So, who are the Friends?
Bethel Friends Church is a member of the Evangelical Friends Church – Eastern Region, also called the EFC–ER. The EFC-ER is an association of approximately 100 “Friends” Churches.
“Friends” is the technical term that designates our denominational name. Specifically, we are called the “Friends Church,” that name coming from the declaration of Jesus in John 15:14-15 that He wants us to be His friends. Our nickname is more widely known. We are “Quakers.”
Following is a synopsis of the principal components of our doctrines and testimonies.
- God exists and is as the Bible presents Him to be: spiritual, self-existent, eternal, triune, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, all-wise, transcendent, immutable, impassable, love, good, righteous, just, holy, wrathful, and joyful.
- The triune God created and sustains the universe, redeemed it, and is master of it.
- The first humans, Adam and Eve, tempted by Satan, sinned and thus corrupted the universe and everything in it.
- As a result of their sin and “fall,” every human being is born with the disposition to self-realization (original sin) and will experience physical death.
- Father God addressed the “fall” by sending Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, to redeem the universe and humanity. Jesus did so through His finished work: immaculate conception and virgin birth, perfect life, substitutionary death for our sins, resurrection from the dead, and ascension into heaven.
- As a result of the finished work of Jesus, those who make and carry out the decision to follow Him are justified (forgiven of their sins), regenerated (given the Holy Spirit and thus the power to live), and sanctified (transformed, over the course of their lifetimes, in their inner dimensions, to be more and more like Jesus and have abundant life).
- God brings those who make and carry out the decision to follow Jesus into a supernatural fellowship with each other called “the church.” The church is to be “the family of God” in which agape love prevails and through which His work in the world is primarily done.
- Jesus will return to earth from the sky and in His resurrection body to end human history.
- Every person who has ever lived and is living at the time will then be resurrected and judged and, based on response to Jesus, live forever with God in heaven or apart from Him in hell.
- The noblest thing a person can do is to worship God privately and publicly. We worship Him by engaging Him with our minds ( thoughts and feelings) and bodies in order to thank and praise Him for who He is and what He has done, is doing, and will do. Our public worship services are thus primarily about Him not us.
- In keeping with New Testament teaching and tradition, we practice the sacraments and ordinances of communion and baptism.
- Our citizenship is in heaven not on earth and we must think, feel, and act accordingly. Because American popular culture is perhaps the strongest socializing force in the world, the single greatest challenge to the 21st century Christian and church is how to respond beneficially and morally to it. Doing so requires Biblical knowledge objectively applied to the content and forms of our popular culture.
- One of the first principles of response to our popular culture is inner and outer simplicity in all things. We reject ostentation and extravagance in weddings, funerals, homes, cars, hobbies, vacations, and so on because our transformed condition does not require or even desire them. The simple pleasures and joys of creation and human life are in actuality profound pleasures and joys and it’s in them that we find our satisfaction.
- The family is the God-ordained and basic unit of human relationship and society. That family is defined as husband and wife and if there are any, children.
- Sex is a gift of God and moral, as intercourse, only in marriage. Adultery, fornication, and homosexuality are sins and must be repented of in order to have right relationship with God.
- Marriage is a sacred bond that is a reflex of the Trinity. Divorce, therefore, is an option only on Biblical grounds. The follower of Jesus should study diligently and objectively what those grounds are before deciding to divorce.
- Since there is “neither male nor female” in Jesus (Galatians 3:28), the Holy Spirit calls both men and women to the pastoral ministry.
- The Bible calls us to be wise stewards of all our God-given resources. We should keep and give those resources as the Bible teaches and dictates.
- According to Jesus, we should commit ourselves, as He did during His ministry on earth, to meeting the needs of those whom He called “the least of these.” The poor, the incarcerated, the mentally ill, and others should be the objects of our affection and concern.