With so many Christian denominations, it can be difficult to figure out what various churches believe. The primary thing we want people to know is that we believe in and choose to follow Jesus Christ. Our church name includes the word “Presbyterian,” but first and foremost we are followers of Christ.
Presbyterian is an expression of Christianity that traces itself back to the time of the Reformation (cir. 1500), when Christians in Europe intentionally examined the Bible and worked to align and realign their lives around its teachings. Our theology is referred to as Reformed Theology, drawing from the very spirit of the Reformation. Central to the Reformation and to Reformed Theology are five core understandings:
Scripture Alone (Sola Scriptura) This declaration affirms that the Bible is authoritative as God’s revealed word to humankind.
For the Glory of God Alone (Soli Deo Gloria) When it comes to understanding the “why” of life, we believe that everything in creation, including ourselves, exists to know, celebrate, and honor how great God is.
By the Work of Christ Alone (Solo Christo) There is no other mediator between God and humankind other than Jesus. We believe that it is through Jesus alone, through his death and resurrection on the cross, that we have the opportunity to approach God and enjoy God’s love.
By Grace Alone (Solo Gratia) We believe doing good works definitely has its place, but with this statement Reformed Theology declares that access to God isn’t achieved through works, but through God choosing to show favor toward us out of God’s mercy and grace. Our efforts and works then become our ongoing thank you note.
By Faith Alone (Sola Fide) The Bible teaches that a relationship with God is free to those who seek it. Jesus has already paid the price for us. The love of God is available to us simply through faith—a combination of belief and trust.
We are also part of the Fellowship Community within the PCUSA and stand by their traditional beliefs.
In addition to these five brief expressions, Christians over the course of history have put together longer statements, called confessions, to clarify what they believe the Bible to communicate about important subjects like who God is and what God is like, who we as humans are and what our purpose is, and what God is up to in this world.
One of these statements is called the Nicene Creed, written about 300 years after the time of Christ.
Nicene Creed . . .
We believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, begotten from the Father before all ages, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made; of the same essence as the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven; he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary, and was made human. He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried. The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead. His kingdom will never end.And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life. He proceeds from the Father and the Son, and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified. He spoke through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church. We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look forward to the resurrection of the dead, and to life in the world to come. Amen.
Brief Confession of Faith . . .
In life and in death we belong to God. Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, we trust in the one triune God, the Holy One of Israel, whom alone we worship and serve.We trust in Jesus Christ, Fully human, fully God. Jesus proclaimed the reign of God: preaching good news to the poor and release to the captives, teaching by word and deed and blessing the children, healing the sick and binding up the brokenhearted, eating with outcasts, forgiving sinners, and calling all to repent and believe the gospel. Unjustly condemned for blasphemy and sedition, Jesus was crucified, suffering the depths of human pain and giving his life for the sins of the world. God raised Jesus from the dead, vindicating his sinless life, breaking the power of sin and evil, delivering us from death to life eternal.We trust in God, whom Jesus called Abba, Father. In sovereign love God created the world good and makes everyone equally in God’s image male and female, of every race and people, to live as one community. But we rebel against God; we hide from our Creator. Ignoring God’s commandments, we violate the image of God in others and ourselves, accept lies as truth, exploit neighbor and nature, and threaten death to the planet entrusted to our care. We deserve God’s condemnation. Yet God acts with justice and mercy to redeem creation. In everlasting love, the God of Abraham and Sarah chose a covenant people to bless all families of the earth. Hearing their cry, God delivered the children of Israel from the house of bondage. Loving us still, God makes us heirs with Christ of the covenant. Like a mother who will not forsake her nursing child, like a father who runs to welcome the prodigal home, God is faithful still.We trust in God the Holy Spirit, everywhere the giver and renewer of life. The Spirit justifies us by grace through faith, sets us free to accept ourselves and to love God and neighbor, and binds us together with all believers in the one body of Christ, the Church. The same Spirit who inspired the prophets and apostles rules our faith and life in Christ through Scripture, engages us through the Word proclaimed, claims us in the waters of baptism, feeds us with the bread of life and the cup of salvation, and calls women and men to all ministries of the church. In a broken and fearful world the Spirit gives us courage to pray without ceasing, to witness among all peoples to Christ as Lord and Savior, to unmask idolatries in Church and culture, to hear the voices of peoples long silenced, and to work with others for justice, freedom, and peace. In gratitude to God, empowered by the Spirit, we strive to serve Christ in our daily tasks and to live holy and joyful lives, even as we watch for God’s new heaven and new earth, praying, “Come, Lord Jesus!”With believers in every time and place, we rejoice that nothing in life or in death can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.