On Distinctives, Emphases, and Christian Unity

Over the last few years, HRCF has been discussing our “Emphases and Distinctives.” Now we’ve written them down to clarify and publicize a sense of what our theological tendencies are and what is important to us. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting about each of these distinctives.

HRCF’s Emphases and Distinctives: Evangelism, Social Justice, Multiethnic Ministry, Student Leadership, and Gender and Ministry

We call these our emphases not because not everyone in HRCF holds these views, or must; but because they are what tends to be taught. We call them our distinctives because our emphasis and perspective on these issues is a major part of our answer to the question, ‘How does HRCF differ from other Christian fellowships at Harvard?’

We believe that HRCF is doing and saying things that Jesus has entrusted to his church that no other fellowship at Harvard College is doing.

HRCF’s first existence at Harvard College can be found in 1936. When HRCF was founded, there were no other Evangelical Christian fellowships at Harvard. Since then, we have welcomed the ministries of other fellowships and organizations. We have even planted the Harvard-Radcliffe Asian-American Christian Fellowship in 1994 and the Harvard College Black Christian Fellowship in 2008.

Why?

In HRCF, we believe that we are already united with other Christians—in fellowships at Harvard and churches around the world—as the body of Christ by the Spirit of Christ. We do not believe that this spiritual reality is best reflected by a single organizational structure.

While you might expect an organization with a predominantly Protestant heritage to say this, please do us the honor of reading on.

Biblical basis: Unity is a spiritual reality in Christ (Eph. 2:11 – 22). We are already one body, called to live in peace with one another (Eph. 4:1 – 6). Jesus prayed for unity among believers for the sake of mission, defining unity by the standard of the relationship between the Father and himself (Jn. 17:20 – 26). Thus, in the New Testament, unity is not located in terms of who you call your human leader (1 Cor. 1), your physical proximity to other believers, or even a common gathering point, but by commitment to the apostles’ teaching, healthy relationships, reconciliation, and even financial sharing across the world (Acts 2:42 – 47; Phil. 4; 2 Cor.8 – 9). Jesus said that whoever is not against us is for us (Mk. 9:40, Lk. 9:50)—certainly an unusual statement to be preserved into the New Testament if organizational loyalty was a preeminent concern in the early church.

We heartily want you to know that HRCF brings content and activities to Harvard College that no one else does, even among all the Christian organizations on campus. HRCF is at Harvard to bring the whole gospel to the whole campus to transform the whole world, and we’re excited to continue doing ministry here.

If you have any questions or want to talk more, our leadership and staff love to talk about all these topics.

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