The group seems to take pride that they are hard to understand, but they do proclaim a couple of identity marks and from those, if one follows the trail into their roots, you begin to understand their beliefs.
We are an ecumenical, charismatic, covenant community. Our model and inspiration is the first Christian community, a small band of disciples who “were of one heart and soul” and “held all things in common.” (Acts 4:33, 2:44). We can be difficult for the public and the press to understand. In truth, we are a community that defies categories.
The first Christians were very clear about external categories like worship and baptism between believers and non-believers. Since then, with 2,000 years of wear and tear, the Body of Christ internally splintered over doctrine, not love, into various denominations like Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, and others. But, the one thing in common among all, the one basic identifier, if we ignore the original baptism argument between Cyprian, Firmillian and Pope Stephen, was water baptism. People of Praise believe in a common baptism of a Triune manner in the name of the Father, Son, Spirit.
What we share is a common baptism, a commitment to love one another and our teachings, which we hold in common.
And what about the commitment to love and to their teachings? What are their teachings? Because once you teach something, you draw a line in the sand. A triune baptism is a line, are there others?
Ecumenical is the effort to bring different Christian denominations into a better understanding and relationship with each other.
It is the idea of a visible unity in baptized believers.
Historically, it was ecumenical councils that ruled on doctrine for those baptized. See the first one recorded in Acts 15. Later it was Nicea in 325. Typically the first seven are recognized as ecumenical. But this approach did not last.
Today the unifying belief may be found at most basic levels like a Triune baptism or a focus on Christ Jesus alone, rather than esoteric doctrine. Beyond the basics, unity may fracture into power and control and money. The ecumenical idea itself, however, may be a bit cloudy as it could be captured in the practice of feed and then preach or love and then convert. In Catholicism, the two-step process is known as dialogue of love and dialogue of truth.
The definition of charismatic is distinct from Pentecostalism. Charismatic Christianity in any denomination means the common belief that the Spirit still works as it did 2,000 years ago. There are still today spiritual gifts, miracles, and guidance.
These roots trace back to Azusa Street revivals in 1906. It was quite ecumenical with different denominations partaking.
This movement made its way into the Catholic Church via Cursillo and is known as Catholic Charismatic. Cursillo is recognized by the Vatican as a lay organization.
Cursillo itself has led to much cooperation between churches. For example, the Methodist Church renamed it Walk to Emmaus.
My comment, whether they voice this or not, is that this is a belief that the Spirit still works, still has gifts (charisms), and still does not care about your group's (RC, EO, P) defining dogmas.
A covenant is an agreement. It is also a contract or agreement. Or an obligation between parties. For this case, here is how People of Praise define "covenant", as a lifelong commitment from which one may be released.
After a long period of prayer and discernment, many People of Praise members choose to make a lifelong commitment called a covenant. The covenant of the People of Praise is a promise of love and service to fellow community members and to God. This covenant is not an oath or a vow. We have understood that God can always call a person to another way of life, in which case he or she would be released from the covenant.
-People of Praise
With this in mind, it appears as a commitment between Christians at their most basic level. Jesus is Lord. Known by our love one for another. Believe on the Lord and you will be saved. Be baptized. With that in mind, a covenant is the agreement to work to spread that gospel around the world.
So what exactly does People of Praise believe? They believe in basic Christianity of unity in the Spirit built on the observable gifts of the Spirit. Love is the glue binding baptized believers together. They covenant to bring out this message to the world.