A great way to understand doctrine is to see it in relation with the concepts of dogma and “everything else”.
In simplest terms dogma, doctrine and everything else are defined like this;
Dogma – What it means to be a Christian
Doctrine – What it means to be part of a church or denomination
Everything Else – That which exists outside of the first two categories
Some faith communities include a lot of beliefs into their dogma. What it means to be understood as a Christian is an exceptionally long list of do’s and don’ts and agreed upon beliefs. Doctrine can be equally large and can include everything from diet to behavior to music you listen to. The final circle of “everything else” can often be the smallest circle because faith and church identity consumes so much of belief, practice and thought.
At Cascade we believe that dogma is best defined by fewer things so that we don’t push people away from Christ over non-essential issues or conversations. To be clear, we define Christianity via our dogma as follows;
An engagement with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which demonstrate his humanity, divinity, and invitation to live in a way that promotes the mutual thriving of all people.
This isn’t to say that people who hold beliefs outside of this definition are evil or destined for eternal suffering, but rather that their spirituality wouldn’t be defined as Christianity.
Cascade’s doctrine is also intentionally brief. This is based in our desire to focus less on rules and regulations and more on issues of the heart and how we engage one another. We define our heart as a church and what it means to be part of this community by the following scripture;
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ – Matthew 22:37-39
Our church identity is defined by love. This is in response to God’s great love for us to direct our love 3 ways. To God, to self and to others. Specific behavior and beliefs aren’t as significant as our ability to experience and share love.
An important aspect of this love is to live out your beliefs in a way that doesn’t threaten the safety and diversity of the people around you, which includes confronting actions against any person that treats them as less than full participants in God’s story. To that end, Cascade believes that people of all ages, races, physical/mental abilities, socio-economic statuses, gender expressions, and sexual identities belong and are capable of full participation and are eligible for all leadership roles.
Now the final category of “everything else” is quite substantial. This doesn’t mean that everything else doesn’t matter, but that it is all couched in experiencing Jesus Christ, God the Creator and the Holy Spirit. When we start from this space “everything else” matters quite a bit, but not in a way that is driven by fear or control. Our core value of curiosity drives us to wrestle more with “everything else” and allow greater levels of diversity as part of our church.
I hope you’ll come join Cascade and see how we try and live these ideals of faith forward!