What We Believe
"But be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2
"To unite with Christ and make Him known."
The following was developed during our Mission Study Project in 2016.
Presbyterians are Christian.
As followers of Jesus Christ, there are many beliefs we share in common with other Christian denominations.
God is creator of the universe and all that exists within it.
- Christ is the incarnation of God on earth—fully human and fully God.
- The Holy Spirit is the presence of God in the world and in the believer.
- The Trinity is God as one in essence, but three in person.
- The Church is a universal company of Christ's followers.
- The forgiveness of sin is made possible through repentance and faith in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
- Life everlasting and the resurrection of the body is ours because Jesus rose from the dead.
- The Bible is the inspired word of God.
Presbyterians are Evangelical.
We share beliefs in common with other denominations that split from the Roman Catholic Church in the sixteenth century as well as those that were founded later. These are best summed up with the “Five Solas” of the Reformation.
Faith Alone (Sola Fides): Protestants believe that faith in the work of Jesus Christ as the sole grounds for our justification before a Holy God. We are justified, or brought into a right relationship with God through grace. This does not happen by our own effort, but by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Because of God's love for us, Jesus Christ took sin upon himself and became the full and final sacrifice for the sins of the world. (Ephesians 2:8-9, Galatians 5:6, Galatians 3:6-11, 2nd Helvetic 5.109-5.122, Westminster 6.078-6.080, Essential Tenets III.A-B.)
Grace Alone (Sola Gratia): Classical Protestantism has always recognized that the faith that justifies us before a Holy God is God’s gift to us. We do not produce or manufacture this faith from some inner part of our being. Faith is not man’s contribution to the plan of salvation. “It is the gift of God… lest any man should boast” (Luke 17:5, Romans 9:10-16, Philippians 1:29, Ephesians 1:3-8, Ephesians 2:8-9, Scots Confession XII, Heidelberg 4.065, 2nd Helvetic 5.113, Essential Tenets III.A.-B.)
Scripture Alone (Sola Scriptura): Protestants also believe in the authority of scripture. Scripture is the written revelation of God and always points, through the Holy Spirit, to the living revelation of God in Christ. The purpose of scripture is to bring persons to salvation and guide them in living a life of faith. (Psalm 119:18, Psalm 138:2, 2 Timothy 3:14-17, Westminster 6.001, Essential Tenets I.)
Christ Alone (Solus Christus): Our salvation comes through the work of Christ alone. It is the works of Christ alone which satisfies the demands of God and the Law. The righteousness by which we are justified is an alien righteousness. It does not originate in us but rather comes from Christ. His sacrifice takes away our sins. His perfection (imputed righteousness) makes us acceptable to a holy God. (John 5:24-25, John 11:25, John 14:6, I Timothy 2:5-6, Colossians 1:13-18, Acts 4:12, Westminster 6.038, 6.043, 2nd Helvetic XI.)
To God Alone Be the Glory (Soli Deo Gloria): Man is by very nature prone to idol worship. The essence of idolatry is worshiping a substitute in the place of God. God alone is worthy of our worship and as such any form of worship to other gods is idolatry. God alone is the focus of our worship. (Exodus 20:3, Romans 11:36, I Corinthians 10:31, Revelation 19:1, Revelation 1:6, II Peter 3:1, Ephesians 3:21, Romans 11:36, 2nd Helvetic Confession 5.023, Essential Tenets II.A.)
Presbyterians are Reformed.
The Reformed Faith, or “Calvinism” is taken from the theological system developed by Swiss Reformers of the 16th century and is often summarized by the Doctrines of Grace. However, true Calvinism encompasses more than these famous “five points.”
Radical Corruption: Sin affects every part of the human condition. Our bodies, our minds, our emotions, our will, our sexuality: everything. John Calvin argued that knowledge of God is implanted in every human heart, but is suppressed by human sin. People willingly choose not to acknowledge God as their creator and instead create idols—defined as anything we create that we give our ultimate allegiance to. (John 3:19-20, John 6:44, Ephesians 2:5, Colossians 2:13, Romans 5:12, Mark 4:11, Scots Confession III, Heidelberg Catechism 4.005, 2nd Helvetic Confession 5.036-5.040, Westminster Confession 6.031-6.036, 6.059-6.063, Essential Tenets III.A.)
Sovereign Election: Before we ever said yes to God, God said yes to us. The central point is that the initiative belongs to God, and we respond to Him. His decision is based solely on what pleases Him, and not any future action or decision we make. Any part we might contribute in this process gives us something to boast about. God stands at the beginning, the middle, and the end of our salvation. “Election” is the Reformed way of saying "grace alone." (Ephesians 1:4-8, Romans 9:11,15,16,21, I Thessalonians 1:4, John 3:16-18, 2 Peter 1:10, Ephesians 2:10, Scots Confession VIII, 2nd Helvetic Confession 5.052-5.061, Westminster Confession 6.064-6.067, Essential Tenets III.B.)
Definite Atonement: God’s saving love is particular. When Christ died on the cross of Calvary, he received exactly what he paid for. He did not die to make salvation “possible” for everyone. He made salvation guaranteed for those who were elected by the Father. Jesus is an actual Savior, not merely a “potential” Savior. (Isaiah 53:4-6, John 10:11, John 10:27, John 17:6-12, Ephesians 5:25, Matthew 26:29, John 6:37, Essential Tenets III.A.4.)
The Power of the Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit is able to regenerate our hearts, making them inclined to God, despite our natural inclination to resist God’s grace. Our hearts are made alive by the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit works in conjunction with the Word of God to affect this change of heart. This regeneration produces a real and substantive change in a person’s nature. Regeneration proceeds faith. (John 1:12-13, John 3:5, John 5:25, John 6:37, Romans 8:14, Colossians 2:13, Acts 11:18, I Peter 5:10, Westminster Confession 6.183-6.186, Essential Tenets III.B.1.)
The Perseverance of the Holy Spirit: God finishes what he starts. The same God who began a good work in us will finish the job. He doesn’t leave us to ourselves. While we still sin, even in our state of justification, the Holy Spirit works in us to conform us to the image of Christ. (John 3:16, John 4:13-14, John 6:39, John 17:12, Romans 8:28-39, II Corinthians 4:7-16, Philippians 1:6, Westminster 6.097-6.100, , Essential Tenets III.A.2.)
The Sovereignty of God: We know the actions of God are intentional and directed toward the accomplishment of his purposes in his creation. God also uses human means in history to accomplish his purposes, yet such means do not involve coercion. We are still responsible for our decisions and actions. Everything that happens falls within the realm of God’s will, either passively, or actively. (Romans 8:28, Essential Tenets II.A.2., 2nd Helvetic Confession 5.029, Westminster 6.014-6.030)
Stewardship: Stewardship is an attitude toward all of creation. We are creatures given the responsibility as stewards, or servants, to care for all God has created, in the same way Adam and Eve were charged to care for the Garden of Eden (Gen. 1:28). Grace motivates us to live in gratitude. Redemption calls us to respond in thankfulness by caring for all that God has given us. As we recognize that all life, faith, love, and every other gift comes from God, so we recognize our responsibility to render back a portion of what has been given us in these areas. This "rendering back" might include time, talent, and treasures. Stewardship is a spiritual matter, not a synonym for raising money. (Scots Confession XIII, Essential Tenets III.D.1., Heidelberg Catechism 4.086)
Obedience: We are to be obedient to the Word of God, which directs us to work for justice in the transformation of society. All our life is a response to all that God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—has done and is doing. (Westminster Confession 6.087-6.093, 6.101-6.107, Essential Tenets III.E.)
We accomplish our purpose and our vision through five strategies:
- Worship: We honor God through both our corporate worship and our individual lives.
- Fellowship: We relate to one another and to Christ through gospel-based community.
- Education: We learn about the person and work of Christ through bible-study, prayer, and corporate worship.
- Ministry: We serve God, our fellow Christians, and those who don’t know Christ through our spiritual gifts.
- Mission: We reach out to a world in need through charity, giving, witness, and time.
ECO Essential Tenets and Confessions. http://eco-pres.org/essential-tenets/
Reformed Confessions & Historic Documents. http://www.reformed.org/documents/index.html