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Disciples of Christ Beliefs and Practices

Explore the Beliefs of the Disciples of Christ (Christian Church)

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The Disciples of Christ, also known as the Christian Church, has no creed and gives its congregations complete autonomy in their doctrine. As a result, beliefs vary widely from individual church to church, and even among members within a church.

Disciples of Christ Beliefs

Baptism - Baptism symbolizes the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It signifies new birth, a cleansing from sin, the individual's response to God's grace, and acceptance into the faith community.

Bible - Disciples of Christ consider the Bible to be the inspired Word of God and recognize 66 books in the canon, but beliefs vary on the inerrancy of Scripture. Individual churches cover the spectrum from fundamentalist to liberal.

Communion - Open communion, where all Christians are welcome, was one of the reasons for the founding of the Christian Church. In the Lord's Supper, "the living Christ is met and received in the sharing of the bread and the cup, representative of the body and blood of Jesus."

Ecumenism - The Christian Church constantly reaches out to other Christian denominations. One of the early goals was to overcome the differences among Christian faith groups. The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) belongs to the National Council of Churches and World Council of Churches and has had conversations with the Roman Catholic Church.

Equality - One of the four priorities of the Christian Church is to become an anti-racist church. The Disciples of Christ include 440 predominantly African-American congregations, 156 Hispanic congregations, and 85 Asian-American congregations. The Disciples also ordain women.

Heaven, Hell - Views on heaven and hell among the Disciples of Christ range from belief in literal places, to trust in God to provide eternal justice. The church itself does not engage in "speculative theology" and lets its individual members decide for themselves.

Jesus Christ - The Disciples' Confession states that "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God ... Lord and Savior of the world." Belief in Christ as Savior is the only requirement for salvation.

Priesthood of Believers - The ministry of believers extends to all members of the Christian Church. While the denomination has ordained clergy, lay people play key roles in the church.

Trinity - Disciples of Christ profess God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in their Confession, and they baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Church members are allowed freedom of opinion on this and other doctrines and are expected to give others that same freedom.

Disciples of Christ Practices

Sacraments - Baptism is practiced by immersion; however, people who join from other Christian denominations are accepted without the need to be baptized again. Baptism is performed at the age of accountability.

The Lord's Table is the central focus of worship in the Christian Church, explaining the use of a chalice as the church's official logo. Since one of the goals of the Disciples of Christ is to foster Christian unity, communion is open to all Christians. The Christian Church practices communion weekly.

Worship Service - Christian Church services are similar to those of other mainline Protestant churches. There is singing of hymns, responsive readings, recitation of the Lord's Prayer, Scripture readings, a sermon, an offering, communion service, and a recessional hymn.

To learn more about Disciples of Christ beliefs, visit the official Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Website.

(Sources: disciples.org, religioustolerance.org, bremertondisciples.org, Religions of America, edited by Leo Rosten)

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