Statement concerning the Nature, Faith and Order of the URC
We say these words together on some of our big public occasions and they provides a vivid snapshot of what we are about. Those with well-tuned historical antennae will be able to pick up all sorts of references to our sometimes turbulent past and to issues that are still divisive among us.
For those who say these words, some commentary may be helpful, along with an invitation to enter the debates. When the deeper implications of these phrases are appreciated they become not empty words to be parroted, but spine-tingling testimony to the kind of church we are or hope to be.
With the whole Christian Church
the United Reformed Church believes in one God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The living God, the only God,
ever to be praised.
The life of faith to which we are called
is the Spirit’s gift
through the Word, the Sacraments
and our Christian life together.
We acknowledge the gift
and answer the call,
giving thanks for the means of grace.
The highest authority
for what we believe and do
is God’s Word in the Bible
alive for his people today
through the help of the Spirit.
We respond to this Word,
whose servants we are
with all God’s people
through the years.
We accept with thanksgiving to God
the witness to the catholic faith
in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds.
We acknowledge the declarations
made in our own tradition
by Congregationalists, Presbyterians
and Churches of Christ
in which they stated the faith
and sought to make its implications clear.
Faith alive and active:
gift of an eternal source,
renewed for every generation.
We conduct our life together
according to the Basis of Union
in which we give expression to our faith
in forms which we believe contain
the essential elements of the Church’s life,
both catholic and reformed;
but we affirm our right and readiness,
if the need arises,
to change the Basis of Union
and to make new statements of faith
in ever new obedience to the Living Christ.
Our crucified and risen Lord,
who leads us in our faith
and brings it to perfection.
Held together in the Body of Christ
through the freedom of the Spirit,
we rejoice in the diversity of the Spirit’s gifts
and uphold the rights of personal conviction.
For the sake of faith and fellowship
it shall be for the church to decide
where differences of conviction
hurt our unity and peace.
We commit ourselves
to speak the truth in love
and grow together
in the peace of Christ.
We believe that
Christ gives his Church a government
distinct from the government of the state.
In things that affect obedience to God
the Church is not subordinate to the state,
but must serve the Lord Jesus Christ,
its only Ruler and Head.
Civil authorities are called
to serve God’s will of justice and peace for all humankind,
and to respect the rights of conscience and belief.
While we ourselves
are servants in the world
as citizens of God’s eternal kingdom.
We affirm our intention
to go on praying and working,
with all our fellow Christians,
for the visible unity of the Church
in the way Christ chooses
so that people and nations
may be led to love and serve God
and praise him more and more for ever.
Source, Guide, and Goal
of all that is:
to God be eternal glory.