Depicted to the right is the first council of Nicea, held in 325, which sought to gather Christian leaders from across the Roman empire. They met to establish a consensus regarding Jesus’ relationship with God the Father and the nature of his divinity. The Nicene creed which emerged forms the most common definition of the Christian faith and is used widely across the many branches of the Christian faith.
This practice of summarizing and establishing touchstones for faith and practice has deeper roots as hinted at in one of the apostle Paul’s letters,
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
You can find even earlier roots in the book of Deuteronomy, which comes from Moses, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
As we work on a website and and consider how to communicate what we believe, here is a first shot…
We believe that there is a God who speaks. There is an ultimate reality behind this world who has not remained silent. We stand within the rich stream of Christian faith which affirms that this God has communicated in history and this has been accurately recorded in the literature we call the bible. We adhere to ancient documents such as the Nicene and Apostles creeds which faithfully summarize essential teachings of the bible. In belonging to The Presbyterian Church in America (our denomination) we affirm the Westminster Confession of Faith as our doctrinal standards.
Here is an outline of the essentials…
-God is real, personal, beyond us, but knowable. He sustains us moment by moment and is active in this world. Our lives are not random or senseless but have meaning and purpose.
-Humanity was made to resemble God so that every person possess dignity and worth, reflecting something of his goodness.
-This world is not right. While our families, societies, and even the physical environment may warp or damage us the problem ultimately lies within. The human soul has been corrupted by placing the self at the center of reality rather than God. This pollution, called sin, leaks out tainting everything else. The Christian faith makes sense of our loneliness, pain, disillusionment, and inability to make things right.
-God’s plan to set things right culminates in Jesus. In Jesus, God takes on our human nature and lives the life of goodness and love for which we were destined but failed to realize. Jesus dies a violent, cursed death taking our sin on his shoulders but rises alive triumphant over our corruption. Through Jesus life, death, and resurrection we can be made right with God and can be certain that evil will be vanquished.
-Being a Christian involves ethical change and moral renewal but these arise only from the transforming power of the gospel. The gospel, or good news, tells us that we are worse than we’ve ever realized but more loved than we ever hoped. The life of the Christian is both exciting and daunting as God changes us by his Spirit and uses us as agents of his renewal in this world.
-The church is essential to life and growth as a Christian. Jesus calls his followers friends and creates a new relational world that softens our sense of isolation and uniquely shows who he is. While the church does not save, it is the community of the Savior.
-Part of our unique calling is to love and serve the city of Worcester alongside other churches, ministries, and institutions. While God’s love stretches to all nations we have a particular responsibility to our neighbors.