PARABLE

BELIEFS

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What we Believe: 

Parable Church is a Christ centered Community and we practice our faith with an ongoing dialogue with the classical creed of the Christianity: 

The Nicene Creed

“We believe in one God, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages; Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten, not created, of one essence with the Father through Whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate  of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man. He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried; And He rose on the third day, according to the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father; And He will come again with glory to judge the living and dead. His kingdom shall have no end. And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Creator of life,  Who proceeds from the Father, Who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, Who  spoke through the prophets. In one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. We confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead,  and the life of the age to come. Amen.

Our community's theological distinctives are as follows: 

1. God is Love

Above all, we believe that God is love, that this love is best revealed in the person of Jesus Christ, and that all things are created in and through Divine Love. Humanity is especially created in the image of this love and called to grow further into its likeness. We believe that this life exists to educate us in this, allowing us to unlearn bad inherited patterns of ineffective loving—ancestral sins—and to learn to love well via imitation and participation in the Divine kenosis and agape as revealed in Scripture. We believe that our receptivity to God’s love is intrinsically linked to our offering that love to others; thus our main priority is to love God and love people. We believe that God’s creation of humanity in the wholeness of God’s image, divided into male and female, then re-united in monogamous love, reveals that marriage is a model of the love of Christ for his Church. The revelation of this Divine love is shared amongst the Trinity and we as humanity are invited into this love. As such, marriage is a sacrament and a sign in the life of the church. (1 John 4:7-21 Matt 22:34-40, Gen 2:20-25, Eph 5:31-31)

 

2. The Trinity

We believe in one God in three persons who share in one essence: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. God the Father is the creator and sustainer of all things; God the Fatherhas eternally begotten the Son, through whom he created all things, whose presence as the Logos is discernible in all Creation. God the Son became incarnate as the person Jesus of Nazareth, whodied, rose again, and ascended. The Father then sent the Holy Spirit, who is the seal of the promised inheritance of salvation, and who leads, guides, teaches, and empowers the church. We believe the three Divine Persons of the Trinity exist together in perfect unity in an eternally dynamic outpouring of self surrendering love which allows for both their identity as three and unity as One. We believe this creates a template for the human person—made in the divine image—to strive for in love and in community;  ultimately the Church is called into participation in and transformation by that love. (Gen 1:26 Matt 3:16-17, 28:19, John 1, I Cor 6:11)

 

3. Humanity and the Fall

We believe that God created humanity, dividing them into male and female, in God's own image. Humanity has been tasked with lovingly watching over God’s creation and being good stewards of the earth on which we find ourselves. As God is love, and we have been created in God’s image, we believe that human beings are free beings, for freedom is an indispensable condition of authentic love. We believe that humanity’s immature, uneducated expression of this freedom often falls short of God’s ideal love, with potentially destructive consequences. This deficiency is best illustrated in Genesis 3 in which Adam and Eve’s disobedience subjected themselves, and all creation, to the corruption of death and sin. As such, all humanity is alienated from God, corrupted by sin and death, and in need of reconciliation, redemption and redirection. (Genesis 1:26-3:24, Rom 5:12-15, 8:18-21) [See also Epectasis]

 

4. Salvation

We believe that, the eternal Logos, the Word of God, God the Son was born as a human being from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary- the promised Messiah of Israel, Jesus Christ. (John 1:1-18, Col 1:15-17, Hebrews 1:1-13). We believe that Jesus Christ accomplished the work of salvation and redemption of humanity through his:

  1. Incarnation: Jesus became fully human while still being fully God. Because he took on human flesh, he experienced the fullness of the human condition but did not sin. He became human so humanity might become divine, affecting the redemption and healing of humanity and its calling to be transformed into his image. Christ thus serves as our prototype in life and Godliness on this earth, boththe end and the means of our healing. (John 1:14)
  2. Teaching: Jesus’ teaching is handed down to us most reliably in four canonical Gospels, the key by which all other scripture—and wisdom in any form—ought to be interpreted.  While the Old Testament shows us a very clear picture of how to be authentically human before a mysterious but loving God, the New Testament and the gospels especially show us how to become divine, as children of God transformed into living reflections of his love. (John 6:68)
  3. Crucifixion: As the ultimate fulfillment of his incarnation, teaching ministry, and self surrendering love, Jesus was willingly executed on the cross. He gave himself as the payment of our ransom to death, dying with us but also for us, as our substitute and representative, through whom death has been transformed and through whom we have been delivered from the terminal corruption of sin and the power of the devil. Likewise, in this life Jesus now calls us to take up our cross and die to that which is passing away and be called into new life in godliness.  (Matt 16:24, Gal 2:20, Col 1:15-23, Heb 2:14)
  4. Harrowing of Hell: Jesus descended to the very depths of Hades to liberate those held captive as a victorious conqueror, taking the keys of Hell and the grave, allowing for the future resurrection of all who have died, and the ultimate future destruction of Death and Hades (1 Peter 3:19-20, 1 Peter 4:6, Eph 4:7-10, Rev 20:14). 
  5. Resurrection: Because death’s power has been destroyed, Jesus Christ rose again from the dead, ministered to his disciples, and then ascended to the Father. Because Christ is risen, we too will rise again to eternal glory. And in this present life we are called to follow Christ into the process of death and resurrection into divine life. (Rom 4:25, 8:11 Gal 2:20)

Christian salvation is a free gift of God. It is a gift of grace, received by faith, and offered to all who will receive it, placing their faith in Jesus Christ and what he has accomplished for our salvation. It is received through repentance of sin and confession of faith in Jesus Christ as the risen Lord and is evidenced through a life of holiness and transformation into Christlikeness, with the effect of continuing freedom from the corrupting influence of sin and the power of death and Hell in this life and the next. (Rom 5:1, 10:9-10, Eph 1:3-14, 2:8-9). [See also Theosis]

 

5. The Bible

We believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God consisting of the sixty six canonical works of the Old and New Testaments. We believe that the Bible is God’s revelation to humanity and it is trustworthy, and purposefully provocative for the purpose of spiritual growth. We believe that Scripture is united in that it speaks to God’s ultimate revelation as Love and in Jesus Christ. It is to be wrestled with, questioned, and explored, with the intent of being believed, obeyed, and trusted in all that it teaches, instructs, and promises. Of course, therefore, it is to be read in community and by the individual Christian as he or she is able. Since the Bible is the inspired Word of God given for the salvation and transformation of all humanity it is uniquely crafted to reveal divinity to the human person—body, soul, and spirit. We believe the Bible is more than a history book—and whether taken seriously but not historically, or as an educative drama written by the Divine Author played out with real actors on the stage of world history—knowledge of scripture’s historical and cultural context enhances our understanding of its present message. In conjunction with reading what the body of the text literally says, and asking what the text meant then, for real persons living in the time and place of its origin, we believe its greatest depth comes of asking what the text means for us now, as it is enacted upon our souls in our own time and place, and finally what the spirit of it means forever, for all people. We read our sacred texts to learn what story God is telling to and through each one of us, as living epistles. (II Tim 3:15-17, I Peter 1:23-25, Hebrews 4:12, 2 Cor 3:2)

 

6. The Church

The Church is both the bride and the body of Christ, the habitation of God through the Spirit, with divine appointments for the fulfillment of the Great Commission. As such the Church is both the active agent of God on this earth and a miracle. God has set up in the church the office of the pastor, who shepherds and leads the people of God. However, each believer is born of the Spirit and an integral part of the assembly—each members of a royal priesthood and ministers of reconciliation, and irreplaceable gifted parts of the body. The institutional church remains flawed, yet we believe it is a valuable crucible for working out Christian character in delight and difficulty, as its gathering together represents a miracle which Christ inhabits in a special way. We believe all members are called to support the local body financially and in service, as they are able, and as such believe all members have a voice. (Ephesians 1:22, 2:19-22, 4:11, I Cor 12, 1 Peter 2:9, 2 Cor 5:18)

 

7. The Ordinances of the Church

The ordinances of the church, Water Baptism and Holy Communion, are commanded in Scripture by Jesus Christ himself. We believe that all who profess faith in Jesus Christ should be baptized in water, via immersion, signifying their death to sin, being renewed by the Spirit, and being raised to new life in Christ both now and in the age to come. Baptism is also the sign of the person’s entrance into God’s covenant community, the Church. Holy Communion commemorates the death of our Lord, his body broken for us, and his blood shed for us in order to reconcile us to God, now flowing as the love that runs as lifeblood in the veins of the Body of Christ. It is an act of thanksgiving, remembrance, and participation, even as it is a symbol of our union with Christ and each other. We believe that these ordinances, along with the ceremony and institution of holy marriage, are sacramental, meaning they are an outward sign of an inward grace that has been instituted for the edification and education of humanity. As such baptism, communion, and a Christian marriage ceremony are all the celebrated privilege of active members in good standing with the Parable community. (Matt 28:10, Acts 10:47, Rom 6:4, I Cor 11:24-30, Matt 18:20)

 

8. The Baptism in the Holy Spirit

We believe that salvation given by Jesus Christ is applied in the believer through the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit sanctifies us, renews us, and incorporates us into the family of God, empowering us for a life of service and mission. We believe that the Holy Spirit is our comforter, our Guide, and our Teacher, and stress the importance ofdaily reliance on and attention to the Spirit’s activity upon and within the human soul. We believe that the baptism in the Holy Spirit and fire is a second act of blessing available to all believers. While we believe in many gifts given by the Spirit, we believe the fruits of the Spirit—love, joy peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance-–are the both the goal and the evidence of the mature Spirit filled life, with love being the greatest. (John 14:26, 16:7-13, Acts 1:8, 2:4, 10:44-46, 19:2-6, I Cor 12-13, Gal 5:22-23) 

 

9. Christian Theological Ecumenism:

As a contemplative evangelical community we believe in drawing on the broader theological wisdom of the worldwide church handed down over the last two thousand years, especially those luminaries who understand the workings of the Trinity and the Holy Spirit upon the human heart for actual growth and transformation into wholeness healing—body, soul, and spirit—and who have lived lives demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit. (2 Tim 2:2, Gal 5:22-23, Matt 5:16-18). As such we follow their teachings in the following classical Christian concepts, which we understand to be especially relevant for our time:  

 

                I.    Epectasis:

Following the teaching of Gregory of Nyssa, we believe that the human heart is wired for the infinite love of God, and as such has an infinite capacity to desire and receive that abundant immeasurable love. (This infinite desire for God is epectasis). As such, when that infinite insatiable capacity for desire is directed at anyone or anything less than God’s love, all manner of addiction, frustration, pain, and poor destructive decisions result, which Augustine described as wrongly ordered love, and which we commonly understand as sin. This is the principle malady from which the teachings of scripture, the work of the Holy Spirit, our cooperative efforts at sanctification, and-above all the salvific work of Jesus Christ seek to liberate humanity. (James 3:14-18, 4:1-5) 

 

               II.    Prelest:

Following the early Christian teachings of the Philokalia and such luminaries as Gregory of Sinai, Maximus the Confessor, and Symeon the New Theologian, as well as the later developments of Russian theology, Parable ascribes to the notion that the inherited legacy of sin—wrongly ordered love and desire—acts upon human culture like a veil of illusion, a blindness from which we must be healed as we learn to see reality and think clearly with the mind of Christ. (That blindness is called prelest and it is one of the grated challenges of the human person seeking God.) (Ez 12:2, Is 44:18, Jer 5:21, Ps 135:16, Mark 8:18, Rom 12:1-2)

 

               III.    Theodicy:

Parable understands the question of why a loving God would allow for human suffering to be not only one of the greatest theological challenges of the believing Christian, but also one of the deepest invitations to spiritual growth for those already inside and outside of the established Christian faith. (This question is referred to as theodicy.) We believe all suffering is potentially transformative, and redeemable by the ongoing work of Christ. (See Job, Ecclesiastes). 

 

               IV.     Theophany:

Parable is committed to the notion that the best answer to theodicy is theophany: the appearance of God’s goodness and love in the world all around us,  revealed daily by the ongoing plan of the Father and work of the Holy Spirit, and inherent in creation, especially in the beauty of nature and in the human capacity to love. (Ps 19:1, Rom 1:20, 1 John 4:12) 

 

              V.    Theosis:

Parable understands the chief goal of the Christian path in this lifetime is continued growth into a living reflection of God’s love, the ideal of which is best observed for us in the person of Jesus Christ, described in the Gospel accounts. This includes the progressive transformation of the entire person in greater healing, wholeness and love, made possible by the ascetical effort of the Christ follower in cooperation with the sanctifying grace of God and the Holy Spirit. (This process of theosis is anchored in the classical Christian notion that Christ became human so that we might become divine.)  (Matt 5:48, 1 Cor 11:1, Eph 5:1-2, Rom 8:28-29, 2 Peter 1:4)

 

              VI.    Hesychia:

Following the example of Jesus Christ and the teachings of the early church, Parable Church strongly emphasizes the importance of daily practice of quiet, used for introspection, reflection, listening prayer and contemplative. This developed discipline of quiet is known as hesychia. (Psalm 46:10, Matt 14:23, Mark 1:35 Luke 5:16, 6:12, 9:28)

 

             VII.    Sabbath:

While it is no longer a requirement by law, we recognize a special significance in this being the longest of the Ten Commandments. We believe that the call to rest is both a call to worship and also a call to good self care. Parable believes that in our hectic world a call to routine personal sabbath rest and good self care is one more crucial aspect of being immersed in and transformed into God’s love. (Exodus 20:8-11)

 

             VII.    Apathea:

Parable church believes that a continued practice of contemplative prayer, introspective self reflection, good spiritual direction, and ongoing spiritual disciplines in cooperation with the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit can and should allow one to strive to be both more in touch with their authentic emotions and less captive to their afflictive aspects, providing for both deeper feeling and more peace in one’s life. This state of fully experiencing your emotions without them fully controlling you is classically known as apathea. (Eph 4:14-25, James 1:5-8. Phil 4:7, Col 3:15)

 

             VIII.    Synergeia:

We believe that human free will is created out of the will of God, and as such total human freedom does not contradict divine sovereignty, manifest actively in time through God’s loving omnicompetence. Thus one goal of the Christian life is to bring our will into active cooperation with Divine will, a state known as synergeia

 

              IX.    Logos Spermaticus:

As taught in scripture and all throughout Christian history from luminaries such as Justin Martyr to C.S. Lewis, we believe that there are seeds of divine wisdom hidden in the hearts, the arts, and the religion of every person, in every culture, in every place throughout human history, which are best understood in light of Christ and the Trinity. (Acts 17:16-28)

 

             X.   The Potential of Apocatastasis:

Parable church believes that there is both enough scriptural evidence, and a long standing tradition all throughout Christian history in teachers such as Gregory of Nyssa, Isaac of Ninevah, John Scotus Eriugena, Maximos the Confessor, Julian of Norwich, Friedrich Schleiermacher, George MacDonald, Sergius Bulgakov, Karl Barth, William Barclay, Hans Urs von Balthazar, Jurgen Moltmann, and Kalistos Ware to allow for the speculation about, hope in, and prayer for the possibility of an apocatastasis accomplished by the salvific work of Christ for all people, fully realized only at the end of time in the total victory of God’s loving purpose for humanity and creation. This hoped for possibility of total restoration is anchored in the redemptive work of Christ set in motion before the founding of the world and in no way mitigates Biblical teachings on the destructiveness and consequences of sin, the necessity of Christ’s incarnation death and resurrection, the reality of heaven and hell, nor excuses the church or the believer from the call to spread the gospel or make disciples of Christ. Rather it is a hope based on the certainty that death and Hades will be cast into the lake of fire, and the Gates of the Heavenly City will “never be shut”. In short, we do not teach this as a certainty, neither do we disqualify it as a hope, and as such we leave open the possibility for those of our members who see fit to pray for an eventual apokatastasis, the total salvation of each and every soul, after the potential sojourning of some through Hell to restoration.   (Acts 3:19-21, Rom 5:18, 5:22, 11:32, 1 Cor 15:22, 25:22-28, Col 1:20, Phil 2:10-11, Rev 20:14, 21:25)