Foundational Truths - The Church
In the fifth in our series examining our core beliefs, Jamys Carter explores Elim’s foundational beliefs about the Church.
Elim as a movement is one family of believers connected through God, who also share a history and an identity.
As Elim people, we are part of a global, national and local movement. We see ourselves as part of the larger world-wide church, made up of various movements, streams and denominations.
We accept the orthodox view of Church that is voiced by millions frequently through the Nicene creed: “We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.”
The term ‘catholic’ here does not refer to the Roman Catholic Church, rather it means ‘universal’, and so incorporates all Christian churches.
To get a clearer understanding of our view of church, we need a quick history lesson.
The existence of numerous different denominations largely indicates that at some point in history there were seemingly unresolvable problems which led to a split.
Significantly, there were two key partings. The first was the Great Schism of 1054, in which the Eastern (Orthodox) and Western (Roman Catholic) churches decided they had to go their separate ways.
This centred upon the insertion of a word into the Nicene Creed by the Western churches that had not been agreed by the Eastern. Theologically, this concerned the nature of the Holy Spirit in relation to the rest of the Trinity.
The second was the Protestant Reformation, brought to a head by Luther’s defence of his writings at the Diet of Worms (not quite what it sounds!) in 1521.
Protestantism took issue with the authority of the Pope, the selling of indulgencies (a way to buy your time out of purgatory) and transubstantiation (a theological position regarding what happens at communion).
From this point onwards, Protestantism provided a means for various denominations to form, although this would never have been Luther’s intention.
Pentecostalism, including Elim’s own genesis, started early in the 20th century when the manifestations of the Holy Spirit were received by some and rejected by others.
Thankfully, in the latter half of that century, many of the longer-established churches also started to accept and receive the work of the Holy Spirit.
What had divided so many now brings unity.
There are still beliefs and practices of some other churches that we would disagree with. But let’s be honest, we can easily disagree with the people we worship with week in week out.
What unites us as Christians is becoming far greater than what divides us.
While there are still some strong views regarding the Roman Catholic Church, the move of the Spirit among their congregations also indicates a hope for a more unified global church.
One day there will come a time when in the presence of the risen Christ, all Christians will be united as his Bride.
But until that day comes, we are called to bear with one another in love (Ephesians 4:2), not giving up meeting together (Hebrews 10:25), but as members of one body (Romans 12:4-5) to follow and serve Jesus.
The Church - what Elim believes
We believe in the spiritual unity and the priesthood of all believers in Christ and that these comprise the universal church, the body of Christ.
Why the church matters
• The church is the Bride of Christ
• The church is the body of believers - the called out people of God.
Jamys Carter is an Elim minister and academic.
First published in the February 2022 issue of Direction, Elim’s monthly magazine. Subscribe now to get Direction delivered to your home.
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