These last couple weeks I’ve been flipping through Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, a booklet written in 1995, composed of 24 brief articles and commentary, including God, Jesus Christ, Scripture, Baptism, The Lord’s Supper, etc. This Sunday I will start teaching the youth catechism class and plan to use this as a basis of discussion.
I, and probably most people familiar it, have a complex relationship with this document. There are parts that are beautiful and inspiring. “Human beings have been made for relationship with God, to live in peace with each other, and to take care of the rest of creation. We believe human beings were created good, in the image of God.” Article 6: The Creation and Calling of Human Beings. “The same Spirit that empowered Jesus also empowers us to love enemies, to forgive rather than seek revenge, to practice right relationships, to rely on the community of faith to settle disputes, and to resist evil without violence.” Article 22: Peace, Justice, and Nonresistance.
There are also parts that a number of congregations no longer practice “All are invited to the Lord’s table who have been baptized into the community of faith.” Article 12: The Lord’s Supper (We are one of many congregations who practice an Open Table for all who wish to receive Communion regardless of baptism status). “We believe that God intends marriage to be a covenant between one man and one woman for life.” Article 19: Family, Singleness, and Marriage (Differences of conviction have focused on both the “one man and one woman” and the “for life” parts of this statement).
The introduction to the Confession of Faith notes that such documents provide guidelines for interpreting Scripture and for church teaching, but also that they should “not replace the lived witness of faith,” and that each confession gives “an updated interpretation of belief and practice in the midst of changing times.”
Part of what I hope to convey to the youth these next number of weeks is that being a part of the church means that one is part of the ongoing conversation and discernment for what the Spirit is saying to us in our present time – what we carry forward from the wisdom of the past and what we revise because the deeper wisdom of Love has shown us a better way.
If you do not have the booklet and wish to see the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective it is available online HERE. Click on the Articles in the right column to see the full text.