Disciples Core Beliefs
What do Disciples believe?
Like most Christians, Disciples affirm:
- Jesus Christ is the son of the Living God, and offers saving grace to all
- All persons are God’s children
Beliefs and practices usually associated with Disciples include:
- Open Communion. The Lord’s Supper or Communion is celebrated in weekly worship. It is open to all who believe in Jesus Christ.
- Freedom of belief. Disciples are called together around one essential of faith: belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Persons are free to follow their conscience guided by the Bible, the Holy Spirit, study and prayer, and are expected to extend that freedom to others.
- Baptism by immersion. In baptism, the old self-centered life is set aside, and a new life of trust in God begins. Although Disciples practice baptism by immersion, other baptism traditions are honored.
- Belief in the oneness of the church. All Christians are called to be one in Christ and to seek opportunities for common witness and service.
- The ministry of believers. Both ministers and lay persons lead in worship, service and spiritual growth.
Baptism in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) takes water -- plenty of water. Disciples practice "baptism by immersion" because it mirrors New Testament practice. In addition, Disciples see the use of the specific form of baptism, immersion, as powerfully symbolic. It recalls Jesus' own baptism; it acts out dying with Christ and emerging to new life; it is a "putting on" of Christ. The person being baptized experiences the firm support of the community -- of the Body of Christ -- in the arms and hands of the minister, feels the plunge of commitment, and bursts into new life with the sound and feel of rushing water. At the conclusion of a Disciples baptism, the congregation most often is asked to pledge support of the newly-baptized person in her or his faith journey.
Disciples typically are baptized when they can express as a personal choice their desire to follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and become part of the Body of Christ. Disciples call the practice "believer's baptism."
Infant dedication (as opposed to infant baptism) is a common Disciples tradition. A baby is brought into the environment of a loving church where parents and congregation pledge themselves to nurture the child in the love of Christ. An infant so dedicated is encouraged to make a personal faith-response to Christ usually during the early teenage years, about the time when many Disciples are baptized.
Disciples recognize other forms of baptism as valid. A person baptized in another Christian tradition wishing to join a Disciples congregation is simply asked: "Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and accept him as Lord and Savior?" The person who answers, "I do," is welcomed into the congregation.
The chalice The chalice symbolizes the central place of communion in worship for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The X-shaped cross of the disciple Andrew is a reminder of the ministry of each person and the importance of evangelism.
Basic Beliefs (As found on www.disciples.org)
The only "test" of fellowship used in the Christian Church is the "good confession." In its earliest form, the confession was short and simple. Alexander Campbell wrote:
"The only apostolic and divine confession of faith which God, the Father of all, has laid for the church and that on which Jesus himself said he would build is the sublime and supreme position: That Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God" (The Christian System, 58)
In more recent years, we have used the first part of the Preamble to The Design, "We confess that Jesus is the Christ, Son of the Living God, and proclaim him Lord and Savior of the world." This confession includes four statements about Jesus:
- We confess that Jesus is the Christ or Messiah. Christ is from a Greek word that is equivalent to the Hebrew word Messiah. Both words mean "anointed." To confess Jesus as the "Christ" means to say that you believe Jesus was anointed by God to fulfill God's purpose in the world. In Jesus Christ, God acted decisively in human history.
- We believe that Jesus is the Son of the Living God. Through its history, Christians have tried to express that Jesus is divine. The early creeds used phrases like, "God from God," and "of the same essence with the Father." The title of Jesus as Son of God seeks to express this same idea of Jesus' divinity and association with God the Father. The phrase "Son of God" comes directly from scripture. 1 John 4:15 says, "God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God."
- We proclaim that Jesus is Lord. Paul wrote to the church in Rome, "If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved" (Rom 10:9). The confession of Jesus, as Lord, binds the confessor to obedience. A Lord is one who has authority to command. And so, to confess Jesus as Lord places a person in a specific relationship with Jesus as Forgiver and Leader of your life.
By saying “Jesus is Savior,” we affirm that Jesus Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost. His death on the cross and resurrection three days later made a way for people to experience salvation. While we could discuss what "salvation" means for a very long time, we should say that salvation is two-fold. First, it refers to eternal life waiting for us in the life to come. Second, it refers to a change in our life today that moves our lives (both individually and socially) more in line with God's will.