What makes First Christian unique?
First Christian Church of Atlanta is one of the oldest continuous Disciples of Christ congregations in Atlanta, and yet we consider ourselves to be a perpetually new church.
CHRISTIAN CHURCH (DISCIPLES OF CHRIST)
The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) does not have a formal doctrinal statement. An historic cry of the churches has been, "No creed but Christ." However, there are common beliefs which characterize the people and congregations of the movement.
- Scripture - contains the word of God and is our authoritative guide to faith and life. Where scripture speaks clearly, we are bound to follow. Where it is unclear, or silent, we can use God-given intelligence, aided by the Holy Spirit, and the counsel of other Christians to find our way.
- Jesus - the Word of God, the savior, whose living presence fills our lives. We become part of the family of faith with the simple confession that Jesus is the Christ, God’s Son, and our Lord and Savior.
- Baptism - is for believers, i. e., those old enough and mature enough to understand what a commitment to Christ as Lord means. In keeping with the New Testament pattern, it is to be by immersion. Yet, in the interest of Christian unity, persons baptized by other forms are welcomed into the fellowship of individual congregations.
- The Lord’s Supper - observed every Sunday and open to all believers in the Lord. Christ invites and we do not turn any away. While Disciples do not believe the bread and cup literally become the body and blood of Christ, they do believe that he is present in a mystical way in the sharing at his table.
- Ministry - all believers are given gifts by God, and all are called to use those gifts in ministry. Disciples believe in the ‘priesthood of all believers’. Thus laypersons preside at the Lord’s Table, lead worship, and are free to do any work of ministry.
- Unity - the church from its beginnings has been committed to unity within each local congregation as well as in the whole Church. Disciples believe in unity in diversity within the local congregation. There is a great deal of individual freedom in belief and practice, within the unity of a common commitment to Christ as Lord. Disciples also are committed to the vision of the unity of the Church Universal, based on New Testament principles.
- Church structure - each congregation is autonomous. Each sets its own worship pattern, calls its own minister, sets its goals, develops its own programs, and the like. Cooperation between the national, regional and local manifestations of the church is voluntary.
- Faith and reason - faith is both a gift of God and an act of human will. We believe in the New Testament as a matter of faith, but we are also called of God to use our intelligence. The church’s frontier roots caused an early infusion of rugged individualism and utilitarian philosophy. Consequently, Disciples still value the right to think for themselves and to use plain common sense in matters of faith.