3 Brief Statement of Faith

Brief Statement of Faith

   in 1983 in the United States, the United Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church, separated since before the American Civil War, merged to form the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). In adopting the Plan for Reunion, the new church called for a new brief statement of the Reformed faith, to be included in the church's Book of Confessions.
   in 1967, the United Presbyterian Church adopted a new statement of faith, in the face of opposition from conservatives who said that it departed from the traditional standards set forth at Westminster in the 17th century. in place of the one Westminster Confession, the church (much as the Lutherans had done in the 16th century) adopted a set of confessional statements that were placed in a Book of Confessions. Ministers and other leaders were not asked to "subscribe" to the confessions, but to receive them and operate out of the context that they set.
   Those who supported the new confession, finally presented in 1991, insisted that it was not to be seen as a stand-alone document or a complete statement of beliefs. it was to affirm some important contemporary themes and be placed alongside the other confessions that the church affirmed. Like the ancient Nicene Creed, the new confession was written in a format that suggested its use in public worship as a statement to be read aloud by the gathered congregation.
   The new confession emphasizes themes affirmed in common in the ecumenical church, represented most visibly by the World Council of Churches. It stresses the church's work in the world and some contemporary concerns that have become the focus of liberal Protestantism, such as the inclusiveness of the Christian community and the need to reach out to the poor, the captive, and the suffering. Toward the end, it affirms the activity of the Holy Spirit by noting that: "the Spirit gives us courage / to pray without ceasing, / to witness among all peoples to Christ as Lord and Savior, / to unmask idolatries in church and culture, / to hear the voices of peoples long silenced, / and to work with others for justice, freedom, and peace."
   Further reading:
   ■ Clifton Kirkpatrick and William H. Hopper, Jr., What Unites Presbyterians: Common Ground for Troubled Times (Louisville, Ky.: Geneva Press, 1997)
   ■ J. Gordon Melton, The Encyclopedia of American Religions: Religious Creeds, 2 vols. (Detroit: Gale Research, 1988, 1994)
   ■ Jack Bartlett Rogers, Presbyterian Creeds (Louisville, Ky.: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1991); , Reading the Bible and the Confessions: The Presbyterian Way (Louisville, Ky.: Geneva Press, 1999).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

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