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Beliefs

Beliefs of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

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As part of the Disciples of Christ, we share a 200-year-old tradition with hundreds of other churches in the United States and Canada.  We believe that the church is built by people worshipping together, not by creeds or hierarchies.
 
New members do not have to recite any creed.  We practice believer's baptism (adult baptism) by immersion, but no one who has been baptized as a Christian has to be baptized again.  We celebrate the Lord's Supper every week.
 
Common Practices of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
 
The earliest people who called themselves "Disciples of Christ" did not want to form a denomination: they were part of a movement to foster the unity of the church for the sake of Christ's mission.  Over time, we evolved into a distinct group within the universal church that has a particular identity and witness.
 
The Disciples of Christ have always believed that Christian fellowship should not be dependent on creeds or mandatory forms of church governement.  Unlike most Christian groups, the Disciples don't have a list of distinctive beliefs that separate them from others.  Instead, the Disciples are distinguished by some common practices.
 
Below is an unofficial list of ten common characteristics, the combination of which is unique to Disciples.  Each Christian group carries out some of these practices, but the Disciples are unique in combining all ten of these practices.
 
THE WEEKLY CELEBRATION OF COMMUNION
Disciples' worship and theology find their foundation at the Lord's Table.  God has done for us, through Christ, what we cannot do on our own.  Through the gift of Christ's table, celebrated through communion, we find salvation and hope.  In response to this gift of grace, we worship and serve God with joy and gratitude.
 
THE PROMINENT PLACE OF THE BIBLE IN THE COMMUNITY OF FAITH
 Disciples have honored the special role of scripture in seeking to be guided by the will of God.  Although interpretations of various passages may be diverse, there is a general affirmation that the Bible is authoritative for the faith community.  Early slogans in our history include: "We believe in no book but the Bible, no creed but Christ" and "Where the scriptures speak, we speak; where the scriptures are silent, we are silent."
 
BELIEVER'S BAPTISM BY IMMERSION
From the earliest traditions of the church, we demonstrate our commitment to God by dramatic action, letting the waters of our baptism give witness to new life in Christ as we receive the gift of God's grace upon us.
 
OPEN MEMBERSHIP
In recognizing that the traditions of the church are many and varied, we do not insist that our baptismal practice is the only one that is valid.  We know that baptism is God's action far more than our own.  We receive Christians from other traditions who have received a different form of baptism.
 
AN ATTITUDE OF TOLERANCE AND A REJECTION OF CREEDS AS TESTS OF FAITH
We celebrate diversity as strength rather than as a weakness, and we do not expect everyone's interpretation of the Bible or the Christian life to be identical.
 
CONGREGATIONAL, YET VOLUNTARILY CONNECTIONAL
We affirm that the local congregation has authority over its life and ministries, yet the congregation chooses to share its human and financial resources freely with a connected church, a denomination, knowing that the mission of the church is not just local.  There are many ministries that are made possible only as we work together with many other congregations, through the denomination.
 
THE INCLUSION OF THE LEADERSHIP OF WOMEN
We believe that God provides spiritual gifts to all, and we do not restrict any office or role in the life of the church by gender.
 
AN EMPHASIS ON LAY LEADERSHIP
Aside from performing weddings, which is regulated by the state, Disciples lay persons are permitted and encouraged to exercise their gifts freely, without limits.  Lay persons can preach, baptize, officiate at the Lord's Table, offer pastoral care and perform many other functions in their service to Christ.  Their ministries are just as vital to the church as the ministry of clergy persons.
 
AN EDUCATED CLERGY
We believe that quality leadership must be undergirded with quality education.  We establish educational and professional standards for clergy, and we hold our clergy to ethical accountability through denominational oversight.
 
A PRIORITY ON ECUMENICAL LIFE
Disciples pray and strive for the unity of the who church of Jesus Christ, as much as any other denomination, and attempt to work in ways that bridge the separations that keep Christians divided form one another.