2009-08-26

NATE'S CORE BELIEFS AFTER A DECADE


Every now and then it is fun to look at how you have changed, and how you have stayed the same, over time. In fall of 1999 I created a statement of my Core Beliefs to prepare my resume for my first applications to become a full-time youth minister. It is called "The Disciples Creed" (in retrospect that was probably a presumptuous name for it!). This week, fall of 2009, I have completed a statement of "Core Ministry Values" to prepare my curricula vitae (CV) for my final interviews for (hopeful) ordination to the Sacred order of Priests in the Episcopal Church.

In ten years I have gone from being an evangelical, charismatic social worker who is proficient in Biblical Greek, to a college and young adult minister who has made it through a mainline seminary, with experience in "high", "low", and "broad" Episcopal traditions (and limited ability in Hebrew to boot!). When it dawned on me that it has been a decade between each of my "creeds", I thought it would be fun to compare them. The one commonality between the two is that they were both designed to fit on a single page in 12 point font (so they are not exhaustive doctrinal statements of belief). Funny how an 8.5 x 11" page can fit more after a decade…

THE DISCIPLE'S CREED [Fall 1999]

I believe in the one true God Yahweh, eternal, infinite and perfect; all knowing, all present and all powerful; unchanging, loving and good. He is personal yet beyond personhood, eternally existing as one Being in three Persons- Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

I believe in God the Father, the sovereign King of the universe. He is Creator of all things visible and invisible, He has chosen me as His own, and out of His indescribable Love He sent His only Son to die for me.

I believe in God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, fully God yet fully human. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He died to take the penalty for my sin and was physically resurrected from the dead. He ascended into Heaven and will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in God the Holy Spirit, God’s very presence in my heart. He calls me to God, He counsels and compels me to live as Christ, and He gives me divine power and spiritual gifts to help others. He enables me to understand and apply God's Word and through Him I can communicate with God in prayer.

I believe the Bible is God’s living Word, divinely inspired from Genesis to Revelation, completely accurate in all it teaches, in authority over everything that claims truth, needing nothing added to it nor taken away to accomplish God’s purposes for me.

I believe I am created in God’s image to Love God and be Loved by Him. Without Him there can be no fulfillment in life, nor any goodness in me. Yet I am a sinner separated from God by my own limitations, my own ignorance of God, and my own evil choices. The just penalty for this sin is death, eternal suffering, and permanent separation from God.

I believe I am reconciled to God, and saved from sin, only by God's grace shown in Jesus Christ, through trusting in Him as my Savior, confessing Him as my Lord, repenting from sin and turning to God, and Baptism that joins me to Christ. Because of this I have forgiveness of sins, the assurance of eternal life, and the hope of the resurrection.

I believe in the one unified Church of God, the Body of Christ in the world, faithful in Confession, Baptism, and Communion. Our duty as a community, and my duty as an individual, is to worship the living God, to obey all He commands, and to share His Love by word and deed with all people. Amen.

CORE MINISTRY VALUES [Fall 2009]
I would like to articulate ten "Core Ministry Values" which reflect what I believe to be at the center of effective Christian ministry within the Anglican-Episcopal tradition. The first five are "theological" or "doctrinal" values, and the second five are "pastoral" or "practical" values.

TRINITARIAN: Effective ministry connects people with the Triune God who is the Source, Center, and Purpose of all Reality. Above all, God is Love, shared in community through all eternity by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Our Triune God is the Author, Plot, and Director of History, who beckons all persons to passionate relationship with the Father, through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Spirit.

CHRISTOCENTRIC: Jesus Christ is God's Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, incarnate in a historical human life, who embodies God's Love and healing Purpose. Jesus is our at-one-ment with God through His conception, birth, life, ministry, passion, death, resurrection, ascension, and return. His self-giving Love, exemplified in servant-leadership, is the Pattern for all effective Christian ministry.

SPIRITUAL: Just as Jesus' ministry was accomplished by the power of God's Spirit [cf. Luke 4.18-19], so also our ministry can only be accomplished by the power of the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead [cf. Acts 1.8-9]. We rely on the Spirit of God as the wildly creative Third Person of the Trinity, who indwells and infills God's people with gifts and graces to live out Christ's Love in our world.

SACRAMENTAL: Following the pattern of the Incarnation, through which God is embodied in Christ to make atonement and impart healing, Christ has given the the Church Sacred Acts through which He still reaches out to save and heal God's children. The Church makes use of these Sacred Acts- above all Baptism and Eucharist- to incorporate people, by faith, into the saving Reality of Christ.

SCRIPTURAL: As God's Word is embodied in Jesus, so also God's Word is inscribed in Canonical Scripture, which is inspired by God, to point us to God's great salvific acts that reach fulfillment in Jesus. Scripture is the authentic, non-negotiable, and necessary means through which we come to know these saving acts, and upon which God has authorized the Church to make decisions about faith and practice.

PASSIONATE: Jesus summed up the ultimate Purpose of our life in the command to "Love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength". All effective ministry flows forth from an impassioned soul set ablaze with the Love of God, through prayerful surrender to Christ, in all we think, feel, say, and do.

COMPASSIONATE: Jesus also says that our "vertical" Love for God cannot be contained, but must overflow "horizontally" as we Love our neighbors as ourselves. Ministry is the overflow of God's Love into concrete acts of mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation, service, and healing for all of God's children.

MESSY: Just as Jesus reached out to lepers, traitors, and prostitutes, so also the ministry of Christ's compassion and healing means reaching out to the lost, the last, and the least in our society. This makes ministry profoundly messy, dirty, unpredictable, problematic... And also profoundly rewarding.

MIRTHFUL: The passionate, compassionate, messy mission of Jesus is also joyful, ironic, paradoxical, and even humorous. We rejoice in our Lord God who became a human servant, who defeated cosmic powers with crucified powerlessness, who put death to death by resurrection, who rules a Kingdom where the first are last and the last are first, so we can live as creative children of our Creative Creator.

MISSIONAL: As Christians, we are called to continue Christ's mission to reach the world, and heal all persons. Teresa of Avila wisely notes "Christ has no body now on earth but ours." As C.S. Lewis has said about our common life as Christ's Body: "The Church exists for nothing else but to draw [people] into Christ, to make them little christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose."
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This is a bunch of stuff to make us think hard about our incredible love affair with the God of the universe, our astounding infidelities against him, and his incredible grace to heal and restore us through Christ. Everything on this site is copyright © 1996-2015 by Nathan L. Bostian so if you use it, cite me... otherwise you break the 8th commandment, and make God unhappy. You can contact the author by posting a comment.