Be In Christ Church of Canada – Who We Are
Crossings Community Church belongs to the Be In Christ Church of Canada (formerly the Brethren in Christ Church of Canada). Be In Christ has a long history in Canada dating back to the late 18th Century. Our denomination is a unique blend of Anabaptism, with influences from the Pietistic and Wesleyan traditions.
Anabaptists were a movement that came out of the Reformation. While reformers like Luther and Calvin called for a grounding in scripture, Anabaptists felt that the reformers had not gone far enough in orienting the church towards the scriptures. For example, Anabaptists questioned the Just War Doctrine taught by the church when it was aligned with the Roman Empire because Jesus clearly teaches his followers to love their enemies.
Today the Anabaptist tradition speaks with a unique voice in three areas: As Palmer Becker writes in his book Anabaptist Essentials: “Jesus is the centre of our faith,” “Community is the centre of our life,” and “Reconciliation is the centre of our work.”
All Christians strive to follow Jesus. As Anabaptists, though, we emphasize the place of Jesus in our understanding of the character and mission of God. We see in Jesus God’s perfect and final self-revelation. So when the demands of Jesus seem contrary to the demands of other biblical authors (like Moses, or Paul) we see our highest duty to follow Jesus. Jesus is the interpretive lens through which we read all of the other scriptures (John 5:39).
Jesus isn’t an idea to be understood, but a friend and companion with whom we endeavor to walk. In his life, he shows us how to be truly human: by exercising love, forgiveness, generosity, kindness, and much more. Our goal in life, then, is to become increasingly like Jesus.
Canadian culture is individualistic in its assumptions. So we often think about our faith in purely individual terms, using terms like “My personal relationship with God.” While we are meant to have a personal faith, we must also not neglect the collective nature of faith: we are called to live as a family rightly related to God and also to one another.
The Christian community is a gift that God gives us. It is instrumental on forming us in the image of Jesus. Some people show us God’s wonderful love and grace, even when we fall short. Other people aren’t so pleasant to be around, but they give us the opportunity to learn to show God’s wonderful love and grace. It is in and through a Christian Community operating the in the power of the Holy Spirit that the Father shapes us into image of his Son.
We also believe that it is in community that we discern God’s leading. While the Spirit guides us individually, sometimes its difficult to sort out the Spirit’s guidance from our own desires, fears and prejudices. As a diverse community of believers comes together to seek God’s will, we collectively discern where God is leading us in a way that is more faithful than if we simply try to do it on our own.
We believe that God’s work in the world can best be understood as a work of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19). God calls us to be reconciled to him, and by being reconciled to God, the Spirit makes is possible for us to become ministers of God’s reconciliation to the world. Our participation in this work of reconciliation is so central to what God is doing in the world that Jesus warns us that we cannot receive God’s forgiveness if we refuse to also pass it on to others who have wronged us (Matthew 6:14-15)
Being ministers of God’s reconciliation means that we offer others the same radical grace that God offers us when Jesus cries out to the Father for the forgiveness of those who put him to death. Anabaptists believe that forgiveness of others, and love for one’s enemy is Jesus’ central teaching and deepest challenge to us. It is in this activity–made possible only through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit–that God is remaking the world, setting it free from the corrupting power of sin and alienation.
Because of our beliefs about the importance of reconciliation, Anabaptists are pacificists. We believe that violence is never justified by those who follow Jesus. Jesus himself chose to unjustly suffer in the face of violence when it was in his power to stop it through violence (Matthew 26:53). We recognize that these teachings are deeply challenging, but they show us what Jesus’ perfect will is.
Pietism & Wesleyanism
The pietists were common folk who believed that faith should be more than a set of theological principles that Christians believe, but rather that faith should be an experience. We teach that faith involves a personal conversion experience and a life-long walk with Jesus.
Some reformers were pessimistic about Christians’ chances of changing. They argued that we can come to faith in Jesus to find forgiveness for our sins, but that we would remain in bondage to those sins during this life. John Wesley (founder of the Wesleyan/Methodist movement) argued that through discipline Christians were able to find an increasing level of holiness over their lives. We recognize that we are on a journey that will not be fully complete in this life, but we also believe that we can find a greater measure of freedom from sin and holiness in this life and that it is our responsibility to submit to the discipline of the Holy Spirit and the Christian community to allow that transformation to happen.