THE BASIS OF UNION
AS PREPARED BY THE JOINT COMMITTEE OF
THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN CANADA,
THE METHODIST CHURCH,
AND THE CONGREGATIONAL CHURCHES OF CANADA,
AND APPROVED BY THE SUPREME COURTS OF THESE
AS AMENDED BY THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA
The name of the Church formed by the union of the Presbyterian, Methodist,
and Congregational Churches in Canada shall be "The United Church of Canada."
It shall be the policy of the United Church to foster the spirit of unity
in the hope that this sentiment of unity may in due time, so far as Canada
is concerned, take shape in a Church which may fittingly be described as
2.0 We, the representatives of the Presbyterian, Methodist, and Congregational
branches of the Church of Christ in Canada, do hereby set forth the substance
of the Christian faith, as commonly held among us. In doing so, we build
upon the foundation laid by the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself
being the chief cornerstone. We affirm our belief in the Scriptures of
the Old and New Testaments as the primary source and ultimate standard
of Christian faith and life. We acknowledge the teaching of the great creeds
of the ancient Church. We further maintain our allegiance to the evangelical
doctrines of the Reformation, as set forth in common in the doctrinal standards
adopted by the Presbyterian Church in Canada, by the Congregational Union
of Ontario and Quebec, and by the Methodist Church. We present the accompanying
statement as a brief summary of our common faith and commend it to the
studious attention of the members and adherents of the negotiating Churches,
as in substance agreeable to the teaching of the Holy Scriptures.
2.1 Article I. Of God. We believe in the one only living and
true God, a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in His being and
perfections; the Lord Almighty, who is love, most just in all His ways,
most glorious in holiness, unsearchable in wisdom, plenteous in mercy,
full of compassion, and abundant in goodness and truth. We worship Him
in the unity of the Godhead and the mystery of the Holy Trinity, the Father,
the Son, and the Holy Spirit, three persons of the same substance, equal
in power and glory.
2.2 Article II. Of Revelation. We believe that God has revealed
Himself in nature, in history, and in the heart of man; that He has been
graciously pleased to make clearer revelation of Himself to men of God
who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit; and that in the fullness
of time He has perfectly revealed Himself in Jesus Christ, the Word make
flesh, who is the brightness of the Father's glory and the express image
of His person. We receive the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments,
given by inspiration of God, as containing the only infallible rule of
faith and life, a faithful record of God's gracious revelations, and as
the sure witness of Christ.
2.3 Article III. Of the Divine Purpose. We believe that the eternal,
wise, holy, and loving purpose of God so embraces all events that, while
the freedom of man is not taken away, nor is God the author of sin, yet
in His providence He makes all things work together in the fulfilment of
His sovereign design and the manifestation of His glory.
2.4 Article IV. Of Creation and Providence. We believe that God
is the creator, upholder, and governor of all things; that He is above
all His works and in them all; and that He made man in His own image, meet
for fellowship with Him, free and able to choose between good and evil,
and responsible to his Maker and Lord.
2.5 Article V. Of the Sin of Man. We believe that our first parents,
being tempted, chose evil, and so fell away from God and came under the
power of sin, the penalty of which is eternal death; and that, by reason
of this disobedience, all men are born with a sinful nature, that we have
broken God's law, and that no man can be saved but by His grace.
2.6 Article VI. Of the Grace of God. We believe that God, out
of His great love for the world, has given His only begotten Son to be
the Saviour of sinners, and in the Gospel freely offers His all-sufficient
salvation to all men. We believe also that God, in His own good pleasure,
gave to His Son a people, an innumerable multitude, chosen in Christ unto
holiness, service, and salvation.
2.7 Article VII. Of the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe in and
confess the Lord Jesus Christ, the only Mediator between God and man, who,
being the Eternal Son of God, for us men and for our salvation became truly
man, being conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, yet
without sin. Unto us He has revealed the Father, by His word and Spirit,
making known the perfect will of God. For our redemption, He fulfilled
all righteousness, offered Himself a perfect sacrifice on the Cross, satisfied
Divine justice, and made propitiation for the sins of the whole world.
He rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven, where He ever intercedes
for us. In the hearts of believers He abides forever as the indwelling
Christ; above us and over us all He rules; wherefore, unto Him we render
love, obedience, and adoration as our Prophet, Priest, and King.
2.8 Article VIII. Of the Holy Spirit. We believe in the Holy
Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the
Son, who moves upon the hearts of men to restrain them from evil and to
incite them unto good, and whom the Father is ever willing to give unto
all who ask Him. We believe that He has spoken by holy men of God in making
known His truth to men for their salvation; that, through our exalted Saviour,
He was sent forth in power to convict the world of sin, to enlighten men's
minds in the knowledge of Christ, and to persuade and enable them to obey
the call of the Gospel; and that He abides with the Church, dwelling in
every believer as the spirit of truth, of power, of holiness, of comfort,
and of love.
2.9 Article IX. Of Regeneration. We believe in the necessity
of regeneration, whereby we are made new creatures in Christ Jesus by the
Spirit of God, who imparts spiritual life by the gracious and mysterious
operation of His power, using as the ordinary means the truths of His word
and the ordinances of divine appointment in ways agreeable to the nature
2.10 Article X. Of Faith and Repentance. We believe that faith
in Christ is a saving grace whereby we receive Him, trust in Him, and rest
upon Him alone for salvation as He is offered to us in the Gospel, and
that this saving faith is always accompanied by repentance, wherein we
confess and forsake our sins with full purpose of and endeavour after a
new obedience to God.
2.11 Article XI. Of Justification and Sonship. We believe that
God, on the sole ground of the perfect obedience and sacrifice of Christ,
pardons those who by faith receive Him as their Saviour and Lord, accepts
them as righteous, and bestows upon them the adoption of sons, with a right
to all privileges therein implied, including a conscious assurance of their
2.12 Article XII. Of Sanctification. We believe that those who
are regenerated and justified grow in the likeness of Christ through fellowship
with Him, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and obedience to the truth;
that a holy life is the fruit and evidence of saving faith; and that the
believer's hope of continuance in such a life is in the preserving grace
of God. And we believe that in this growth in grace Christians may attain
that maturity and full assurance of faith whereby the love of God is made
perfect in us.
2.13 Article XIII. Of Prayer. We believe that we are encouraged
to draw near to God, our heavenly Father, in the name of His Son, Jesus
Christ, and on our own behalf and that of others to pour out our hearts
humbly yet freely before Him, as becomes His beloved children, giving Him
the honour and praise due His holy name, asking Him to glorify Himself
on earth as in Heaven, confessing unto Him our sins, and seeking of Him
every gift needful for this life and for our everlasting salvation. We
believe also that, inasmuch as all true prayer is prompted by His Spirit,
He will in response thereto grant us every blessing according to His unsearchable
wisdom and the riches of His grace in Jesus Christ.
2.14 Article XIV. Of the Law of God. We believe that the moral
law of God, summarized in the Ten Commandments, testified to by the prophets,
and unfolded in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, stands for ever
in truth and equity, and is not made void by faith, but on the contrary
is established thereby. We believe that God requires of every man to do
justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God; and that only through
this harmony with the will of God shall be fulfilled that brotherhood of
man wherein the Kingdom of God is to be made manifest.
2.15 Article XV. Of the Church. We acknowledge one Holy Catholic
Church, the innumerable company of saints of every age and nation, who
being united by the Holy Spirit to Christ their Head are one body in Him
and have communion with their Lord and with one another. Further, we receive
it as the will of Christ that His Church on earth should exist as a visible
and sacred brotherhood, consisting of those who profess faith in Jesus
Christ and obedience to Him, together with their children, and other baptized
children, and organized for the confession of His name, for the public
worship of God, for the administration of the sacraments, for the upbuilding
of the saints, and for the universal propagation of the Gospel; and we
acknowledge as a part, more or less pure, of this universal brotherhood,
every particular church throughout the world which professes this faith
in Jesus Christ and obedience to Him as divine Lord and Saviour.
2.16 Article XVI. Of the Sacraments. We acknowledge two sacraments,
Baptism and the Lord's Supper, which were instituted by Christ, to be of
perpetual obligation as signs and seals of the covenant ratified in His
precious blood, as a means of grace, by which, working in us, He doth not
only quicken but also strengthen and comfort our faith in Him, and as ordinances
through the observance of which His Church is to confess her Lord and be
visibly distinguished from the rest of the world.
2.16.1 Baptism with water into the name of the Father and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit is the sacrament by which are signified and sealed
our union to Christ and participation in the blessings of the new covenant.
The proper subjects of baptism are believers and infants presented by their
parents or guardians in the Christian faith. In the latter case the parents
or guardians should train up their children in the nurture and admonition
of the Lord and should expect that their children will, by the operation
of the Holy Spirit, receive the benefits which the sacrament is designed
and fitted to convey. The Church is under the most solemn obligation to
provide for their Christian instruction.
2.16.2 The Lord's Supper is the sacrament of communion with Christ and
with His people, in which bread and wine are given and received in thankful
remembrance of Him and His sacrifice on the Cross; and they who in faith
receive the same do, after a spiritual manner, partake of the body and
blood of the Lord Jesus Christ to their comfort, nourishment, and growth
in grace. All may be admitted to the Lord's Supper who make a credible
profession of their faith in the Lord Jesus and of obedience to His law.
2.17 Article XVII. Of the Ministry. We believe that Jesus Christ,
as the Supreme Head of the Church, has appointed therein an Ordained Ministry
of Word, Sacrament, and Pastoral Care and a Diaconal Ministry of Education,
Service, and Pastoral Care and calls men and women to these ministries;
that the Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, recognizes and
chooses those whom He calls, and should thereupon duly ordain or commission
them to the work of the ministry.
2.18 Article XVIII. Of Church Order and Fellowship. We believe
that the Supreme and only Head of the Church is the Lord Jesus Christ;
that its worship, teaching, discipline and government should be administered
according to His will by persons chosen for their fitness and duly set
apart to their office; and that although the visible Church may contain
unworthy members and is liable to err, yet believers ought not lightly
to separate themselves from its communion, but are to live in fellowship
with their brethren, which fellowship is to be extended, as God gives opportunity,
to all who in every place call upon the name of the Lord Jesus.
2.19 Article XIX. Of the Resurrection, the Last Judgment, and the
Future Life. We believe that there shall be a resurrection of the dead,
both of the just and of the unjust, through the power of the Son of God,
who shall come to judge the living and the dead; that the finally impenitent
shall go away into eternal punishment and the righteous into life eternal.
2.20 Article XX. Of Christian Service and the Final Triumph.
We believe that it is our duty, as disciples and servants of Christ, to
further the extension of His Kingdom, to do good unto all men, to maintain
the public and private worship of God, to hallow the Lord's Day, to preserve
the inviolability of marriage and the sanctity of the family, to uphold
the just authority of the State, and so to live in all honesty, purity,
and charity, that our lives shall testify of Christ. We joyfully receive
the word of Christ, bidding His people go into all the world and make disciples
of all nations, declaring unto them that God was in Christ reconciling
the world unto Himself, and that He will have all men to be saved and come
to the knowledge of the truth. We confidently believe that by His power
and grace all His enemies shall finally be overcome, and the kingdoms of
this world be made the Kingdom of our God and of His Christ.
Second edition 1974
by concerned members of the United Church of Canada
We affirm that The United Church of Canada stands in the Reformed stream
of the Catholic faith. As such the United Church is obligated to profess
beliefs that are essential to this faith and to issue new statements of
faith only after serious and prolonged examination of the Biblical witness.
We are therefore concerned that many pronouncements made in the name
of The United Church of Canada-whether officially approved or not-have
been giving the impression that our Church has compromised its theological
integrity and casually ignored essential beliefs.
In the valid struggle to relate the Gospel to contemporary life, many
have uncritically identified novelty with truth and have fallen prey to
We urgently call our Church to a more serious commitment to its theological
foundations and to a more positive affirmation of Christian faith. What
we affirm now is said out of a constraining concern for the integrity of
the Gospel, for the well-being of the Church and for the salvation of the
world. We are not attempting to re-write the Church's standards. We are
re-affirming Christian faith in a situation of widespread confusion and
A. God and Man
l. We believe that God created the world and has preserved it from falling
into hopeless corruption and non-existence. The world is therefore God's
world-an arena for the fulfilment of His sovereign purpose.
2. We believe that man and woman were created by God and endowed with
freedom and dignity like His own. We are therefore not wholly determined
by heredity or environment, but remain responsible moral agents. Moreover,
we are not our own but God's. Our chief end is therefore to glorify Him
and to find joy and fulfilment in His fellowship and service.
3. We believe that sin has mortally infected us all in our personal
and social existence, showing itself in our alienation from God and our
fellow man. But God's grace in Christ is sufficient to save us, and His
mercy is ever extended to those who respond in repentance and faith.
B. God's Word
4. We believe that Jesus Christ is more than the man for others. We
believe that He is the Son of God made man and that He is the incarnation
of God's Word of grace and truth. That is, in the life, death and resurrection
of Jesus Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, teaching us
the meaning of revelation, redeeming us from our sin, giving us sure hope
of forgiveness and of eternal life, and providing the incentive and power
for the life of faith, hope and love.
To be more specific, we believe that the death of Jesus Christ on the
cross was God's unique remedy for our sin, bringing life out of death;
that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is both an historical
fact and a spiritual truth; that the ascension of Jesus Christ assures
us that our King is still with us by the power of the Holy Spirit; and
that the coming again of Jesus Christ in glory will involve both the judgment
of the world of space and time and also its transformation into the world
of God's eternal kingdom.
5. We believe that Jesus Christ has a definitive significance for all
the races and religions of man. We therefore affirm that Christ is the
judge of all faiths, including Christianity. We believe that Jesus Christ
is the divine answer to the human longings to which all faiths testify.
We therefore take with the utmost seriousness the great commission to go
and make disciples of all nations.
6. We believe that the Bible is the God-given basis and norm by which
the Church's life, teaching and worship are nourished and renewed. We recognize
the value and need of critical scholarship. But the essential and vital
need is the guidance of the Holy Spirit, without Whose inward illumination
man cannot come to a saving understanding of divine revelation. Moreover
in our struggle to grow in the knowledge and love of God, we should remember
that now we know in part.
C. God's Spirit
7. We believe that God reveals Himself to the individual through
the enlightening work of the Holy Spirit. We believe that the Holy Spirit
creates true faith in the heart, assures the believer that he is a child
of God through Christ and empowers the believer to bear witness, to do
good and to love his neighbour as himself. We believe that the Holy Spirit
moves within the Church to infuse life and meaning in its worship and witness.
Moreover, we believe that the Holy Spirit continues to work in the world
and in the life of mankind so that all things will eventually work to fulfil
God's good purposes.
D. God's Church
8. We believe that God has called men, women and children into a sacramental
community of faith, worship, fellowship, evangelism and service. This community
is the Church, the Body of Christ, the household of faith, the people of
God. The Church has never been perfect and at times has failed her Lord
most scandalously. But God continues to work through fallible people who
respond to His call and who seek to do His will.
9. We believe that every Christian is called to live his faith in all
areas of life. But we believe also that some Christians are called, trained
and ordained to a specialized ministry of preaching, teaching, sacramental
ministration and pastoral oversight-in short, of equipping the Church
to minister to God and the world. Within the New Testament and ever since,
this ministry of the Word and Sacraments has been regarded-along with
Scripture and Sacrament-as a precious gift to the Church from her
risen and exalted Lord. We therefore affirm both the ministry of the laity
and the ministry of the Word and Sacraments.
10. We believe that the ministry of worship, both private and corporate,
is essential to the life and growth of the Church, as it was to the life
of Jesus Christ. The Church's service to the world should never be divorced
from Christian belief, worship and prayer.
E. Life with God
11. We believe that God calls man to exercise his freedom responsibly,
in accordance with His holy will. Although we recognize that moral decisions
are made in the context of actual life, we affirm the basic moral standards
of the Judaeo-Christian tradition as definitive guidelines for Christian
12. We believe that God wills that marriage be a life-long union of
faith, love and esteem between man and woman. Although we recognize that
there are circumstances in which divorce can be justified, we affirm the
sanctity of life-long marriage.
13. We believe that God wills that every human life grown up into the
maturity of Jesus Christ. Although we recognize that there may be exceptional
circumstances in which human life must be taken in order to preserve other
human life, we affirm the sanctity of human life before birth and afterward.
Moreover, we are not our own but God's. We therefore oppose abortion
on demand, and we think that our Church's official position to remove abortion
from the Criminal Code effectively puts the Church in the abortion-on-demand
14. We believe that God wills reconciliation, healing and wholeness
for His hurting world. This belief has practical implications for Christians,
namely, that we must work for reconciliation in a hostile, divided world;
and that we cannot do enough for the welfare of the world. We believe that
we must witness to God's love both in word and in acts of justice, mercy
15. We believe that the Christian is called to be a leavening influence
in life. In both his individual life and in his responsibility to the wider
community, the Christian is called to be holy and to work for justice and
mercy. In life and speech the Christian is called to proclaim the good
news that God was in Christ in reconciling the world to Himself.
We make these affirmations of faith in humble awareness of our own inadequacies
but in joyous faith in God's goodness, love and power. We are not committed
to the exact wording of this document. Each one of us has a different emphasis
and a different way of expressing the faith. But we are committed to the
Lord Who is beyond our halting language. We are committed to His Gospel.
And we are committed to His Church, particularly to our branch of the Church,
The United Church of Canada.
We invite United Church members who share our concern and who find themselves
in general agreement with this affirmation to add their names to those
below. Doing this will call the Church to a more serious commitment to
its theological bases and to a more positive affirmation of Christian faith.
Doing this will also show our brethren in other communions that we share
with them the one faith of the Church Universal.
We pray that all men may find their true unity and realize their true
humanity by believing in the person and work of Jesus Christ, to Whom with
the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, be all glory and blessing.
Official text approved at Montreal, 14 February 1974, by the Ad Hoc
Committee for Affirmation of the Faith.
Copyright 1974 by Church Alive.
Copyright 1989 by Church Alive.
Signed by 24 out of about 350 General Council Commissioners in August
1. We love the Lord Jesus Christ and seek to love our
fellow Christians in obedience to his new commandment (Jn. 13:34-35). We
love The United Church of Canada, praying for its peace and seeking
its good (Ps. 122:6,9 NRSV). We recognize as members of the church those
who, by confession of faith, by example of life and by partaking the sacraments,
profess the same God and Christ with us (Calvin).
2. We therefore covenant together on the basis of our faith
in God and his Son, Jesus Christ. We affirm our roots in the Holy Catholic
Church and the teaching of the Nicene and Apostles' Creeds. We value our
Reformation, Methodist and Congregational heritages. We are in essential
agreement with the Doctrine of the Basis of Union of The United Church
of Canada. We understand essential agreement to include at least these
2.1 belief in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as
the primary source and ultimate standard of Christian faith and life;
2.2 belief in the one only living and true God, the Father Almighty,
the Creator who is above all his works and in them all, and out of whose
great love for the world has given his only begotten son to be the Saviour
2.3 belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, the
only Mediator between God and humanity, the eternal Son of God, who was
crucified for us, rose from the dead, and is with us by the power of the
2.4 belief in the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and
the Son; who, through our exalted Saviour, was sent forth in power to convict
the world of sin, to enlighten human minds in the knowledge of Christ,
and to persuade and enable people to obey the call of the Gospel; and who
abides with the Church, dwelling in every believer as the spirit of truth,
of power, of holiness, of comfort and of love;
2.5 and belief that the moral law of God, summarized in
the Ten Commandments, testified to in the prophets and unfolded in the
life and teachings of Jesus Christ, stands for ever in truth and equity,
and is established by faith.
3. We covenant to live in fellowship with our brothers and sisters
in Christ and to seek to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk
humbly with God (Micah 6:8). We affirm that we must demonstrate God's
love visibly by caring for those who are deprived of justice, dignity,
food and shelter. We affirm that the proclamation of God's kingdom of justice
and peace demands the denunciation of all injustice and oppression, both
personal and structural. We affirm that faithfulness to God as Creator
includes serious commitment to environmental stewardship.
4. We covenant to cooperate with the existing courts and
human laws of the United Church as far as our confession of faith in Jesus
Christ allows. Our prime loyalty is to Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church.
We make the following declarations:
4.1 Because Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the
life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (Jn. 14:6 NRSV), we
affirm the uniqueness, indispensability and centrality of Jesus Christ.
It is therefore a contravention of our faith to say that other religions
and ideologies are equally valid ways to God, however ethical they may
4.2 Because Scripture says "the Word became flesh" about Jesus
alone (Jn. 1:14-18), we affirm that Jesus is God's only Son
and that we are God's children by adoption (Rom. 8:15. Gal. 4:5. Eph. 1:4-5).
It is therefore a contravention of our faith to speak of a repeatable and
continuing incarnation of God in the world or in human beings or even in
4.3 Because Jesus recognized God's institution of marriage from
the beginning (Mt. 19:4-6), because holiness and sexual self-control are
linked (I Thess. 4:3-8) and because there is healing through the Gospel
(I Cor. 6:11) and therapy, we affirm that God calls all people to loving
faithfulness in marriage or loving chastity in singleness. It is
therefore a contravention of our faith to solemnize same-gender unions
("marriages"), or to ordain, commission, settle or appoint self-declared,
practising homosexuals, however admirable they may be.
5. We covenant to work for reform and renewal in the United
Church and in the universal Church, praying that we may have the grace
to love one another as Christ loved us.
6. We covenant to support and counsel one another, remembering
that if one suffers, all suffer, and if one rejoices, all rejoice (I Cor.
12:26). We will do this through local congregations and by encouraging
associations and fellowships among those of like mind and heart. Specifically
we intend to hold periodic conferences and to facilitate communication
of resources that will build up the Church.
7. And we covenant to pray Christ's prayer that all may be
one, so that the world will believe (Jn. 17:11,20-23). We are here
for the sake of the world which God so loved (Jn. 3:16). In the words of
Jesus Christ: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching
them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with
you always, to the end of the age" (Mt. 28:18-20 NRSV).
8. We urge all United Church congregations and courts, members
and ministers, young people and friends, to consider this Covenant prayerfully.
If it is contrary to Scripture, set it aside. But if you find that we are
taking our stand upon Scripture, then let no fear or temptation keep you
from walking with us on the path of faith and obedience to the Word of
God. Make this covenant your own, for the sake of Jesus Christ,
his Church and especially those who have not yet heard God's Word spoken
9. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now and will be for ever. Amen.
Copyright 1990 Church Alive
Supplement to Theological Digest & Outlook, July 1994