of the Church formed by this union shall be UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST.
This name expresses a fact: it stands for the accomplished union of two church bodies each of which has arisen from a similar union of two church bodies. It also expresses a hope: that in time soon to come, by further union between this Church and other bodies, there shall arise a more inclusive United Church.
The faith which unites us and to which we bear witness is that faith in God which the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments set forth, which the ancient Church expressed in the ecumenical creeds, to which our own spiritual fathers gave utterance in the evangelical confessions of the Reformation, and which we are in duty bound to express in the words of our time as God Himself gives us light. In all our expressions of that faith we seek to preserve unity of heart and spirit with those who have gone before us as well as those who now labor with us.
In token of that faith we unite in the following confession, as embodying those things most surely believed and taught among us:
We believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator and Sustainer of heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ, His Son, our Lord and Savior, who for us and our salvation lived and died and rose again and lives for evermore; and in the Holy Spirit, who takes of the things of Christ and shows them to us, renewing, comforting and inspiring the souls of men.
We acknowledge one holy catholic Church, the innumerable company of those who, in every age and nation, are united by the Holy Spirit to God in Christ, are one body in Christ, and have communion with Him and with one another.
We acknowledge as part of this universal fellowship all throughout the world who profess this faith in Jesus Christ and follow Him as Lord and Savior.
We hold the Church to be established for calling men to repentance and faith, for the public worship of God, for the confession of His name by word and deed, for the administration of the sacraments, for witnessing to the saving grace of God in Christ, for the upbuilding of the saints, and for the universal propagation of the Gospel; and in the power of the love of God in Christ we labor for the progress of knowledge, the promotion of justice, the reign of peace, and the realization of human brotherhood.
Depending, as did our fathers, upon the continued guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth, we work and pray for the consummation of the Kingdom of God, and we look with faith for the triumph of righteousness and for the life everlasting.
About this testimony
The Basis of Union, 1943, was an early agreement between the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church. It was formulated during World War II, a time like our own when churches believed it was God's call to witness to unity as a sign of reconciliation in a divided and despairing world. The agreement set the stage for the 1957 union of the two communions into the United Church of Christ.
The United Church of Christ acknowledges as its sole head, Jesus Christ, Son of God and Savior. It acknowledges as kindred in Christ all who share in this confession. It looks to the Word of God in the Scriptures, and to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, to prosper its creative and redemptive work in the world. It claims as its own the faith of the historic Church expressed in the ancient creeds and reclaimed in the basic insights of the Protestant Reformers. It affirms the responsibility of the Church in each generation to make this faith its own in reality of worship, in honesty of thought and expression, and in purity of heart before God. In accordance with the teaching of our Lord and the practice prevailing among evangelical Christians, it recognizes two sacraments: Baptism and the Lord's Supper or Holy Communion.
About this testimony
Adopted at the uniting General Synod of 1957, the Preamble of the Constitution of the United Church of Christ represents the core of the theological consensus that brought the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian Churches together in covenant.
As people of the United Church of Christ, affirming our Statement of Faith, we seek within the Church Universal to participate in God's mission and to follow the way of the crucified and risen Christ.
Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we are called and commit ourselves:
To praise God, confess our sin, and joyfully accept God's forgiveness;
To proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our suffering world;
To embody God's Love for all people;
To hear and give voice to creation's cry for justice and peace;
To name and confront the powers of evil within and among us;
To repent our silence and complicity with the forces of chaos and death;
To preach and teach with the power of the living Word;
To join oppressed and troubled people in the struggle for liberation;
To work for justice, healing, and wholeness of life;
To embrace the unity of Christ's church;
To discern and celebrate the present and coming reign of God.
About this testimony
The UCC Statement of Mission, 1987, was drafted by a churchwide conference on mission in Houston, Texas, in which representatives from all communities in the church—including evangelicals, liberals, and others—tried to find common ground. The statement was affirmed by General Synod XVI later that year.
We, the United Church of Christ, look toward the twenty-first Century with anticipation. We trust God's promises. We are eager to respond to God's call. We believe that God does have more truth and light yet to break forth from God's holy word. Thanks be to God.
A Church attentive to the Word
By God's grace, we will be an attentive church. We commit ourselves anew to listen for God's Word in Holy Scripture, in our rich heritage, in faithful witness, and in the fresh winds of the Holy Spirit so that we might discover God's way for us.
We are claimed in baptism as children of God, disciples of Christ, and members of Christ's church. Through sustained Biblical and theological reflection on the challenges, confusions. injustices, mercies and possibilities that confront us, we hope to discern baptism's claim so that we might be the faithful disciples these days require.
We want to remember whose we are. Therefore, we will be faithful in worship and study, attentive to the Word and nurtured at the Table. We will be a people of prayer.
We want to be faithful disciples. Therefore, we will relate our faith boldly to all of life's demands.
We want all people to know of God's gracious activity on our behalf. Therefore, we will share God's Good News so that God's way may be revealed, God's forgiveness received, and God's future affirmed.
A Church inclusive of all people
By God's grace, we will be an inclusive church. We commit ourselves to be a church for all people and, in Christ, we celebrate, affirm, and embrace the rich diversity of God's good creation.
We seek to be a fully inclusive community of faith, sharing bread and cup with all who see, in Christ, the way to our common future. We believe that God desires our oneness with all people, everywhere, and we long for the day when we may all be one.
We acknowledge that we are far less inclusive than we are called to be. Therefore, we will intentionally reach out into the world and lovingly invite all to Christ, and to participate fully in the ordering of our common life.
We acknowledge that we sometimes find it difficult to accept the gifts that others bring. Therefore, we will seek to be open to those gifts, affirm them, learn from them, and, at the leading of the Holy Spirit, be transformed by them.
We acknowledge that the world in which we live is far more diverse than we have hitherto imagined. We celebrate this rich diversity. Therefore, united in Christ, we will reach toward it in anticipation of God's reign.
A Church responsive to God's call
By God's grace, we will be a responsive church. We commit ourselves to be a church of justice and mercy and peace so that lives may be renewed, spirits revived, and worlds transformed.
So many of God's people suffer. So many are maltreated. God's good earth cries out in pain. Our world needs those who will pursue justice, show mercy, and seek peace. That is the church we hear God calling us to be. We want "to join oppressed and troubled people in the struggle for liberation . . . and to work for justice, healing, and wholeness of life." [Quote from the UCC Statement of Mission]
We envision a world wherein "justice will flow down like mighty waters." Therefore, we will stand alongside those who hurt so that the hungry may be fed, the excluded embraced, and the creation renewed.
We envision a world wherein mercy reigns. Therefore, we will heal the sick, encourage the weary, and support the dying.
We envision a world of peace for all people, everywhere. Therefore, we will be peacemakers so that hostilities and hatreds may cease and love, mercy, and justice prevail.
A Church supportive of one another
By God's grace, we will be a supportive church. We commit ourselves to strengthen Christ's body through renewed resolve and mutual support in our common ministries.
In the immediate days ahead, our servant church will face days of challenge. We will need dedicated pastors and teachers. We will need vibrant congregations. Only a people who share a common vision, who support each other whatever the cost, and who are committed, together, to strengthen Christ's Church for ministry will be equal to the task. We want to be that church.
We believe that a vital church is a covenantal church. Therefore, we will be supportive of each other and accountable to each other.
We believe that a vital church is a sacrificial church. Therefore, we will give sacrificially of our resources so that Christ's Church may be strengthened and God's people served.
We believe that a vital church is a "united and uniting church." Therefore, we will seek to embody the oneness of Christ's church through ecumenical commitment, witness, and ministries in Christ's name.
About this testimony
In 1993, the General Synod of the United Church of Christ adopted this "Statement of Commitment" as the starting point for four "seasons" of churchwide theological reflection on the future of our community of faith as we enter the 21st century. The statement underscores that the UCC seeks to be a church where all people—including those historically excluded by the Christian community—can find a home.
The United Church of Christ embraces a theological heritage that affirms the Bible as the authoritative witness to the Word of God, the creeds of the ecumenical councils, and the confessions of the Reformation. The UCC has roots in the "covenantal" tradition—meaning there is no centralized authority or hierarchy that can impose any doctrine or form of worship on its members. Christ alone is Head of the church. We seek a balance between freedom of conscience and accountability to the apostolic faith. The UCC therefore receives the historic creeds and confessions of our ancestors as testimonies, but not tests of the faith. Linked on the right of this page are some of those testimonies.
On the right, you'll find links to the Theology Page—a growing library of articles on theological issues that face the church.
Statement of Faith UCC
The Name of Jesus
Jesus Head of the Church
God's plan of salvation
The Apostles' Creed
Jesus Human and Divine
Luther's Small Catechism
Principles Christian Church
Kansas City Statement
Basis of Union
Preamble to Constitution
Statement of Mission
Toward the 21st Century