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Confession of Faith - Article 1: God
We believe that God exists and is pleased with all who draw near by faith.1 We worship the one holy and loving God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit eternally.2 We believe that God has created all things visible and invisible, has brought salvation and new life to humanity through Jesus Christ, and continues to sustain the church and all things until the end of the age.
Beginning with Abraham and Sarah, God has called forth a people of faith to worship God alone, to witness to the divine purposes for human beings and all of creation, and to love their neighbors as themselves.3 We have been joined to this people through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ and by confessing him to be Savior and Lord as the Holy Spirit has moved us.4
We humbly recognize that God far surpasses human comprehension and understanding.5 We also gratefully acknowledge that God has spoken to humanity and related to us in many and various ways. We believe that God has spoken above all in the only Son, the Word who became flesh and revealed the divine being and character.6
God's awesome glory and enduring compassion are perfect in holy love. God's sovereign power and unending mercy are perfect in almighty love. God's knowledge of all things and care for creation are perfect in preserving love. God's abounding grace and wrath against sinfulness are perfect in righteous love. God's readiness to forgive and power to transform are perfect in redemptive love. God's unlimited justice and continuing patience with humankind are perfect in suffering love. God's infinite freedom and constant self-giving are perfect in faithful love.7 To the one holy and ever-loving triune God be glory for ever and ever!
1. We believe that what we know of God through revelation fits with who God really is. To confess that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is to confess that the Son and the Holy Spirit are fully divine. It is also to confess that God is one and that God's oneness is the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (for example, John 10:30; 14:18-20; 16:12-15; 20:21-22 ). In this confession, the word God can refer to the God who is triune or to the first person of the trinity. (On God as the first person of the trinity, compare Matthew 28:19 with 2 Corinthians 13:13 and numerous other passages.)
Confessing God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit also emphasizes the shared work of creation, salvation, and the final consummation. This trinitarian understanding of God has implications for ethics. The ethical standards we receive from God as Creator are not contrary to those which are revealed by God as Redeemer. For example, we cannot claim that God as Creator justifies Christian participation in violence, while God as Redeemer calls us to make peace without violence. What the Creator intends for human conduct has been most fully revealed in Jesus Christ.
Some early Christian creeds express a trinitarian understanding of God with the terms essence, substance, or person. Early Anabaptist writers such as Menno Simons and Pilgram Marpeck used mainly biblical language to refer to the triune God. They also used some concepts from the early creeds. Some Mennonite confessions of faith have used only biblical terminology to refer to God; others have used both biblical and creedal language. This confession assumes basic agreement with traditional confessions of faith, though it remains with biblical terminology for the most part. The article uses the word triune, which is not found in Scripture. Yet, it is an apt term for the God revealed in Scripture and helps maintain a biblically based theological and ethical balance.
2.The relation between God and the people of faith is the context within which we have received God's revelation and which provides the basis for our understanding of God. Our knowledge of God comes mainly from this relationship and its history, which began with God calling out the household of Abraham and Sarah. (See Hebrews 11:8-12 and note the oldest texts for verse 11: "By faith Sarah . . . received power to conceive . . . because she considered him faithful who had promised.") At the same time, we believe that the God whom we confess is the one and only true God of all creation and of all humanity. Even before calling a particular people, God was revealed through creation and spoke to humanity.
3. God both surpasses human understanding and is truly knowable through revelation. Our knowledge of God rests in this tension. Further, God's characteristics (or "attributes") sometimes appear contradictory to us. For example, how can God be both just and merciful, characteristics which in human experience often seem opposed? Yet we confess that in the divine being these attributes are perfectly united. Finally, according to Scripture, the love of God has a certain priority in relation to other divine attributes. The article reflects this emphasis by such phrases as "righteous love" rather than by playing "righteousness" off against "love" or by focusing on one without the other.
1. Exodus 3:13-14; Hebrews 11:6.
2. Exodus 20:1-6; Deuteronomy 6:4; Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:13 .
3. Genesis 12:2-3; Leviticus 19:18; Romans 4:11-25; 1 Peter 3:9-11.
4. Galatians 2:20; Romans 3:22.
5. Exodus 3:13-14; Job 37; Isaiah 40:18-25; Romans 11:33-36.
6. John 1:14, 18; Hebrews 1:1-4.
7. Exodus 20:4-6; 34:5-7; Psalms 25:4-10; Isaiah 6; 54:10; Matthew 5:48; Romans 2:5-11; 3:21-26; 1 John 4:8, 16.