An Outline of our Faith commonly called
[This information is taken from the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church, pages 845 - 862]
Q. What are we by nature?
A. We are part of God's creation, made in the image of God.
Q. What does it mean to be created in the image of God?
A. It means that we are free to make choices: to love, to create, to reason, and to live in harmony with creation and with God.
Q. Why then do we live apart from God and out of harmony with creation?
A. From the beginning, human beings have misused their freedom and made wrong choices.
Q. Why do we not use our freedom as we should?
A. Because we rebel against God, and we put ourselves in the place of God.
Q. What help is there for us?
A. Our help is in God.
Q. How did God first help us?
A. God first helped us by revealing himself and his will, through nature and history, through many seers and saints, and especially the prophets of Israel.
God the Father
Q. What do we learn about God as creator from the revelation to Israel?
A. We learn that there is one God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
Q. What does this mean?
A. This means that the universe is good, that it is the work of a single loving God who creates, sustains, and directs it.
Q. What does this mean about our place in the universe?
A. It means that the world belongs to its creator; and that we are called to enjoy it and to care for it in accordance with God's purposes.
Q. What does this mean about human life?
A. It means that all people are worthy of respect and honor, because all are created in the image of God, and all can respond to the love of God.
Q. How was this revelation handed down to us?
A. This revelation was handed down to us through a community created by a covenant with God.
The Old Covenant
Q. What is meant by a covenant with God?
A. A covenant is a relationship initiated by God, to which a body of people responds in faith.
Q. What is the Old Covenant?
A. The Old Covenant is the one given by God to the Hebrew people.
Q. What did God promise them?
A. God promised that they would be his people to bring all the nations of the world to him.
Q. What response did God require from the chosen people?
A. God required the chosen people to be faithful; to love justice, to do mercy, and to walk humbly with their God.
Q. Where is this Old Covenant to be found?
A. The covenant with the Hebrew people is to be found in the books which we call the Old Testament.
Q. Where in the Old Testament is God's will for us shown most clearly?
A. God's will for us is shown most clearly in the Ten Commandments.
The Ten Commandments
Q. What are the Ten Commandments?
A. The Ten Commandments are the laws give to Moses and the people of Israel.
Q. What do we learn from these commandments?
A. We learn two things: our duty to God, and our duty to our neighbors.
Q. What is our duty to God?
A. Our duty is to believe and trust in God;
I To love and obey God and to bring others to know him;
II To put nothing in the place of God;
III To show God respect in thought, word, and deed;
IV And to set aside regular times for worship, prayer, and the study of God's ways.
Q. What is our duty to our neighbors?
A. Our duty to our neighbors is to love them as ourselves, and to do to other people as we wish them to do to us;
V To love, honor, and help our parents and family; to honor those in authority, and to meet their
VI To show respect for the life God has given us; to work and pray for peace; to bear no malice,
prejudice, or hatred in our hearts; and to be kind to all the creatures of God;
VII To use our bodily desires as God intended;
VIII To be honest and fair in our dealings; to seek justice, freedom, and the necessities of life for
all people; and to use our talents and possessions as ones who must answer for them to
IX To speak the truth, and not to mislead others by our silence;
X To resist temptations to envy, greed, and jealousy; to rejoice in other people's gifts and graces;
and to do our duty for the love of God, who has called us into fellowship with him.
Q. What is the purpose of the Ten Commandments?
A. The Ten Commandments were given to define our relationship with God and our neighbors.
Q. Since we do not fully obey them, are they useful at all?
A. Since we do not fully obey them, we see more clearly our sin and our need for redemption.
Sin and Redemption
Q. What is sin?
A. Sin is the seeking of our own will instead of the will of God, thus distorting our relationship with God, with other people, and with all creation.
Q. How does sin have power over us?
A. Sin has power over us because we lose our liberty when our relationship with God is distorted.
Q. What is redemption?
A. Redemption is the act of God which sets us free from the power of evil, sin, and death.
Q. How did God prepare us for redemption?
A. God sent the prophets to call us back to himself, to show us our need for redemption, and to announce the coming of the Messiah.
Q. What is meant by the Messiah?
A. The Messiah is one sent by God to free us from the power of sin, so that with the help of God we may live in harmony with God, within ourselves, with our neighbors, and with all creation.
Q. Who do we believe is the Messiah?
A. The Messiah, or Christ, is Jesus of Nazareth, the only Son of God.
God the Son
Q. What do we mean when we say that Jesus is the only Son of God?
A. We mean that Jesus is the only perfect image of the Father, and shows us the nature of God.
Q. What is the nature of God revealed in Jesus?
A. God is love.
Q. What do we mean when we say that Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and became incarnate from the Virgin Mary?
A. We mean that by God's own act, his divine Son received our human nature from the Virgin Mary, his mother.
Q. Why did he take our human nature?
A. The divine Son became human, so that in him human beings might be adopted as children of God, and be made heirs of God's kingdom.
Q. What is the great importance of Jesus' suffering and death?
A. By his obedience, even to suffering and death, Jesus made the offering which we could not make; in him we are freed from the power of sin and reconciled to God.
Q. What is the significance of Jesus' resurrection?
A. By his resurrection, Jesus overcame death and opened for us the way of eternal life.
Q. What do we mean when we say that he descended to the dead?
A. We mean that he went to the departed and offered them also the benefits of redemption.
Q. What do we mean when we say that he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father?
A. We mean that Jesus took our human nature into heaven where he now reigns with the Father and intercedes for us.
Q. How can we share in his victory over sin, suffering, and death?
A. We share in his victory when we are baptized into the New Covenant and become living members of Christ.
The New Covenant
Q. What is the New Covenant?
A. The New Covenant is the new relationship with God given by Jesus Christ, the Messiah, to the apostles; and, through them, to all who believe in him.
Q. What did the Messiah promise in the New Covenant?
A. Christ promised to bring us into the kingdom of God and give life in all its fullness.
Q. What response did Christ require?
A. Christ commanded us to believe in him and to keep his commandments.
Q. What are the commandments taught by Christ?
A. Christ taught us the Summary of the Law and gave us the New Commandment.
Q. What is the Summary of the Law?
A. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Q. What is the New Commandment?
A. The New Commandment is that we love one another as Christ loved us.
Q. Where may we find what Christians believe about Christ?
A. What Christians believe about Christ is found in the Scriptures and summed up in the creeds.
Q. What are the creeds?
A. The creeds are statements of our basic beliefs about God.
Q. How many creeds does this Church use in its worship?
A. This Church uses two creeds: The Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed.
Q. What is the Apostles' Creed?
A. The Apostles' Creed is the ancient creed of Baptism; it is used in the Church's daily worship to recall our Baptismal Covenant.
Q. What is the Nicene Creed?
A. The Nicene Creed is the creed of the universal Church and is used at the Eucharist.
Q. What, then, is the Athanasian Creed?
A. The Athanasian Creed is an ancient document proclaiming the nature of the Incarnation and of God as Trinity.
Q. What is the Trinity?
A. The Trinity is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit
Q. What is the Holy Spirit?
A. The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity, God at work in the world and in the Church even now.
Q. How is the Holy Spirit revealed in the Old Covenant?
A. The Holy Spirit is revealed in the Old Covenant as the giver of life, the One who spoke through the prophets.
Q. How is the Holy Spirit revealed in the New Covenant?
A. The Holy Spirit is revealed as the Lord who leads us into all truth and enables us to grow in the likeness of Christ.
Q. How do we recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives?
A. We recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit when we confess Jesus Christ as Lord and are brought into love and harmony with God, with ourselves, with our neighbors, and with all creation.
Q. How do we recognize the truths taught by the Holy Spirit?
A. We recognize truths to be taught by the Holy Spirit when they are in accord with the Scriptures.
The Holy Scriptures
Q. What are the Holy Scriptures?
A. The Holy Scriptures, commonly called the Bible, are the books of the Old and New Testaments; other books, called the Apocrypha, are often included in the Bible.
Q. What is the Old Testament?
A. The Old Testament consists of books written by the people of the Old Covenant, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to show God at work in nature and history.
Q. What is the New Testament?
A. The New Testament consists of books written by the people of the New Covenant, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to set forth the life and teachings of Jesus and to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom for all people.
Q. What is the Apocrypha?
A. The Apocrypha is a collection of additional books written by people of the Old Covenant, and used in the Christian Church.
Q. Why do we call the Holy Scriptures the Word of God?
A. We call them the Word of God because God inspired their human authors and because God still speaks to us through the Bible.
Q. How do we understand the meaning of the Bible?
A. We understand the meaning of the Bible by the help of the Holy Spirit, who guides the Church in the true interpretation of the Scriptures.
Q. What is the Church?
A. The Church is the community of the New Covenant.
Q. How is the Church described in the Bible?
A. The Church is described as the Body of which Jesus Christ is the Head and of which all baptized persons are members. It is called the People of God, the New Israel, a holy nation, a royal priesthood, and the pillar and ground of truth.
Q. How is the Church described in the creeds?
A. The Church is described as one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.
Q. Why is the Church described as one?
A. The Church is one, because it is one Body, under one Head, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Q. Why is the Church described as holy?
A. The Church is holy, because the Holy Spirit dwells in it, consecrates its members, and guides them to do God's work.
Q. Why is the Church described as catholic?
A. The Church is catholic, because it proclaims the whole Faith to all people, to the end of time.
Q. Why is the Church described as apostolic?
A. The Church is apostolic, because it continues in the teaching and fellowship of the apostles and is sent to carry out Christ's mission to all people.
Q. What is the mission of the Church?
A. The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.
Q. How does the Church pursue its mission?
A. The Church pursues its mission as it prays and worships, proclaims the Gospel, and promotes justice, peace, and love.
Q. Through whom does the Church carry out its mission?
A. The church carries out its mission through the ministry of all its members.
Q. Who are the ministers of the Church?
A. The ministers of the Church are lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons.
Q. What is the ministry of the laity?
A. The ministry of lay persons is the represent Christ and his Church; to bear witness to him wherever they may be; and, according to the gifts given them, to carry on Christ's work of reconciliation in the world; and to take their place in the life, worship, and governance of the Church.
Q. What is the ministry of a bishop?
A. The ministry of a bishop is to represent Christ and his Church, particularly as apostle, chief priest, and pastor of a diocese; to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the whole Church; to proclaim the Word of God; to act in Christ's name for the reconciliation of the world and the building up of the Church; and to ordain others to continue Christ's ministry.
Q. What is the ministry of a priest or presbyter?
A. The ministry of a priest is to represent Christ and his Church, particularly as pastor to the people; to share with the bishop in the overseeing of the Church; to proclaim the Gospel; to administer the sacraments; and to bless and declare pardon in the name of God.
Q. What is the ministry of a deacon?
A. The ministry of a deacon is to represent Christ and his Church, particularly as a servant of those in need; and to assist bishops and priests in the proclamation of the Gospel and the administration of the sacraments.
Q. What is the duty of all Christians?
A. The duty of all Christians is to follow Christ; to come together week by week for corporate worship; and to work, pray, and give for the spread of the kingdom of God.
Prayer and Worship
Q. What is prayer?
A. Prayer is responding to God, by thought and by deeds, with or without words.
Q. What is Christian Prayer?
A. Christian prayer is response of God the Father, through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Q. What prayer did Christ teach us?
A. Our Lord gave us the example of prayer known as the Lord's Prayer.
Q. What are the principle kinds of prayer?
A. The principle kinds of prayer are adoration, praise, thanksgiving, penitence, oblation, intercession, and petition.
Q. What is adoration?
A. Adoration is the lifting up of the heart and mind to God, asking nothing but to enjoy God's presence.
Q. Why do we praise God?
A. We praise God, not to obtain anything, but because God's Being draws praise from us.
Q. For what do we offer thanksgiving?
A. Thanksgiving is offered to God for all the blessings of this life, for our redemption, and for whatever draws us closer to God.
Q. What is penitence?
A. In penitence, we confess our sins and make restitution where possible, with the intention to amend our lives.
Q. What is prayer of oblation?
A. Oblation is an offering of ourselves, our lives and labors, in union with Christ, for the purposes of God.
Q. What are intercession and petition?
A. Intercession brings before god the needs of others; in petition, we present our own needs, that God's will may be done.
Q. What is corporate worship?
A. In corporate worship, we unite ourselves with others to acknowledge the holiness of God, to hear God's Word, to offer prayer, and to celebrate the sacraments.