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Our Beliefs

1. We believe what the Church Universal (Protestant, Catholics, and Orthodox) has always and everywhere believed:  that there is one God in three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit); that Jesus Christ, who is God in the flesh, died to take away our sins and put us right with God and then rose from the grave; and that by faith in what Jesus Christ has done for us, we can have everlasting life reconciled to God.

2. We hold to the Reformed tradition of Christian faith, which means that we emphasize the sovereign, undisputed power of God that controls all things, and that we believe that the church should be governed by a group of elders (presbyters) rather than by a bishop or by purely local control.  We accept the Scots Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Westminster Confession, and other similar documents as authoritative expressions of what the Reformed tradition of faith is all about.

Here's our pastor's statement of personal faith:

CREDO

Our faith is all about Jesus:

His unparalleled life,

His saving death,

and His victorious resurrection.

All the rest is details.

Our life is all about Jesus:

Who He really was,

Not the subjective product of our own idol-factory;

The whole Jesus, not just the parts we like;

Both the loving Jesus, and the no-nonsense Jesus;

The Jesus whose love and whose grace can never be equaled, earned, or deserved,

but not the sugar-sweet idol carved by Marcion;

Not the Jesus of the Quran, The Da Vinci Code, or the voice of the spirit within us,

but the Jesus to whom the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments bear unique, authoritative witness;

the Jesus who loved both the woman at the well and Zacchaeus too much to leave them in self-affirming sin.

He lived the life we should have lived;

He died the death we should have died.

Our faith is all about the Cross.

Anselm of Canterbury laid it out for us in Cur Deus Homo?

That is, Why did God have to become human?

Anselm spelled out what our entire Nicene-Chalcedonian Christology was predicated upon: the principle that only Someone who was fully God and fully human could satisfy the penalty of human sin for an entire world.

Every other belief about what Jesus did for us, depends on that belief for its meaning.

Our faith hangs on Jesus’ resurrection,

The truth that sets Jesus apart from every other claim on our hearts,

The reality without which the symbol loses its meaning.

When it comes to what we will stake our life on, fact trumps fiction every time.

Our faith is all about the mighty acts of God,

acts done not in some never-never land, but in our world of space and time.

If Jesus did not rise, we are all as hopeless as a hog in the stockyards.

Jesus’ resurrection validates the entire story of who He is and what He has done.

He has now ascended to the throne of the Universe

Taking human flesh where it has never gone before

Confirming that the Jesus of history and our heavenly Lord are the same Person.

He shall come again to earth “like the lightning that flashes across the sky”

To give us new, imperishable bodies like the one He was raised with

To create a new world where the fascinations of this life will seem like childish toys.

But there is more.

Because of Jesus, I am compelled to believe in one triune God, the Holy One of Israel:

I believe this Jesus is the unique, once-for-all incarnation of God the Father,

The Creator of the masterpiece that reflects the Creator’s beauty and power,

The sovereign, indisputable Ruler of all that is,

The One from whose presence earth and sky shall one day flee away in terror,

The One whose unmatched character sets the standard for love, justice, and truth.

I likewise believe in the Holy Spirit,

The One who indwells and empowers those who believe

The One who opens our eyes and gives us new hearts to believe God’s truth

The One who translated God’s word into human written language through the words of the prophets and apostles.

I believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, as defined in the Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy.

I approach the Bible with a hermeneutic of trust rather than suspicion.

Biblical authority means that I cannot correct the Bible, but the Bible corrects me.

I believe that God created us for a relationship with God, and gave us tremendous potential for good.

But our relationship with God has been broken by sin, twisted beyond our power to repair.

We find ourselves enslaved to what is not good for us, and powerless to do what is good.

It is from this bondage that Jesus comes to set us free.

I believe that through Christ, God adopts us into the family of God, the Church.

Jesus claims us as His covenant children in the waters of baptism,

And He is present with us whenever we eat the bread and drink the cup by which we proclaim His saving death.

I believe that how we respond to the mercy of Christ will lock in our eternal destiny:

To a life of endless joy in the presence of God,

Or a place of endless torment apart from God.

A statement of faith from the Chester (UK) Cathedral sums it all up.

“We believe:

That God has shown us what God is like through the life, the death, and the rising again of Jesus Christ;

That God loves each and every human being;

That through faith in God and trust in God’s promises, we can become the people God wants us to be: healed of what harms us, free of what imprisons us, and more fully alive.”

All the above, I most passionately believe.

ANSWERS TO COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

             Were the 6 days of creation literal?  Even most conservatives who hold to the inerrancy of the Bible understand these days to be periods of time.  The idea was first suggested by St Augustine around 400 AD.  The progressive creation described by Genesis does agree with the general timeline suggested by science.  The text does not intend to give us a strict chronology at this point.  Even the genealogies contain gaps (“father” can mean “distant ancestor”), so there is no way to fix dates based on the data we are given.

            What about large ages in early Genesis?  I reject the idea that these are mythical, and I prefer not to believe that there was progressive exaggeration.  We can also rule out the notion that years were shorter back then.  One might speculate whether the numbers were originally for months rather than years (if Methuselah was “969”, was that 969 months or years?).  Some take the names as being dynasties rather than individuals, although this approach is not without problems.  The creationist explanation is that there was less cosmic radiation at this time, therefore less aging.

            Was there a real flood, and if so, how deep?  I do believe that the human race narrowly dodged extinction from an unprecedented flood, which may have happened at the end of the last Ice Age.  The words “mountain/hill” and “earth/land” do permit a flood that was regionalized and not 6 miles deep.  Keep in mind that all the water in the atmosphere and the polar ice caps would only raise our present ocean 400 feet.  To cover the earth’s highest mountains would require 7 times as much water as we have on earth at the moment.

            Where are the Chinese in Genesis 10’s Table of Nations?  They are in between the lines – possibly through a son of Noah that is not mentioned.

            How many Hebrews were in the Exodus?  Keep these factors in mind as you reckon with the large numbers in the story:  1. According to his own records, this Pharaoh only had an army of 20,000, and the Bible itself says he only used 600 chariots against the fleeing Hebrews.  2. The spring where the Israelis camped for 38 years has a flow today of only 250,000 gallons per day.  If you think of what it took to provide for 400,000 at Woodstock, the dynamics of such a crowd in the desert would be hard to manage.  3. The Hebrew word for “thousand” can also mean “clan”, opening the possibility that there were 600 clans in the desert.

            How should we understand the crossing of the Red Sea?  The Hebrews had to have crossed through enough water to drown Pharaoh’s army.  The term “Reed Sea” applies both to our present Red Sea, and to marshy lakes in the area of today’s Suez Canal.  A constant wind can raise or lower the water line on the Great Lakes by up to 10 feet.  Israeli oceanographers have identified an ideal shallow spot that may have been laid bare by an east wind.

            What do we do with the Old Testament laws today?  The New Testament says that sacrifice and the kosher food laws are no longer for today.  But the New Testament reaffirms numerous Mosaic laws, particularly those that carry a death penalty (an indication that these are serious moral issues).  Yet even the laws that were only for Israel are useful for our instruction – they give us a picture of God in action.

            How do we explain God’s command to slaughter the Canaanites?  When you plant a garden, first you have to dig up the ground, and when you do, you kill a lot of plants in the process.  Likewise, as God set out to establish a nation of faith in a world of idol-worship, to insure that it would grow into a healthy plant, God had to order the weeds to be rooted out.  Canaanite religion and morals would have destroyed the people of God, as surely as gangrene in a leg can kill a person unless the leg is cut off.  We have no such mandate from God to do as Israel was told to do, nor should we look for any such order from God in the future.  Please also note that both Rahab and the Gibeonites saved their lives by taking action based on their faith.

            How are we to understand the sun standing still?  If we reject the option that this is a tall tale, we must conclude that the Israelis were given up to 12 hours of extra light to finish their battle, possibly through a mirage of the sun (like a huge “sun dog”).  Assuming that this occurred, it is surprising that the event is not mentioned in other ancient records.  One possible clue to what happened is that a day when both sun and moon are visible at opposite ends of the sky was viewed in the Near East as a favorable omen of victory.

            Why does God allow evil and suffering in the world?  God could instantly end all evil and suffering in the world.  But to do so, God would have to bring the world to an end.  God’s not ready to do that yet, because there are too many souls who have not yet come to faith.  Meanwhile, God has an amazing track record of using even terrible evil to bring about good in the end.

            What about the virgin birth and/or the miracles of Jesus?  If we accept the historical evidence for Jesus’ resurrection, all the rest of the Gospel miracles become believable as well.  Jesus’ enemies never denied His miracles – instead, they attributed them to witchcraft.  As for the virgin birth, why would the early church make such a risky claim, unless the evidence left them no honest alternative?  I must conclude that Jesus was neither the biological son of Joseph, nor of any other human male.

            What should we do with Jesus’ teaching on divorce?  Jesus is stating the obvious – that one can never erase or take back a marriage that once existed.  Jesus’ original purpose was to protect women from being thrown away by their husbands, which put them in an unavoidable awkward position.  But remember: Jesus says that lust is also adultery.  To forbid remarriage for divorced persons would make divorce an unforgivable sin, which it is clearly not.  God was even able to take David’s adulterous relationship with Bathsheba and transform it into a valid marriage through which we trace Jesus’ family tree.  But even in cases of violent abuse and desertion, divorce can only be at best the lesser of 2 evils.  God says, “I hate divorce” – and most divorced people would agree.

            What should we do with Paul’s comments on women in leadership?  Because there is plenty of Biblical evidence that God used women as leaders (Deborah being the most famous example), I believe that Paul’s advice was specific to his time and situation, which was much like the church’s situation in modern Pakistan or Saudi Arabia.

            How should we understand the Bible’s failure to speak louder against slavery?  The Bible revolutionized the relationship between slave and master.  It says that in Christ there is “neither slave nor free”.  The Bible sowed the seeds of slavery’s downfall.  It did not conduct a frontal assault on slavery because it did not have the power to do so.  Also, unlike the practice of American black slavery, slavery in the 1st century was not race-based and was often chosen as a way to climb the socio-economic ladder. (Slaves often had their own money, businesses, and even slaves of their own.)  It is no coincidence that it was neither Muslims nor Africans (both of whom were involved in the slave trade), but Christians who championed the abolition of slavery.

            How shall we apply the Bible’s teachings on sexuality?  The New Testament rules out not merely adultery, but all sex outside of marriage, including homosexual.  It does so, writing to an age with as much sexual freedom of both kinds as we have today.  What God said to them must be the same as what God would say to us.  Our modern debate about sexual orientation is irrelevant.  No discovery from ancient Greek or modern science changes the picture.  Not every desire is a gift from God.

            Are people lost without Christ?  Jesus said He was the only way to God.  Before the cross, He prayed, “Father, if it be possible, take this cup away from me.”  If there was any other way for us to be saved other than the sacrifice of Christ, wouldn’t God have pursued it instead?  God may choose to save those who never hear of Christ, if they knew that they needed a Savior and were searching for one.  But we must treat eternity without Christ as a condition that is almost certainly fatal, just as we treat AIDS as always fatal, whether or not there may be exceptions to the rule.

            Who decided what books would make it into the Bible?  There was no person or council that made the decisions on what books to include in the Bible.  There was already a broad consensus among the Jews by 100 BC on what OT books were to be considered Holy Scripture.  Josephus says that the official books were kept in the Temple.  Likewise, Christians had a consensus that looked much like today’s NT by 300 AD.  In both cases, virtually all of the books that were disputed ended up being included.  There was strong consensus on the books that did not get included.  This subject, and much more, is covered in depth in Pastor Hobson's program “The Truth About the Early Church.”   

 

 

 

 

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