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American Congregational Declarations of Faith.
The following Statement of Doctrine was issued, 1883, by a commission of the National Council of the Congregational Churches of the U. S., appointed in St. Louis, 1880. Among the members of the commission of twenty-five were President Seelye of Amherst, Dr. Henry M. Dexter, and Professor George P. Fisher of Yale. Its duty was defined to be the preparation 'in the form of a Creed or Catechism, or both, of a simple, clear, and comprehensive exposition of the truths of the Glorious Gospel of the Blessed God, for the instruction and edification 914of our churches,' not to be adopted by the Council but to be sent out 'to the churches and to the world through the public press, to carry such weight of authority as the character of the Commission and the intrinsic merit of their exposition of truth may command.' See Walker: Creeds and Platforms of Congregationalism, 576–84.
Statement of Doctrine.
I. We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible;
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who is of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made;
And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, who is sent from the Father and Son, and who together with the Father and Son is worshipped and glorified.
II. We believe that the Providence of God, by which He executes His eternal purposes in the government of the world, is in and over all events; yet so that the freedom and responsibility of man are not impaired, and sin is the act of the creature alone.
III. We believe that man was made in the image of God, that he might know, love, and obey God, and enjoy Him forever; that our first parents by disobedience fell under the righteous condemnation of God; and that all men are so alienated from God that there is no salvation from the guilt and power of sin except through God's redeeming grace.
IV. We believe that God would have all men return to Him; that to this end He has made Himself known, not only through the works of nature, the course of His providence, and the consciences of men, but also through supernatural revelations made especially to a chosen people, and above all, when the fulness of time was come, through Jesus Christ His Son.
V. We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the record of God's revelation of Himself in the work of redemption; that they were written by men under the special guidance of the Holy Spirit; that they are able to make wise unto salvation; and that they constitute the authoritative standard by which religious teaching and human conduct are to be regulated and judged.
VI. We believe that the love of God to sinful men has found its highest expression in the redemptive work of His Son; who became man, uniting His divine nature with our human nature in one person, who was tempted like other men, yet without sin; who, by His humiliation, His holy obedience, His sufferings, His death on the cross, and His resurrection, became a perfect Redeemer; whose sacrifice of Himself for the sins of the world declares the righteousness of God, and is the sole and sufficient ground of forgiveness and of reconciliation with Him.
VII. We believe that Jesus Christ, after He had risen from the dead, ascended into heaven, where, as the one Mediator between God and man, He carries forward His work of saving men; that He sends the Holy Spirit to convict them of sin, and to lead them to repentance and faith; and that those who through renewing grace turn to righteousness, and trust in Jesus Christ as their Redeemer, receive for His sake the forgiveness of their sins, and are made the children of God.
VIII. We believe that those who are thus regenerated and justified grow in sanctified character through fellowship with Christ, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and obedience to the truth; that a holy life is the fruit and evidence of saving faith; and that the believer's hope of continuance in such a life is in the preserving grace of God.
IX. We believe that Jesus Christ came to establish among men the kingdom of God, the reign of truth and love, righteousness and peace; that to Jesus Christ, the Head of 915this kingdom, Christians are directly responsible in faith and conduct; and that to Him all have immediate access without mediatorial or priestly intervention.
X. We believe that the Church of Christ, invisible and spiritual, comprises all true believers, whose duty it is to associate themselves in churches, for the maintenance of worship, for the promotion of spiritual growth and fellowship, and for the conversion of men; that these churches, under the guidance of the Holy Scriptures and in fellowship with one another, may determine—each for itself—their organization, statements of belief, and forms of worship; may appoint and set apart their own ministers; and should cooperate in the work which Christ has committed to them for the furtherance of the gospel throughout the world.
XI. We believe in the observance of the Lord's day as a day of holy rest and worship; in the ministry of the Word; and in the two sacraments, which Christ has appointed for His church: Baptism, to be administered to believers and their children, as the sign of cleansing from sin, of union to Christ, and of the impartation of the Holy Spirit; and the Lord's Supper as a symbol of His atoning death, a seal of its efficacy, and a means whereby He confirms and strengthens the spiritual union and communion of believers with Himself.
XII. We believe in the ultimate prevalence of the kingdom of Christ over all the earth; in the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; in the resurrection of the dead; and in a final judgment, the issues of which are everlasting punishment and everlasting life.
The following 'Statement of Faith' was adopted by the National Council of the Congregational Churches of the U. S., in session at Kansas City, 1913, and is sometimes called the Kansas City Creed. Of the six clauses, four are given, the last two being concerned with the 'purpose' and 'membership' of the National Council. See Barton: Congregational Creeds and Covenants, 1917, p. 203 sq., often reprinted in the Year Book of the Congregational Churches. According to Dr. Barton, the Statement 'is not a series of creedal articles, but is an inclusive statement of the essential things most surely believed by Christians.'
The Congregational Churches of the United States, by delegates in National Council assembled, reserving all the rights and cherished memories belonging to this organization under its former constitution and declaring the steadfast allegiance of the churches composing the Council to 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, and affirming our loyalty to the basic principles of our representative democracy, hereby set forth the things most surely believed among us concerning faith, polity, and fellowship.
Faith: We believe in God the Father, infinite in wisdom, goodness and love; and in Jesus Christ, his Son, our Lord and Saviour, who, for us and our salvation, lived and died, 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 916into 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.
Polity: 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 co-operation 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 co-operation; 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.'
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