In the fall of 2021, after a church leader preached a divisive and negative sermon, I wrote “We Have This Hope.” In this article, I’d like to rephrase my points as a personal confession of faith. This is a work in progress and I will continue to edit it.
In the sermon I preached upon my return to the Adventist church in 2007, “A Twitch upon the Thread,” I wrote how my perspective on theological issues changed during the time I was away, and this was much of what led to my return. I didn’t embrace the same faith I left. In terminology that is popular today, I “deconstructed it.” And I have continued to do so. Faith may be a list of doctrines for some, but for the reflective Christian, it is a journey.
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
God is the source and sustainer of all. Though creation appears in the article of the creed on the Father, it is a Trinitarian act: the Father created all things through the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit. We rejoice in this creation, and the goodness of the material world–a home for us and not a stepping-stone towards some better “spiritual” plane. We honor and respect this gift, seeking to nurture and care for it as our first parents were called to do. As God concluded the week of creation by resting upon the Sabbath, we are invited to share in that rest, extending it to all who depend upon us.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended into hell. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
Jesus is the “eternally begotten” Son of the Father, one in being with him and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, he was born of Mary and became fully human. He came to preach the Gospel, forgiving our sins, restoring us to fellowship with him, and ushering in the coming kingdom. He rebuked those who used religion as a tool for power and separation, joining in fellowship meals with those who were regarded as nothing, who were hurting and broken, excluded and oppressed. He healed their diseases and the wounds of their souls. He taught a way of peace and of justice. He was crucified by Rome as a rebel but vindicated by the Faither through his resurrection from the dead. Now, knowing firsthand our temptations, weaknesses, suffering, trauma, and grief, Jesus stands before the Father as our advocate, so we can come boldly to the throne of grace. We live in hope of his return to heal our world, wipe away our tears, and unite us to him forever.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
The Spirit was poured upon the church as promised by Joel and has given each person gifts to proclaim the Gospel and to build up the body. Through baptism into Jesus’ death and resurrection, our sins are washed away, and we are brought to feast at his table, a foretaste of the feast to come. At this table we experience the inclusive communion of the broken and hurting and healing and beautiful and diverse ones who make up his body, the church. Jesus has called the church to live in this kingdom way while we wait for him, healing the sick, visiting the imprisoned, clothing the naked, welcoming the foreigner. We are called to love and to live his justice, liberating those enslaved, aiding their journey to freedom and wholeness. We live the Sermon on the Mount, renouncing power, rejecting violence, laying down arms, and abandoning all systems of privilege. The church is a movement, not a corporation; it crosses all human lines and borders and barriers, and draws together seekers of every nation, kindred, tongue and people, without fear. The life Jesus promises is real, it is bodily, and it begins now. We live in hope.