Foundational Values

graduationThe College motto, "Christ Preeminent," points to a full and rich understanding of Jesus Christ and the Christian faith relevant to every dimension of life. The phrase points to Jesus Christ as both "the ground for personal salvation and the pattern for life and service." Messiah College is committed both to the personal dimension of faith in Christ for the forgiveness of and deliverance from sin, and to the exemplary nature of Christ's life as a model for our own. Jesus Christ, "the way, the truth, and the life," is thus foundational to the College's life and mission.

Since its founding by the Brethren in Christ Church, Messiah College has affirmed a set of values derived from the Anabaptist, Pietist, and Wesleyan traditions of that denomination. These values have guided the school as it has sought to keep Christ preeminent in the total life of the institution. Stated in slightly different ways during the College's history, the following five ideals provide a summary of how Messiah College has defined its distinctive Christian character.

Unity of Faith, Learning and Life. This principle affirms the wholeness of persons and the unity of every dimension of life as revealed in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. It also emphasizes that all truth is God's truth and thus avoids the creation of false dichotomies in thinking and in living. Messiah College affirms a unified Christian world view and lifestyle that joins revelation with rational inquiry and that integrates believing with doing. Christian "calling" and vocation is accordingly broadly understood. All of our gifts, talents and interests are to be nurtured as acts of praise towards God while serving humanity and all creation.

Importance of the Person. Every person is to be respected and valued, regardless of gender, race, nationality, status, or position, because each person is created in the image of God. Freedom and responsibility are primary characteristics of being human and we must take care to protect each other's freedom while encouraging responsible living. As free agents, individuals make choices that determine the contours of their lives and they bear responsibility for those choices. Individuals are accountable for their manner of response to God's grace. Similarly, every person must be responsible in their pursuit of truth, and yet be free to develop their own understandings as they integrate their formal studies with their broader experience of faith.

Significance of Community. Our understanding of the Church as the body of Christ and our recognition of humanity's interdependence cause us to value community. In community, we voluntarily share our lives with each other, we care for each other, we rejoice and suffer together, we worship together, and we offer counsel to each other. While every community develops rules, in Christian communities such rules should always be humane, recognizing the impact they have on the lives of those affected, and should help us appreciate each other's gifts and talents. In any community there will be tensions that require mutual give and take, but a Christian spirit of care and support provides the security needed to accept one's own strengths and weaknesses as one also accepts the strengths and weaknesses of others. The ultimate goal of every Christian community should be to help us live more faithfully as disciples of Christ.

Disciplined and Creative Living. The mature Christian life is characterized by a delicate mix of discipline and creativity. We are called to a life of devotion and obedience to the Gospel. Such discipleship demands of us self-control and sacrifice and requires us to examine all our wants and desires in the light of God's holiness. The Gospel also calls us to celebrate the goodness of creation and to live our lives in active engagement with this ever changing world in which God has placed us. In order to fulfill these tasks, we must be both creative interpreters of the world around us and creative actors in that world. Creativity and discipline are complementary characteristics of the mature, joyful Christian life.

Service and Reconciliation. Central to the Gospel is the work of reconciling individuals with God, with each other, and with all of creation. God has called us to be active agents in this work as we are empowered by the Holy Spirit and bear the fruit of the Spirit within us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Prepared in this way, we are compelled to share the redeeming Gospel of Jesus with those around us, to build bridges of understanding and peace across the dividing lines of race, class, age, gender, religion and ethnicity, to demonstrate the love of God in service to others, to open our hearts to the poor and needy, and to work for justice wherever injustice prevails.