For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 KJV
“How can your church function if it doesn’t have a creed or a confession?” Believe it or not, that’s a question I often get from people who inquire about the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). I typically respond with the Disciples catchphrase: “We have no book but the Bible.”
This isn’t to say that churches that have creeds, catechisms, and confessions don’t read the Bible or take it as seriously as we do. It doesn’t even mean that creeds or confessions are bad. Honestly, I find great comfort and challenge in reading the ancient confessions of the church knowing that my sisters and brothers over the years have struggled to understand more about God just as I do each day. Creeds offer us a glimpse into how the faith was not only once interpreted by others but also how it was communicated to those in an earlier generation.
So, what do Disciples of Christ mean when we say that we have “no book but the Bible?”
When we say that we have “no book but the Bible” it means that we are a church that takes seriously our call for each member to read the scriptures for him or herself and to listen to the Spirit who teaches us the truth. It also means that we acknowledge that we will have a diverse set of opinions.
As the old saying goes about scripture interpretation in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), “Two Disciples, three opinions.” That’s humorous, but its also pretty accurate.
As members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), we know that we will probably never agree on every teaching in the Bible. And that’s okay.
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1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually,18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.