Triune God – The Ecumenical Catholic Church confesses One True God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and Jesus Christ as God the Son incarnate.
Nicene Creed – The Creed associated with the Council of Constantinople of A.D. 381 (the so-called “Nicene Creed”) is the definition of Christianity.
Apostles’ and Athanasian Creeds – The so-called “Apostles’ Creed” is accepted as a valid statement of faith, and the Quicunque Vult, or “Athanasian Creed,” is accepted as a valid statement of Trinitarian theology and christology. (While agreeing with the theological details delineated in the Athanasian Creed, the Ecumenical Catholic Church is unwilling to say, as does that creed, that those persons who do not believe exactly as so delineated will be assigned to eternal life in hell.)
Scripture, Tradition, and Reason – The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, the Tradition of the Church, and human reason and experience are the three pillars of Truth by which inspiration, revelation, law, and faith may be tested.
Nondiscrimination – This Ecumenical Catholic Church holds no regard for a person’s race, color, gender, sexual orientation or preference, nationality, or socioeconomic class.
Baptism – Holy Baptism is the primary sacrament, the act by which God accepts a person as His reborn child and sends to that child the Holy Spirit. As the Creed teaches, there is but one Baptism, whether of an infant or an adult, and that Baptism determines membership in the Church. The Ecumenical Catholic Church recognizes as valid the baptism of any other Christian denomination provided such baptism was performed with water in the Name of the Triune God. A baptized person never shall knowingly be rebaptized, for to do so would be an act of unfaith and denial of God’s infinite Grace.
Eucharist – The Holy Eucharist is the sacrament through which the baptized are fed with the real and substantial Body and Blood of Christ. This sacrament constitutes the essence of the worship of this church, and all celebrations of the Eucharist are open to all who are baptized, confess the Creedal Faith, and believe that they are receiving the true Body and Blood of Christ. Inability to confess or believe because of age, mental capacity, or other physical reason are not held as barriers to Communion.
Minor Sacraments – The five traditional minor sacraments are also performed by the Ecumenical Catholic Church. In penance Christians receive grace by confessing their sins and offering a sincere attempt to amend their ways. In unction the sick are anointed to receive grace as a means of comfort and assurance of love in times of trouble. The three other sacraments are signs of commitment derived from the primary commitment of Holy Baptism. In confirmation Christians publicly confess their faith in the Lord and commit themselves to Him. In marriage people commit themselves to one another so that together they may better serve God and humanity. In ordination Christians make commitments to one of the special, consecrated, permanent ministries of the Church.
One Church. The Ecumenical Catholic Church confesses that Jesus Christ sought His Church to be one Body which unites all of humanity. To this end, the Ecumenical Catholic Church (a) maintains its membership open to all persons who are in agreement with its doctrinal position and desire to be members and (b) maintains to its best ability an active role in the ecumenical movement, keeping in touch with the remainder of the Church and striving toward the visible unity thereof.
It is not within the scope of human rights, individually or collectively, to take the life of another against the other’s will.
By Baptism, we are all part of the one Body of Christ. Capital punishment defies our baptismal covenant, which is to bring people into the Fold of Christ, not to remove them from it. The death penalty is an act of violence against the Body of Christ.
The Bible, particularly the Old Testament, accepts and even prescribes capital punishment. Many Christians use this to justify their support of the action. In doing so, those supporters fail to recognize that the Old Testament legal codes are 3,000 years old and that human society has evolved to a much higher consciousness in the course of that time. We no longer primarily live by the Old Testament law, but rather by Jesus’ commands of love and forgiveness. Capital punishment is not a loving act, and it extinguishes the possibility of forgiveness.
Some proponents of capital punishment argue that it deters crime. There is no conclusive evidence for this. Most murders are committed out of passion, greed, or carelessness; they are not rationally directed acts. At a rational level, life imprisonment should be just as good a deterrent as capital punishment.
Others argue that capital punishment reduces prison costs for society. Even if this were categorically true, it would be irrelevant. Society cannot justify immorality because such behavior is cost-effective, after all, theft is always cost-effective to the thief.
Capital punishment is premeditated murder carried out in the name of society. It cannot be justified by arguing its benefits, either as a deterrent or a cost-saver.
All people are created by God with the intent that they be given the same rights.
Diversity is part of the wonder of creation; this is why the human population, like that of other living species, is made up of a variety of racial, ethnic, sexual, and other outward expressions.
Sexual diversity is as much a part of human nature as is racial diversity, hair color, eye color, and other physical factors; it is not relevant whether sexual diversity is caused by genetic/hormonal factors (“nature”), early childhood developmental factors (“nurture”), or a combination thereof.
Xenophobia, the fear of things that are “different,” and all its various outward appearances — racism, homophobia, sexism, heterosexism, ethnocentricity, nationalism, etc. — is a sin that denies the wonder of God’s diverse creation.
Illness is not a result of sin.
Race, national origin, ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation/preference, marital status, or other irrelevant factors shall not be used as criteria in evaluating ordination applications, assigning employees or volunteers to positions, granting promotions, setting salaries, and other staffing-related functions.
The Ecumenical Catholic Church officially supports legislation which would mandate similar nondiscrimination practices in public and private employment, housing, schooling, and other areas of life. The church supports the addition of “sexual orientation/preference” or similar wording to all existing antidiscrimination legislation. Members, clergy, and friends of the church are encouraged to actively support such legislation when it comes to vote and to encourage their local, state, and federal lawmakers to do the same.
The Ecumenical Catholic Church deplores any legislation whose intent is to limit governments in their efforts to eliminate discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, or other sexual minorities. The church finds such measures especially abhorrent when done in the name of religion or “family values” or in any other manner which might falsely imply that God was one the side of the bigots promoting such measures.
Marriage is a sacrament through which God gives grace to the married persons and through them to the Church. Though intended to be a life-long commitment, when a marriage ceases to be a vehicle of God’s grace, its sacramentality is diminished. The existence of historic vows is not always sufficient cause to perpetuate a marriage.
God calls us all to forgiveness and growth; spouses and former spouses must forgive each other, and the people of God must welcome all in their brokenness into God’s Family and at the Altar.
Forgiveness brings growth and healing, allowing for the possibility that a previously divorced person can enter a new, vital, and sacramental marriage.
The Ecumenical Catholic Church specifically recognizes the social pressures which may cause gay or bisexual persons to enter into heterosexual marriages. Some of these marriages are directly fraudulent in that the person knew from the beginning that his/her sexuality was contrary to that implicit in the marriage. Others are “honest mistakes,” made at a time when one’s personal sexual orientation was either vaguely or inaccurately perceived. Still others were a result of misguided attempts to change one’s intrinsic sexual orientation. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding such marriages, the Ecumenical Catholic Church considers them voidable and hence automatic grounds for annulment should one of the partners so desire. The rationale for this annulment is that marriage, like all sacraments, must be entered into with a completely honest intent. Whether deliberately fraudulent, simply a result of a confusion, or anything in between, the marriage was not entered into with a full perspective of the truth, and hence there was not truly a sacrament in the fullest sense of the term. Rather than a true sacramental marriage, the relationship, no matter how tranquil, productive, or outwardly convincing, was a quasimarital relationship in the eyes of this church. (See Canon XX.10.)
The church recognizes that even sacramental marriages may be terminated. While the life-long commitment is an important initial intent and should never be abandoned lightly, there are clear cases in which the overall good of one or more of the married individuals, the children, and others may be better served by a termination of the marriage. There are also cases in which such overall good is not as easily ascertained but in which, nonetheless, it may be a distinct possibility that divorce is the best option. In many cases only the marriage partners themselves are in a position to determine this. We believe that God is more interested in the overall good than in rigid obedience to commitments, even solemn, sacramental commitments. For this reason we recognize the validity of divorce, even though we understand it is the result of human sin.
Furthermore, we recognize that after such a divorce, life goes on. In many cases, such a productive continuance of life may include marriage to another person. As with persons who have never been married, the primary considerations for a second marriage are the same: benefits to the individuals, benefits to the ministry of the Church, benefits to others (including previous and potential children), and an intent of life-long commitment. We should not be in the position of limiting God’s ability to bless through the sacrament of marriage simply because one had been involved in a previous marriage. Such a refusal would be roughly akin to refusing Baptism to a convert who had previously been dedicated in a Buddhist ceremony or refusing full church membership to a person who once belonged to a different denomination.
The church should not be afraid to publicly acknowledge the termination of a marriage. In many cases, such an admission and its associated focus on the future is a valuable healing process and a means to propel the divorced people, their families, and their friends into the regained positive outlook it is intended to provide.
God effects miracles to provide for our salvation.
Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Communion as a means of our salvation, the Meal which nourishes the Church as the earthly Body of Christ and each of its individual members.
During the Eucharistic Celebration, the spiritual nature (substance) of the eucharistic bread becomes that of the Body of Christ, and the substance of the wine becomes that of the Blood of Christ. This is properly termed “transubstantiation” when we realize that the Latin word substantia means “essential nature” rather than “chemical makeup” as is often implied by the modern English use of the term.
At each celebration of the Eucharist, the Sacrifice of Jesus which occurred uniquely at the Cross on Good Friday is brought into present reality by the Holy Spirit. This is possible because God exists outside of the universe, external to our physical perceptions of space and time. From the perspective of heaven, the events of Calvary itself and each and every celebration of the Eucharist can be seen as one related activity tied together by a mystery of faith. This allows us to participate in Jesus’ Sacrifice in the same way that Mary and John participated at the foot of the Cross: We are there in loving support to receive the Grace which Jesus emanates. It does not mean that our presentation of a small amount of bread and wine in some way make us justified before God, but rather that these trivial offerings are reminders us of God’s infinite Love.
It is the Holy Spirit (not the minister) Who effects the change of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ.
When we receive the Body and Blood in the form of Bread and Wine, the Holy Spirit also continues to make us the Body and Blood of Christ. This is both an individual and a corporate action. It is an individual renewal of our incorporation into the Body through Baptism and the grace through which we can appear as Jesus to others. Furthermore, it is the act by which the Church is continually renewed to be the Body of Christ on earth. Without the Eucharist, therefore, there would be no Church and no Christians.
The Eucharist is a memorial in which we remember the great things that Jesus did for us. It is also an ordinance which Jesus commanded us to repeat. These aspects, however, are not the primary focus and must not detract from the basic truth that the Eucharist is a sacrament through which God’s Sacrifice is made real for us and our salvation is achieved. Communion is not just a reminder of Jesus’ death, but the means by which we are spiritually present at the Cross. Likewise it is not just a reminder of our salvation, but the means by which that salvation is brought to us on a continuing basis. It is our Spiritual Meal. As physical food is not just a reminder of our physical life, but the means by which it is sustained, so Communion is the very means by which our spiritual Life is sustained while on earth.
Baptism is the only prerequisite to Communion’s ability to sustain spiritual Life. In Baptism we are born (again) into this spiritual dimension, thus being alive to be nourished. Baptism is an indelible act that can never be erased, so just as surely as Communion is appropriate for only the baptized, so likewise it is appropriate for all of the baptized.
Because through the Eucharist we participate in a unique way in the Sacrifice of the Cross, so receiving Communion in a unique way imparts forgiveness of sins. As in Baptism we are washed clean of all prior sins, including original sin, so as we receive the Body and Blood of Christ we are forgiven of sins after our Baptism. The two sacraments go hand-in-hand, therefore.
As Baptism is the time when we are born again and become Christians, so it is that in Communion we “receive Christ” again and again in our lives.
For Christians, death is a celebration of life. The funeral liturgy is a celebration of Baptism and Easter.
Christianity revolves around the single most important event of human history, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Likewise, people’s own lives as individuals revolve around the single most important event of their lives, their baptism.
Heaven is bought for us by the Loving Sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This event changed history forever and is the only source of salvation. It is a sufficient payment to bring all persons to heaven through God’s grace. Our beliefs and actions are secondary to God’s work in Jesus Christ.
When we die as baptized Christians, we enter into the Presence of God. This is called heaven.
It remains a possibility, but not a certainty, that we may be given the opportunity to accept this gift even after we die, and that God presents this option even to those who have not been baptized.
Heaven exists external to the universe. It is a spiritual realm in which the physical attributes of space, time, matter, and energy do not exist.
Human beings are both spiritual and physical. These are not necessarily opposites, but just different aspects of our human existence. It is wrong to think of spiritual as “good” or physical as “evil” (or vice versa).
At death our connection as spiritual beings is broken from our physical body. We therefore depart the universe and enter heaven or hell. It is not just earth we depart, but the universe, the entire physical creation that includes all the planets and stars and galaxies.
At death we also depart time. It is hard for us to comprehend existence without time, and we often don’t think of time as “physical,” but modern relativistic physics tells us that space and time and matter and energy are all related.
Heaven is the place of eternal worship and endless love and joy. Hell is the place of eternal loneliness and separation.
Free will is part of the requirements of Love. If we are to truly love God, we must be able to do that on our own, rather than by force. Therefore, we are able to reject God as well.
God’s will is that everyone celebrate Eternal Life in heaven; however, even that is not forced upon us by God. Upon death we may be given the choice. Those who reject God may end up in hell, not as punishment but because they chose it.
For those who have lived loving lives centering around the worship of God, the choice may be very natural. For those who have never had God in their lives or are truly petrified by the thought of love, the choice may be tough, and some may even choose hell. This will not be because God is angry or punishes, but rather because love cannot be forced and still be real.
Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary. God the Father was His Father, and Joseph was merely His earthly guardian.
It is neither clear nor relevant whether Mary remained a virgin after the birth of Jesus.
The immaculate conception of Mary — that she was conceived without sin within her own mother’s womb — is a matter of individual faith. It is neither a central or essential teaching of Christianity nor is it contrary to Christianity. It is not important to the Incarnation that Mary have been sinless at the time of Jesus’ birth or any time thereafter.
The assumption of Mary — that upon death her body was taken directly into heaven — is neither supported nor refuted.
Prayers to the saints for intercession are appropriate, as they can then in turn pray to God. Mary is one of the saints, and prayers to her are therefore appropriate.
Mary represents all of us in the Incarnation. In this sense she is the chief of humanity, the one chosen to be the Father’s partner in the birth of Jesus as God made Human. It is appropriate for us as human beings to look to Mary as a model for our lives of submission, obedience, and love of God. In this sense she is also the most special of the saints, and it is in this sense that the term “Queen of Heaven” is to be understood: Not that she rules in heaven, but that she represents all of us before the Throne of God in worship. She is Queen because she stands at the front of the Great Congregation in the eternal heavenly Liturgy, not because she is seated at the Throne with her Son.
Mary is mother of the Church. As she was the mother of Jesus Christ, so too she is the mother of the Body of Christ in the Church. This means that she is our mother, the one to whom we look for direction and love, just as God is our Father, the Source of Love.
All people sin and need God’s grace. We will be purified before entering into heaven, but this process occurs outside of the physical universe in timelessness. During this process we will be aware of our whole lives, including the times when we failed to be fully loving; this will hurt and we will be sorry for our offenses. It is not that God is punishing us, but that through our awareness of reality we will naturally feel pain.
From earth’s perspective we cannot question whether a person is in this purging process (“purgatory”) or in heaven, because it occurs in timelessness and will all appear instantaneous to us who remain in the physical universe. We reject the medieval idea of a time-bound purgatory where a person spent x years being cleansed (and could have this time shortened by good deeds of friends or family).
We reject the concept of indulgences, that a person’s stay in purgatory can be amended by the deeds or financial contributions of persons on earth or, for that matter, that the Church on earth has any control or authority in any aspect of the spiritual realm.
Because Jesus earned heaven for each of us, we are given the opportunity to enter heaven at our death. Reincarnation, the idea that a person’s soul enters into another body when that person dies, therefore is inconsistent with Christianity.
Though the concept appears reasonable on the surface, in fact it denies God’s ability to save. Reincarnation is a denial of Easter. Reincarnation is a type of works righteousness, an attempt to earn salvation through growth and learning during a series of lives.
God is our Creator. Every individual is a new creature of God, born into the world to share and celebrate God’s love.
The Bible is the word of God in the sense that it tells us of God’s love relationship with humanity.
“Word of God” does not mean that God sat down and gave dictation to Moses or the prophets or the apostles. The Bible was written over thousands of years of history by hundreds of different people, edited time and time again, and translated from ancient dialects of different languages. It is absurd to believe that such a work would be literally inerrant
The Bible is a book of faith. It is a book to lead us to the truth on theological issues. Most importantly, it is a book to tell us about God’s Love, about Jesus Christ.
The Bible is not a science book or a book about history as we now understand it. From a theological standpoint, it is not important whether Genesis 1 provides a scientifically accurate description of creation. Nor is it important that Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 provide two different accounts which cannot be reconciled with each other on a scientific basis.
The Bible cannot be used as the end-all in ethics and morality. It provides a valuable input, but we must remember that it was written by and for people who lived two to four thousand years ago. For example, it is not logical to adhere to various sexual restrictions and not enforce the rules about lizards in pottery, mildew in houses, or blended fabrics.
The Bible is part of our heritage. It is at the same time a foundation upon which the Church is built and also the work of the Church. It was the Church’s councils that decided what is and what is not the Bible. Once the Spirit led the Church to that decision, the Church remains bound by it.
Everything within the word of God (Scripture) must be interpreted in the light of the Word of God (Jesus).
The Deuterocanonical Books (Apocrypha) are accepted by the Ecumenical Catholic Church as part of the canon of Scripture and are approved for use in public worship, study, etc. Like the Jewish canon of the Old Testament, these books are neither infallible nor literally inerrant.
The fundamentalist approach to Scripture is a type of idolatry in which a book is given pre-eminence even over Jesus Christ; we reject that concept of Scripture, which is a modern invention.
Not every sentence of Scripture has the same importance or level of accuracy. The integrity of the overall Bible is not affected by the literal accuracy or inaccuracy of any consistent part thereof.
God is One Being in Three Persons; this is the most basic of all truths and the central tenet of Christianity.
YAHWEH, the God of Love, could not have been a solitary Person before creation and yet be Love. God’s infinite Love requires both a Lover (Father) and Beloved (Son), and from this perfect Love-Bond proceeds Dynamic Love, the Holy Spirit. With the rest of the Christian Church, the Ecumenical Catholic Church confesses One God in the Three Persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are equal and coeternal. They are consubstantial, or homoousios (“same Essence”), with Each Other.
The Persons’ primary relationship with us is the Father our Creator, the Son our Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit our Sanctifier.
Genesis 1 and John 1, however, make clear that all Three were involved in creation: We can sing with the ancient hymnographers, “Behold the world’s Creator wears the form and fashion of a slave” (Coelius Sedulius, died c. 450) and “Creator Spirit, by Whose aid the world’s foundations first were laid” (Rhabanus Maurus, 778-856).
1. The Father is the Ultimate Cause, the One Who willed creation into existence.
2. The Son is the Architect and Designer of creation, “without Him [the Logos] was nothing made that was made.” (John 1:3)
3. The Holy Spirit is the Agent of creation, the One Who “brooded over the waters [of chaos]” and brought forth the ordered universe. (Genesis 1:2).
“Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier” is thus neither fully equivalent to, nor as comprehensive as, “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” primarily because God is personal, existing as Three Living Persons, not just a force responsible for these resultant activities.
God the Father. God the Father is our Creator and the Cause behind all that exists.
The Father begot the Son in heaven before creation. God is eternal, timeless, infinite, and dimensionless. Hence we can speak of the Father begetting the Son and yet cannot say “there was when He [the Son] was not.”
God the Father was also the Father of Jesus Christ in the sense that it was He Who sent the Holy Spirit to Mary the Virgin in order that she might conceive the Word of God in flesh. It was by the Father’s will and act that Mary bore her Son.
Equally important, the Father is our Father, our Loving Parent. He is not just a Creator Who put everything together and let it happen, but a living, loving, caring Father Who wants the very best for us and Who feels pangs of hurt when we hurt ourselves. He is to us just as an ideal human father or mother would be – always caring, always knowing what’s best, always hoping for our success, helping out where possible, but knowing that we are individuals and must learn to love by ourselves, because love by nature cannot be forced.
Jesus taught us to call God “Abba,” which means “Daddy” or “Father” in Aramaic (Matthew 14:36, Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:6).
It is a very special privilege to be able to pray with Jesus, “Our Father in heaven.”
God the Son. Jesus Christ is both divine and human. He is the Word (Logos, Expression, Son) of God made flesh in human form.
God the Father so loved His creatures that He sent forth His Beloved Son to become one with us, to die for us, and to rise in triumph from the grave.
The Eternal Word took on human nature and was born as a Baby in Bethlehem on the first Christmas Day. He lived among us and taught us the Way of Love.
Human society could not tolerate God’s Pure Love, and Jesus, our God made Man, was nailed to the Cross and killed. On Easter Day He rose again from the dead, and God showed us that Love indeed is more powerful than all the sin and all the hatred that Satan, the universe, and human beings could ever put forth against Him.
Because of Jesus’ Sacrifice and Resurrection, we are assured through Baptism that eternal Life waits for us.
God the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is True God, homoousios (of One Being, consubstantial) with both the Father and the Son.
The Nicene Creed teaches that the Spirit proceeds from the Father. The Western Church (Roman Catholic and from there, Protestant) added the word Filioque to the Latin text, meaning the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. The Ecumenical Catholic Church contends that history has made the difference more political than theological and that, in fact, the theological difference is trivial.
“Proceeds” means that the Holy Spirit is the Love of God overflowing from the Bond between the Father and the Son. Because God loves in such an eternal and infinite manner, He not only must exist as a Lover and Beloved, but that Love must even overflow eternally and infinitely. Once God created, and even in the act of creation, this Love interacted with the creation on a continuing basis. This is the Holy Spirit Who proceeds into the universe as Deity from Deity, Love from Love.
The Holy Spirit, as God the Interactor in the universe, accomplishes many things: The Holy Spirit
|† Was present at creation;
† Inspired the prophets and others to this day;
† Effected the Incarnation of God the Son within Mary’s
† Descended upon the apostles on the Day of Pentecost
and continues to bring many gifts to the People of God;
† Makes the Sacraments have their effect — filling us at
Baptism, changing the bread and wine into Christ’s
Body and Blood, and continuing to bless us as we
participate in the minor sacraments;
† Guides the Church as it evolves in Truth.