A DECLARATION OF FAITH (1977)
CHAPTER SIX --THE WORD OF GOD
1 (1) God makes himself known through his Word.
2 God has not waited to be discovered.
3 The Lord has taken the initiative
4 and addressed his Word to humankind in many ways.
5 Through the Word of God the world was created.
6 The Word became flesh in Jesus Christ.
7 Through the Word of God the New Creation is being formed.
8 We believe God's Word
is God's communication to us.
9 Although God is free to speak to us in unexpected ways,
10 we confidently listen for his Word.
11 in Jesus Christ,
12 in Holy Scripture,
13 in preaching and the sacraments.
14 (2) Jesus Christ is the living Word of God.
15 The Word which was with God from the beginning
16 was embodied in Jesus Christ.
17 We hold that what God says to us and does for us
18 centers in Jesus Christ our living Lord
19 as he is remembered, known, and expected.
20 In Christ God's Word of acceptance takes flesh:
21 by grace through faith
22 we are set right with God,
23 adopted as children of God,
24 not because of anything we have done,
25 but because of what Christ has done.
26 In Christ God's Word of demand is lived out:
27 to love God and neighbor as he did
28 is what God requires of us.
29 The Spirit adds no different Word from God,
30 but leads us deeper
31 into the truth of God uttered in Jesus Christ.
32 (3) The Bible is the written Word of God.
33 Led by the Spirit of God
34 the people of Israel and of the early church
35 preserved and handed on the story
36 of what God had said and done in their midst
37 and how they had responded to him.
38 These traditions were often shaped and reshaped
39 by the uses to which the community put them.
40 They were cherished, written down, and collected
41 as the holy literature of the people of God.
42 Through the inward witness of
the same Spirit
43 we acknowledge the authority of the Bible.
44 We accept the Old and New Testaments as the canon,
45 or authoritative standard of faith and life,
46 to which no further writings need be added.
47 The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments
48 are necessary, sufficient, and reliable
49 as witnesses to Jesus Christ, the living Word.
50 We must test any word that comes to us
51 from church, world, or inner experience
52 by the Word of God in Scripture.
53 We subject to its judgment
54 all our understanding of doctrine and practice,
55 including this Declaration of Faith.
56 We believe the Bible to be the Word of God
57 as no other word written by human beings.
58 Relying on the Holy Spirit,
59 who opens our eyes and hearts,
60 we affirm our freedom to interpret Scripture responsibly.
61 God has chosen to address his inspired Word to us
62 through diverse and varied human writings.
63 Therefore we use the best available methods
64 to understand them in their historical and cultural settings
65 and the literary forms in which they are cast.
66 When we encounter apparent tensions and conflicts
67 in what Scripture teaches us to believe and do,
68 the final appeal must be to the authority of Christ.
69 Acknowledging that authority,
70 comparing Scripture with Scripture,
71 listening with respect to fellow-believers past and present,
72 we anticipate that the Holy Spirit
73 will enable us to interpret faithfully
74 God's Word for our time and place.
75 (4) Preaching communicates the Word of God
76 In different styles and ways,
77 believers have related Scripture
78 to the situations in which they lived.
79 The Spirit has given them power and boldness
80 to speak God's Word through their words.
81 We believe that the preaching of the Word
82 is an event in which God himself confronts us.
83 As the gathered community speaks to God in worship
84 we expect God to speak to us in preaching.
85 Preaching can take a variety of forms.
86 When it is faithful and obedient
87 the Holy Spirit uses it
88 to convert unbelievers,
89 to strengthen believers,
90 to form and reform the church.
91 We hold that teaching goes hand in hand with preaching.
92 It prepares people to hear the Word of God
93 and enables them to reflect and act on it.
94 (5) The Sacraments confirm the Word of God.
95 In his history with his people in the world,
96 God has often made material things
97 channels through which his grace is understood
98 and powerfully experienced.
99 Out of the life and ministry of Jesus,
100 the church received Baptism and the Lord's Supper
101 as special Sacraments of God's saving action.
102 We believe that in the washing
103 and in the eating of bread and drinking of wine
104 the Holy Spirit demonstrates and confirms the promises
105 of the embodied, written, and preached Word
106 with vividness and power.
107 In these concrete human actions
108 believers declare their acceptance of the promises.
109 As the Word is acted out in the Sacraments
110 so the Sacraments are to be accompanied by the Word.
111 We believe that in Baptism
112 the Spirit demonstrates and confirms God's promise
113 to include us and our children in his gracious covenant,
114 cleansing us from sin,
115 and giving us newness of life,
116 as participants in Christ's death and resurrection.
117 Baptism sets us in the visible community of Christ's people
118 and joins us to all other believers by a powerful bond.
119 In baptism we give ourselves up in faith and repentance
120 to be the Lord's.
121 For both children and adults, baptism is a reminder
122 that God loves us long before we can love him.
123 For both, God's grace and our response to it
124 are not tied to the moment of Baptism,
125 but continue and deepen throughout life.
126 We believe that at the Lord's
127 the community of believers in renewed
128 by the memory of Christ's life and death,
129 by his real presence in the power of the Holy Spirit,
130 and by the promise of his coming again.
131 Christ makes himself known to us in the breaking of bread.
132 He offers us his body broken for our sake
133 and his blood shed for the forgiveness of our sins.
134 We accept his promises and gifts
135 and depend on his life to sustain ours.
136 In turn we offer ourselves in thanksgiving
137 to the risen Lord who has conquered death.
138 we celebrate his victory here and now
139 and anticipate the joyous feast in his coming kingdom.
140 Reunited around one loaf and cup,
141 we receive strength and courage
142 to continue our pilgrimage with God in the world.