What We Believe
It sounds pretty basic, but we believe in God, not just a concept, but as a living being who communicates with humanity. In the Bible and the tradition, God is sometimes seen as mother or even lover. Yet most often, Christian experience has described God as a trinity: Father (the creator), Son (Jesus) and Holy Spirit. This understanding emerges from our historical experience and is descriptive, but never exhaustive of God’s nature.
CREATOR/FATHER: As Christians, we believe a loving God ultimately creates, sustains and directs all things. Human beings are created in “God’s image.” In other words, we are meant to reflect the creator’s nature and live as God’s beloved children, by returning our love and gratitude to God, loving one another and caring for the earth as God’s creation.
JESUS: God loves the world so much that God became human in Jesus Christ. During his life on earth Jesus taught us that God’s desire is that all people will live with dignity and become all they are created to be. Jesus shared this dream for humanity and the whole world and called it the Kingdom of God. Jesus’ teaching was so provocative that the ruling authorities (the Roman Empire) crucified him. It seemed that evil, death and the powers that fought against God’s mission had triumphed. Yet death was only the beginning. We believe Jesus truly rose from the dead (it’s not just a metaphor) and thus opened a new way for us to live both now and in the eternal dimension of the world that is coming. There will be a time when Jesus Christ will come again and the Kingdom of God will finally be real on earth as it is in heaven.
HOLY SPIRIT: While Jesus lived among us, he told us that he would continue to be with us through the presence of God’s Spirit. We believe that the Holy Spirit of God lives within us as God’s children and is present especially when we gather together as the Church, the community of Jesus’ followers or disciples. The Holy Spirit inspired believers in the past and still inspires us, to proclaim boldly Jesus’ message, called the Gospel or the Good News, assists us to live the faith we believe, gives us new and creative insights into God’s work in the world, and gives us gifts to serve one another and the world in God’s name.
THE HUMAN CONDITION: God wonderfully created us and the whole world. Yet, we believe we need to be honest about how screwed up the world is. Human societies (including ours) use violence as a means to security and peace. We squander natural resources. We cast a blind eye on the plight of those who struggle and are in need. As individuals, we often are selfish in every area of our lives and we can’t seem to live up to our own unrealistic image of ourselves. In short, we are out of alignment with God’s best hopes for us and we have marred God’s image in us. We live apart from God’s embrace. The Christian tradition refers to this separation from right relationship with God as sin. Human sinfulness infects us individually and corporately. We need to be rescued.
THE DIVINE SOLUTION: Here’s the good news; we believe that God reaches out to humanity through Jesus Christ and invites us to become part of God’s solution. Whoever you are, wherever you have been, whatever you have done is not an obstacle to God’s love. God has a purpose for each of us and we all have an eternal destiny to live in the community of God’s beloved and to be part of God’s life forever. Despite our wandering, there is always hope for a new start. God has been seeking us before we ever sought God. When we ask to be forgiven, accept Christ as our savior and receive new life through Baptism, Christ claims us as God’s own forever.
The Human Condition and the Divine Solution
The Bible is the Word of God spoken through human words. Both the Old Testament (The Hebrew Bible) and the New Testament (the books revealing the work and person of Jesus Christ) are inspired by God. Yet, we do not go to the Bible to teach us science or as a definitive historical document. Rather, it is the story of God’s dealings with God’s people over many centuries. The Bible emerged out of the experiences of the Jewish people in the Old Testament and the early Christian Church in the New Testament and reflects the cultures and perspectives of those experiences. God has spoken definitively through the Bible and God still speaks to us as we continue to gain new insights in our day and time from its message and teaching and we are transformed to engage God’s mission in the world. We interpret the Bible through reasoned exploration using the tools of scholarship, in the community of the Church today, as well as through the lens of the ancient tradition of the Church’s wisdom.
We believe that the Church is the outpost of God’s hope for making the world right. Our mission is to restore all people to unity with God by telling people about God’s good news in Christ and by promoting justice peace and love. In our daily private prayer, and especially when we gather for worship, we are united as one body with all Christians past, present and future. We meet the risen Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit in a special way every week when we hear the Scriptures and celebrate Communion (also know as the mass) where we receive Jesus’ presence in the form of bread and wine
The Episcopal Church is one of many independent provinces of the world-wide Anglican Communion. While autonomous, we have our spiritual roots in the Church of England. We trace our foundations back to the earliest days of Christianity. In that sense we are a “catholic’ church. That is, we are linked to the ancient universal Church begun by Jesus Christ and proclaimed throughout the world by his Apostles.
We are a “reformed” Church because at the time of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th Century, the Church of England separated from the Church of Rome over issues of governance, authority and a desire to return to beliefs and practices of the ancient Church. In the 18th Century, after the American Revolution, members of the Church of England in the American colonies became autonomous from England yet remained joined in a common fellowship of faith and practice with our mother church across the Atlantic.
We are called Episcopal because we believe in the authority of Bishops (the word for bishop in Greek is Episcopos) who are successors of Jesus’ apostles. While we believe that the Church’s faith is passed down though the words of the Bible, and the teaching of the Church’s tradition, we also believe that actual human beings, bishops, pass on the authority given to the apostles by Jesus himself through the generations. This ancient office of bishop is a physical link with those who have gone before us and those who will come after us in the future.
St. John’s is called a Cathedral because it is the official place where the Bishop of our Diocese (geographic region) has his official chair (cathedra) and gathers with our larger Episcopal community on special occasions. Our region or Diocese covers five and half counties in Southern California.
What is the Episcopal Church?
The Cathedral of St. John, located in the downtown area of Los Angeles near the University of Southern California, is an historic parish church, built in the Romanesque style, that fulfills the liturgical functions of a cathedral. Most large diocesan services, such as ordinations and the annual Renewal of Vows in Holy Week, are hosted by St. John’s. The congregation continues to carry out its own lively ministry to its neighborhood.
The Episcopal Church, which includes dioceses in the United States, Taiwan, Argentina, Ecuador, and several other countries, has its administrative headquarters at the Episcopal Church Center in New York City, but its National Cathedral is located in Washington, D.C. For more about this “house of prayer for all people,” visit www.nationalcathedral.org.