V. FAITH AND TRADITION
Our two traditions are called to proclaim to the world the fundamental
truth of Gods reconciliation in Christ, to which both have given
assent. This common assent is sealed through baptism in separated
ecclesial bodies; nevertheless, in our baptism we are given radical
unity. This realization impels us as the Church, the Body of Christ,
to witness to the Apostolic faith in our life, teaching, liturgy,
The Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, has developed
the means for proclaiming the Apostolic faith from age to age, as
it has sought to defend the faith and communicate it faithfully
in different times and circumstances. Scripture and Tradition embody
these responses to the faith that God gives.
Faith is Gods gift, both to the individual and to the community.
In both cases, it is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we
believe, grow in faith and live by faith. Our faith is that Christ
is the Risen Lord who is the reason for the existence of the Church.
This faith begets a new relationship among all who believe. The
faith which commits a person to Christ commits that person to the
Church which is his Body; because faith is given by the one Spirit
of Christ, it is the one basic faith that binds Roman Catholics,
Disciples and other Christians in one fellowship in that Spirit.
However, in spite of this radical unity in the Body of Christ, we
recognize that we have not yet fully achieved the visible ecclesial
unity which he willed. While gratefully recognizing the measure
of agreement reached on this topic, we also became acutely aware,
at this point, of some serious unresolved issues that need further
discussion in our dialogue; these, we believe, should be a major
part of our future agenda.
The conversion process by which one commits oneself in faith to
Christ and to Discipleship is a gradual, continuous and difficult
one. Christ promised that his Spirit would be present to the individual
in and through the community of believers. The Christian community,
therefore, calls forth, nurtures, illumines, and sustains the faith
of the individual in its liturgy and prayer, and its example of
Christ-like love and service.
Christian life is life in community, a community which recognizes
the dignity and freedom of human conscience, while also acknowledging
the need for the individual conscience to develop in greater obedience
to the Gospel. The Church is called to guide and enable this process.
Each Christian's faith is inseparable from the faith of the community.
Personal faith is an appropriation of the Church's faith and depends
on it for authenticity as well as for nurture. At the same time,
bearing witness to personal faith builds up the life of the Church
and quickens and strengthens the faith of all.
Insofar as the Church as a community of faith and love is the sign
of Christ in the world, believers are called to offer a common witness
of faith, so that the world might believe that Jesus is Lord. Thus
the life of faith, both of the individual and of the community,
is expected to manifest a certain quality by which it becomes a
"light in the world," "salt of the earth." Both
the individual believer and the pilgrim Church are ever called to
a deeper conversion to Christ, a more authentic faith. Scripture,
mediating the Word of God, has a central, normative, and irreplaceable
role in this process of personal and ecclesial conversion.
Together, the Disciples of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church
acknowledge the important role of Tradition in the life of the Church.
The relationship between faith and Tradition has to do with the
question of how Christians from age to age come to the knowledge
that Jesus Christ is the Lord of life and the way of salvation for
the whole world.
The Apostles were called by Christ and commissioned to a unique
position in the life of the Church. They attest the presence of
the risen Lord and hold a special place in the communication of
faith to subsequent generations. In that communication, the Holy
Spirit is always present in the life of the Church, guaranteeing
that the Church shall not fail to bring about the fulfillment of
the divine plan.
Under the inspiration of the Spirit, the New Testament expresses
the response in faith of the Apostolic Church to the risen Lord.
This response was itself conditioned by God's revelation and promises
The New Testament Scriptures, resting on the authority of the Apostles
and interpreted with the aid of the Holy Spirit, constitute the
inspired record of the Tradition which sterns from the Apostolic
Era. This Tradition reflects the sensus fidelium (the shared awareness
of the faithful) of the primitive church as a whole. However, the
sensus fidelium is not fixed in the past, but is ever dynamic and
living through the dialectical interaction of Scripture and Tradition
in the ongoing life of the Church from age to age.
Each generation must come to faith anew through the hand on this
power of the Holy Spirit and faith to succeeding generations. At
the same time, the Church in every age inherits the successes and
failures of the past.
In the process of making explicit the implications of revelation,
various traditions arise. This resultant diversity is to be expected
and is frequently itself an expression of the catholicity of the
Church. Problems arise when the ecclesial context in which a baptismal
assent is made exercises an influence of such a kind that the communion
in faith is compromised. Roman Catholics and Disciples both recognize
that they move beyond the fundamental reality of faith in God revealed
in Jesus Christ to understandings that have grown out of a diversity
of Christian traditions.
Roman Catholics hold that the living transmission of the Gospel
in and by the Church is necessary for a more complete articulation,
manifestation and application of the truths that are in Scripture
than Scripture alone affords. They look to the affirmations of faith
and interpretations expressed in the Church's official liturgical
texts, creedal statements, teachings of the episcopal college, especially
in councils, and papal teachings which they believe to be formulated
with the guidance of the Spirit. While the Scriptures are normative
and the soul of all subsequent theological investigation, their
adequate understanding is possible only within the life of the believing
Disciples believe that the New Testament is a sufficient expression
of the essential faith, doctrine, and practice of the individual
Christian and the Christian community. Thus white being conscious
of standing in the Tradition of the Church, they have not given
a normative position to later expressions of the faith of the Church,
and in particular have not used creeds and confessions as tests
of eucharistic fellowship. Disciples believe their history shows
that a church can develop and sustain its own distinctive character
without a formal creed, and that the exercise of freedom and diversity
in expressions of belief and worship need not threaten its unity.
However, where affirmation of faith, both ancient and modern, have
been used as a basis for the expression of the essential unity of
the whole Church (tor example, in united churches), Disciples have
gladly accepted them.
Both Disciples and Roman Catholics are committed to the appropriation
in their own lives of all that is good from the traditions of others,
both in the past and today.