Statement of Faith

The second statement is described as follows (warning, mine is very long for the moment):

(2) a statement of personal faith which incorporates an understanding of the Reformed tradition;

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the eternal witness to God and the manifest presence of God.

She is the Spirit which rippled over the waters of the void at creation, the fire in the bush which burned but did not consume, the presence on Mount Sinai in cloud and fire and over the Ark of the Covenant in the wilderness and in the tabernacle; she is the fire in the hearts of the prophets, inspiring them to speak of God’s judgment in the world around them and granting them visions of God’s triumph over evil; she is the dove who proclaimed Jesus to be God’s son, and is the wind and fire of Pentecost which burns in us still.

She is the substance of our shared love as the Body of Christ and the sinew which binds us together. By the power of the Holy Spirit we are made new creations and are born again through faith in Jesus Christ. It is the Holy Spirit who testifies to the truth of God’s revelation, and through the Holy Spirit God is present with us until the end when creation is renewed.

It is the Holy Spirit which empowers us to live into our calling as the people of God, loving ourselves, our neighbors and our enemies, proclaiming the good news to all people, and living a life of faithfulness and hope.

I believe in Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of God, fully human and fully divine.

Born of Mary, child of Nazareth, he was baptized by John, tested in the wilderness, and preached the gospel to the people he met. In his table-fellowship, he broke down barriers which separate us and gave those around him a foretaste of the coming feast of the kingdom of God. In his preaching and teaching, he taught of himself and of God, calling those who heard him to faith and obedience, to courage and sacrifice, to love and to justice. He challenged every idol, calling everyone to the God of truth. In his healing he showed God’s love for and presence with those who suffer sickness and pain, and demonstrated God’s power to heal a broken world.

In the end he was betrayed to the authorities of Jerusalem who tried and convicted him, and he was sentenced to death. In full obedience to God’s purpose he was crucified, died, and was buried. On the third day he rose again, having shattered death and ended its dominion. In his resurrection he demonstrated God’s final judgment over the powers of sin and death, that they are not the last word. He gave substance to our hope for eternal life as the firstborn among the dead, and proved that no power in the world is sufficient to separate us from God.

Christ returned to the throne of God and is alive eternally, the head of the Church which is his body, and he is still breaking barriers between us, still giving a foretaste of the kingdom, still calling to faith and obedience, still overturning idols, still healing, and still the source of eternal life. This same Christ was with God before the foundation of the world, and will be with God after the end has come. It is through Christ that we learn most surely who God is.

I believe in God, the creator of all that is, seen and unseen.

By God’s Word the world took shape, the waters and the sky and the land and all that lives and moves within them, and by whose hands the first human being was made, and separated into man and woman. God created human beings for life in the Garden, but through our disobedience death entered us, and we left the Garden to live in a world of toil and struggle and injustice.

Yet even in our failure God claims us and seeks to be with us. Through covenants God has relationship with us and makes clear God’s intent for us. Through every epoch of time God remains present and faithful in love and justice, yet we eternally fall short. Yet it is because of God’s mercy and love that we have hope.

God did not cease to create but is yet creating, and God’s creating will not cease until God’s purpose for creation is fulfilled for all time. Because of this, because of what we know of the presence of God in the Holy Spirit, and what we know of the nature of God in Jesus Christ, we know that despite our failings God is with us and God is for us, that God redeems us and loves us, and that is, and will be, triumphant.

I believe that we, the Church particular and universal, are the people of God.

As the people of God, it is our privilege first to be faithful, to put not merely our assent but our existential trust in God and God’s design for us, resting in God’s faithfulness and love. It is our privilege, again, to be obedient, to search out God’s purpose for our lives and live into it, to make every effort to live into God’s calling for human life which we find most clearly revealed in the life of Jesus Christ. It is our privilege, third, to be joyful, to live in the knowledge that we are eternally loved and never alone, that we are the people of a loving and merciful God. In this joy and gratitude we respond with worship, with praise and thanks for God whose power saves. It is our privilege, fourth, to be courageous, knowing that we are uplifted and watched over by a gracious God, we can go into the world as bold witnesses, living into our calling without fear because God is with us. It is our privilege, finally, to be loving. In the grandiose and extravagant love that God shows for us in all that God does and says, we are filled with love and become instruments of love in the world around us.

We are to be shameless and fearless lovers, reckless and sacrificial lovers, because we are bound and uplifted and animated and empowered by a love that is boundless and incomprehensible, a love whose power is absolute and irresistible, a love upon which the entire cosmos depends for its existence. It is in this love that we learn who we are, whose we are, and what we are here for. May the final fulfillment of this love come soon.

Amen.

10 thoughts on “Statement of Faith

  1. awesome. i feel like i need to cut it down, make it more efficient, but i was pretty happy with where this ended up. and its shorter than my first, nine-page-long attempt two years ago 🙂

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  2. That’s very sad, if true, but we’ll see. Obviously, you’ll know how it goes because I’ll post about it when its over.I’m definitely prepared to be taken to task, and am happy with the ways I’ll defend the position. If it really is unacceptable to a majority of my Presbytery, I’m ok with taking that as evidence that there isn’t a place for me in the PCUSA as an ordained pastor (which will be awful, since there has been a place for me as a layperson, teacher, intern, etc. my entire life)

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  3. Doug,I spent some time reading your candidacy statements and have a couple of suggestions to offer.First, be careful with your “Creator-Creating” language. Many members of the committee will assume that you are using those terms in a more orthodox way that you probaly are (based on your response to my question in an earlier post). Second, I agree that the “she” for the Spirit probably will not fly, although I understand and am sympathetic to the point I think you are trying to make. Third, your statements as a whole sound more orthodox than I would have thought based on your blog. I would simply caution you that since you have been very out front in your postings, regarding your doubts and questions about areas of orthodox faith, that you have set yourself up for some potential trouble if the members of your comittee have read your blog. I understand the tension, so be careful. There’s no need to make it harder than it is alraedy going to be.As a side note, as someone who has done the PNC thing, the first thing I would do now would be to search for blogs or myspace etc. to make sure that their “public” and “private” statements agree.Good luck in your next step.Craig

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  4. Thanks for the advice. I try not to say anything on my blog that I wouldn’t say in a PIF 🙂(But certainly when called upon to write a Reformed statement of faith, I’ll do what I can to sound as Reformed as possible)

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  5. Also, it occurs to me – if a majority of my Presbytery really can’t abide feminine language for God, then it seems accurate that I don’t belong there. I mean, if the OT can bring itself to use feminine language here and there, it is mind-blowing to think that modern people can’t deal with it at all. But, of course, we’ll see.

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  6. Doug,As I said, I understand your reasoning, and don’t completely disagree, but why fight the battle. As far as you fitting in in your presbytery/pcusa I think it is obvious that you don’t fit in with the prevailing and historical understanding of reformed/presbyterian theology. Which leads me to ask, why not go somewhere where you do fit in? I’m not saying that you should be excluded, but it seems as though there are a number of traditions that would be more accomodation to your positions.Re sounding reformed, I understand why you feel you have to, but if your not down with reformed theology why try to sound like something you’re not.Again, good luck. It just sounds like you are making it harder han it has to be.Craig

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  7. Maybe I am – it wouldn’t be the first time. I do think about this a lot. There are two answers that bubble to the surface.The first is that I’ve been Presbyterian basically my entire life. I’ve preached, led worship, taught classes, done pastoral care and visitation, designed worship new services, served on committees, etc. already, and my theology has *never* been a problem (and I’ve thought…how I think for a while now). I’ve disagreed sometimes, but my experience on the ground of the denomination has been that of a “big tent”, a family where conformity is much less important than fellowship.At the polity level, though, there are forces that seem to want a very “small tent”. The definition of the denomination at the ‘higher’ levels just doesn’t mesh with the definition it has at the ground level – and I like the ground level. That’s definitely where I live. I see this same trend in Church history all the way back – there is the “orthodox” view, and then there is what is actually going on among Christians, and where we have documents and whatnot, we find that the “orthodox” view is never, ever universally held.The second reason is that I reject, really at the depth of my being, the idea that there is only room for a majority opinion. I think that is something that flies in the face of Reformed polity and theology, as well as church history and scripture itself (not to mention ethics and whatnot). There is nothing I see in Christianity to justify that kind of thinking. It arises, I think, out of fear and insecurity, not faith and love.I think that when an organization cannot tolerate a minority opinion, or a minority anything, then it is probably long-since dead. I know that I’m a minority opinion in my home denomination – but it is my home, (dammit), and I’d rather think that it is alive and healthy, at least in places. But I really do think that when majority-rules turns to majority-only, things have become almost unsalvageable, and you’ll then get to enjoy reading about me changing denominations. Until then, I hold out hope.

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  8. Doud,I can certainly realte to feeling like the PC is home. I grew up there and am still attending a PCUSA church. However, I stopped considering myself presbyterian several years ago. I think that the PCUSA as it is presently constituted, especially with the deep divisions and little room for compromise, is on the road to irrelevance. The fact that there are a significant number of people who are leaving each year (growing) and a number of churches (unknown, but from the ones I know about, a significant number of members)willing to do almost anything to get out, seems to indicate sever problems within the denomination. As far as you being a minority view, I’m not sure you are. Although you may be in your presbytery. You also have to realize that in a representative church like PCUSA that, theoretically, the majority calls the shots. From my perspective there is plenty of room for minority opinion, maybe too much, (or at least some of it is going too far). I would agree that there should be a big tent, but, I also think that if the tent gets too big then you lose what makes PCUSA distinctive and it becomes something else. At this point I don’t think you need to worry about majority only as much as majority defections. Craig

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