Friends believe that apostolic (New Testament) doctrines are essentials of Christianity. Fundamental truths considered as vital and life-giving are: the Fatherhood of God; the deity and humanity of Jesus the Son; the ministry of the Holy Spirit; Christ’s atonement which reconciles believers to God; the resurrection of Jesus Christ which assures true believers of life after death; the high priesthood of Christ who gives access to the Father by forgiving sins; and the individual priesthood of believers who may approach God directly without human intervention.
While Friends do not stress a formal written creed, they do state the primary principles of their faith in order to make their doctrinal position clear. Not wishing to be dogmatic, they record certain beliefs which are held as basic to their faith. The statement of faith of evangelical Friends may be summarized as follows:
The Holy Bible was given by the direct inspiration of God. It is sufficient to inform people of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. The Bible is the written authority by which all guidance should be measured for truth. God’s Holy Spirit, who inspired the Scriptures, also interprets them, working through those yielded to Him within His Church. Genuine guidance from God is in accord with the Holy Scriptures.
There is one sovereign God who is revealed through the Bible in the person of His son, Jesus Christ. God is the Maker and Preserver of all things; He alone is worthy of worship. In the unity of the Godhead exist three equal and distinct, yet inseparable, persons: the Father, the Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, is the second person of the Trinity and is God’s revelation of Himself to the world. He was divine and yet human, being conceived by God’s Spirit and born of a virgin. Through the blood He shed dying on the cross, Jesus Christ became the atonement for sin, thus providing direct access to God by His priesthood. Upon His resurrection from the dead, He ascended again to the right hand of His Father, assuming the role of Intercessor and drawing people to God by His Spirit. When Jesus Christ returns to earth, He will receive His Church and judge the world.
The Holy Spirit
The third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit, proceeds from the Father and the Son but is equal with Them. The Holy Spirit convinces people of their sin, gives life to penitent believers, and sanctifies the child of God. He enables one to love God supremely and to give evidence of the Spirit’s presence in their lives. The Holy Spirit works through individual lives as well as in corporate groups of the Church, enabling people to serve in various ways as the Spirit chooses.
Created in the image of God, at first man and woman enjoyed unbroken fellowship with their Maker. By their disobedience they incurred the displeasure of God and the penalty of spiritual death. Consequently, all are born in a sinful state; there is no inherent principle which naturally leads people to salvation outside the atoning provision of Jesus Christ for all mankind. While people are sinful by nature, they can be redeemed from sin’s penalty, which is eternal death, because Christ paid this penalty in full. Through His sacrificial death, Jesus Christ destroyed the wall separating all persons from God. By the individual priesthood of believers, everyone stands equal before God and may approach Him directly.
Salvation is a personal matter between people and their Maker. It consists of forgiveness for sins as well as sanctification or the cleansing of sinful human nature. People can be redeemed because of the atoning death of Jesus Christ and the direct work of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit restores people to fellowship with God the Father and enables them to love Him wholeheartedly. Salvation does not depend on outward ceremonies or symbols. Sanctification is the work of God which is accomplished through the baptism with the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer who is yielded totally to God. The believer is thus empowered to witness to the living Christ. Sanctification is both an act in which one’s heart is cleansed and a process in which the life is continuously disciplined to God’s holy standards.
Those who repent of their sins and trust in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior are born again into His kingdom by His Spirit. These persons make up the true Church of Jesus Christ which is spiritual in nature and universal in scope. By His Spirit, Christ is present whenever two or three meet together in His name. Such a meeting is a local church which is a visible manifestation of the Church universal. Every believer should be related to a local visible part of Christ’s universal Body in order to worship, witness, and work more effectively for the glory of God. Every believer is committed to be involved in the stewardship of God’s Kingdom through the Church until the Lord returns.
Christian liberty is to be granted in all areas not essential to one’s final salvation. Due to human imperfection there are differences of faith and practice among God’s children, but they anticipate a time of greater unity in the faith. Until that time there must be unity in essentials but liberty in non–ssentials, with love in all things.
The Lord’s Return
We have experienced the coming of the Living Christ in and among us, the foretaste of God’s glorious reign and basis of our hope. At His second coming, Jesus Christ will return in power as King of kings to consummate His rule over individuals and nations by the final triumph over Satan. The dead shall be resurrected, some to eternal life, others to everlasting punishment. All shall be judged by God and receive just recompense for their deeds. The blessed ones shall live forever in heaven, but the lost suffer eternally in hell.
FAITH & PRACTICE: THE BOOK OF DISCIPLINE
Being the Constitution and Discipline of Evangelical Friends Church – Mid America Yearly
Meeting, as revised, adopted, and directed printed by Evangelical Friends Church – Mid America