WHAT WE BELIEVE
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Christianity is a historic religion based on faith in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. While there are many different denominations and expressions of Christian faith, we believe all Christians who confess the basic tenets of faith are equally part of God’s family through the unity of the Holy Spirit who binds us together. An historic example of this binding affirmation of faith is the Apostle’s Creed. Note “Catholic” refers to the body of Christians worldwide (see 1 Corinthians 12:27).
About the Scriptures
We believe the entire Bible is the inspired Word of God and that men were moved by the Spirit of God to write the very words of Scripture. Therefore, we believe the Bible is without error.
We believe in one God who exists in three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We believe that Jesus Christ is the second member of the Trinity (the Son of God) who became flesh to reveal God to humanity and to become the Savior of the lost world.
We believe that all people were created in the image of God to have fellowship with him but became alienated in that relationship through sinful disobedience. As a result, people are incapable of regaining a right relationship with God through their own efforts.
We believe that the blood of Jesus Christ, shed on the cross, provides the sole basis for the forgiveness of sin. Therefore, God freely offers salvation to those who place their faith in the death and resurrection of Christ as sufficient payment for their sin. Watch the Big Story video here.
About the Christian Life
We believe all Christians should live for Christ and not for themselves. By obedience to the Word of God and daily yielding to the Spirit of God, every believer should mature and be conformed to the image of Christ.
About the Church
We believe that the church (universal) is the body of Christ, of which Jesus Christ is the head. The members of the church are those who have trusted by faith the finished work of Christ. We believe the purpose of the church is to glorify God by loving him and by making Him known to the lost world. We believe the church’s mission is to continue the ministry Jesus began when He was on the earth: teaching about God, His Kingdom and offering God’s healing through the power of the Holy Spirit. We believe the local church is a community of faith where people can meet and encounter God personally and have a personal relationship with God eternally.
About the Sacraments
As a Protestant Church we believe in and celebrate two Sacraments, Holy Communion (also known as the Lord’s Supper or Eucharist) and Baptism. Please see the specific sections for Holy Communion and Baptism – Dedication at Christ Church United Methodist.
What Is Holy Communion? For thousands of years, the Church has continued a practice called communion, or depending on different church traditions, the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist.
Jesus called Himself “the bread of life,” which means that we’re nourished by Him, we survive because of Him, and He satisfies us when everything else leaves us empty (John 6:48-51). There’s a connection between our nearness to Jesus, believing in Him, and being fulfilled by Him (John 6:35).
On the last night of His earthly life Jesus ate His last supper with His disciples. They were celebrating Passover. Knowing what He would accomplish through His sacrifice on the Cross, He instituted Holy Communion.
Jesus took bread from the table, blessed, broke and gave it to the disciples saying, “Take and eat, this is my body. Do this in remembrance of Me. In the same way after supper, He took the cup (of wine) saying, “This is the New Covenant in My blood; do this whenever you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” (Luke 22:19–20, 1 Corinthians 11:24–25). Scripture continues, “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you “proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26).
The early Church celebrated Jesus by taking communion, sometimes every day (Acts 2:42-46). They saw that every time they gathered around a table to eat and drink, it was a chance to recognize Jesus and thank God for all He’s done.
Communion with God is a holy mystery. Words are inadequate in expressing supernatural truths such as the presence of Jesus in the Holy meal.
Scripture affirms the real, personal, living presence of Jesus Christ. The Lord’s Supper is anchored in the life of the historical Jesus of Nazareth, but is not primarily a remembrance or memorial. We do not embrace the medieval doctrine of transubstantiation, though we do believe that the elements are essential tangible means through which God works. We understand the divine presence in temporal and relational terms. In the Holy Meal of the church, the past, present, and future of the living Christ come together by the power of the Holy Spirit so that we may receive and embody Jesus Christ as God’s saving gift for the whole world.”
We practice an “Open Table for Christian believers” at Christ Church, meaning that we do not ask that those receiving must be a member of our church or any church, but because of God’s warnings about taking about taking communion without considering what it means and why we’re doing it, 1 Corinthians 11:27-31), we believe Communion is for believers in Jesus Christ.
Some thoughts about Communion:
It’s not about the bread and wine; it’s about the body and blood of Jesus. It’s not about the ritual or the method; it’s about listening to Jesus and doing what He says. Communion is not an obligation, but a celebration. Communion celebrates the Gospel: Jesus was broken for us so that we can be fixed by Him.
Celebrating communion marks the story of Jesus, how He gave Himself completely to give us a better life, a new start, and a fresh relationship with God (1 Peter 3:18). It’s not about a ritual to revere, but a person to worship. Jesus is less concerned about the method of celebrating communion and more concerned that we celebrate it.
As often as we remember Jesus, we should celebrate Jesus.
Communion is important because it’s a command to remember. Jesus wants us to remember every time we taste bread and wine, and even when we sit at the tables in our own homes, that He is the one who provides all we need. He gives us the physical food that we need to survive and the spiritual nourishment we need to keep taking next steps with Him.
Baptism - Dedication at Christ Church United Methodist
Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
Christ Church is a United Methodist Church in the Protestant tradition and Baptism is one of the two Sacraments in the Protestant Church. By definition it is sacred and holy.
What Is a Sacrament?
The word sacrament is the Latin translation of the Greek word mysterion. From the early days of the church, baptism was associated with the mystery that surrounds God’s action in our lives. That means that at best our words can only circumscribe what happens, but not define it. We cannot rationally explain why God would love us “while we were yet sinners” and give his only begotten Son that we should not perish but have eternal life. That is the most sacred and unfathomable mystery of all. We can experience God’s grace at any time and in any place, but in the sacrament of baptism we routinely experience that amazing grace.
Why Baptize Babies?
From the earliest times, children and infants were baptized and included in the church. As scriptural authority for this ancient tradition, some scholars cite Jesus’ words, “Let the little children come to me…for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs” (Mark 10:14). However, a more consistent argument is that baptism, as a means of grace, signifies God’s initiative in the process of salvation. John Wesley preached “prevenient grace,” the grace that works in our lives before we are aware of it, bringing us to faith. The baptism of children and their inclusion in the church before they can respond with their own confirmation of faith is a vivid and compelling witness to prevenient grace.
At Christ Church we baptize infants, children and adults; but because we take baptism seriously we have the following guidelines and parameters:
Parents seeking Baptism for infants must:
- profess faith in Jesus Christ
- meet with the Pastor who will officiate at the Baptism
While Church Membership and attendance are not mandatory, both are strongly encouraged for the following reason:
Baptism is the outward expression and act that signifies “identification with Jesus Christ.” When parents Baptize infants they (parents) make vows to raise their children in a Christian home, modeling for their children the lives of believers, “until they (children) shall accept and confirm for themselves the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.” (United Methodist service of Baptism)
United Methodist Understanding of Baptism
Who tells you who you are?
We receive our identity from others, from the expectations of friends and colleagues, from the labels society puts upon us, and from the influence of family.
To become Christian is to receive a new identity. You no longer allow others to tell you who you are. Christ now claims you and instructs you. A Christian is one who has “put on Christ.”
Baptism celebrates becoming that new person. That is why the church’s ritual begins with putting off the old, renouncing sin and the evil powers of the world, and pledging our loyalty to Christ.
God Initiates the Covenant
We also believe that in baptism God initiates a covenant with us, announced with the words, “The Holy Spirit works within you, that being born through water and the Spirit, you may be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.” This is followed by the sign-act of laying hands on the head, or the signing of the cross on the forehead with oil. The word covenant is a biblical word describing God’s initiative in choosing Israel to be a people with a special mission in the world, and Israel’s response in a life of faithfulness. The baptismal covenant calls us to a similar vocation.
God Has Chosen Us
Christians have also understood the baptismal covenant in light of Jesus’ baptism. At Jesus’ baptism, God said: “This is my son.” While Jesus’ relation to God as Son is unique, for Christians baptism means that God has also chosen us as daughters and sons, and knows us intimately as a parent.
So the most important things about us, our true identity, is that we are now sons and daughters of God. That is why the introduction to the United Methodist Baptismal Covenant states, “We are incorporated into God’s mighty acts of salvation and given new birth through water and the Spirit.”
The introduction also says, “Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we are initiated into Christ’s holy church.”
Baptism Is the Door
From the beginning; baptism has been the door through which one enters the church. It was inconceivable to many that one could respond to God’s grace by reciting the renunciations, affirming one’s faith in Christ and loyalty to the Kingdom, without joining the fellowship of those who are committed to mature in that faith. As the “Body of Christ” in the world, baptism commissions us to use our gifts to strengthen the church and to transform the world.
Baptism Is Forever
Because baptism is a sacrament of God’s grace and a covenant that God has initiated, it should not be repeated. However, God’s continuing and patient forgiveness, God’s prevenient grace, will prompt us to renew the commitment first made at our baptism. At such a time, instead of rebaptism, The United Methodist Church offers the ritual for the reaffirmation of baptismal vows, which implies that, while God remains faithful to God’s half of the covenant, we are not always faithful to our promises. Our half of the covenant is to confess Christ as our Savior, trust in his grace, serve him as Lord in the church, and carry out his mission against evil, injustice, and oppression.
Baptism Is the Beginning, Not the End
You have heard people say, “I was baptized Methodist,” or “I was baptized Presbyterian,” which could mean that in baptism they got their identity papers and that was the end of it. But baptism is not the end. It is the beginning of a lifelong journey of faith. It makes no difference whether you were baptized as an adult or as a child; we all start on that journey at baptism. For the child, the journey begins in the nurturing community of the church, where he or she learns what it means that God loves you. At the appropriate time, the child will make his or her first confession of faith in the ritual the church traditionally calls confirmation. Most often, this is at adolescence or at the time when the person begins to take responsibility for his or her own decisions.
If you experienced God’s grace and were baptized as an adult or received baptism as a child and desire to reaffirm your baptismal vows, baptism still marks the beginning of a journey in the nurturing fellowship of the caring, learning, worshipping, serving congregation.
Believer’s Baptism and Infant Dedication
In addition to infant Baptism we offer Believer’s Baptism (when the person knows for themselves why they want to be Baptized and what Baptism means).
We also offer the opportunity to “reaffirm the Baptismal covenant” made by parents.
Baptism and reaffirmation of the Baptismal covenant is something that should be celebrated one time only. This is not to be compared to “altar calls” when persons may be led to recommit their lives to God more than one time.
We also offer infant Dedication. Parents may choose to dedicate their children to God in the faith that those children, when reaching an age of ‘accountability’ may dedicate their lives personally to God and choose believer’s Baptism at that time.
The Method of Baptism we generally practice is:
- Sprinkling (for infants) and adults who choose this method, and
- Full immersion for older children and adults. (Because we do not have a Baptism tank in the Church building we use other church facilities, beaches and pools).
- We honor the request of children and adults who prefer sprinkling to immersion.