What We Desire
The Pilgrim Vision
There is nothing so dangerous as to come to the Bible with a theory, with preconceived ideas, with some pet idea of our own, because the moment we do so, we shall be tempted to over-emphasize one aspect and under-emphasize another.
I study my Bible as I gather apples. First, I shake the whole tree that the ripest might fall. Then I shake each limb, and when I have shaken each limb, I shake each branch and every twig. Then I look under every leaf. I shake the Bible as a whole, like shaking the whole tree. Then I shake every limb—study book after book. Then I shake every branch, giving attention to the chapters when they do not break the sense. Then I shake every twig, or a careful study of the paragraphs and sentences and words and their meanings.
We fail in our duty to study God's Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it is dull and boring, but because it is work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy.
Who We Are
The Pilgrim Identity
There is a sense in which we are all pilgrims in life questing for our forever home. We are ever journeying, ever seeking, ever searching for that place of true peace and rest.
“There’s no place like home,” they say. And if we just pushed ourselves hard enough, we’ll eventually get there, too. Yet often the harsh realities of life confront us with the biting recognition that, in reality, “there’s no place that’s home.”
In the last century, German philosopher Martin Heidegger coined a term to describe this existential crisis that he felt was our shared human experience. “Thrownness” [Geworfenheit] is what he called it—we are each thrown into this world as “Being-toward-Death.” This present reality is not where we came from, and this, too, is not where we are meant to dwell in the end. Whatever we may have now is temporary. It is almost as if Heidegger was borrowing a page right out of the Christian Scriptures. The Bible, in the New Testament, records a letter to early believers that reminded them of this fact:
For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.
While we journey together as a church community, we embrace our pilgrim identity to remind ourselves that the journey of faith is ultimately meant to bring weary pilgrims like us to the ultimate Pilgrim, Jesus Christ. He has journeyed from Heaven down to Earth and deep into our “thrownness”, not just to show us the way but to take us into Himself and to give us the true peace and rest that our hearts so long to have. At the deepest level of our pilgrim hearts, we echo the prayer that St. Augustine confessed before God,
Thou movest us to delight in praising Thee; for Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.
Augustine, Confessions 1.1.1
To all who would place their trust in Him alone, Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Come weary pilgrim, let us journey together to Christ. Him alone is our Peace, our Rest, our Joy, our Satisfaction, our Life. He is our forever home.
What We Believe
The Pilgrim Faith
- We believe that the Bible is the inspired and inerrant Word of God, it is the only infallible rule of faith and life.
- We believe that there is only one true God, eternal and self-existing in three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) who are to be equally loved, honored and adored.
- We believe that all humanity participated in Adam’s fall from his original sinless state and is thus lost in sin, dead to God, and utterly without hope or help in this world.
- We believe that the Sovereign God of the Bible, for no other reason than His own immeasurable love, mercy, and goodness, has chosen lost sinners from every nation to be redeemed by the quickening power of the Holy Spirit, and through the atoning death and resurrection of His son, Jesus Christ.
- We believe that those sinners whom the Spirit quickens, come to believe in Christ as Savior by the Word of God, are born again, become sons of God through adoption, and will persevere in faith to the end.
- We believe that justification is by faith in Christ alone and that through it the undeserving sinner is clothed with the righteousness of Christ.We believe that the goal of God’s salvation in the life of the Christian is holiness, good works and service for the glory of God.
- We believe that at death the Christian’s soul passes immediately into the presence of God and the unbeliever’s soul is eternally separated from God unto condemnation.We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ will return to earth, visibly and bodily, at a time when He is not expected, to consummate history and the eternal plan of God.
As a church community in the Presbyterian tradition, we ascribe to the following historic creeds and confessions of our spiritual heritage: The Apostles’ Creed, The Nicene Creed, The Athanasian Creed, The Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms. To us, these documents constitute a clear and faithful exposition of the system of doctrine taught in the Bible.
What We Are All About
The Pilgrim Way
Even with a clearly defined Statement of Faith, it is not always easy to figure out how individual Christian churches actually take what they “believe” and turn these into what they actually “practice.” Often, there appears to be a gap between the two that seems invisible to those on the outside and somewhat muddled to those on the inside. For this reason, in addition to the “what and why” of our faith, we at Pilgrim Community endeavor to be clear about the “how” of our faith. Call it our DNA or the Theological Vision that guides us, these are the three distinctive things that we at Pilgrim hope to be known for. As far as we’re concerned, these form the working framework that ought to underlie all that we are and all that we do as a church community.