You show that you are a letter from Christ …
written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God,
not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
II Corinthians 3:3
THE NEW CHURCH – AND THE OLDEST CHURCH
THE NEW CHURCH, LIKE THE OLDEST CHURCH:
Has no virgin birth.
Has no vicious God who wants to torture and keep his children in everlasting agony.
Believes that God has endless purpose and plans and meaning for all his children.
Knows that God loves us beyond all our expectation or understanding.
Considers relationship the most important thing in all the world – between us and God, and between us and each other.
Knows that if we do not love God, we cannot truly love each other.
Knows that everything Jesus came for culminates in the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ.
Understands Jesus as the culmination and fulfillment of the Old Testament, as well as the founder and authority who creates the New Testament.
Believes that Jesus is the Son of God and is God’s Messiah, but is not God himself.
Knows that Jesus, not the Bible, is THE WORD of God: Word made flesh – the living Word.
Believes deeply and sincerely in everlasting life.
Trusts the death and resurrection of Jesus and the coming of his Holy Spirit as not only the power and core of all Christian life and awareness, but as a metaphor illuminating every corner of life and every experience we have here.
Sees baptism as the entryway into the Christian life. To begin our Christian Path here, we die to the old life and are raised to a new life in Christ Jesus. We shake off all that holds us back, but only Christ can lift us from the waters of our drowning and into a new life. It begins with our also hearing the Father say to us: “You are my beloved child. In you I am well pleased.” (Some of us cheat a little and translate: “In you as I created you to be, and as I will help you to become, I am well pleased.”) Apart from “hearing” and receiving this affirmation of love and forgiveness, we have no energy or will to proceed. In any case, we begin by facing our own death – by dying and getting it over with. Otherwise “the world” will forever bribe and frighten us off our new Path.
Believes in Jesus the Christ, and trusts him to be both Lord and Savior.
THE NEW CHURCH, UNLIKE THE OLDEST CHURCH:
Does not believe that the world is flat or that the earth is God’s only real estate.
Believes that the Kingdom of God has endless dimensions, with challenge and purpose for all of us.
Knows that Jesus came to create his church, not to close out the age or the world as we know it.
Knows that while God is always correcting and disciplining us, God never punishes us.
Has nearly endless resources to help us understand the context and meaning of biblical passages, at least for those who wish to use them.
Benefits from over two thousand years of scientific and technological advances and knows that airplanes can fly, lights can turn on, medicine and/or surgery can heal many demons, and people do not have to be blind from cataracts, live under the tyranny of divinely appointed kings, or stay in ignorance or squalor or superstition, though many still choose to do so.
Has respect for all sincere believers of any religion.
Welcomes all people who earnestly seek a deeper relationship with Jesus and wish to participate with us to find it: gay, straight, black, white, rich, poor, healthy, sick, intelligent, or not very. We will always value intention rather than condition or capacity. (The road to hell is not paved with good intentions; it is paved with pretense and false intentions.)
Will not try to “convert the whole world.” The world is too big, and the needs are endless. Dilution, loss of focus, and scattered energy are the tools of Satan we are most wary of. So we will look to our own conversion, and under the Spirit’s guidance we will try to care deeply about at least six others beyond our own immediate family, hoping each of them will also find and care about their six. Though we cannot promise to care deeply about any person who is not part of our covenant community, doubtless the Holy Spirit will lead each one of us to care about some people beyond our covenant boundaries.
We will study the Bible earnestly and continually, recognizing that this is one of the major ways in which God addresses his people and by which God’s people respond back to God. Such study never runs dry, and it constantly inspires those who long to follow Jesus. Nevertheless, we do not take the written word to be the Living Word of God, but a source which points toward it. Jesus, and now His Holy Spirit, is the Living WORD OF GOD – as the Bible itself tries to teach us. So we do not worship the Book, nor do we consider it inerrant. As one of our Congregational saints said long ago: “There is yet more light and truth to break forth from his Holy Word.”
The birth narratives of Jesus and the claims for His virgin birth, while full of meaningful metaphors, are neither historical nor factual, both demonstrably and from biblical evidence itself. Since the Doctrine of the Virgin Birth leads into bad theology, leads to the denial of the full humanity of Jesus, and obscures the Path by which we are to follow Jesus, we deny allegiance to this doctrine in the open and up front. We also consider the traditional constructs of the “Second Coming of Christ” to be sincere but mistaken errors on the part of the early followers of Jesus. Since this is foundational for the many constructs of hellfire and a cruel and vicious God, we reject them as inconsistent and inappropriate to the God that Jesus came to reveal to us. It seems clear, after two thousand years, that Jesus did not come to close out life on earth, but to form The Church – the faithful followers – who would carry His message and life of grace and forgiveness to all who would receive it. Clearly, then, we are not a creedal church. Creeds seem to us to lock in errors and make claims to more certainty than humble followers should pretend.
We will pray individually and together with a sincere desire to open our lives to the guidance of the Holy Spirit each day and all through the day. We will never claim a full or final success in this endeavor, but it will be our sincere desire to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ our Lord. We will listen to each other and, insofar as we are able, we will be honest with each other.
While we will often govern The New Church and make decisions in the democratic style of majority rule, democracy is not our first loyalty, nor do we imagine that truth can be known by voting on it. Our top allegiance will ever be to the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ, our risen Lord, not to counting votes. Whenever possible, in committees or as a Congregation, we will seek a “common mind” through prayer rather than by argument or voting.
We are a group of sinners who believe that God in Christ Jesus loves us. Therefore we are also a group that will make many blunders and mistakes, and we will try to learn and grow as we go, ever remembering the principles of repentance and forgiveness.
Bylaws, adapted from excerpts from Article 1.3