Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Faith Like a River: A Program on Unitarian Universalist History for Adults

Handout 1: Summary of Agreements from the Cambridge Platform, 1648

Here are some of the agreements made by the signers of the Cambridge Platform (or, more formally, as A Platform of Church Discipline Gathered Out of the Word of God and Agreed Upon by the Elders and Messengers of the Churches Assembled in the Synod at Cambridge in New England):

  • Differences with the Anglican and Presbyterian churches were ecclesiastical rather than theological (i.e. pertaining to church structure and governance rather than to belief).
  • "Saints by calling" (i.e. those who have professed their faith and live pious lives) become a church only by covenant.
  • The covenant is not only between members but also with God and is lived in community according to Christian principles. True covenant must be lived out, not simply professed.
  • There are two types of Elders. The first type includes Pastors and Teachers, who are ministers of the Gospel. The second type is the Ruling Elders, who are concerned with the administration of the church.
  • Pastors are concerned with communicating Biblical wisdom and calling people to lives of Christian principle. Teachers are concerned with doctrine, running the schools and communicating knowledge and correct belief. Both are responsible for the health of the church covenant as it was lived out among the people.
  • Churches are free to choose their own ministers and officers, as well as to ordain them.
  • Not just anyone can be a member of a church. There should be tests for membership. Qualifications for membership should be repentance of sin and faith in Jesus Christ.
  • Membership is not to be taken lightly. Since members are not admitted without due consideration they should not leave without due consideration so that their leaving does not harm the full community.
  • Although churches are autonomous, they should cooperate with each other and see to each other's welfare.
  • Church government and civil government were meant to be separate and not in opposition to each other, but to aid each other. Civil authorities cannot force people to be members of churches or to take communion.