The Church of the Brethren has historically stayed away from rigid statements of faith, preferring instead to say things like “We have no Creed but the New Testament” or “We have no Creed but Christ.” The idea is to emphasize that we are first and foremost fully committed to the teachings of Christ and interpret all of God’s word through His teachings and His divine role as the Head and Chief Cornerstone of the church.
All of God’s word pointed to the coming of Christ, His earthly ministry, sacrificial death and resurrection, the inauguration of His eternal kingdom, and the fullness of that reality in His second coming. All of God’s promises to His people are fulfilled in Christ. As a Church of the Brethren church, our main concern is to be obedient and loving followers of Christ.
However, it is still important for our local church body to agree on the basics of what it means to be a follower of Christ and what one must believe in order to most fully and effectively represent Christ and follow Him in loving obedience. So we offer this very basic outline of primary beliefs that this congregation holds as reflecting Christ’s teachings and how all of Scripture is fulfilled in and understood through the One who is the living Word of God.
Therefore, as a local body of believers, we endeavor to be united in the following fundamental doctrinal positions and practices which help define and explain the Christian faith:
#1. We believe that The Bible (OT and NT) is the only divinely inspired, inerrant (without error), infallible (reliable and trustworthy) and authoritative word of God (2 Tim 3:16; Rom. 10:11; Titus 1:2; John 10:35).
It was written by those who were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20, 21). While it is God’s word, God spoke through the personalities and experiences of those who wrote the Scriptures, so that the Bible reflects many unique expressions through which God spoke infallibly. We believe the Bible consisting of the Old Testament (OT) and New Testament (NT), to be the only inspired, inerrant, infallible, authoritative Word of God written.
All Scripture is useful for correction and spiritual growth and discipline so that the man of God may be fully trained and equipped, and are able to make one wise unto salvation (1 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; 2 Peter 1:20, 21)
It should be noted that when we say the Bible is inerrant and infallible, we are making specific reference to the original autographs as various translations are subject to human error, interpretive influences and limits in our knowledge of the dead languages (Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek). However, we do believe that we can be confident, through careful study, of what the Scriptures essentially expressed as originally written.
#2. We believe in the Trinity. God is One being eternally existing as three distinct persons who all share the same divine essence. The Bible clearly depicts the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as divine persons who are one God (Deut. 6:4; Isa. 43:10, 11; Zech. 14:9; Matt. 28:19; Luke 3:22; John 1:1-3, 18; 14:16-17; 15:26; 16:7-15; 17:11,21;1 John 1:1-4; Acts 5:3, 4; 8:29; 11:12; 13:2, 4; 16:6-7; Rom. 8:27; 15:30; Eph. 4:4-6).
#3. We believe in the full deity of Christ. Jesus is the incarnate Son of God. He is the exact representation of the Father and perfectly expresses the Father’s nature and essence (Hebrews 1:1-13; John 14:7-11). In this way, He is the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15), the living and eternal Word [Logos] who became flesh and lived among us (becoming fully human while remaining fully divine, cf. John 1:1-5, 14, 18). In Him dwells the fullness of God (Col. 1:19; 2:9, 10). All things were created through Him and for Him (John 1:1-3; Col. 1:15-17; Hebrews 1:1-2)
He was born of a virgin by the Holy Spirit and lived a sinless life in perfect submission to the Father’s will. He willingly laid down His life as an atoning sacrifice, which made salvation and reconciliation with God possible through faith in Him. He physically rose from the dead on the third day and appeared to many. He later ascended to the right hand of the Father and will one day return for His people and fully establish His eternal kingdom on earth. At that time, He will also destroy anti-christ and satan and cast them into the lake of fire along with all who reject Him (Matt. 1:23; 3:17; Heb. 1:1-13; 7:3; 1 John 2:22-23; 3:8; 4:1-5, 10, 14; 2 John 3, 9; John 1:1-2, 14, 18, 29, 49; 3:16-18, 36; 5:22-23; 10:18; 14:7; Heb. 12:2; Acts 2:32-36; Rom. 3:25; 14:11; 1 Cor. 15:24-28; 2 Cor. 5:14-6:2; 1 Peter 1:8; 3:22; Phil. 2:8-9; Rev.1:13; 4:8-11; 5:6-14; 7:9-10; 19:11-16, 20, 21; Col. 1:15; 3:1; 1 Thess. 4:14-18; 2 Thess. 1:5-10; 2:7, 8).
#4. We believe in the ministry of the Holy Spirit and the necessity of regeneration for salvation.
The Spirit of God convicts the world of sin and enables fallen sinners to believe the Gospel and draw near to God (John 16:7-15). The Spirit then grants believers new spiritual life and marks them out as children of God through faith union with Christ. Only through being born again (born of the Spirit, born from above) can we see/enter (i.e. fully experience and receive) the kingdom of God. (John 1:12, 13; 3:3; 6:63; 16: Eph. 1:13; 2:17-22; Romans 6:23; 8:1-17; Gal. 3:2, 5, 14, 26; 1 Peter 3:18).
The Holy Spirit dwells within all believers and communicates to the believer the divine nature and power of God unto new spiritual life and sanctification. It is only through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit that the believer is able to overcome sin and live a godly life (Romans 8:1-17; 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:4-9; Gal. 5:16-26; 6:7-10; Eph. 3:16-18; Titus 3:5; 1 Cor. 10:13 1 Thess. 4:3-8; 2 Thess. 2:13; Acts 5:32; 1 John 3:9).
The Holy Spirit also empowers believers for effective Christian witness to a lost and dying world (Acts 1:8).
#5. We believe in a final physical resurrection and judgment of all people at the end of the age.
Jesus is given full authority to judge mankind by the Father and will judge all humanity when He returns in His Father’s glory. Those who have put their trust in Him will enter life and those who have rejected Him will be eternally condemned (Daniel 12:2-3; Matt. 25:31-46; John 5:21-29; 1 Cor. 15:51-52; 2 Thess. 1:9, 10; 1 Peter 5:4; Rev. 20:11-15; 21:6-8; 22:1-6).
#7. We believe in the spiritual unity and mission of the church
Believers are God’s holy and chosen people and are to live in love, peace and unity as members of God’s family. The church is the body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit. The mission of the church is to reflect God’s glory in love and unity and to reach a lost and dying world with the message of the Gospel (the good news of salvation by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ). The church is given the tremendous privilege and honor to represent Christ to the world and to carry on His work and mission on earth in advancing and expanding God’s holy kingdom (Acts 1:8; Matt. 28:16-20; 1 Peter 2:4-12; 1 Cor. 3:16, 17; 12:11-27; 13:4-7; Eph. 2:17-21; 3:10-12; 4:1-16; Col. 3:8-17; Titus 3:9-11; 1 John 2:9-11; 3:10; 4:7-11).
#8. We believe that all who confess Christ as Lord and Savior should be baptized as a first act of obedience to Christ
Baptism is a profound and important experience in a believer’s life where the believer publicly acknowledges his or her faith in Christ and commitment to follow the Lord. The Biblical pattern is baptism through immersion and this pattern should be followed whenever possible. As the believer is immersed in the water he or she identifies with Christ’s death and as the believer is brought out of the water he or she identifies with Christ’s resurrection and the receiving of new spiritual life in Him (Rom. 6:3-5; Col. 2:12).
Baptism also symbolizes the cleansing of forgiveness and regeneration applied to the believer through faith commitment to Christ as Lord and savior (Titus 3:4-7; Acts 2:38). Likewise, it represents our dying to sin that we might live a new life of faith and obedience to Christ, no longer controlled by sin unto death, but by the Holy Spirit and righteousness unto life (Rom. 6:5-14; 8:1-17; Gal. 5:16-26; 6:7-10). It is also a symbol of being joined to the body of Christ through the reception of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 3:26, 27; Eph. 4:5; 1 Cor. 6:11; 12:13).
In light of these Biblical truths, and in an effort to fully obey the gospel, we strongly urge all unbaptized believers to be baptized as soon as possible. We would be happy to schedule baptisms for any who have not yet been baptized as believers.
Some Church of the Brethren distinctives:
Baptism: The Church of the Brethren practices forward trine immersion as an additional symbol of submission to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the act of Baptism.
Love Feast and Foot-washing: Once a year (the Thursday before Easter), the church has a Love Feast to commemorate and emulate the last Supper. This love feast incorporates both foot-washing and communion (John 13).
Anointing with oil: Our church practices anointing and prayer for healing for anyone who desires such prayer, in accordance with James 5:13-15, cf. Mark 6:12-13.