As a congregation, we reaffirm what the church in all ages and places has proclaimed as a foundation of the Christian faith — the Apostles' Creed:
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord; Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic (universal) church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.
We recognize that humanity is created in the image of God, separated from God by sin, lost and in need of forgiveness. In the person of Jesus Christ we see the Trinity of God most plainly; through His atoning death and physical resurrection we receive forgiveness and eternal life. The church is the Body of Christ on Earth to spread His Kingdom, and embody His love for the world.
We also feel it important to emphasize our commitment to two additional doctrines:
The Uniqueness of Jesus Christ
We believe God has spoken to people of the world, so that human beings know of God’s goodness and existence (Hebrews 1:1-3, Romans 1:19-21). We affirm that salvation comes by God’s grace to sin-filled people, through faith in Jesus Christ alone (Acts 4:12, John 14:6).
The Authority of Scripture
In confusing times, it is imperative to define how we make difficult decisions. We affirm that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are inspired by God and authoritative to direct the behavior of God’s people in matters of faith and practice (2 Timothy 3:16, Psalm 119:2-4). We also affirm the primacy of the Scriptures over all other creeds, which exist to reflect the teaching and affirmations of the Scripture in certain times and situations.
In everything we seek humility and reliance on God’s Spirit to guide us. God is judge, not human beings. Our faith compels us not to pass judgment, but to preach and live the gospel in loving relationships, with urgency and respect for all. Like the Reformers we proclaim: in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, diversity; in all things, charity.
WHY A STATEMENT OF FAITH
Christians periodically need to reaffirm what has defined Christianity since the time of the first disciples and apostles long ago. At the beginning of the 21st century, Christ Presbyterian Church’s leadership (elders, pastors, and staff) faces three important cultural realities:
- CPC is a Presbyterian church (PC(USA)) at a time when mainline denominations are theologically divided even as they decline in number and relevance.
- The increased diversity of our congregation brings a variety of perspectives, many with little clarity of historical, biblical Christianity.
- We live in a post-modern culture, where moral absolutes and ultimate truths are no longer recognized. The authority of biblical truths needs to be emphasized and explained in order to apply effectively.
QUESTIONS ON OUR STATEMENT OF FAITH
Why do we need a formal Statement of Faith now? I thought we already had one.
Good question! Presbyterians have used a Book of Confessions to define their core beliefs, all subservient to the authority of Scripture. These range from the early church’s Apostles Creed through 11 Catechisms, like the Westminster Catechism, to modern statements of faith like the Confession of 1967. At the same time, there is a lot of confusion and disagreement within the denomination, especially considering that about 80% of our members come from non-Presbyterian backgrounds. We want something short enough to serve as common ground without being so detailed as to be unusable.
Do all the members of CPC have to understand and believe in this Statement?
Our vows of membership focus on four questions: Who is your Lord and Savior? Do you trust Him? Will you be His disciple? Will you be a faithful member of this congregation? The Statement is an amplification of basic Christian beliefs aimed at informing our visitors as well as guiding leadership and those with teaching responsibilities.
Why aren’t there specific references to contentious issues, like abortion, homosexuality, or capital punishment?
Most of the decisions made on these types of issues fall back to one central principle — the authority of Scripture, which we do outline in the Statement of Faith. When Scripture speaks in one voice on any issue (non-disputable matters) we will yield to the authority of the Bible over against any other source of wisdom. On the other hand, one of the principles in our church’s life is to allow for diversity when not directed by the Scriptures. Where Scripture is silent on an issue or when there are a variety of voices within it, we need to allow for grace in our conversations with others. Many of these issues have faithful Christians on all sides; while we will seek to learn together, we need to encourage a respectful atmosphere where God can speak to all.
GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR THE STATEMENT OF FAITH
We want to be defined theologically by our center in Christ, not by our boundaries. Boundaries only become important when issues divide us, or are potentially inconsistent with these core beliefs. We hold in tension a desire for people to feel free to begin their spiritual journey at many different places, while at the same time, calling them to step toward biblical issues.
We have no desire to make a rigid, detailed template for subscription. This Statement will be used as:
- information to allow visitors to discern our core beliefs,
- guidance for teachers and leaders, so they may affirm their accord with our core theology before teaching and setting curricula,
- an educational tool for the congregation at all ages,
- to give guidance to the staff and Session when matters of dispute come before them, so we are more consistent in our deliberations, and
- to help define our center as we interact with various denominational issues.