The other day I was talking to a potential funder. The conversation was going well until he asked if DOOR could affirm the confession of faith from his evangelical tradition. I always struggle with responding to these requests. From a certain perspective I can affirm almost any confession of faith that sincerely attempts to understand scripture. I am also a Mennonite; we are historically “non-creedal.” This means confessions of faith are at best a moving target. They tell us what a group of people believe about faith, life, and God at a particular point in history.
Confessions of faith have the power to be both healthy and destructive. At worst they attempt to homogenize the Christian faith - if only we could all believe exactly the same then we could worship the same and look the same, be identical to each other. Can you imagine a church with no differences? A place where we always agree about everything, always worship the same way, always approach social concerns with one unified mind. To some this may sound idyllic. To me this sounds boring, uninteresting, and the complete opposite of the Apostle Paul’s vision of one body and many parts.
It is our differences and disagreements that help to make the church healthy and effective. When we use confessions as a starting point to have a conversation, we use them well. I have a friend who is fond of telling me that creativity occurs at the intersection of diversity; when the diversity and differences increase so does the creative potential.
I would like to suggest that the church is best when it refuses to use confessions as a litmus test for admission into fellowship or leadership. When we use confessions to explore how we understand faith and life differently it becomes possible to find common ground in unexpected places.