In the Church today, we find too often that the more inclusive and “progressive” a Christian organization or denomination becomes, the more these groups seem to distance themselves from the traditions and long-established teachings concerning the core of the Christian faith. We find, on one hand, people in the Church who teach love, compassion, inclusion, and “progressive” social politics, but who shy away from, and even seek to deconstruct core Christian beliefs such as the Divinity of Christ, or the reality of his Resurrection. On the other hand, we can find those who staunchly adhere to and profess a sort of “orthodoxy,” who have memorized and profess the creeds and councils of the Christian faith, but for whom this orthodoxy has become an end in and of itself, rather than a means towards deeper and fuller love of God and neighbor.

INCLUSIVE ORTHODOXY seeks a revitalization of the faith, which is both orthodox in theology and grounded in the radical message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ—a message of love, a proclamation of hope for the oppressed, an invitation towards all regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. We are calling for the Church to extend its inclusivity upon the foundation of Christian orthodoxy, and to embrace the radical implications of the Gospel message, not despite Scripture and Tradition, but in light of it.

 

INCLUSIVE


“My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.”
 - Isaiah 56:7; Matt. 21:13; Mark 11:17


We affirm that all people are included in the Gospel invitation, and we affirm that there is a place within the full life and ministry of the Christian Church for faithful believers regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation, both those who are called to lifelong celibacy and those who are partnered.

Jesus' ministry was radically inclusive, challenging social, cultural, and religious traditions and beliefs which devalued any human being. In a culture where tax collectors were corrupt and despised, he broke bread with them and shared a meal (Matthew 9:9-13). The Pharisee's were confused by this and exclaimed, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?"

In a world of innumerable purity laws and cultural norms which governed interactions between Jews and Gentiles, as well as between men and women, Jesus, when sitting at a well, asked a Samaritan woman for a drink of water. She exclaimed, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (John 4:1-42).

Wherever he went Jesus broke taboos, and cultural boundries which dehumanized and segregated people. He gave attention to the outcasts of society– the sick, the handicapped, and even those who were demonically possessed. He was also concerned about those on the fringe of society– the poor and marginalized, confronting those in power who considered themselves to be superior.

In Jesus' time, the witness of a woman was not recognized in Jewish courts, yet he chose women to be the first witnesses of the resurrection and sent them to proclaim to the Resurrection to the disciples (John 20:1-18; Matthew 28:1-20). For this reason, the Church has longed regarded Mary Magdalene as the apostle to the apostles .


I am really drawn to the image at the top of this page of Christ the Redeemer, a statue of Jesus in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. His arms not only form the shape of a cross, but he seems to be inviting us forward– welcoming and inviting. It seems to depict the meaning of his words, "Come unto me all you who are heaven laden and I will give you rest."

Sadly, the Bible and a distorted image of Christ have been used to condone slavery, segregation, racism, ageism, anti-semitism, sexism, and homophobia. Such use of the Bible is contrary to the radical inclusivity modeled by Christ in his interactions with the diversity of people he encountered.

We believe that inclusion of faithful believers in the full life and ministry of the Christian Church regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation is fundamental to the Church's mission of living into the Kingdom of God.

ORTHODOXY


"Therefore, brothers [and sisters], stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours.”
- 2 Thessalonians 2:15


The Christian faith is an invitation into what is undoubtedly the most profound and beautiful love story ever. As the fountain of life and source of all goodness, God made all things, both seen and unseen, and filled them with his blessing. He created them to rejoice in the splendor of his radiance. God formed us in his own image, giving the whole world into our care, so that, in obedience to our Creator, we might serve all creation.

When our disobedience took us far from him, God did not abandon us to the power of death. In his infinite mercy he came to our help, so that in seeking him we might truly find him. Again and again he called us into covenant with him, and through the prophets He taught us to hope for salvation.

He loved the world so much that in the fullness of time he sent his only Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Savior. Incarnate by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, he lived as one of us, yet without sin. To the poor he proclaimed the good news of salvation; to prisoners, freedom; to the sorrowful, joy. To fulfill God's divine purpose, he gave himself up to death; and, rising from the grave, he destroyed death, and made the whole creation new.

That we might live no longer for ourselves, but for him who died and rose for us, he sent the Holy Spirit, his own first gift for those who believe, to complete his work in the world, and to bring to fulfillment the sanctification of all. Accordingly, the Holy Spirit has preserved for us accounts of Christ's life and teachings in the Holy Gospels, and has also preserved for us a glimpse into the early Church through countless letters (the New Testament "Epistles"). Alongside the Hebrew Scriptures, we view these as the written Word of God, which guides us in our own lives, and has guided Christians for almost two millenia in discerning God's will for our lives and the Church.

The Sacred Tradition of the Christian faith has also been passed down to us through the ages from the Apostles to those who succeeded them in an unbroken chain of teaching. Saint Paul taught that we are to “…stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter…” (2 Thess. 2:15). For this reason, we recognize the gift of Sacred Tradition which God has given to lead us in our lives. Further, we believe that worship, prayer, love, fellowship, forgiveness, and good works are all important aspects in the life of a Christian believer enabling us to grow in truth and into the fullness of sanctification.

Standing firm and holding fast to the traditions we were taught, as Paul encourages us to do, we affirm the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (commonly called "The Nicene Creed"), which for almost two millenia Christians have held dear as containing the core fundamental tenets of the Christian faith:

The Nicene Creed (325 A.D.)

(The first four paragraphs on this page are adapted from the Eucharistic Prayer D from the 1979 Book of Common of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America.)



 
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