"He said to them, "Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old." -Jesus (Matthew 13:5)
One of the gifts of leading and serving an emerging, non-denominational church; is the freedom and ability to explore the ancient doctrines and practices of the historic Christian faith. We have been shaping a community of faith, that holds to a solid center with soft edges or as Saint Augustine put it:
"In Essentials, unity.
In non-essentials, liberty.
In all things, love"
Or as the early church proclaimed in the Nicene Creed:
"We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, light from light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and became truly human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father [and the Son],
who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen."
Or as the Protestant Reformers put it:
Sola Scriptura/Scripture alone
Sola Fide/ Faith alone
Sola Gratia/Grace alone
Solus Christus/Christ alone
Soli Deo Gloria/God’s Glory alone
Or as C.S. Lewis summarized it, we believe in:
“The faith preached by the Apostles,
attested by the Martyrs,
embodied in the Creeds,
expounded by the Fathers.”
Within this broad garden of edenic truth...we are free to eat from a host of beautiful and good fruits of embodied practice; that various Christians have worked out to express, celebrate, remember, enter into, taste and proclaim "The Faith". We feel no need to let 'labels' determine or deny, who gets to find voice or visibility within the culture of Jacob's Well.
We believe that there is:
"One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all and in all." (Eph 4:5-7)
That means that we aim to incorporate, re-imagining and rebirth many elements of faith expression found through out the tree of Biblical faith...be they eastern or western...high church or low church. That means you might find bits and pieces from many different groups of Christians. We love the mosaic of expression that is the church of Jesus.
I believe that many of these embodied actions, traditions and liturgies often become "means of grace". I hold to the idea of "Sacred Mystery" as expressed by our Orthodox brothers and sisters...when it comes to the idea of "sacraments":
"The Orthodox communion's preferred term is Sacred Mystery. While the Catholic Church has attempted to dogmatically define the sacraments, and discover the precise moment when the act results in the manifestation of the grace of God, the Orthodox communion has refrained from attempting to determine absolutely the exact form, number and effect of the sacraments, accepting that simply that these elements are unknowable to all except God. According to Orthodox thinking God touches mankind through material means such as water, wine, bread, oil, incense, candles, altars, icons, etc. How God does this is a mystery. On a broad level, the mysteries are an affirmation of the goodness of created matter, and are an emphatic declaration of what that matter was originally created to be." (sacraments: wikipedia).
I revel in the beauty and freedom of God working through whatever He chooses to express or allow His grace to be experienced within. I do believe that The Lord's Table and Baptism rise to the top of the idea of "ordinances" He told the church to maintain. But I do not think that limits the means of grace available for the believer to taste the Lord and the "powers of the age to come" through.
All elements of our christian life can become dead and cold...even the Letter is dead unless the Spirit infuses His life through it. But this doesn't mean that we abandon elements within the tradition of the church simply because its been abused, drained of vitality or ignored. As a Charismatic I find many believer who have been taught out of deep and meaningful Biblical experiences that the Lord has for His children. And I also find that many Charismatic Christians have missed the blessings found within many mainline or evangelical expression of faith.
I know that many people cant seem to handle a "Heavenly City" that has many gates leading into it (Revelations 21:12-13) but I find that truth to be one that lets me relax and learn to enjoy my Christian brother's and sister's different Flavors and Colors, Smells & Bells...Sounds and Tongues. I think it makes for a more gracious group of believers and builds bridges instead of moats.
This discussion is primarily an in-house one...it deals with those who are "WITHIN" the city....those who are born again, sons and daughters of God...when it comes to traditions and expression of The Faith.
I pray as a journeying group of believers, that we can find a way to live this out...in their minds, hearts and hands.