Every organization has a way of a doing things. This way of doing things may be deliberately chosen or something which just happens, but nonetheless there is a mindset which inevitably shapes what an organization does.
The mindset which shapes us at Salem has been labelled by one Christian thinker as ancient-future. What this means is standing in the stream of historic Christianity, learning from it, even as we press on into the future, making that faith our own.
It is not our desire to be stuck in a dead traditionalism. We do, however, want to receive the best tradition has to offer us, recognizing there is much to learn from those who went before us.
Practically, this means we listen to the ancient church’s witness. Some good resources for understanding traditional Christianity include Tom Oden’s book Classic Christianity and David W. Bercot’s A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs. Both these works make direct reference to the writings of the early church, making it easy to learn what the early Christians taught. We receive the two classic statements of early Christian belief: The Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds.
We also embrace our reformation roots. The Protestant reformers saw themselves doing the very thing we mean by ancient-future. They revered the early church writings and saw themselves in basic continuity with them even as they made their reforms based on a fresh reading of Scripture.
Three documents in particular from the reformation period have influenced our beliefs at Salem: The Augsburg Confession, Luther’s Small Catechism, and The Heidelberg Catechism. It is no accident that all three of these documents are some of the more widely accepted statements of reformation Christianity. The founders of Salem were focused on the essentials of Christianity. Our own catechism is an attempt to express this reformation consensus.
Finally, our worship and witness are informed by this ancient faith. One of the ways this happens is as we follow the church year calendar. The church year draws us into the story of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. Another way is as we live and work together as the people of God and with the early church recognize the presence of Christ uniquely found in Christian community. Our evangelism reflects this communal practice as we emphasize bringing people into the family of God, and our worship does this as we make room for congregational responses and sharing, both in our traditional services and in our alternative service.
We are grateful for the gift of this ancient-future faith and invite you come join us. You are welcome at Salem Church!