This We Affirm draws its themes from the Phoenix Affirmations – a set of twelve ecumenically-developed affirmations concerning the Three Great Loves identified by Jesus and affirmed within all three Abrahamic faiths: love of God, love of neighbor, and love of self (Matthew 22:34-40//Mark 12:28-31//Luke 10:25-28). Developed originally in 2005 by Christian clergy, laity, biblical scholars, and theologians across denominational lines, from around the United States, their purpose was to articulate the growing consensus among progressive Christians from a wide variety of backgrounds (mainline Protestant, evangelical, Roman Catholic, etc.) regarding the values of Jesus and how they may be lived robustly in today's world – a consensus that has steadily grown since their original creation.
The Phoenix Affirmations, which are named both after the city they originated from and an ancient Christian symbol of resurrection, are not a creed or test of faith. The Affirmations make absolutely no attempt to define who is Christian and who is not. Neither are the Affirmations meant to stand as a definitive statement for all time. The original creators attached a version number on the Phoenix Affirmations – Version 3.8 – to indicate that they are the product of continual modification and may be amended in the future in light of new awareness and deeper understanding of God's call. Permission has been given to anyone to freely reproduce and distribute the Phoenix Affirmations, in whole or in part, provided the wording is not changed from the original below.
1. Walking fully in the path of Jesus, without denying the legitimacy of other paths that God may provide for humanity;
2. Listening for God's Word which comes through daily prayer and meditation, studying the ancient testimonies which we call Scripture, and attending to God's present activity in the world;
3. Celebrating the God whose Spirit pervades and whose glory is reflected in all of God's Creation, including the earth and its ecosystems, the sacred and secular, the Christian and non-Christian, the human and non-human;
4. Expressing our love in worship that is as sincere, vibrant, and artful as it is scriptural.
Christian love of neighbor includes:
5. Engaging people authentically, as Jesus did, treating all as creations made in God's very image, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental ability, nationality, or economic class;
6. Standing, as Jesus does, with the outcast and oppressed, the denigrated and afflicted, seeking peace and justice with or without the support of others;
7. Preserving religious freedom and the church's ability to speak prophetically to government by resisting the commingling of church and state;
8. Walking humbly with God, acknowledging our own shortcomings while honestly seeking to understand and call forth the best in others, including those who consider us their enemies;
Christian love of self includes:
9. Basing our lives on the faith that in Christ all things are made new and that we, and all people, are loved beyond our wildest imagination – for eternity;
10. Claiming the sacredness of both our minds and our hearts, and recognizing that faith and science, doubt and belief serve the pursuit of truth;
11. Caring for our bodies and insisting on taking time to enjoy the benefits of prayer, reflection, worship, and recreation in addition to work;
12. Acting on the faith that we are born with a meaning and purpose; a vocation and ministry that serve to strengthen and extend God's realm of love.