Confession of Faith (Fellowship of Concerned Mennonites, 1990)
God and His Attributes
We believe in the Almighty God, who is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and unchanging, the Eternal Spirit who is infinite in His holiness, love, righteousness, truth, goodness and mercy. This One and only God has revealed Himself as existing eternally as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
We believe that God is the Creator of all things visible and invisible, a God of providence and sovereignty, the Author of our salvation through Jesus Christ. Although He is too high and holy to be totally comprehended by the human mind, through Christ we can truly know Him. In redeeming love, He entered into a covenant relationship with Abraham, later with the people of Israel, and now through Jesus Christ has made an eternal covenant in which He offers to the human race the forgiveness of sins and the blessings of divine sonship to all those who will repent and believe.
We believe in Jesus Christ the divine Son of God, who was with the Father from all eternity, who for our salvation took upon Himself unfallen human nature, and who by His redemptive substitutanary death and resurrection conquered the forces of sin and Satan and atoned for the sin mankind. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, lived a sinless life, and in the shedding His blood on the cross fulfilled God's redemptive purpose. He rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and now as High Priest seated at the right hand of the Father, intercedes For the saints. He is the Lord and Savior of all true believers, the coming Judge of the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom. We believe in His full deity and full humanity according to the Scriptures.
The Holy Spirit
We believe in the deity and personality of the Holy Spirit: that He convinces the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; that He indwells and comforts believers, guides them into all truth, empowers them and bestows certain gifts upon them for service as He wills, and enables thorn to live lives of righteousness.
Psalm 139:7-12; John 1:18; John 3:16; John 14:26; Romans 8:1-17; 2 Corinthians 13:14; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 11:6; 1 Peter 1:2
We believe that the God of creation and redemption has revealed Himself and His will for men of all time in the Holy Scriptures. His supreme and final revelation is in His Incarnate Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe in the plenary and verbal inspiration of the Bible, the Old Testament and the New Testament, as the Word of God: that it authentic in its matter, authoritative in its counsels, inerrant in its original writings, the only infallible rule of faith and practice. We believe holy men of God moved by Holy Spirit recorded and communicated divine truth without any mixture of error.
We believe in the unity of both covenants and that the New Covenant is the culmination and climax of all revelation. The Lord Jesus Christ is the central message of the Covenants. He is the key to the proper understanding of the entire Bible.
Deuteronomy 18:18; Psalm 19; Luke 24:27, 44; John 1:1-16; John 14:10; John 16:13; John 17:8; John 20:31; Romans 1:19, 20; 2 Timothy 3:15,16; Hebrews 1:1, 2; Hebrews 8:6, 7; 1 John 1:1-5.
God's Creation and Providence
We believe the Genesis account of creation is a historic fact and literally true, that in the beginning God created all things by His Son, who upholds all things which were created for His pleasure. We believe God created man in His own image with free will, moral character, superior intellect, and a spiritual nature which sets him apart from the animal creation.
We believe that God by His providence is concerned with the lives of His children, in everything working for their eternal welfare by hearing and answering their prayers. Though He is sovereign over all things, He is not the author of sin. God holds man as a creature of free will responsible for his moral choices.
Genesis 1:1, 26, 27; Psalm 91:1; Psalm 139:7-12; Isaiah 41:10; Isaiah 51:16; Matthew 10:29; John 1:3; Romans 8:28; Colossians 1:16, 17; James 5:16.
Man and his Sin
We believe that God created man and woman sinless and holy by an immediate act. Then He subjected them to a moral test. They yielded to the temptation of Satan, and by willful disobedience to God, failed to maintain that holy condition in which they were created. By this act of disobedience, depravity and death were brought upon the entire human race. Although all have inherited a sinful nature because of the sin of Adam and Eve, yet not all are guilty of their original act of disobedience. Those who perish eternally do so only because of their own sin. A most grievous sin is the refusal to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Man as a fallen creature is self-centered, self-willed, rebellious toward God, unwilling to yield to Christ, unable to break the bondage of sin, and is, therefore, before, under divine judgment.
We believe that as children mature, their sinful nature will be manifest. When they come to know themselves to be responsible to God, they then must repent and believe in Christ in order to be saved. During their age of innocence, the sins of children are atoned for through the sacrifice of Christ Jesus. Christ Himself assured us that children are in the kingdom of God.
Genesis 1:27, 31; Genesis 3:1-19; Matthew 18:1-14; Luke 18:16; Romans 5:12-21; Ephesians 2:1-3; 1 Timothy 4:10.
Christ, the Savior from Sin
We believe that there is only one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. The purpose of the incarnation of God's eternal Son is to redeem mankind from sin and death, to reconcile all people to God and to destroy the power and works of the devil. As a prophet, Lord Jesus not only proclaimed God's Word, but He was also in His very person the eternal Word of God. As a priest, He Himself became the sacrifice for sin, and now makes intercession before the Father on behalf of all true believers. As our risen Lord and coming King, He is vested with all authority in heaven and on earth.
During His earthly life, the Lord Jesus demonstrated perfectly the will of God. While being tempted in all points as we are, He was without sin. Through the shedding of His blood, He provided the propitiatory sacrifice for sin and inaugurated the New Covenant. By His death, He triumphed over Satan and broke the power and bondage of sin for those who exercise faith in Him. By His resurrection from the dead, Christ accomplished the full justification of all those who truly believe in Him. By faith, each believer is kept united with the risen and glorified Christ, who is the Lord of glory
Luke 19:10; John 1:1; Acts 2:33; Romans 5:11; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 2:15; 1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 2:14, 15; Hebrews 4:15; Hebrews 7:11.
Salvation by Grace Through Faith
We believe that one is saved by the grace of God and not by character, law, good works, or ceremonies. The merits of the death and resurrection of Christ are adequate for the salvation of all, offered to all, and intended for all. However, salvation is appropriated only by faith in Christ. Those who repent and believe in Christ as Savior and Lord are born again, adopted into the family of God, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Saving Faith involves a full surrender of the will, a confident trust in Christ the giving of self to Him, a joyful obedience to His Word as a faithful disciple, and an attitude of love to all people. It is the privilege of every believer to have the full assurance of salvation through the keeping power of God. As long as the believer lives, he stands in constant need of forgiveness, cleansing, and the grace of Christ.
John 3:16; John 10:27-29; Romans 4; Ephesians 2:8-10; 1 Peter 1:21; John 1:8-105:13; Jude 24.
The Holy Spirit and the Christian Life
We believe the supreme ministry of the Holy Spirit is to convict of sin and lead to salvation through Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit transforms believers into the spiritual image of Jesus Christ as they yield to Him and obey His Lord. The Spirit enables believers to persevere in faith and holiness, empowers them to be effective to witnesses to Christ, fills their hearts with love for all men, and leads them in Christian discipleship. The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is God's seal of His ownership of the believer.
John 16:7-15; Acts 1:8; Acts 2:1-21; 1 Corinthians 3:16,17; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 1 Corinthians 12:11-13; Galatians 5:22-24; Ephesians 1:13, 14; Ephesians 5:30.
The Church of Christ
We believe that Christ established His church when He poured out His Spirit on the day of Pentecost. We believe that the church is the body of Christ composed of all those who through repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ have been born again and have been baptized by one Spirit into one body. We believe that it is her divinely appointed mission to preach the Gospel of Christ to every creature, teaching obedience to all of Christ's commands. The church is corporately the dwelling place of God, His holy temple, the visible body of those who are disciples. Membership in the church is conditioned upon a voluntary response to God's offer of salvation in Christ Jesus.
The primary worshipping and working unit of the church is a local assembly of believers for teaching, witnessing, and disciplining. It is scriptural and profitable for congregational representatives to meet together in conferences in order to maintain biblical standards of faith, conduct, stewardship and missions. Such Spirit-led conference decisions should be considered authoritative.
We believe the church is a body of believers under the lordship of Christ, a loving fellowship concerned for the spiritual and material welfare of one another. This means helping the erring ones, sharing generously, and being willing to give and receive counsel. The church as the body of Christ gathers for worship, for fellowship, for the observance of the ordinances and for the building up of the body. Having heard and obeyed the Word of God, the church has the obligation to speak authoritatively regarding moral and spiritual issues.
We believe the Lord Jesus Christ has given authority to His church to exercise discipline. The purposes of discipline are to clarify for all members the meaning of Christian discipleship, to lead each member to full stature in Christ, to promote the purity of the church, to warn the weak and immature of the serious character of sin and disobedience to God's Word, to restore to full fellowship the members who may fall into sin, and to maintain the good name and witness of the church before the world. The church employs public teaching, private counseling, intercessory prayer, sympathetic encouragement, earnest warning and rebuke. Any member who persists in disobedience or maintains an unrepentant attitude shall be excluded from the Lord's table. The Body of Christ, the church, senses a deep loss when anyone goes on to spiritual ruin and thereby forfeits his relationship with Christ and His body. The Word of God is the standard for church discipline.
Ceremonies and Practices
We believe the Lord Jesus and His apostles instituted ordinances for the church of all time to observe as expressions of divine truths. The apostolic church is the example of observing them literally. We believe these ordinances are: baptism with water, the Lord's Supper, the washing of saints' feet, the holy kiss, the laying on of hands in ordination, the veiling of Christian women, the anointing the sick with oil, and Christian marriage.
Since the Lord Jesus arose from the dead on the first of the week, the Christian community in general has observed the first day of the week in appropriate worship rest, and Christian service.
Matthew 5:13, 14, 23, 24; Matthew 13:15-43; Matthew 28:19, 20; Acts 6:6; Acts 5:1-29; 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17; 1 Corinthians 5:11-13; 2 Corinthians 2:6-11; 2 Corinthians 3:2; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Galatians 3:6-9; Galatians 6:1; Ephesians 2:11-22; Ephesians 4:13; 2 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 5:20; 2 Timothy 6:6; James 2:14-17; James 5:14-16; 2 Peter 2:9.
The Mission of the Church in the World
We believe Jesus entrusted the church with the stewardship of the Gospel and promised the power of the Holy Spirit for the work of missions and evangelism. While church's primary interest is in the salvation and ritual welfare of men, she should also minister to those who are in physical, social and emotional need. The church should give appropriate witness against racial discrimination, economic injustice, and all other forms of human slavery and moral degradation, avoiding coercive tactics, political pressure and planned civil disobedience as inappropriate to the body of Christ.
Matthew 28:15-20; Mark 6:56; Romans 1:16; Romans 3:23; 1 Corinthians 16:15-16; Philippians 4:3.
The Ministers of the Church
We believe Christ authorized the ordination and appointment of men as pastors for the congregations, to expound the Word of God, to feed the flock, to serve as leaders, to administer the ordinances, to exercise scriptural church discipline, and to function as servant/leaders of the church. Ordination includes the setting apart for a particular responsibility by the church through the laying on of hands and the invocation of divine strength for the assignment. In the New Testament, the primary office was that of the apostle; others were gifted as prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. The early church had regional overseers or bishops, such as Timothy, and pastors and deacons in the local congregations. These brethren were responsible for the leadership and pastoral care of the congregations and the maintenance of order in the church. We believe the New Testament provides us with the pattern of leadership for the continuing life of the church. Since the church is a brotherhood, the organizational structure shall insure the full participation of the members with their spiritual gifts. It is the scriptural duty of the church to give financial support to those whom it asks to serve as evangelists, pastors, and teachers. We believe that there is room in the church for both men and women, In their respective roles, to exercise their individual gifts.
Matthew 23:8; Matthew 23:19; Acts 15:6; 20:28; 1 Corinthians 5:4, 5; 1 Corinthians 9:14; Ephesians 4:11, 12; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; 1 Timothy 4:14; Titus 1:5-9; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:2, 3.
We believe water baptism to be an ordinance of Christ which symbolizes divine cleansing from sin and its guilt, identification with Christ in death and resurrection, the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the commitment to follow Christ in a life of faithful discipleship. Candidates for water baptism must repent, turn to Christ as Savior in sincere faith, and accept Him as Lord. Therefore, only believers (not infants) are to be baptized with water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Since we consider baptism to be the symbol of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, we also consider pouring to be the scriptural mode of baptism. By baptism, the applicant becomes a member of the body of Christ and should identify with the local congregation.
Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 2:16-21; Acts 22:16; Romans 6:4-6; 1 Corinthians 12:13; 1 Peter 3:21,
The Lord's Supper
We believe the Lord's Supper is an ordinance instituted by Jesus Christ to establish the New Covenant. We recognize the bread and the cup as symbols commemorating Christ's broken body and shed blood. By observing the Lord's Supper, we also symbolize our spiritual life in Him as well as the spiritual unity and fellowship of the body of Christ. Only those who have peace with God and with their fellowmen and who share in the faith of the church should be invited to the Lord's table. All believers should examine themselves and avoid partaking of the sacred emblems carelessly or while living in sin. The Lord's Supper should be regularly and faithfully observed until the Lord returns.
Luke 22:19, 20; 1 Corinthians 5:13; 1 Corinthians 10:16, 17; 1 Corinthians 11:24, 26.
Symbols of Christian Brotherhood
We believe the washing of the saints' feet is an ordinance instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ to be observed by His followers. By observing this ordinance we are reminded of the brotherhood character of the church, of our mutual duty to love, to serve, and to admonish one another, and of our need for continuous cleansing in our daily walk. The holy kiss and the right hand of fellowship are also New Testament symbols of Christian love in the church of Christ.
Luke 22:24; John 13:1-17; Romans 16:16; Galatians 2:9; 1 Timothy 5:10.
Symbols of Christian Order
We believe in the order of creation God has fitted man and woman for different functions. Man has been given a primary leadership role; woman is especially fitted for nurture and service. We believe that, in their relation to the Lord, men and women are equal, for in Christ there is neither male nor female. Being in Christ does not nullify their natural endowments, either in the home or in the church. The New Testament symbols of man's headship are his short hair and uncovered head while praying or prophesying, and the symbols of woman's role are her naturally long hair and her veiled (covered) head, The acceptance by both men and women of the order of creation in no way limits their freedom in Christ but rather ensures their finding the respective roles in which they can most fruitfully and happily serve the Lord.
Genesis 2:18-25; 1 Corinthians 11:2-16; Galatians 3:28.
Marriage and the Home
We believe God instituted only heterosexual marriage at the beginning of human history according to the Genesis account of creation. By this He ordained that man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and they two shall become one flesh in love and mutual submission. It is God's will that marriage be monogamous, holy, and indissoluble, except by death Christians should marry only in the Lord, and for the sake of spiritual unity in the home they should become members of the same congregation. Marriage was instituted for the happiness of the husband and the wife and for the procreation and Christian nurture of children. The Christian family ought to have family worship regularly, to seek to live faithfully according to the teaching of the Word of God, and to support loyally the church in her mission. It is essential for parents to pledge themselves to the faithful Christian nurture of their children. The married and the unmarried can serve Christ acceptably.
We believe that practicing homosexuals and lesbians are in direct violation of the Word of God.
Genesis 1:27, 28; Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:3-9; Mark 10:2-12; Ephesians 6:1, 4.
Discipleship and Nonconformity
We believe that followers of Christ are called with a holy calling to a life of separation from the world and its follies, its sinful practices and methods. Followers of Christ recognize the lordship of Christ. They seek for holiness of heart, life, and speech, and refuse any unequal yoke with unbelievers. They regard their bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit and crucify their flesh with its affections and lusts. Therefore, they will avoid such things as harmful drugs, beverage alcohol, and tobacco. Their adornment should be a beauty of spirit, expressed in attire that is modest, economical, simple, and becoming to those professing Christian faith. They will avoid the wearing of makeup or jewelry, and the blurring of sex distinction in attire and hair styles. They will follow the biblical principles in their stewardship of money and possessions. They will avoid the excesses of the unbelieving world in the areas of leisure entertainment and recreation, especially professional sports.
Followers of Christ also believe there are two opposing kingdoms to which one may give allegiance, that of Christ or that of Satan. Those who belong to Satan's kingdom live for sin and self, refusing obedience to Christ, instead, giving expression to the works of the flesh.
Matthew 7:13, 14; Luke 9:23-26; Romans 12:1, 2; 1 Corinthians 6:12, 19; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; Galatians 5:22-24; Ephesians 4:20-32; Colossians 1:13; 1 Timothy 2:9, 10; 1 Peter 3:3, 4.
We believe that it is a major Christian obligation to be strictly truthful and transparent in life and doctrine, with no secrecy or hypocrisy. The Lord Jesus Christ has forbidden to His followers the use of any and all oaths, because of the infinite limitations of human beings and the obligation always to speak the truth. In legal matters, we therefore simply affirm the truth. We are opposed to membership in secret societies or lodges, because such membership often involves an unequal yoke with unbelievers and because these organizations employ hierarchical titles, require oaths, stand for organized secrecy, and may seek to offer salvation on grounds other than faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe it is in the church that one can find love, fellowship and security.
Matthew 5:33-37; Matthew 23:7-10; 16-22; John 18:20; Acts 4:12; 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1; James 5:12.
Love and Nonresistance
We believe it is the will of God for His children to express divine love in all human relationships. God pours His love into the hearts of Christians so that they desire the welfare of all and express only love toward those of other races, cultures, and various economic levels. Such a life of love excludes retaliation, revenge, and prejudice.
Jesus Christ in His earthly life was the supreme example of love and nonresistance. The teaching of Jesus requires His disciples to renounce all violence in human relations. We believe this applies to every area of life--to personal injustice, to situations in which people commonly resort to litigation, to industrial strife, and to international tensions and wars.
As nonresistant Christians we cannot become involved in any situation or office which violates the New Testament principles of peace and nonresistance. Therefore, we cannot participate in military service, in military training, or in the voluntary/financial support of war. On the other hand, consistent with the teachings of Jesus and at the risk of life itself, we must do whatever we can for the alleviation of human distress and suffering. We must remember that the basic human problem is spiritual alienation from God because of sin; consequently, we should devote our resolute energies to reconciling people to God.
Matthew 5:38-48; John 18:36; Romans 5:5; Romans 12:18-2; 2 Corinthians 6:1-8; 2 Corinthians 10:3, 4; James 2:8; 1 Peter 2:23; 1 Peter 4:1.
The Christian and Civil Government
We believe that the civil government is ordained of God to maintain law and order in society. We seek to obey the New Testament commands to render honor to the civil authorities, to pay our taxes, to obey all the laws which do not come into direct conflict with the higher law of God, and to pray for our rulers. The Christian is obligated to obey the civil laws which are not in direct violation of the higher law of God. The church should also witness to the civil authorities of God's redeeming love in Christ and of His sovereignty over all men. However, "witnessing to the state" concerning matters affecting domestic or foreign policy is not within the realm of the church's responsibility. Individual Christians are, however, permitted to speak to civil authorities in the form of pleas for consideration and clemency.
We believe there are more consistent ways of witnessing against public evil than participating in organized marches and coercive public demonstrations directed against actions, laws, or people considered to be out of harmony with Christian ethics. We are in proper order to accept protection from the government. We should not initiate court proceedings of a vindictive nature to avenge personal loss. Noting the character of the two kingdoms church and state--we recognize that the state does not and cannot operate according to the teaching of Christ regarding nonresistance. Nonresistant Christians cannot undertake any service in the state which would violate the principles of love and holiness as taught by Christ and His inspired apostles.
Acts 4:19, Acts 5:29; Romans 13:1-7; Ephesians 1:20-22; Ephesians 5:23; 1 Timothy 2:1, 2.
The Final Consummation
We believe that the Eternal Sovereign God, who created all things and upholds all things by the word of His power, in the fullness of time will be gather together all things in Christ. As commanded by Christ and His apostles we believe the true church in this present age is to witness to the hope of the coming age ushered in by the glorious personal return of Jesus Christ.
We believe, according to the Scriptures, that as the consummation draws nearer, evil men and seducers will become worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived, iniquity will abound, false prophets and false christs will arise, and the love of many will grow cold, resulting in widespread apostasy among churches. With confidence in the promise of Jesus, we believe "he that endures unto the end shall be saved."
We believe that at the glorious appearing of the great God, even our Savior, Jesus Christ, He will put down all enemies and take His appointed place as King of kings and Lord of lords to rule the nations with a rod of iron until He will deliver up the kingdom unto God the Father, that God may be all in all.
We believe that at death the righteous enter at once into conscious joy and fellowship with Christ, while the wicked are in a state of conscious suffering. We believe in the bodily resurrection of all the dead: the just unto life eternal in the presence of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit forever to enjoy the riches of His grace; the unjust unto eternal death to suffer the righteous wrath of God in the lake of fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
We believe that in the consummation God will destroy the present cosmos by fire and will create a new heaven and a new earth which will be the eternal habitation of the righteous. God Himself will dwell among them. All sorrow, pain and death will have passed away.
Daniel 12:2; Matthew 25:34, 41; Mark 9:43-48; Luke 16:22, 23; John 5:22; 1 Corinthians 15:24, 35-58; 2 Corinthians 5:1-4; Philippians 1:23; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:4; 1 Peter 1:4; 2 Peter 3:3-13; Revelation 15:3; Revelation 21:4; Revelation 22:3.
Context of the Statement
The Fellowship of Concerned Mennonites formed in 1983, and was composed of conservative Mennonite leaders unhappy with the theological direction of the Mennonite Church. This included matters of non-conformity, e.g. prayer veiling for women, theological teaching in the denomination's seminaries, and the more activist addressing of government on political issues.
The Confession was approved in 1990.
Commentary written December 2005 by SJS.