We believe the most important decision a person can make in life is to take the step of obedient faithfulness to God through his Son Jesus. Who we love, trust in and follow is more important than us getting every aspect of doctrine right. None-the-less there are some really important core beliefs of the Christian faith that help us stay focussed on Jesus. These core beliefs are listed below and will be taught unashamedly at our church.
In addition to these core beliefs, there are of course, many other complex theological questions which can be very helpful to think about, but which are less clear in terms of what is true. These secondary beliefs are just that - secondary! In our church there will be a variety of views even amongst the pastors and freedom of interpretation is encouraged and welcomed.
Finally, there are certain directions developing in Western culture and thought that seem to be deviating significantly from a Biblical world-view. Like the secondary beliefs, these aren’t the defining beliefs of Christianity, but they are important to think about and wrestle with if we are allow the Bible instead of our culture be the main shaper of our world-view
There is one eternally existing God. He is the creator of the entire universe and all things within it.
Jesus is Lord and faith in and obedience to him is the path to eternal life.
The core commandments for life, as given to us by Jesus, are for us to love the Lord our God with all our strength, heart, mind and soul, and for us to love our neighbours.
Key Christian Doctrines
God is Trinity. This is a profound mystery. There is one God in distinct and separate three persons, God as Father, God as Son and God as Spirit.
Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, is both fully God and fully human. He was crucified and died and was resurrected to life again for the forgiveness of sins, to bring eternal life to his people.
Forgiveness of sins and salvation is through Jesus alone. Faith in him, not through good works, brings justification from sins and the promise of resurrection and eternal life to all who believe.
Those who follow Jesus receive comfort and guidance through the Holy Spirit who is present in their lives, and this is evident in the lives of those who love and follow Jesus.
The Bible, although written by human hand, was inspired by God and is his special word to people. It is true in all it claims.
Baptism and the Lord’s supper are important practices that Jesus expects his followers to continue. Faith however is something that is chosen; it is never forced. As such baptism is best reserved for a person who comes to faith and who professes belief in Jesus, planning life-long obedience to him.
All people are created in the image of God. God’s good news of forgiveness and salvation is to be taken to all people and the church should make a special effort to be a place of welcome and hospitality where the lost can find forgiveness and rest.
Secondary theological issues
We understand that there are a spectrum of different views that can be arrived at by Christians and that there is room for interpretation when reading the Bible about these issues. We encourage and welcome individual interpretation and our pastors commit to recognizing that reasonable Christians come to quite different views on these issues.
Creationism and Theistic Evolution…
God is creator - this is a crucial Christian belief. But exactly how he created the world is not completely clear. Some Christians see the world created in 6 days from the account of Genesis 1; others see these days as representing eras over thousands and millions of years; others yet see a poetry on Genesis 1 that does not require specific eras to have existed and see that God worked through a process of evolution. Likewise, stories such as the Fall, the Flood and Babel, are understand by many Christians to be literal, exact historical stories, whereas other Christians see these stories more like parables that help us to understand deeper truths of sin and death.
Arminianism and Calvinism…
Free will and predestination are complicated and hard for humans who live within space-time to understand. Some Christians emphasise free-will and lean towards an Arminian view of faith, and others emphasise God’s sovereignty and lean towards a Calvinist view of faith. Both views are arrived at in good faith reading Scripture.
Hell and Annihilationism…
Jesus is the only way to salvation and eternal life. Those who reject him, reject life and remain in their sin. The traditional Christian view is that those who reject Jesus, find an eternal, conscious existence in hell, a place of punishment and torment. An alternative Christian view is that the descriptions of hell within the Bible are symbolic and represent the opposite of life; they represent death, and in this view, those who are not saved by Jesus cease to exist after death.
End times views… Amillenialism, pre-millenialism and post-millenialism…
The exact events of the future are of course unknown to us. The Book of Revelation is an especially confusing book full of apocalyptic visions. There are some Christians who interpret much of Revelation in a very literal sense and others who see most of it in very symbolic terms and do not read literal significance into most images, numbers and descriptions.
Believer’s Baptism and Infant Baptism
Baptism is important and, in the early church, baptism was simply expected to accompany the decision to believe. It is the symbol of cleansing of sins and rebirth to new life in Christ. Many churches have traditionally taught parents to baptize their newborn babies. Other churches teach that baptism should be reserved for those who believe. In other words, baptism is reserved for older children and adults. At our church we only practice believer’s baptism. However there may be a variety of views on baptism within the church and on whether or not a believer who was baptized as a baby should be “re-baptized.” We believe in allowing individuals to make their own decisions regarding baptism and re-baptism, recognizing that that many committed Christians feel their own baptism as an infant was good and proper.
Gifts of the Spirit and Cessationism
The Holy Spirit equips individuals in the church with all the gifts needed to build up the church. There are certain gifts spoken about in the Bible that some churches focus on, in particular, miracles of healing and tongues. Some Christians believe that these specific gifts were only given for a time in the early church, whereas many others believe that these gifts continue to be poured out today by the Holy Spirit. At our church we believe God is active in the world today and see no reason to doubt the presence of the gifts of tongues or of miracles, however neither do we believe that these gifts are required to be shown by faithful Christians and we recognize that some Christians may have a belief that these gifts were only for a time in the early church.
The Bible speaking into our culture
There are many wonderful aspects to our Western culture today and we celebrate this fact. There are also many aspects of Western thinking that are divergent from a Biblical world-view. The Bible speaks into our world today, calling us to focus on God, not money, on serving, not power, on loving, not bearing grudges. These are essential ways that we need to live, even in times where our culture teaches us differently.
Some especially important Biblical values that are of relevance to some of today’s public-sphere moral issues (such as euthanasia, abortion, and speech restrictions) include:
- The value of human life… There is an inherent value and dignity in all humans as all humans are created in the image of God. We are called as Christians to protect life, not to take it.
- Freedom of conscience and belief… … The Bible presents a picture of God inviting people to follow him. It shows a God who gives us autonomy and allows us to make decisions. This does not mean that there aren’t consequences for our decisions and beliefs, but none-the-less, God has created us to have freedom and free-will. As such, we should stand up for freedom of belief and freedom of conscience, being invitational, never coercive.
We are called to be incarnational, entering into the world and culture around us, just as the Son entered the world. It’s important that we stand ready to shine light and proclaim Jesus into the world, standing up for values of life and freedom. But most importantly, it is important that we love others, forgive others and offer hope through sharing the good news of Jesus. As 1 Corinthians 13 says “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal… And these three remain: faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love.”