Statement of Faith
While Fulfilling Responsibilities through empty tomb, inc.
Confessing with my mouth that "Jesus is Lord," and believing in my heart that God raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9), and understanding that it is a responsibility from God to conduct activities through empty tomb, inc. in an attempt to serve the whole historically Christian church as it seeks to serve others, and recognizing the value of a group being able to function in the confidence of a consensus of shared perspectives and values, I affix my signature to the following statement:
I have read the empty tomb, inc. Religious Guidelines, and can in good conscience affirm that I will allow these Religious Guidelines to inform and guide the activities I undertake through empty tomb, inc. and agree to accept them as the defining criteria for decisions and actions taken through empty tomb, inc.; and,
I have read and agree to observe the standards of community conduct presented in the empty tomb, inc. Statement of Community Standards, recognizing that my personal conduct reflects not only on my personal witness as a Christian but also as a representative of the works through empty tomb, inc., and that I will allow this Statement of Community Standards to inform and guide the activities I undertake through empty tomb, inc. and agree to accept them as the defining criteria for decisions and actions taken through empty tomb, inc.
[This is a sample. An original copy is to be signed and dated by applicant.]
2.15.88; v.89.9; v.6.9.92; rev.7.23.96; rev.1.11.2001; rev. 6.08.2004
The following statements are presented as guidelines for an understanding of the basic doctrines of the Christian movement referred to in empty tomb, inc.'s certificate of incorporation.
a. God has revealed himself to be the living and true God, perfect in love and righteous in all his ways; one in essence, existing eternally in the three persons of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
b. God, who discloses himself through his creation, has savingly spoken in the words and events of redemptive history. This history is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word, who is made known to us by the Holy Spirit in sacred Scripture.
c. Scripture is an essential part and trustworthy record of this divine self-disclosure. All the books of the Old and New Testaments, given by divine inspiration, are the written Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice. They are to be interpreted according to their context and purpose and in reverent obedience to the Lord who speaks through them in living power.
d. God, by his Word and for his glory, freely created the world of nothing. He made man and woman in his own image, as the crown of creation, that they might have fellowship with him. Tempted by Satan, they rebelled against God. Being estranged from their Maker, yet responsible to him, they became subject to divine wrath, inwardly depraved and, apart from grace, incapable of returning to God.
e. The only Mediator between God and humankind is Christ Jesus our Lord, God's eternal Son, who being conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, fully shared and fulfilled our humanity in a life of perfect obedience. By his death in our stead, he revealed the divine love and upheld divine justice, removing our guilt and reconciling us to God. Having redeemed us from sin, the third day he rose bodily from the grave, victorious over death and the powers of darkness. He ascended into heaven where at God's right hand, he intercedes for his people and rules as Lord over all.
f. The Holy Spirit, through the proclamation of the gospel, renews our hearts, persuading us to repent of our sins and confess Jesus as Lord. By the same Spirit we are led to trust in divine mercy, whereby we are forgiven all our sins, justified by faith alone through the merit of Christ our Savior and granted the free gift of eternal life.
g. God graciously adopts us into his family and enables us to call him Father. As we are led by the Spirit, we grow in the knowledge of the Lord, freely keeping his commandments and endeavoring so to live in the world that all may see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven.
h. God by his Word and Spirit creates the one holy catholic and apostolic church, calling sinners out of the whole human race into the fellowship of Christ's body. By the same word and Spirit he guides and preserves for eternity that new, redeemed humanity, which, being formed in every culture, is spiritually one with the people of God in all ages.
i. The church is summoned by Christ to offer acceptable worship to God and to serve him by preaching the gospel and making disciples of all nations, by tending the flock through the ministry of the word and sacraments and through daily pastoral care, by striving for social justice and by relieving human distress and need.
j. God's redemptive purpose will be consummated by the return of Christ to raise the dead, to judge all people according to the deeds done in the body and to establish his glorious kingdom. The wicked shall be separated from God's presence, but the righteous, in glorious bodies, shall live and reign with him forever. Then shall the eager expectation of the creation be fulfilled and the whole earth shall proclaim the glory of God who makes all things new.
Note: The above was based on the Fuller Theological Seminary Statement of Faith as found in its 1987-88 Catalog, p. 10. However, no organizational connection or affiliation of any sort is thereby implied.
Statement on Sexual Standards and Marriage and Divorce
We recognize that the power which Jesus Christ has imparted to his Church has among its purposes the redemption of our lives, including the formation and maintenance of the moral integrity of the community. Such power is an utter necessity in a world that challenges Christian integrity in every area, especially the areas of sexuality and marriage.
We know also that such integrity entails the struggle to understand what is required of us as Christians and the resolve to put that understanding into practice. Therefore, in matters of Christian conduct, mutual instruction and encouragement as well as open dialogue are desirable, as a Christian community seeks to help its members mature in their own lives and to enable them to serve others.
This maturity ought to include the practice of loving confrontation when any member of a Christian community feels that another member is living in violation of what the Bible teaches about Christian conduct. empty tomb, inc. therefore, encourages individuals to follow, where feasible, the steps of confrontation and dialogue described in Matthew 18:15-22. Where these steps either discover that no wrongful conduct has taken place or they prompt repentance and change of conduct on the part of the one who has violated the biblical standards, the matter may be dropped.
Wherever circumstances warrant, however, empty tomb, inc. itself will assume responsibility for investigation and subsequent procedure of discipline. The discipline may involve dialogue, counseling or review of the person's leadership role within the organization.
The use of the policies here stated should always be viewed as a last resort. In no way do they exempt empty tomb, inc. from making every possible effort to encourage stable family life and wholesome approaches to sexuality, to provide education and counseling to those in need, to extend Christian charity to all parties involved in marital conflict or the struggle for sexual identity, and to demonstrate the personal forgiveness available through Christ for all human nature.
B. Statement on Sexual Standards
Men and women of God are suited for Christian service by moral character as well as by relevant training and spiritual gifts. They are qualified by compassion for individual persons, by sensitivity to the needs of the organization and the larger Christian community of which they are a part, by a burden that the whole of God's will be obeyed on earth, by personal integrity, and by readiness to accept correction and a desire for moral growth. Those persons working through empty tomb, inc. are expected to exhibit these moral characteristics.
The ethical standards of empty tomb, inc. are guided by our understanding of Scripture and our commitment to its authority regarding all matters of Christian faith and living. empty tomb, inc. also desires to honor and respect the moral traditions of the churches whom we are trying to serve through our works. These moral standards encompass every area of life, but the confusion about this specific topic demands that the community speak clearly regarding sexual ethics.
Our understanding of a Christian sexual ethic reserves heterosexual union for marriage and insists on continence for the unmarried. Our understanding of a Christian sexual ethic is that marriage is between one man, who has been classified male physically at and from the time of birth, and one woman who has been classified female physically at and from the time of birth. We believe premarital, extramarital and homosexual forms of explicit sexual conduct to be inconsistent with the teaching of Scripture.
Consequently, we expect those working through empty tomb, inc. to abstain from what we hold to be unbiblical sexual practices.
If any member of the leadership team is charged with failure to abide by this Statement of Sexual Standards, empty tomb, inc. will invoke procedures for investigation and discipline.
C. Statement on Marriage and Divorce
empty tomb, inc.'s biblical convictions and churchly responsibilities call us to make clear our commitment to Scripture's teachings on the nature of marriage as a covenant. These teachings view marriage as a witness to the permanent relationship between Christ and his Church, and do not condone divorce as an acceptable way of solving marital differences.
Our concern for the sanctity of marriage must show itself in attitudes and an atmosphere that foster marital harmony and in support and compassion for those who struggle to keep their marriages stable, under the almost relentless pressures of our society. At the same time, our spiritual commitment requires fidelity within marriage and sexual continence outside of it for participation in the official life of empty tomb, inc. empty tomb, inc.'s role as a coordinating servant in a multi-denominational constituency, and empty tomb, inc. Board of Directors members, officers, and staff being representatives of Christian ethical conduct for the community in general, require that those working through empty tomb, inc. be exemplary in these and all other ethical matters.
With respect to volunteers, empty tomb has attempted to strike a balance between (1) empty tomb's own organizational commitments, views, and needs-in light of the dynamic tension in emphasis between Matthew 13:24-30 and 2 John 7-11, and (2) respecting the discipling role of Christian congregations.
While standard operating procedure to date has not called for either volunteers or volunteer leaders to be asked to sign the Religious Guidelines and Community Standards as a condition of volunteering in empty tomb, empty tomb reserves the right to implement this step should it be deemed important or wise at some point in the future.
We take with full seriousness the apostolic pattern that sets up special qualifications in character and conduct for Christian leaders (e.g. 1 Tim. 3:1-13), including stability of marriage and family life. These qualifications are carefully considered in the selection of Board members, officers, and staff members. Recognizing that God's grace prevails, staff shall, as appropriate, consider with an applicant who has been divorced how the circumstances of the divorce may or may not affect the person's ability to function in a formal position with empty tomb, inc. in light of the commitment to a high community standard, and also the mercy and freedom available through Christ Jesus.
Where divorce occurs in the life of any member of the leadership team, the person is to notify the President of the divorce proceedings by the time of the interlocutory judgment of dissolution and simultaneously submit a letter explaining the circumstances. The President will review the circumstances of the divorce in the light of biblical norms with appropriate members of the leadership team and will inform the person of the conclusions thus drawn as to how this event affects the person's status as part of the empty tomb, inc. leadership team.
Note: The above was adapted from the Fuller Theological Seminary Statement on Community Standards as found in its 1987-88 Catalog Appendix, p. 154. However, no organizational connection or affiliation of any sort is thereby implied.
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