Faith? Order?

As I continue talk about starting a new church (indeed, what else of import have I really done since I started this blog?) I’ll be throwing out a lot of concepts, some of which make liberals and polity-congregationalists uneasy. Some are just unfamilar, and these are ideas that can be summed up as “faith and order.”

There is a Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches, and I like their study documents. Definitions, from their website:

FAITH: What churches teach about God, about Jesus Christ, about creation, about the Church, about the human person and salvation. Matters of faith both unite and divide us.

ORDER: How churches are structured; the roles and functions they ascribe to laypersons, ministers and overseers; their structures of accountability to themselves and each other. Matters of order both unite and divide us.

They have a number of documents, which themselves spawn lots of very interesting debate. There’s nothing quite like (say) a Romanian Orthodox and Canadian Mennonite response to the nature of the ministry of oversight.

You should read them too, especially the 1983 Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry. It is so widely used and known that it is known more simply as the BEM, but don’t neglect the others.

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