The United Church has officially added three more faith statements to our official doctrine: The 1940 Statement of Faith, A New Creed, and A Song of Faith. This spring, all three expressions of Christian faith received support from a majority of pastoral charges and presbyteries. All three were ratified by General Council 41 in August, and all three now join The Twenty Articles of Faith as the official doctrine of our denomination.
Cruxifusion’s purpose is “supporting, inspiring, and connecting Christ-centred leaders and congregations within The United Church of Canada.” While those who participate and associate with Cruxifusion, ministers and lay people, are diverse, we are united in proclaiming Jesus Christ in all His fullness as revealed by the Biblical witnesses and as testified to historic creeds of His Church. It is our wish to remain focused on the ways in which Jesus Christ is proclaimed in each of these doctrinal statements. For that reason, we will not be offering academic or theological critiques of the theological positions held by each one.
Let us look at portions of our three new doctrinal statements:
The 1940 Statement of Faith is a detailed articulation of the faith. With it, we proclaim to ourselves and the world:
“We believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, Who, for us men and our salvation became man and dwelt among us.”
“We believe that in Him God comes face to face with men, so that they learn that God loves them, seeks their good, bears their sorrows and their sin, and claims their exclusive faith and perfect obedience.”
“We believe that in Jesus Christ God acted to save man, taking, at measureless cost, man’s sin upon Himself; that the Cross reveals at once God’s abhorrence of sin and His saving love in its height and depth and power; and that the Cross is for all time the effectual means of reconciling the world unto God.”
“We believe that Jesus was raised victorious over death and declared to be the Son of God with power; and that He is alive for evermore, our Saviour and our Lord.”
“So we acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Son of God incarnate, the Saviour of the world.”
“So we acknowledge and worship one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”
Masculine language aside, as members of The United Church committed to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, we rejoice in this doctrinal proclamation and its elevated authority within the United Church of Canada.
A New Creed is a brief summary of the Christian faith. A New Creed is confessed regularly by many United Church congregations during worship. With it we proclaim to ourselves and the world:
“We believe in God:
who has created and is creating,
who has come in Jesus,
the Word made flesh,
to reconcile and make new…”
“We are called to be the Church:
…to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen,
our judge and our hope.”
Here again, Cruxifusion rejoices that in adopting A New Creed as doctrine, The United Church of Canada is proclaiming Jesus’ incarnation, his reconciling work, his resurrection, and his ongoing authority over us.
A Song of Faith is a lengthy articulation of faith. Cruxifusion likewise celebrates that with this Song of Faith we as The United Church proclaim to ourselves and the world:
“With the Church through the ages,
we speak of God as one and triune:
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”
“We find God made known in Jesus of Nazareth,
and so we sing of God the Christ, the Holy One embodied.”
“We sing praise to God incarnate.”
“He healed the sick and fed the hungry.
He forgave sins and freed those held captive
by all manner of demonic powers.”
“He was crucified.
But death was not the last word.
God raised Jesus from death,
turning sorrow into joy,
despair into hope.
We sing of Jesus raised from the dead.”
“By becoming flesh in Jesus,
God makes all things new.
In Jesus’ life, teaching, and self-offering,
God empowers us to live in love.
In Jesus’ crucifixion,
God bears the sins, grief, and suffering of the world.
In Jesus’ resurrection,
God overcomes death.
Nothing separates us from the love of God.”
“The Risen Christ lives today,
present to us and the source of our hope.
In response to who Jesus was
and to all he did and taught,
to his life, death, and resurrection,
and to his continuing presence with us through the Spirit,
we celebrate him as
the Word made flesh,
the one in whom God and humanity are perfectly joined,
the transformation of our lives
There is a spectrum of faith and theology within The United Church of Canada concerning the Trinity and work of Jesus the Christ. With The United Church making all three of these faith statements doctrinal, in addition to The Twenty Articles of Faith, it confirms that The United Church, its leadership, and its membership as a whole, do solidly affirm their faith in the Holy Trinity and, in particular, the person, work, death, resurrection, and Lordship of Jesus, the Christ. Cruxifusion is exceedingly glad at this affirmation of faith in Jesus Christ within The United Church of Canada.
May our doctrine be at the centre of our United Church identity, our leadership, our worship, our witness and ministry within the church and the world. We believe that where we have theological, ideological, or practical differences among people within our denomination, it is Jesus Christ who is at the centre of who we are and our purpose. It is Jesus Christ who draws us together in his unity and love, and out of our great love and commitment to Jesus and his church, we come together in common worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry and service.
Thanks and glory be to God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!
I’ve only read the “Song of Faith” through once, and it was quite some time ago, but doesn’t it encourage us to reduce the doctrine of the trinity to be mere images on an equal footing with a Mother God, or source, or comforter? The Trinity is only mentioned once in this statement, as an image, while God is called Source, and Holy Mystery several times. I think this is another step down the broad path to the total abandonment of the authourity of scripture by the United Church.
The Presbyterian church I’ve been attending is looking better, and better all of the time.
Really? This is “supporting, inspiring, and connecting Christ-centred leaders and congregations within The United Church of Canada.” It does not encourage me at all that the board of Cruxifusion can not see the problem.
This article reminds me of the little boy who had a glass of pop. He drank half of it and it was good. Then he got a wonderful idea, and later on he rejoiced that he could have a full glass again just by adding water.
I, too, see the three additional documents as helpful to all of us as we seek to put into words something of the holy mystery of our relationship with our God, made known through Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and through the concept of the Trinity. The 1940 statement was not something I was familiar with but I see it as an appropriate statement in its time. The New Creed is a succinct summary of our beliefs couched in modern language. The Song of Faith is filled with beautiful poetry and its soft boundaries should make it possible for people of varied theological stances to stand united. All three are significantly more helpful than the “old” wording of the Basis of Union (which stands as a historic document for our church). Nina.