What we believe

Statement of Faith of the Evangelical Mennonite Conference Articles of Faith

Preamble

This Statement of Faith is a consensus reached after several years of discussion. It should be seen as a confession, showing how the teachings of the Scriptures are currently interpreted and understood by the congregations of the Evangelical Mennonite Conference.

These are the fundamental beliefs of the Christian faith as they have been discerned in the Scriptures. While this statement reflects convictions inherited from the Anabaptist-Mennonite theology of the 16th-century Reformation, the Bible has been regarded as the final authority on what is to be believed.

This statement has been designed to create clarity, to give direction and to provide the basis for fellowship and working together. Because of the confessional nature of this statement, it will be normal to continue to reflect on the accuracy with which it reflects the teachings of the Scriptures.

1. The Bible

We believe that the Scriptures, the Old and New Testaments, are the inspired and infallible Word of God. They are the supreme and final authority in all matters of faith and conduct (Matthew 5:1824:35II Timothy 3:16–17;II Peter 1:16–21).

2. God

We believe in only one God, eternal, infinite and unchanging. He alone is the Creator, the Sustainer and Redeemer. He exists and reveals Himself in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. All persons in this triunity are fully and equally God (Genesis 1:2617:1Deuteronomy 6:4Psalm 90:2139:7–12147:5Isaiah 40:2844:657:15Malachi 3:6Matthew 11:1528:19Mark 12:29John 6:278:41–5915:2616:13–14;17:1, 8, 18, 23Acts 5:3–4Romans 15:6I Corinthians 2:10–118:4II Corinthians 13:14Hebrews 1:8, 12).

2.1 God the Father

We believe in God, the Father of all believers and, in a special sense, the Father of Jesus Christ. He has revealed Himself in nature, in the Scriptures and especially in the person of Jesus Christ (Genesis 1:1–2:3;Deuteronomy 6:4Psalm 47:1–9139:1–12Malachi 2:10Matthew 11:26Mark 14:36Luke 22:42John 1:8–9Acts 17:28Romans 8:15Galatians 4:6Ephesians 4:4–6Titus 3:4–6).

2.2 God the Son

We believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God. He became man, being conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He is fully God and fully man, yet without sin.

We believe that Jesus Christ, the divinely appointed Substitute, provided the only atonement for sin by shedding His blood. Through his death he defeated the Devil, enabling people to be set free and to be reconciled to God. He arose from the dead, bringing life and hope. He ascended to the right hand of the Father. There He rules as Lord and lives to intercede for those who come to God by Him (Isaiah 7:1453:5–6Matthew 1:20–2328:5Luke 1:35John 1:1, 14Romans 1:45:8–106:2–4I Corinthians 15:20II Corinthians 5:21Ephesians 2:4–5Colossians 2:15Hebrews 2:9–10, 147:25).

2.3 God the Spirit

We believe that the Holy Spirit exists eternally as one of the persons of the Trinity, co-equal with the Father and the Son. He convicts the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment to come. He indwells believers and is the guarantee of their salvation. He encourages, comforts and guides them into the truth. He empowers for service and enables believers to live holy lives (Matthew 28:19John 16:7–8, 13Acts 1:8;5:3–4Romans 8:1–4I Corinthians 3:16II Corinthians 3:3, 17Galatians 4:6Ephesians 1:13–14).

3. The Creation

We believe that God created everything as revealed in Scripture (Genesis 1, 2Exodus 20:11Nehemiah 9:6;Job 38, 39Psalm 8Mark 10:6John 1:3Colossians 1:15–17Romans 11:33–36Hebrews 1:1–3). Click HERE for more information.

4. The Dignity of the Human Race

We believe that God created the human race, both male and female, in His own image. We believe, therefore, in the sanctity of all human life, regardless of age, ability or stage of development (Genesis 1:26–272:7, 16–17Exodus 20:13Psalm 139:13–16).

5. The Fall of the Human Race

We believe our first parents, in unbelief and disobedience, fell into sin by their free choice. This broke their fellowship with God and brought the whole human race into the same state of sin and separation (Genesis 1:26–272:7, 16–173:1–24John 6:44Romans 3:235:12Ephesians 2:1–10).

6. Satan

We believe that Satan is a personal spirit being. He heads the kingdom of all evil and opposes God and all that is holy, pure and just (Matthew 4:1–11Luke 10:17–21Ephesians 6:10–18I Timothy 4:1Revelation 12).

The destiny of Satan will be the lake of fire, which God prepared for him and his angels (Matthew 25:41;Romans 8:38–39Galatians 4:8I Corinthians 2:8II Corinthians 4:4Ephesians 1:19–232:1–33:106:10–18Colossians 1:132:14–15Hebrews 2:14Revelation 1220:7–10).

7. Salvation

We believe people are saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The basis of this salvation is Christ’s life, His atoning death and His resurrection. Justification, the new birth and the transformed life come about through repentance and faith in Christ. His atonement covers children until they reach the age of accountability (II Samuel 12:22–23Matthew 18:1–14Mark 10:13–16Luke 24:47John 1:9–133:3–8, 15–18Acts 4:1220:21Ephesians 2:1–10James 2:14–24).

We believe it is the privilege of all Christians to know that they have passed from death to life and that God can keep them from falling. Faith and obedience are essential in maintaining this assurance and growth in grace (John 8:31–32Romans 8:14–17Galatians 3:11II Corinthians 5:21I Peter 1:5–11I John 3:145:13).

8. Discipleship and Nonconformity

We believe that our relationship to the Saviour is to be an unconditional commitment to discipleship. Discipleship is the total life of the believer patterned after the life and death of our Lord (Matthew 4:16–22Acts 11:2626:28Romans 5:512:1–2, 7–1213:8–14II Corinthians 6:14–17Ephesians 1:1–104:32–5:2;Colossians 3:1–17Titus 2:11–14I Peter 2:13–244:16).

9. The Life of Peace

We believe in the life of peace. We are called to walk in the steps of Lamb of God, the Prince of Peace. Everything about His life, His teachings and His redemptive death on the cross, summons us to a life of nonviolence.

As nonresistant Christians, we cannot support war, whether as officers, soldiers, combatants or noncombatants, or direct financial contributions.

Instead of taking up arms, we should be whatever we can to lessen human distress and suffering, even at the risk of our own lives. In all circumstances, we should be peacemakers and ministers of reconciliation (Isaiah 53:3–9Matthew 5–728:18–20John 18:36Romans 12:13Philippians 2:3–4Colossians 2:14–15;Hebrews 1:1–22:14I Peter 2:9, 20–23).

10. The Church

We believe all who have experienced new life if Christ belong to His church. All who repent and make a faith commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord are united to His holy church by the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 16:1828:18–20Luke 24:47Acts 1:816:3117:3020:21Romans 8:20I Corinthians 12:13Galatians 3:254:19Ephesians 1:22–234:5Colossians 1:183:1–4I Peter 3:21).

We believe God calls the church to conform to the image of Christ, to care for its members and to evangelize all people. Those who are a part of the church seek to:

a) Live holy lives, considering their bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit and denying themselves and their lusts (Mark 8:34–35Romans 13:14I Corinthians 6:19–20II Thessalonians 3:6Titus 2:11–14).
b) Avoid entering into binding relationships with unbelievers (Romans 12:1–2II Corinthians 6:14–18;Ephesians 5:11).
c) Exercise proper stewardship of their abilities, time and possessions (I Corinthians 16:1–2II Corinthians 8, 9).

11. Ordinances

An ordinance is a symbolic observance, instituted according to Scripture, which is to be administered in and by the church as a visible sign of spiritual truth.

We believe Christ instituted three ordinances: water baptism, the Lord’s Supper and footwashing (Matthew 28:18–20John 13:1–17I Corinthians 11:20–32).

11.1 Believer’s Water Baptism

We believe a Christian should be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. To qualify for baptism, one must repent of sin and by faith accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Water baptism represents the baptism of the Holy Spirit at the time of conversion and the washing of regeneration which the believer has experienced. It is an act of obedience which identifies the believer with the church of Christ (Matthew 28:18–20Acts 2:36–4710:47–4818:822:16Romans 6:1–4Titus 3:5).

11.2 The Lord’s Supper

We believe that Christians are to celebrate the Lord’s Supper as instituted by Christ. The elements—the bread and the cup—symbolize the body of Christ and his shed blood.

With this celebration, Christians call to mind Christ’s suffering for the sins of the whole human race and proclaim the Lord’s death until He returns to take His followers to Himself. It involves fellowship, self-examination, testimony, confession, praise and thanksgiving. Christians should examine their own relationship to God and to other people before participating in this commemoration (Matthew 26:26–29I Corinthians 10:16–1711:17–34Ephesians 2:11–22Hebrews 9:12, 25–28I John 2:1–2).

11.3 Footwashing

We believe in the practice of footwashing. When Jesus washed the feet of the disciples He gave the church an example to follow. Footwashing is an expression of humility, love and equality. It symbolizes cleansing from sin and the Christian’s commitment to a lifestyle of servanthood. When we accept the washing of our feet by other Christians, we demonstrate that we accept Jesus’ ministry to us (John 13:1–20I Timothy 5:10).

12. The Resurrection

We believe Jesus Christ rose bodily from the dead. All, believers and unbelievers, will be raised from the dead as well, the believers to the resurrection of life and the unbelievers to the resurrection of condemnation. We also believe that people already enter the eternal state at the time of death. The righteous go into the presence of their Lord and the unrighteous into conscious suffering (Daniel 12:2Luke 16:19–3123:43John 5:28–29;20:20, 24–29Acts 24:15I Corinthians 15Philippians 1:19–26Revelation 20:11–15).

13. The Return and Final Triumph of Christ

We believe in the personal, visible, bodily return of Jesus Christ. This is the blessed hope of believers. Christ’s return will be the occasion of the resurrection of the dead and the eternal separation of the just and unjust. Everything will be brought into the subjection of His authority and rule as His eternal kingdom is realized (Matthew 24:4425:31–46John 14:1–6Acts 1:11I Corinthians 15:19–28I Thessalonians 4:13–18Titus 2:11–14Hebrews 10:37II Peter 3:3–13Revelation 20–22).

At His return, Christ will judge all people. After the judgment, the righteous will be with God, the unrighteous in hell. Death will be destroyed, and Satan and his angels will be thrown into the lake of fire. Christ will hand over the kingdom to God the Father, after destroying all dominion, authority and power. Then the righteous will reign with Christ forever (Matthew 25:31–46John 5:22–23I Corinthians 15:20–28).

From the Statement of Faith (1994) of the Evangelical Mennonite Conference.