||It has been suggested that Liberal Christians be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since October 2013.|
Free Christians denotes particular Protestant churches that do not consider themselves part of a Christian organization.[clarification needed] The churches are all independent, self-governing, local congregations with no central headquarters or formal affiliation with any denomination. Free Christians do not subscribe to any official doctrines or creeds, as with other churches. However, Free Christian groups also welcome people who adhere to more orthodox beliefs, as the emphasis is on inclusivity rather than non-conformity.
Like all Protestant churches, churches of the Free Christians are the result of the Reformation movement of the 16th century (particular reformers include Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, and Thomas Müntzer).
Many supporters of the Reformation were disappointed that the early church of the New Testament was not restored by the Reformation, which held firmly to the close political connection between church and state. Reformers denied that salvation rests on belonging to a particular external church organization. They rejected the coercion to join their respective state churches. Exclusive sects claimed that salvation can only be found in them. On the contrary, Free Christians emphasise the Christian doctrine of the one "Church" made up of all true believers and enumerated in Heaven in "Lamb's Book of Life".
The communities of Free Christians are autonomous and are understood in the image of the New Testament Church. Usually they are congregationally organized; the Free Christians have no central hierarchy to dictate a statement of faith, and even local assemblies tend not to give tacit adherence to any of the historic creeds and "Confessions of Faith" that are found in many Protestant denominations. The leadership consists mostly of volunteer elders, deacons, deaconesses, preachers and pastors. Voluntary commitment of community members is encouraged.
The design of services is subject to no particular liturgy; each church retains its own liturgy. The proclamation of the Word of God is in the foreground. Generally, the service is divided into an introductory section, which is designed by community members, and a sermon, followed by partial breaking of bread.[clarification needed]
House churches and house groups play a major role in the Free Christians. Regular meetings involve singing together, bonding in small groups, praying, and studying the Bible. The local communities are partially connected with the Evangelical Alliance. Non-Christian religions are viewed as aberrations, as healing and forgiveness can only happen through Jesus.
Theory and practice
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (August 2013)|
- Free Christians' Christianity derives from their personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
- Formative Christians concentrate on the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the sole basis for their life and teaching. They recognize Jesus Christ as the sole authority for the church. The individual believer is saved "by grace alone", not because of his own actions. Justification learns of Christ "by faith alone".[clarification needed]
- Free Christians affirm the Apostles' Creed and this is the base of the Evangelical Alliance.
- Inclusion in the full church membership requires baptism; the validity of the free decision of faith of the baptized is an absolute requirement. The baptism of underage children is rejected.
- In addition to baptism, Free Christians celebrate the Lord's Supper as Jesus commanded.
- Christians are members of the body of Christ and are, at their resurrection, spirit-born beings, as part of God's family.
- Many Free Christians observe the free Sunday and the Sabbath as a weekly day of rest. In contrast to the majority of Christian churches, which observe Sunday as a day of rest and reflection, the Sabbath begins at sundown on Friday and ends at sundown on Saturday.
- The communities themselves operate with no political commitment and allow their members freedom to contribute according to their free conscience in public life (e.g. freedom to military service or civilian service, membership in political parties). Communities pray generally for their civil government.
- The communities strongly promote an active and positive family life. The family participates in the services and weekly family studies. Parents use this study time to teach their children in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.
- Liberal Christians (this article appears to be misnamed, and actually talks about Free Christian churches in Britain and Ireland)
- Liberal Christianity, a theological movement
- General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, an umbrella body
- Gstohl, Mark (2004). Theological Perspectives of the Reformation.
- The World Christian Encyclopedia by David B. Barrt (2001 edition)
- Melton, JG (1994). Are Free Christians Protestants?: Great Lessons From Bad History. Judson Press. ISBN 978-1-889893-51-8.
- Handbuch der christlichen Lehre, Kapitel 1: Die Entstehung der Freien Christen; Bibelstudien-Vereinigung, 2010 S. 23.
- "Revelation 13:8". Retrieved 2013-08-26.