As I continue talk about starting a new church (indeed, what else of import have I really done since I started this blog?) I’ll be throwing out a lot of concepts, some of which make liberals and polity-congregationalists uneasy. Some are just unfamilar, and these are ideas that can be summed up as “faith and order.”
There is a Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches, and I like their study documents. Definitions, from their website:
FAITH: What churches teach about God, about Jesus Christ, about creation, about the Church, about the human person and salvation. Matters of faith both unite and divide us.
ORDER: How churches are structured; the roles and functions they ascribe to laypersons, ministers and overseers; their structures of accountability to themselves and each other. Matters of order both unite and divide us.
They have a number of documents, which themselves spawn lots of very interesting debate. There’s nothing quite like (say) a Romanian Orthodox and Canadian Mennonite response to the nature of the ministry of oversight.