In the statement of purpose of Confessing Christ, we strive to be among the stewards of United Church of Christ's ecumenical heritage and theological identity, as set forth primarily in the Preamble of the Constitution of the UCC. This Preamble has functioned as a guiding principle of interpretation for our life together as a denomination within mainstream North American Protestantism. Its elements are:
All this with a special attention to the irenic focus of the best of our heritage summarized in the well-known 17th century aphorism by Rupertus Meldinius (Peter Meiderlin) written during the bitter theological disputes of the Thirty Years' War: In essentials unity, In perspectives liberty, In all things charity.
- Jesus Christ is the norm, the "sole head" of the Church. As Son of God he is the divine/human Person, and as "Savior," he does the work of atonement -- "conquering sin and death and reconciling the world" as the UCC Statement of Faith puts it.
- We know who Christ is (the "Person" of Christ) and what Christ did (the "work" of Christ) by Scripture. The Barmen Declaration of the Confessing Church in Nazi Germany says that we listen to "the one Word, Jesus Christ, as attested by Scripture..." Thus, Scripture, is read christologically -- through the lens of the person and work of Jesus Christ.
- We also listen for the one Word through the biblical source with the aid of the "tradition" of the church universal running from the ecumenical creeds of yesterday to the ecumenical conversations of today. This is accomplished from within the family of Reformation Churches, and thus with an "evangelical catholicity." As important as tradition is, however, it is "ministerial," while a christologically read Scripture is "magisterial."
- The Preamble of the UCC Constitution reminds us that we must ever and again make "this faith [our] own in reality of worship, in honesty of thought and expression, and in purity of heart before God." Thus, the UCC has sought to interpret the historic faith in the settings of changing times and places, with the imperatives of justice and peace at the fore.
- The UCC, by virtue of its founding principles, strives to be a "united and uniting" Church under Christ. Thus it must be ecumenical, catholic and inclusive. It must be wary of any reductionism that would collapse its ecumenical heritage into any one of its elements. Such reductionisms have historically been called "heresies" -- mistaking a partial truth for its fullness. Examples of such reductionisms are the various "isms", biblicism, traditionalism, experientialism and the like. Our ecumenical commitment also presents a challenge to a sectarianism that would cut the UCC off from the larger Christian community.