- Revelation of God
- Creation and Humanity
- Sin and Evil
- Nature of the Church
- Mission of the Church
- Christian Baptism
- Lord’s Supper
- Marriage, Singleness, and Family
- Society and State
- Love and Nonresistance
- Sanctity of Human Life
- Work, Rest, and the Lord’s Day
- Christianity and Other Faiths
- Christ’s Final Triumph
Nature and Function of the Confession
God has revealed Himself supremely in Jesus Christ, who has all authority in heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18). The Bible, inspired by God’s Holy Spirit, proclaims Christ and is “the infallible Word of God and the authoritative guide for faith and practice.”
In response to God’s revelation, Mennonite Brethren have declared our shared convictions in our Confession of Faith—defining who we are as Mennonite Brethren in Canada. Convictions are not simply beliefs, but our core commitments that must be lived out for us to claim they are our convictions. These convictions set forth a vision for what it means to live as faithful disciples of Jesus and are a witness to the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ.
How does the MB Confession of Faith function within the life of the church?
1. It expresses our shared Mennonite Brethren convictions and identity. These convictions…
- Reflect our commitment to live under the authority of Christ, who is made known to us in
Scripture, as we are guided by the Holy Spirit.
- Describe what Canadian Mennonite Brethren believe the Bible teaches.
- Provide an interpretive guide for understanding and applying Scripture.
- Focus the teaching and preaching ministry to strengthen and lead the church.
- Define corporate MB theological identity.
- Apply the teaching of the Bible to the relevant issues facing the church.
2. It expresses our vision for faithful discipleship and worship. This vision…
- Describes what kind of people Mennonite Brethren are to be as we seek to follow Jesus.
- Calls the Mennonite Brethren church to live out our convictions by integrating theology and practice.
- Shapes and leads worship within local congregations.
- Introduces new believers to the teaching of Scripture.
- Calls new church leaders and emerging churches to join a covenant community.
- Forges unity through a consensus regarding how to interpret what the Bible teaches.
- Provides a normative guide for scriptural discipline.
- Clarifies that Christian faith is a seamless garment of believing, belonging, and behaving (i.e., knowing, trusting, and acting).
3. It expresses our witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ. This witness…
- Testifies to God’s reconciling and transforming work through Jesus Christ but the power of his Spirit
- Shapes the shared beliefs and practices of Mennonite Brethren
- Offers a peaceable, missional proclamation and demonstration by the church of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and reign – a testimony grounded in our common theological convictions
- Lays a foundation for our networks and mission partnerships with other Christian groups.
Frequently Asked Questions on the Confession of Faith
1. Why do we choose a Confession of Faith approach rather than a doctrinal statement of belief?
The Confession of Faith is more than a doctrinal statement of belief in that it represents the shared convictions of a community expressed as a lived theology, which defines our common identity. The confession is not simply a set of doctrinal beliefs to which we give assent. Rather, it is our core convictions—our commitments—that we seek to live out in our lives, our service, and our witness. This is important because our convictions reflect what we believe, how we live, and what we teach.
The Mennonite Brethren Confession of Faith describes a shared understanding of the teaching of Scripture which we have discerned and publicly confessed together as a community. As such, the confession is descriptive—not like the results of a survey describing what the majority of Mennonite Brethren might believe—but rather descriptive of what Mennonite Brethren together understand the Bible to teach. Our confession points beyond itself to the Bible and is authoritative to the extent that it is biblical.
2. How does the Confession of Faith serve as a basis for MB identity?
Christians’ primary identity is in Christ, who was sent by the Father to deliver, heal, redeem, and restore the world through His atoning death, resurrection, and ascension to the right hand of the Father. It is God’s purpose to create for Himself a people. To be “in Christ” means we have been baptized into one body, His church, by His Spirit. Our identity in Christ as His disciples must be lived out in the context of a local church, which is a part of the larger people of God.
Mennonite Brethren identity as a family of churches arises from three intertwined characteristics: shared convictions, shared relationships, and shared mission. The Confession of Faith articulates Mennonite Brethren core convictions, which express our commitment to hold to and live out the teaching of Scripture as we understand it. If Mennonite Brethren change our convictions, we become a different community than we were before. While there are diverse theological perspectives and congregational practices within the Mennonite Brethren family, the confession represents our endeavour to express the core set of convictions we all share. While the confession does not attempt to define a rigid set of beliefs or enforce a uniform practice within every church, it does function as a mutually agreed upon statement regarding what it means to be Mennonite Brethren.
3. What role does community hermeneutics play in developing the Confession of Faith?
Community hermeneutics describes the church gathering around Scripture to listen to the Spirit. “We practice a corporate hermeneutic, which listens to the concerns of individuals and churches, but discerns together the meaning and intent of the Scriptures.” Mennonite Brethren believe the same Spirit who inspired the Bible also guides the community of faith in the interpretation of Scripture. Our conviction that the Bible is the “authoritative guide in life and practice” moves beyond a formal statement to a transformational reality when there is consensus within the community regarding how to interpret the Bible. Simply asserting the authority of the Bible does not resolve interpretive questions because all readings require interpretation. Rather, as the church engages in a process of study and discernment, this creates space for the Spirit to guide the church toward a shared interpretation of the Word and agreement on how to live it out.
The practice of community hermeneutics is based in the New Testament—particularly Jesus’ teaching about “binding and loosing” (Matthew 18:18)—language used by Jewish rabbis when interpreting the law to decide whether certain behaviours were either forbidden (bound) or permitted (loosed). Jesus recognized the church would also be engaged in a process of discerning how to apply Scripture when it encountered new issues within the various contexts in which it would find itself. Jesus’ presence among believers enables us to agree together, that is, to speak with “one voice” (Matthew 18:19-20) as we seek to discern God’s will. Paul’s instructions to the gathered church—“let two or three prophets speak and let the others weigh what is said” (1 Corinthians 14:29)—encourage all to participate but also recognize that what is said needs to be discerned or tested by the community. Early Anabaptists called these two references the “Rule of Christ” and the “Rule of Paul.” The model of the Jerusalem Conference, where the church gathered together to discern how the gospel is received by Gentiles (Acts 15), provides a concrete example of how to listen to the Word and the Spirit in the face of disagreement and conflict. This was neither a democratic process favouring the majority, nor a forced harmonizing of all opinions.
The Spirit of God speaks to the church through the Word of God; and the example of the early church portrays believers who are active, not passive, listeners. Their example calls for the participation of the community in studying Scripture together in order to discern what God is saying. Leaders facilitate listening to the Word, listening to each other, as well as a healthy decision-making process. Depending on the issue, this can happen in local congregations, or at the levels of provincial and national conferences. The involvement of the community in discerning the meaning and significance of Scripture challenges tendencies to view Bible reading primarily as an individual or private experience, which can often lead to personal interpretations.
4. Why do Mennonite Brethren revise their Confession of Faith?
As the church continues to wrestle with our understanding of Scripture in the context of a changing world, we are challenged to understand and faithfully live out Scripture, which may require changes in the church’s relationships and conduct. However, any changes must be made in uncompromising obedience to the Word and Spirit of God. Since the Confession of Faith is descriptive, it is not a closed statement but open to periodic review and revision. (This happened during the 1970s and again in the 1990s.) Reasons for revising the confession have included the desire to make it more accessible and understandable, develop greater consensus among churches, and address new issues or questions facing the church. Mennonite Brethren recognize that at no time in history has the church’s understanding of God’s Word and His will been total or complete. As the church experiences new or changing situations and relationships in the world in which we live and witness, we must seek the Spirit’s guidance through the study of God’s Word.
5. In what way is the Confession of Faith authoritative?
The Confession of Faith is understood to be normative for Mennonite Brethren churches because it expresses what Mennonite Brethren believe the Bible teaches and what faithfulness to the gospel entails. The idea of being “normative” highlights how a conviction or statement in the confession reflects a faithful reading or interpretation of Scripture. Thus, the confession is binding for all Mennonite Brethren churches—pastors, teachers, and conference leaders are expected to affirm and teach the confession.
6. What happens when a church moves away from the Confession of Faith?
Departure from the confession has always been understood to be a violation of covenant relationships. In a 1987 resolution, Mennonite Brethren affirmed that pastors, teachers, and churches are not at liberty “to disregard or teach convictions that are not in agreement with our Confession of Faith.” At that time, the Board of Faith and Life also recognized that there may be times when leaders embrace a “principled confessional integrity” rather than a “legalistic confessional rigidity.” In other words, struggles with particular statements in the confession are not incompatible with affirming the confession in principle. However, churches and church leaders who neglect, passively dismiss, or intentionally choose to stand over against the confession invite a process that includes conversation, exhortation, and potentially, discipline.
7. Are all articles in the Confession of Faith equally important?
Mennonite Brethren have rejected the development of a two-tier confession that differentiates between “essentials” and “non-essentials.” Nevertheless, some of the 18 articles in the Confession of Faith may be more significant than others (compare “Salvation” and “Stewardship”) and other articles address issues that flow out of previous articles (see “Creation and Humanity” and “The Sanctity of Human Life”). However, each article expresses Mennonite Brethren understanding regarding what the Bible says about a particular topic. There is much about the Christian faith and practice that is not included in the Confession of Faith, where Mennonite Brethren recognize differing interpretations and perspectives. The nature of our confession is that it expresses the core shared convictions held by Mennonite Brethren; therefore, inclusion in the confession is already a declaration of what we understand to be essential. A two-tiered approach would give the impression that biblical teaching on certain topics is not really worth maintaining because it is deemed to be a non-essential. Furthermore, the distinction between “essential” and “non-essential” has often been drawn between what one believes and how one lives—the very connection that is at the heart of Mennonite Brethren identity.
The diagram below illustrates some of the ways in which the articles of the Confession of Faith are integrally related to each other—these relationships are not based on what is essential or non-essential. The triune God is at the heart of everything, surrounded by central affirmations of our faith that arise from our understanding of God, as revealed in Scripture. The outer circles reflect convictions that describe practices and engage questions emerging from our experience in the world.
8. What is the purpose of an MB Confession of Faith in light of the mission of the church in Canada? Wouldn’t a more generic evangelical and even doctrinally oriented statement do more to promote unity with other Christian churches?
There are no generic Christians, only particular Christians. To ignore any Christian group’s particular emphases risks ignoring the Holy Spirit’s specific work within that group. Growth into the unity of the Spirit and the mature character of Christ takes place when we recognize the shared and particular convictions of each Christian denomination and tradition.
The Mennonite Brethren Confession of Faith represents the shared convictions of a particular community—a family of churches—that live in relationship with one another as a concrete expression of what it means to be part of the people of God. Mennonite Brethren identity emerges out of the shared journey of a community of disciples who are called to participate in God’s mission together. Mennonite Brethren continually welcome new members to the family, in which Canada is one of over 20 national Mennonite Brethren conferences. As a family of churches, Mennonite Brethren have a long history of fellowshipping and partnering in mission with different churches and denominations. While we share many of the same convictions held by other Christian believers, the assumption that unity can only be achieved when believers assent to a select (or generic) set of doctrinal beliefs is mistaken. Our confession enables others to know who we are as a family of churches, which therefore enhances rather than hinders our ability to build relationships and partner together in proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God.
Confession of Faith: Commentary and Pastoral Application. Board of Faith and Life. Winnipeg: Kindred Productions, 2000.
“Consensus and Change in Respect to Ethical Issues.” Yearbook: General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, 51st Session, 11-12. Winnipeg: Christian Press, 1969.
Heidebrecht, Doug. “Confessing Our Faith: The Significance of the Confession of Faith in the Life of the Mennonite Brethren Church.” In Renewing Identity and Mission: Mennonite Brethren Reflections after 150 Years, edited by Abe J. Dueck, Bruce L. Guenther, and Doug Heidebrecht, 141-153. Winnipeg: Kindred Productions, 2011.
Heidebrecht, Doug. “Gathering around the Word to Listen to the Spirit: Community Hermeneutics Explained.” Mennonite Brethren Herald, May 2011, 8-9.
“The Individual Member and Guidelines of the Church.” Yearbook: General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, 60th Session, 13. Winnipeg: Christian Press, 1969.
“Resolution on Confession of Faith.” 1987 Yearbook, General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches. Abbotsford, August 7-11, 1987, 68-69.
Toews, John E. “The Meaning of the Confession.” Mennonite Brethren Herald, October 28, 1988, 6-7.
Toews, John E. “Reflections on Issues Re the Confession of Faith.” Position Paper for General Conference BORAC. April 25, 1988. A220, BORAC Box 5, ML&A, Fresno.
 1987 Yearbook, General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (Abbotsford, August 7-11, 1987), 67.
 “Resolution on Confession of Faith,” 1987 Yearbook, General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (Abbotsford, August 7-11, 1987), 68.
 John E. Toews, “The Meaning of the Confession,” Mennonite Brethren Herald, October 28, 1988, 7.
 This wording is adapted from Doug Heidebrecht, “Gathering around the Word to Listen to the Spirit: Community Hermeneutics Explained,” Mennonite Brethren Herald, May 2011, 8-9.
 “Resolution on Confession of Faith,” 69.
 “Article 2: Revelation of God,” MB Confession of Faith.
 John E. Toews, “Reflections on Issues Re the Confession of Faith,” Position Paper for General Conference BORAC. April 25, 1988, A220, BORAC Box 5, ML&A, Fresno, 7-8; and “Article 2: Revelation of God.”.
 “Resolution on Confession of Faith,” 68.
 This wording has been adapted from “Consensus and Change in Respect to Ethical Issues.” Yearbook: General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, 51st Session (Winnipeg: Christian Press, 1969), 11-12. See also “The Individual Member and Guidelines of the Church.” Yearbook: General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, 60th Session (Winnipeg: Christian Press, 1969), 13.
 “Resolution on Confession of Faith,” 68.
 Toews, “The Meaning of the Confession,” 7.
 “Resolution on Confession of Faith,” 68.
 Ibid., 68.
 “Resolution on Confession of Faith,” 69.
 1987 Yearbook, General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (Abbotsford, August 7-11, 1987), 72.
 At a 1988 study conference, Mennonite Brethren rejected the creation of a two-tiered Confession of Faith and affirmed a unified approach. See Report of the Findings Committee, Board of Reference and Counsel Study Conference (Calgary, April 27-29, 1988), 1, CMBS (Winnipeg).
 Doug Heidebrecht, “Confessing Our Faith: The Significance of the Confession of Faith in the Life of the Mennonite Brethren Church,” in Renewing Identity and Mission: Mennonite Brethren Reflections after 150 Years, edited by Abe J. Dueck, Bruce L. Guenther, and Doug Heidebrecht (Winnipeg: Kindred Productions, 2011), 147.
 See www.icomb.org
The Mennonite Brethren Church is rooted in the sixteenth-century evangelical Anabaptist Reformation, a movement that sought to recapture the faith and life of the New Testament church. The Mennonite Brethren Church was born as a renewal movement in Russia in 1860. World mission efforts and widespread migration have produced a movement that circles the globe. The Mennonite Brethren Church emphasized the centrality of biblical authority, articulating confessions of faith in order to connect scriptural teaching with contemporary discipleship. With Menno Simons, we hold central the biblical statement, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11 NRSV).
The 1999 North American confession is a complete revision of earlier Mennonite Brethren confessions of faith. The 1902 confession, adopted in Russia and North America, was revised in 1975. The 1999 confession was written and adopted by the North American Mennonite Brethren Church for use in the United States and Canada. The framers of the 1999 confession gratefully acknowledged their indebtedness to the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective. The 1999 confession was the result of a decade-long process of writing, consulting Mennonite Brethren congregations and sister national conferences, revising, and final approval at the General Conference meeting in Wichita, Kansas, in July 1999. It was submitted to the International Community of Mennonite Brethren meeting in Buhler, Kansas, in July 1999 for final acceptance.
In 2010, the U.S. Conference of MB Churches tasked their Board of Faith and Life with revising Article 13 of the confession, a step which would necessitate the separation of the North American confession into U.S. and Canadian versions. The U.S. conference approved the separation and revision of the U.S. confession in 2014. Canadian MB bylaws were amended in 2016 to reflect the two separate confessional documents.
As followers of Jesus, the Bible is our written authority. As Anabaptists, we believe that authoritative interpretation of the Bible is the result of corporate reflection under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This confession is the result of such a process and not only describes how the Mennonite Brethren Church in Canada interprets the Bible for our context but is also an authoritative guide for biblical interpretation, theological identity, and ethical practice.
The reader should be alert to the following literary conventions adopted for this confession. Scripture references are listed at the conclusion of each article. These references are not meant to be exhaustive nor do they serve primarily as prooftexts for the articles. Pronouns referring to God are uniformly upper case to remind the reader that the use of the masculine pronoun is a convention of human language. God is neither male nor female; humans, male and female, are created in the image of God. A more complete commentary and pastoral application of this confession is available from Kindred Productions. A liturgical version of this confession, Confessing Together, is also commended for use in congregational worship.
Herb Kopp, Moderator, General Conference of MB Churches in North America
Lynn Jost, Chair, Confession of Faith Task Force and the Board of Faith and Life
Copyright 1999, Kindred Productions.
We believe in the one, true, living God, Creator of heaven and earth. God is almighty in power, perfect in wisdom, righteous in judgment, overflowing in steadfast love. God is the Sovereign who rules over all things visible and invisible, the Shepherd who rescues the lost and helpless. God is a refuge and fortress for those in need. God is a consuming fire, perfect in holiness, yet slow to anger and abounding in tender mercy. God comforts like a loving mother, trains and disciplines like a caring father, and persists in covenant love like a faithful husband. We confess God as eternal Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
God the Father
God the Father is the source of all life. In Him we live and move and have our being. The Father seeks those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth, and hears the prayers of all who call on Him. In the fullness of time, the Father sent the Son for the salvation of the world. Through Jesus Christ, the Father adopts all who respond in faith to the gospel, forgiving those who repent of their sin and entering into a new covenant with them. God gives the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, to all His children. God’s creative and redemptive love sustains this world until the end of the age.
God the Son
The Son, through whom all things were created and who holds all things together, is the image of the invisible God. Conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, Jesus took on human nature to redeem this fallen world. He revealed the fullness of God through His obedient and sinless life. Through word and deed, Jesus proclaimed the reign of God, bringing good news to the poor, release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind. Christ triumphed over sin through His death and resurrection, and was exalted as Lord of creation and the church. The Saviour of the world invites all to be reconciled to God, offering peace to those far and near, and calling them to follow Him in the way of the cross. Until the Lord Jesus returns in glory, He intercedes for believers, acts as their advocate, and calls them to be His witnesses.
God the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit, the Counsellor, is the creative power, presence, and wisdom of God. The Spirit convicts people of sin, gives them new life, and guides them into all truth. By the Spirit, believers are baptized into one body. The indwelling Spirit testifies that they are God’s children, distributes gifts for ministry, empowers for witness, and produces the fruit of righteousness. As Comforter, the Holy Spirit helps God’s children in their weakness, intercedes for them according to God’s will, and assures them of eternal life.
Genesis 1; Exodus 15:2-3; 34:6-7; Deuteronomy 6:4-6; Psalm 8; 23; 139; Isaiah 55:8-9; 66:12-13; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hosea 11:1-4; Matthew 1:18-25; 5-7; 28:18-20; Mark 8:34-38; Luke 4:18-19; John 1:1-18; 14:26; 15:26; 16:7-15; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4; Romans 8:1-17; 1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 13; 15:3-8; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:16-21; 13:14; Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 1:15-2:22; 3:14-21; Philippians 2:6-11; Colossians 1:15-20; 1 Timothy 6:15-16; 2 Timothy 2:11-13; Hebrews 12:7-11; 1 Peter 2:21-25; 1 John 2:2; Revelation 5:5-6, 9-10.
Revelation of God
We believe that God has made Himself known to all people. God’s power and nature have always been evident in creation. The Old Testament reveals God as the One who established a covenant relationship with Israel to make known to all people the eternal plan of salvation. God revealed Himself supremely in Jesus Christ, as recorded in the New Testament. The Holy Spirit continues to make God known to individuals and the church; this revelation is always consistent with the Scriptures.
The Written Word of God
We believe that the entire Bible was inspired by God through the Holy Spirit. The same Spirit guides the community of faith in the interpretation of Scripture. The person, teaching, and life of Jesus Christ bring continuity and clarity to both the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament bears witness to Christ, and Christ is the One whom the New Testament proclaims. We accept the Bible as the infallible Word of God and the authoritative guide for faith and practice.
Genesis 9:1-17; 12:1-3; Exodus 6:2-8; Psalm 19:1-11; 119; Matthew 5:17-18; Luke 24:27, 44-47; John 1:16-18; 16:13; Acts 8:34-35; Romans 1:18-21; Hebrews 1:1-2; Colossians 1:15-23; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; 2 Peter 1:16-21.
Creation and Humanity
We believe that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and they were very good. All of creation expresses God’s sovereign will and design, but remains distinct from the Creator. The universe belongs to God, who takes care and delight in sustaining it. Creation declares God’s wisdom and power, calling all to worship Him.
Humans, the crowning act of creation, were designed to live in fellowship with God and in mutually helpful relationships with each other. God created them male and female in the image of God. The Creator gave them the mandate to rule and care for creation as a sacred trust, and the freedom to obey or disobey Him. Through the willful disobedience of Adam and Eve, sin entered the world. As a result, human nature is distorted and people are alienated from God and creation. Creation is under the bondage of decay. Humans and all creation long to be set free.
The New Creation
Sin, guilt, and death will not prevail. God will create a new heaven and a new earth in which there will be no evil, suffering, and death. The first signs of this new creation are already present in those who accept God’s forgiveness through Christ. In Christ, all things are being reconciled and created anew.
Genesis 1-3; Psalm 8:6; 19:1-6; 24:1-2; 89:11; 95:5; 104; Proverbs 8:22-31; Isaiah 40:12-31; 44:24; John 1:1-4, 10; 17:5; Romans 1:19-20; 5:17, 21; 6:4; 8:18-25; 1 Corinthians 8:6; 15:20-27; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:6; 5:16-19; Galatians 3:28; 6:15; Ephesians 1:4, 9-10; 2:11-22; 4:24; Colossians 1:15-17; Hebrews 11:3; Revelation 4:8-11; 21:1-5; 22:13.
Sin and Evil
Sin and Its Consequences
We believe that the first humans yielded to the tempter and fell into sin. Since then, all people disobey God and choose to sin, falling short of the glory of God. As a result, sin and evil have gained a hold in the world, disrupting God’s purposes for the created order and alienating humans from God and thus from creation, each other, and themselves. Human sinfulness results in physical and spiritual death. Because all have sinned, all face eternal separation from God.
Principalities and Powers
Sin is a power that enslaves humanity. Satan, the adversary, seeks to rule creation and uses sin to corrupt human nature with pride and selfishness. In sin, people turn from God, exchanging the truth about God for a lie, worshipping and serving the creature rather than the Creator. Sin opens individuals and groups to the bondage of demonic principalities and powers. These powers also work through political, economic, social, and even religious systems to turn people away from holiness, justice, and righteousness. Whether in word, deed, thought, or attitude, all humans are under the domination of sin and, on their own, are unable to overcome its power.
Genesis 3; 6:11-12; Psalm 14:1-3; 36:1-4; 52:1-7; 58:1-5; 82; Isaiah 53:6; Ezekiel 16:49-50; Amos 2:4-8; Mark 7:20-23; John 8:34, 44; Romans 1:21-32; 3:9-18, 23; 5:12-14, 18-19; 6:23; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 2:1-3; 6:12; 1 Peter 5:8-9; 1 John 1:8-10; Revelation 12:9.
We believe that God is at work to accomplish deliverance and healing, redemption and restoration in a world dominated by sin. From the beginning, God’s purpose has been to create for Himself a people, to dwell among them and to bless them. Creation and all of humanity are without hope of salvation except through God’s love and grace. God’s love is fully demonstrated in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Throughout history, God has acted mightily to deliver people from bondage and draw them into a covenant relationship. Through the prophets, God prepared the way of salvation until finally God reconciled the world to Himself by the atoning blood of Jesus. As people place their trust in Christ, they are saved by grace through faith, not of their own doing, but as a gift of God. God forgives them, delivers them from sin’s bondage, makes them new creatures in Christ, empowers them by the Holy Spirit, and seals them for eternal life. When sin and death are finally abolished and the redeemed are gathered in the new heaven and the new earth, God will have completed the plan of salvation.
Though Jesus entered a world ruled by sin, He chose not to submit to its allure and broke its domination. Through His obedient life, His death on the cross, and His glorious resurrection, Christ triumphed over Satan and the powers of sin and death, opening the way for all people to follow. Convicted by the Holy Spirit, people turn from sin, entrust their lives to God, confess Jesus Christ as Lord, and join the family of God. All who receive Christ are born again, and have peace with God, and are called to love one another and live at peace with their neighbour. Those whom God is saving no longer live for themselves, for they have been set free from sin and called to newness of life.
Exodus 6:1-8; 15:2; 20:2; Psalm 68:19-20; Isaiah 43:1; Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 10:45; John 1:12; 3:1-21; 13:34-35; 16:8-11; Romans 3:24-26; 5:8, 12-21; 8:18-25; 10:9-10; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 5:14-21; Ephesians 1:5-10, 13-14; 2:8-9; Colossians 1:13-14; 2:15; Hebrews 2:14-18; 4:12; 5:7-9; 9:15-28; 11:6; 1 John 4:7-11; Revelation 5:9-10; 21:1-4.
Nature of the Church
Called by God
We believe the church is the people called by God through Jesus Christ. People who respond in faith are united with the local congregation by the public confession of baptism. Church members commit themselves to follow Christ in a life of discipleship and witness as empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Body of Christ
The church is one body of believers, male and female, from every nation, race, and class. The head of this body is Christ. The church, united by the one Spirit, makes Christ visible in the world. The church exists as local bodies of believers and as a worldwide community of faith.
The church is nourished and renewed as God’s people gather regularly to glorify God. The early church gathered on the first day of the week to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The worshipping community celebrates God’s faithfulness and grace, reaffirms its faithfulness to God, builds up the members of the body, and seeks God’s will for its life and mission. As the church observes baptism and the Lord’s Supper, it proclaims the good news of salvation.*
Fellowship and Accountability
The church is a covenant community in which members are mutually accountable in matters of faith and life. They love, care, and pray for each other, share each other’s joys and burdens, admonish and correct one another. They share material resources as there is need. Local congregations follow the New Testament example by seeking the counsel of the wider church on matters that affect its common witness and mission. Congregations work together in a spirit of love, mutual submission, and interdependence.
The New Testament guides the practice of redemptive church discipline. The church is responsible to correct members who continue to sin. Congregations forgive and restore those who repent, but formally exclude those who disregard discipline.
Gifts for Ministry
Through the Holy Spirit, God gives gifts to each member for the well-being of the whole body. These gifts are to be exercised in God’s service to build up the church and to minister in the world.
God calls people to equip the church for ministry. Leaders are to model Christ in their personal, family, and church life. The church is to discern leaders prayerfully, and to affirm, support, and correct them in a spirit of love.
Matthew 16:13-20; 18:15-20; John 13:1-20; 17:1-26; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4, 37-47; 11:1-18; 15:1-35; Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 5:1-8; 12-14; 2 Corinthians 2:5-11; Galatians 3:26-28; 6:1-5; Ephesians 1:18-23; 2:11-22; 4:4-6, 11-16; 1 Thessalonians 5:22-23; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:7-9; 1 Peter 2:9-12; 5:1-4.
* One form of the church’s worship is the practice of footwashing which can be a meaningful reminder of the humility, loving service, and personal cleansing that is to characterize the relationship of members within the church.
Mission of the Church
The Great Commission and the Great Commandment
We believe the good news of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ is for all people. Christ commands the church to make disciples of all nations by calling people to repent, and by baptizing and teaching them to obey Jesus. Jesus teaches that disciples are to love God and neighbour by telling the good news and by doing acts of love and compassion.
The Holy Spirit empowers every Christian to witness to God’s salvation. The church as a body witnesses to God’s reign in the world. By its life as a redeemed and separated community, the church reveals God’s saving purposes to the world.
We believe that when people receive God’s gift of salvation, they are to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Baptism is a sign of having been cleansed from sin. It is a covenant with the church to walk in the way of Christ through the power of the Spirit.
Baptism by water is a public sign that a person has repented of sins, received forgiveness of sins, died with Christ to sin, been raised to newness of life, and received the Holy Spirit. Baptism is a sign of the believer’s incorporation into the body of Christ as expressed in the local church. Baptism is also a pledge to serve Christ according to the gifts given to each person.
Baptism is for those who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and commit themselves to follow Christ in obedience as members of the local church. Baptism is for those who understand its meaning, are able to be accountable to Christ and the church, and voluntarily request it on the basis of their faith response to Jesus Christ.
We practice water baptism by immersion administered by the local church. Local congregations may receive into membership those who have been baptized by another mode on their confession of faith. Persons who claim baptism as infants and wish to become members of a Mennonite Brethren congregation are to receive baptism on their confession of faith.
The church observes the Lord’s Supper, as instituted by Christ. The Supper points to Christ, whose body was broken for us and whose blood was shed to assure salvation for believers and to establish the new covenant. In the Supper, the church identifies with the life of Christ given for the redemption of humanity and proclaims the Lord’s death until He comes. The Supper expresses the fellowship and unity of all believers with Christ. It is a supper of remembrance, celebration, and praise which strengthens believers for true discipleship and service.
In preparation for the fellowship of the Lord’s Supper, all believers examine themselves. All those who understand its meaning, confess Jesus Christ as Lord in word and life, are accountable to their congregation, and are living in right relationship with God and others are invited to participate in the Lord’s Supper. The normal pattern in the New Testament was that baptism preceded participation in the Lord’s Supper.
We believe that Jesus calls people who have experienced the joy of new birth to follow Him as disciples. By calling His followers to take up the cross, Christ invites them to reject the godless values of the world and offer themselves to God in a life of service. The Holy Spirit, who lives in every Christian, empowers believers to overcome the acts and attitudes of the sinful nature. Filled with love and gratitude, disciples delight to obey God.
United in a Distinct Community
Christians enjoy fellowship with God and other believers. At baptism, believers are joined to the local church, commit themselves to build up the body of Christ, and witness to the good news of the Christian hope. In community, members grow in maturity as they demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit, use their spiritual gifts, and practice mutual accountability in the disciplines of the Christian life. Christians confess sin, repent, and experience God’s grace in the life of the Christian community.
Demonstrating True Faith
Jesus teaches that discipleship is the way of self-denial and promises blessing for those who suffer for righteousness. Disciples are to resist worldly values and systems, the sinful nature, and the devil. Disciples give generously and reject materialism, which makes a god out of wealth. Disciples treat others with compassion and gentleness and reject violence as a response to injustice. Disciples speak honestly to build others up and reject dishonest, vulgar, and careless talk; they seek to avoid lawsuits to resolve personal grievances, especially with other believers. Disciples maintain sexual purity and marital faithfulness and reject immoral premarital and extramarital relationships and all homosexual practices. To be a disciple means to be true to Jesus in everyday life.
Psalm 1; 119; Amos 5:24; Matthew 5-7; 18:15-20; Mark 8:34-38; John 8:31-32; 13:34-35; 15:14-15; Acts 2:41-47; Romans 1:24-32; 8:1-30; 12; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 11:1; 12:1-13; 2 Corinthians 8-9; Galatians 2:20; 5:16-26; 6:1-2; Ephesians 4:11-12, 15-16; 5:1, 18; Philippians 2:6-8; Colossians 3:1-17; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8; 5:17; 1 Timothy 1:9-11; 2:1-8; 4:6-8; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; Hebrews 12:1-3; 13:4-5; James 1:22-27; 4:7; 1 Peter 2:20-25; 3:15; 5:8-9; 1 John 1:3, 6-9; 2:15-17.
Marriage, Singleness and Family
We believe that marriage and the family are instituted by God. The church blesses both marriage and singleness and encourages families to grow in love.
Marriage is a covenant relationship intended to unite a man and a woman for life. At creation, God designed marriage for companionship, sexual union, and the birth and nurture of children. Sexual intimacy rightfully takes place only within marriage. Marriage is to be characterized by mutual love, faithfulness, and submission. A believer should not marry an unbeliever.
The community of faith blesses and nurtures marriage relationships, and makes every effort to bring reconciliation to troubled marriages. Human sinfulness, however, may sometimes lead to divorce, a violation of God’s intention for marriage. With truth and compassion, the family of God offers hope and healing while continually upholding the biblical ideal of marital faithfulness.
Singleness is honoured equally with marriage, sometimes even preferred. The church is to bless, respect, and fully include those who are single. Those who remain single may find unique opportunities to advance the kingdom of God. God calls all people, single and married, to live sexually pure lives.
God intends family relationships at all stages of life to be characterized by love. Children are a gift from God. Godly parents instruct and nurture their children in the faith. Parents are to discipline their children wisely and lovingly, not provoking them to anger. Children are to honour and obey their parents.
Genesis 1:26-31; 2:18-24; 5:1-2; 12:1-3; Exodus 22:16-17; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Deuteronomy 6:4; 24:1-4; Psalm 127:3-5; Proverbs 31; Matthew 5:32; 10:34-39; 19:3-12; 22:23-33; Mark 3:31-35; 7:9-13; 10:6-11; Luke 16:18; Romans 7:2-3; 14:12; 1 Corinthians 7:8-40; 2 Corinthians 6:14-15; Ephesians 5:21-33; 6:1-4; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; 5:3-16; Hebrews 13:4; 1 Peter 3:1-7.
Society and State
The State as Instituted by God
We believe that God instituted the state to promote the well-being of all people. Christians cooperate with others in society to defend the weak, care for the poor, and promote justice, righteousness, and truth. Believers witness against corruption, discrimination, and injustice, exercise social responsibility, pay taxes, and obey all laws that do not conflict with the Word of God.
God has given governments authority to maintain law and order and to punish wrongdoers. Followers of Christ respect and pray for those in authority so that peaceful order may prevail. We deplore the loss of life in the exercise of state-sanctioned violence.
Christian Allegiance in Society
The primary allegiance of all Christians is to Christ’s kingdom, not the state or society. Because their citizenship is in heaven, Christians are called to resist the idolatrous temptation to give to the state the devotion that is owed to God. As ambassadors for Christ, Christians act as agents of reconciliation and seek the well-being of all peoples.
Because Christ forbids the swearing of oaths, we simply affirm the truth in legal transactions. Believers do not participate in secret societies which demand the swearing of oaths or which otherwise conflict with a Christian’s allegiance to Christ and the church. At all times, believers are called to live as faithful witnesses in the world, rejecting pressures which threaten to compromise Christian integrity.
Exodus 20:13, 16; Leviticus 19:11; Psalm 82:3-4; Jeremiah 29:7; Daniel 2:21; 3:17-18; 4:17; Matthew 5:13-16, 33-37; 6:33; 17:24-27; 22:17-21; John 15:19; 17:14-18; Acts 5:29; Romans 13:1-7; 1 Corinthians 5:9-13; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; Ephesians 5:6-13; Philippians 1:27; 3:20; 1 Timothy 2:1-4; Titus 3:1-2; James 5:12; 1 Peter 2:13-17.
Love and Nonresistance
God’s Community of Peace
Believers believe that God in Christ reconciles people to Himself and to one another, making peace through the cross. The church is a fellowship of redeemed people living by love. Our bond with other believers of Jesus transcends all racial, social, and national barriers.
We seek to be agents of reconciliation in all relationships, to practice love of enemies as taught by Christ, to be peacemakers in all situations. We view violence in its many different forms as contradictory to the new nature of the Christian. We believe that the evil and inhumane nature of violence is contrary to the gospel of love and peace. In times of national conscription or war, we believe we are called to give alternative service where possible. Alleviating suffering, reducing strife, and promoting justice are ways of demonstrating Christ’s love.
The Sanctity of Human Life
We believe that all human life belongs to God. Each person is created in the image of God and ought to be celebrated and nurtured. Because God is Creator, the author and giver of life, we oppose all actions and attitudes which devalue human life. The unborn, disabled, poor, aging, and dying are particularly vulnerable to such injustices. Christ calls the people of all nations to care for the defenseless.
God values human life highly. Ultimate decisions regarding life and death belong to God. Therefore, we hold that procedures designed to take life, including abortion, euthanasia, and assisted suicide, are an affront to God’s sovereignty. We esteem the life-sustaining findings of medical science, but recognize that there are limits to the value of seeking to sustain life indefinitely. In all complex ethical decisions regarding life and death, we seek to offer hope and healing, support and counsel in the context of the Christian community.
God’s Creation Mandate
We believe the universe and everything in it belong to God the Creator. God has entrusted the care of the earth to all people, who are responsible for managing its resources. Good stewardship uses the earth’s abundance to meet human need, but resists the unjust exploitation of the earth and its peoples. All God’s gifts are to be received with thanksgiving and used responsibly.
To confess Jesus as Lord transforms values. Jesus warns that we cannot serve both God and wealth. Preoccupation with money and possessions, self-indulgent living, and eagerness to accumulate wealth for personal advantage are not in keeping with the teaching of Scripture.
The Bible teaches cheerful, sacrificial, and proportional giving through the church in grateful response to God’s goodness. Christians do not claim any of their possessions as their own, but manage all their resources, including money, time, abilities, and influence, in generous ways that give glory to God. They do not despise the poor but practice mutual aid within the church and share what they have with others in need. God’s people seek to embrace a lifestyle of simplicity and contentment.
Genesis 1:28; Leviticus 25; Deuteronomy 15:7-11; Psalm 24:1; 115:16; Proverbs 14:31; Amos 6:4-7; Malachi 3:6-10; Matthew 6:19-34; 25:14-30; Luke 6:38; 12:13-21; Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-37; 1 Corinthians 4:7; 16:2; 2 Corinthians 8-9; Galatians 6:7; Ephesians 4:28; 1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19; James 2:1-7, 15-16; 5:1-6; 1 John 3:16-18; Jude 11.
Work, Rest and the Lord’s Day
We believe that God’s act of creation is the model for human activity. While sin has corrupted work and rest, redeemed people are called to restore labour and rest to their proper place.
As creatures made in the image of God, Christians imitate the Creator by working faithfully as they are able. They are to use their abilities and resources to glorify God and to serve others. Because they bear the name of Christ, all believers are called to work honestly and diligently and to treat others with respect and dignity.
As God rested on the seventh day, people are called to observe regular times of rest. Rest is an act of thankfulness for what God has provided. It is an act of trust, reminding humans that it is not their work but God who sustains them. Rest is an act of hope, anticipating the future rest assured by the resurrection of Jesus.
The Lord’s Day
Following the New Testament example, believers gather to commemorate the resurrection of Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit on the first day of the week. On the Lord’s day, believers joyfully devote themselves to worship, instruction in the Word, breaking of bread, prayer, fellowship, and service, limiting their labour to work of necessity and deeds of mercy.
Genesis 1:26-31; 2:15; 3:14-19; Exodus 20:8-11; Leviticus 25:1-7; Deuteronomy 5:12-15; Psalm 46:10; 95:6-11; Ecclesiastes 3:13; Mark 2:23-3:6; Luke 24:1-36; Acts 2:1; 20:7; Romans 14:5-10; Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:22-4:1; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-10; Hebrews 4:1-10; 10:23-25.
Christianity and Other Faiths
Jesus Is the Only Way
We believe that the saving grace of God in Jesus is the only means of reconciling humanity with God. Although salvation is available to all, only those who put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ have the assurance of eternal life.
God’s Universal Witness
God has not left anyone without a witness to the Creator’s goodness and power. Due to human rebellion, people have chosen to suppress the truth. While elements of truth may be found in other religions, Scripture warns against false teaching. Christians treat people of other faiths and philosophies with respect, but lovingly and urgently proclaim Christ as the only way of salvation for all peoples.
Sovereignty of God
God loves the world and does not want anyone to perish. In sovereign grace, God may communicate with people in ways that are beyond human comprehension. The Bible teaches that those who reject the gospel are under divine judgment; the eternal destiny of those who have never heard the gospel is in God’s hands. Our task is to proclaim Christ as the only way of salvation to all people in all cultures. The Judge of all the earth will do what is just.
Genesis 18:25; Psalm 19:2-4; Ecclesiastes 3:11; Isaiah 46:1-10; 55:8-9; Ezekiel 33:1-20; Jonah 1-4; Matthew 8:5-13; 25:31-46; 28:18-20; Mark 7:24-30; Luke 9:51-56; 12:47-48; John 1:12; 3:16, 36; 4:8-42; 12:12-26; 14:6; Acts 1:8; 4:12; 10:1-8, 34-36; 14:16-17; 17:22-31; Romans 1:18-24; 2:1-16; 10:9-21; 11:33-35; 1 Corinthians 3:11; 12:3; 1 Timothy 2:4-5; 2 Peter 3:9; Revelation 20:15.
Christ’s Final Triumph
We believe that our Lord Jesus Christ will return visibly and triumphantly at the end of the present age. The church must always be prepared to meet the Lord, living in expectation of His imminent return.
The Last Days
In these last days, between the first and second coming of Christ, the church carries out its mission in the world. Believers often endure suffering and persecution because of their witness to Christ. In spite of opposition by evil powers, the church is assured of the final victory of Christ’s kingdom. These last days come to an end with Christ’s return.
Since Christ destroyed the power of death by His resurrection, believers need not be afraid of death, the last enemy. Christ’s followers go to be with the Lord when they die. When Christ returns, they will be raised and receive new bodies. Believers who are alive at Christ’s coming will be transformed and will also receive new and glorious bodies, fit for life in God’s eternal kingdom.
When Christ returns, He will destroy all evil powers, including the Antichrist. Satan and all those who have rejected Christ will be condemned to eternal punishment in hell, forever separated from the presence of God. Believers must appear before the judgment seat of Christ to have their lives examined and their labours rewarded. By God’s grace, they will enter into the joy of God’s eternal reign.
The New Creation
All God’s children will be united with Christ when He appears, and they will reign with Him in glory. Pain, sorrow, and death will be abolished, and the redeemed will be gathered into the new heaven and new earth, where together with the angels they will worship God forever. God will make all things new, and God will be all in all. This is the blessed hope of all believers.
Matthew 24:29-31; 25:13; Mark 13:32-37; Luke 16:9; 23:43; John 14:1-3; Acts 2:17; Romans 8:18-22; 1 Corinthians 3:13-15; 15:26; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Philippians 1:23; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 5:1-11; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-12; 2:1-12; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:2; 9:26-28; 1 Peter 1:20; 4:7; 1 John 2:18; 3:2-3; Revelation 19:17-21; 20:7-15; 21-22.
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