1. We believe in the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who gathers, protects and cares for the church through Word and Spirit. This, God has done since the beginning of the world and will do to the end.

2. We believe in one holy, universal Christian church, the communion of saints called from the entire human family.

 

We believe... 

  • that Christ's work of reconciliation is made manifest in the church as the community of believers who have been reconciled with God and with one another (Eph. 2:11-22);

  • that unity is, therefore, both a gift and an obligation for the church of Jesus Christ; that through the working of God's Spirit it is a binding force, yet simultaneously a reality which must be earnestly pursued and sought: one which the people of God must continually be built up to attain (Eph. 4:1-16);

  • that this unity must become visible so that the world may believe that separation, enmity and hatred between people and groups is sin which Christ has already conquered, and accordingly that anything which threatens this unity may have no place in the church and must be resisted (John 17:20-23);

  • that this unity of the people of God must be manifested and be active in a variety of ways: in that we love one another; that we experience, practice and pursue community with one another; that we are obligated to give ourselves willingly and joyfully to be of benefit and blessing to one another; that we share one faith, have one calling, are of one soul and one mind; have one God and Father, are filled with one Spirit, are baptized with one baptism, eat of one bread and drink of one cup, confess one name, are obedient to one Lord, work for one cause, and share one hope; together come to know the height and the breadth and the depth of the love of Christ; together are built up to the stature of Christ, to the new humanity; together know and bear one another's burdens, thereby fulfilling the law of Christ that we need one another and upbuild one another, admonishing and comforting one another; that we suffer with one another for the sake of righteousness; pray together; together serve God in this world; and together fight against all which may threaten or hinder this unity (Phil. 2:1-5; 1 Cor. 12:4-31; John 13:1-17; 1 Cor. 1:10-13; Eph. 4:1-6; Eph. 3:14-20; 1 Cor. 10:16-17; 1 Cor. 11:17-34; Gal. 6:2; 2 Cor. 1:3-4);

  • that this unity can be established only in freedom and not under constraint; that the variety of spiritual gifts, opportunities, backgrounds, convictions, as well as the various languages and cultures, are by virtue of the reconciliation in Christ, opportunities for mutual service and enrichment within the one visible people of God (Rom. 12:3-8; 1 Cor. 12:1-11; Eph. 4:7-13; Gal. 3:27-28; James 2:1-13);

  • that true faith in Jesus Christ is the only condition for membership of this church.

Therefore, we reject any doctrine...

  • which absolutizes either natural diversity or the sinful separation of people in such a way that this absolutization hinders or breaks the visible and active unity of the church, or even leads to the establishment of a separate church formation;

  • which professes that this spiritual unity is truly being maintained in the bond of peace while believers of the same confession are in effect alienated from one another for the sake of diversity and in despair of reconciliation;

  • which denies that a refusal earnestly to pursue this visible unity as a priceless gift is sin;

  • which explicitly or implicitly maintains that descent or any other human or social factor should be a consideration in determining membership of the church.

3. We believe...

  • that God has entrusted the church with the message of reconciliation in and through Jesus Christ, that the church is called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, that the church is called blessed because it is a peacemaker, that the church is witness both by word and by deed to the new heaven and the new earth in which righteousness dwells (2 Cor. 5:17-21; Matt. 5:13-16; Matt. 5:9; 2 Peter 3:13; Rev. 21-22).

  • that God's lifegiving Word and Spirit has conquered the powers of sin and death, and therefore also of irreconciliation and hatred, bitterness and enmity, that God's lifegiving Word and Spirit will enable the church to live in a new obedience which can open new possibilities of life for society and the world (Eph. 4:17–6:23, Rom. 6; Col. 1:9-14; Col. 2:13-19; Col. 3:1–4:6);

  • that the credibility of this message is seriously affected and its beneficial work obstructed when it is proclaimed in a land which professes to be Christian, but in which the enforced separation of people on a racial basis promotes and perpetuates alienation, hatred and enmity;

  • that any teaching which attempts to legitimate such forced separation by appeal to the gospel, and is not prepared to venture on the road of obedience and reconciliation, but rather, out of prejudice, fear, selfishness and unbelief, denies in advance the reconciling power of the gospel, must be considered ideology and false doctrine.

Therefore, we reject any doctrine...

which, in such a situation, sanctions in the name of the gospel or of the will of God the forced separation of people on the grounds of race and color and thereby in advance obstructs and weakens the ministry and experience of reconciliation in Christ.

4. We believe...

  • that God has revealed himself as the one who wishes to bring about justice and true peace among people;

  • that God, in a world full of injustice and enmity, is in a special way the God of the destitute, the poor and the wronged; 3

  • that God calls the church to follow him in this, for God brings justice to the oppressed and gives bread to the hungry;

  • that God frees the prisoner and restores sight to the blind;

  • that God supports the downtrodden, protects the stranger, helps orphans and widows and blocks the path of the ungodly;

  • that for God pure and undefiled religion is to visit the orphans and the widows in their suffering;

  • that God wishes to teach the church to do what is good and to seek the right (Deut. 32:4; Luke 2:14; John 14:27; Eph. 2:14; Isa. 1:16-17; James 1:27; James 5:1-6; Luke 1:46-55; Luke 6:20-26; Luke 7:22; Luke 16:19-31; Ps. 146; Luke 4:16-19; Rom. 6:13-18; Amos 5);

  • that the church must therefore stand by people in any form of suffering and need, which implies, among other things, that the church must witness against and strive against any form of injustice, so that justice may roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream;

  • that the church as the possession of God must stand where the Lord stands, namely against injustice and with the wronged; that in following Christ the church must witness against all the powerful and privileged who selfishly seek their own interests and thus control and harm others.

Therefore, we reject any ideology...

which would legitimate forms of injustice and any doctrine which is unwilling to resist such an ideology in the name of the gospel.

5. We believe that, in obedience to Jesus Christ, its only head, the church is called to confess and to do all these things, even though the authorities and human laws might forbid them and punishment and suffering be the consequence (Eph. 4:15-16; Acts 5:29-33; 1 Peter 2:18-25; 1 Peter 3:15-18).

Jesus is Lord.

Regarding the Current

Racial Tension...

Racism is sin.

 

We must all stand up and speak, work, and preach against the sin of racism. This is not political action; it is a biblical position.

 

We grieve with the families of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and countless others. We also recognize that they were killed because they were seen through a lens of racism. While these incidents create moments of crisis in the lives of non-black people, they actually expose centuries-long patterns of racism and prejudice in the United States that are lived every day by people of color.

 

These cases underline the systemic nature of racism and its pervasiveness in our culture – a reality in which far too many African American men and women are disrespected as image bearers of God in the US.

 

It is imperative that, as a church and as individual Christians, we remain focused on the socialized beliefs and assumptions that perpetuate such racist acts, even when the media has moved on to the next news story. Racism is a stronghold in our country that will not go away overnight. The remedy is a commitment to sanctification. We invite you to walk with us in this sanctification process.

 

Each of us must ask ourselves questions like these: 

  • What is God saying to change us, heal us, renew us? 

  • What common narratives will this moment change? 

  • How much priority will we give to anti-racist spiritual formation? 

  • What will it mean to have a Reformed world and life view in responding to racialized inequality? 

  • Will we allow ourselves to be crucified with Christ, so that we no longer live, but Christ lives in us? 

 

These recent killings have exposed racism to our collective attention. Some of us have participated in peaceful protests, but racism has not gone away. Turning from it toward equity and love will require remembering who we are in Christ, memorializing the murdered cloud of witnesses, taking the historical blood-stained sins to the cross, and raising our eyes to the hope of Jesus leading us to a beloved community.

 

This may be easily said, but it will require a ministry commitment to humility, kenosis, education, conversation and action for it to be realized. Most of all, it will require sacrifice, especially for white members of our community. Pursuing a change like this will be costly. Yet, we believe that such sacrifice is not only necessary, it also reflects the type of sacrificial love Jesus showed most gloriously on the cross. 

 

So, let us allow ourselves to be enabled by the Spirit to take action. Let us sacrifice and die to ourselves, for the sake of love of brothers and sisters, who must live with racism directed against them every day.  As individuals and the Church, we must be moving beyond “thoughts and prayers” to truly becoming a church of reconciliation and justice.

(This is an edited version of the official statement issued by the leaders of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. The Council of Faith Christian Fellowship affirms this statement, its condemnation of racism, and the work of justice and racial reconciliation demanded by Scripture.)

Belhar Confession

Drafted by the Dutch Reformed Mission Church in South Africa in response to Apartheid in 1986, adopted by our denomination in 2017

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