Authority in the Church

In the Episcopal church, we are called to live out our faith on a daily basis, whether we are at home, school, work or recreation. The cornerstones of our faith are Scripture, tradition and reason.

Scripture is the word of God contained in the Old and New testaments of the Bible. The 39 books of the Old Testament contain the story of God's love from Creation up to the birth of his son, Jesus Christ. They contain God's laws as He gave them to the Hebrew people. The New Testament contains Christ's teachings, the accounts of his life as told by his followers, and the beginning of his church. It is written in 27 books. Within an Episcopal worship service, Scripture is read in the lessons, the Gospel (the teachings of Jesus), the Psalms (poems from the Old Testament) and other prayers. Additionally, two- thirds of our guide to worship, the Book of Common Prayer, comes directly from the Old and New Testaments.

We are not Christians in isolation but are part of a living faith that spans 2000 years. Tradition is the embodiment of our reason as Christians throughout the centuries. While the Bible is the foundation of the church’s teaching, tradition is expressed through the Creeds (statements of faith, written in first centuries of the church's existence) and the writings of many faithful Christian leaders throughout the centuries.  The Sacraments (the Lord's supper and Baptism), and the ordained ministry passed on by Christ to his Church are another expression of the church’s tradition. Our tradition is expressed with many voices, among which are a variety of worship styles, languages, cultures, architecture and music. Our tradition encourages this diversity.

Each one of us, with God's help, makes decisions about how tradition and Scripture are applied in our lives today. A personal relationship with God allows us to realize and celebrate our lives to the fullest. The gift of reason, as a complement to Scripture and tradition, leads us to seek answers to today’s questions and to grow spiritually. Being active in a community of faith strengthens us to carry our faith into the world. Weaving scripture, tradition and reason together, we strengthen our faith and grow as children of God.

These texts have been Adapted for use from The Episcopal Diocese of Texas for
St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Bellville,Texas.