The Disciples of Christ date back to the Restoration Movement in 19th century America. Barton Stone’s Christian movement and Alexander Campbell’s Disciples movement joined together in 1832 to become Christians, Disciples of Christ. The major tenets of the movement are:
(1) The New Testament teachings of Jesus the Christ are the best guide as to how Christians should live, not man-made doctrines or creeds (“No Creed but Christ”).
(2) Arguments and divisions among Christians keep them from doing God’s work (Christian Unity).
(3) All believers are ministers and share in the work of the Kingdom of God (“Priesthood of all Believers”).
(4) The Lord’s Supper is celebrated weekly and is open to everyone (Open Communion).
(5) Those who profess Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, are baptized by immersion (Believer’s Baptism).
In March, 2008, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) adopted the following statement and principles of identity:
Statement Of Identity
We are Disciples of Christ, a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world. As part of the one body of Christ, we welcome all to the Lord’s Table as God has welcomed us.
Principles Of Identity
- We confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and proclaim him Lord and Savior of the world, requiring nothing more – and nothing less – as a basis of our life together.
- We hold the centrality of scripture, recognizing that each person has the freedom – and the responsibility – to study God’s Word within the community of the church.
- We practice the baptism of believers, which emphasizes that God’s grace demands a response of faith and discipleship, while also recognizing the baptism performed in other churches.
- We gather for the Lord’s Supper, as often as possible, experiencing at this table the gracious, forgiving presence of Jesus Christ.
- We structure our community around the biblical idea of covenant, emphasizing not obedience to human authority but accountability to one another because of our shared obedience to Christ.
- We participate in God’s mission for the world, working with partners to heal the brokenness of creation and bring justice and peace to the whole human family.
- We hear a special calling to make visible the unity of all Christians, proclaiming that in our diversity we belong to one another because we commonly belong to Christ.
- We witness to the Gospel of God’s saving love for the world in Jesus Christ, while continuing to struggle with how God’s love may be known to others in different ways.
- We affirm the priesthood of all believers, rejoicing in the gifts of the Holy Spirit – which include the gift of leadership – that God has given for the common good.
- We celebrate the diversity of our common life, affirming our different histories, styles of worship, and forms of service.
- We give thanks that each congregation, where Christ is present through faith, is truly the church, affirming as well that God’s church and God’s mission stretch from our doorsteps to the ends of the earth.
- We anticipate God’s coming reign, seeking to serve the God – Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer – whose loving dominion has no end.