We once believed that we were the only true church. We had doctrines, or fixed statements, which affirmed our exclusive teachings. We were very interested in having all the right answers, but we sometimes forgot to ask the right questions.
As we encountered new cultures and places in the 1960s, we felt that the Restoration should provide answers for the pressing problems of the day as much as it did in the 1830s, and that we should be on as much of a journey as our spiritual ancestors. We were not content to be curators to a nineteenth-century museum: we needed to be a people of Zion here and now!
During a time of deconstruction and re-imagination, a central step was shifting to theology instead of doctrine. Theology allows us to determine, on one hand, what is most transcendent and essential; and, on the other hand, what might be a product of any one time or culture. Theology allows us to lift up the right questions and engage in vibrant and challenging dialogue, rather than continually reciting what we deem as the right answers.
We do not define ourselves as a people who all believe the same doctrines. We are defined by what we do, as a people who engage in the liberating mission of Christ to make the world a better place. We have nine core values, known as Enduring Principles, that are central to our common dialogue and how we live out our faith:
- Grace and Generosity
- Sacredness of Creation
- Continuing Revelation
- Worth of All Persons
- All Are Called
- Responsible Choices
- Pursuit of Peace (Shalom)
- Unity in Diversity
- Blessings of Community
Community of Christ has the following Basic Beliefs, as a starting point for our theological exploration:
We believe in one living God, revealed in Jesus Christ, who moves through all creation as the Holy Spirit. We affirm a Triune God—God who is a community of three persons, known traditionally as the Trinity. All things that exist owe their being to God: mystery beyond understanding and love beyond imagination.
We believe in Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, fully human and fully divine. Through Jesus’ life and ministry, death and resurrection, God reconciles the world and breaks down walls that divide. Christ is our peace.
The Holy Spirit
We believe in the Holy Spirit, Giver of Life, holy Wisdom, true God. The Spirit moves through and sustains creation, and transforms disciples. Wherever we find love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, or self-control, there the Holy Spirit is working.
Jesus is the Prince of Peace. To be followers of Christ means to share peace. Peace is realized through justice which affirms the worth of all persons and sacredness of creation. Peace is more than the absence of war, but also includes the ideas found in the Hebrew word shalom which means justice, righteousness, wholeness, and the well-being of creation.
Every human being is created in the image of God. In Jesus Christ, God took on the limits of human flesh and culture, and is known through them. We therefore affirm without exception the worth of every human being. We also affirm that God has blessed humankind with the gift of agency, or the ability to choose within the circumstances of their lives.
God created us to be agents of love and goodness, to make responsible choices. Yet, with tragic results, we often misuse our agency individually and collectively. Sin separates us from God, from one another, and from creation as God intended it.
The gospel is the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ: healing which overcomes sin and its brokenness. This healing is for individuals, human societies, and all of creation. We experience salvation through Jesus Christ, but affirm that God’s grace has no bounds, and God’s love is greater than we can know.
A Christian community lives out their love of God and love of their neighbors, together. The church of Jesus Christ is made of all those who respond to Jesus’ call to share peace. Community of Christ strives to be a true church, recognizing itself as part of the larger body of Christ.
We affirm that the Living God is ever self revealing. Above all, God is revealed to the world in Jesus Christ. Through the Holy Spirit, we continue to hear God speaking today. The church is called to listen together for what the Spirit is saying and then faithfully respond.
Scripture is writing inspired by God’s Spirit. The Bible is our foundational scripture. Community of Christ also uses the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants which, like the Bible, confirm that Jesus Christ is the Living Word of God. When responsibly interpreted and faithfully applied, scripture provides divine guidance and inspired insight for our discipleship.