Six Essential Tenets of the Christian Faith

What are the essential tenets?  The essential tenets are our foundational convictions, contained in our creeds and confessions, that bear witness to God’s grace in Jesus Christ. “They guide the church in its study and interpretation of the Scriptures; they summarize the essence of Christian tradition; they direct the church in maintaining sound doctrines; they equip the church for its work of proclamation.”

This summary is not a subscription document; no one may be required to subscribe. Nor is it a strict formulation; we are delighted when core convictions are expressed in fresh and revitalizing language. This document has no authority in itself to qualify or disqualify a candidate; it provides a tool which a committee may use at its discretion in its theological assessment.

No human summary is perfect. Consequently, these tenets constitute a working document that is open to amendment, clarification, and improvement as the Holy Spirit leads us and gives clearer understanding.

Authority of Scripture

The Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are God’s uniquely revealed and written Word, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and are the church’s first and final authority in all areas of faith and life.  We seek to understand, love, follow, obey, surrender and submit to God’s Word—both Jesus Christ, the living Word of God, and the Scriptures, the written Word of God, which bear true and faithful witness to Jesus Christ.

God

We worship the one only living and true God who is revealed in the Bible and who is the source of all life, glory, goodness, and blessedness.

Trinity

There is one God alone, infinite and eternal, Creator of all things, the greatest good, who is one in essence or nature, yet who exists in a plurality of three distinct persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Creation/Providence/Sovereignty

God created the universe and everything in it for the manifestation of God’s glory, eternal power, wisdom, and goodness. He is sovereign working all things according to the counsel of his omnipotent and righteous will. Yet God has seen fit to accommodate free will among moral creatures, resulting in great cultural and cosmic good and terrible evil, disorder, and disobedience. Nevertheless, God is in no way the author of sin, but  continues to govern creation in such a way as to cause all things to work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose.

Grace

When we were dead in trespasses and sin, God made us alive with Christ, saving us by grace through faith, as a sheer gift of sovereign love.

Worship

God—and God alone—is worthy of worship. We respond to God by consciously and intentionally seeking to declare, explore, celebrate, and submit to God’s righteous and gracious kingship over all of creation and over every aspect of our individual and corporate life, and thereby “to glorify him and enjoy him forever.” (Westminster, 7.01) This is true worship.

 

Humanity - Original Righteousness and Fall Into Sin

Human beings were created by God in God’s own image—in true righteousness and holiness—to know, love, and obey God and be righteous stewards of the creation. Sin is rebellion against God. No human effort can fully resolve or redeem this defect. While there is an inalienable glory and nobility to human beings because they are God’s image bearers, this image is now broken and distorted, and even our best and noblest actions are contaminated by sin. The human will, originally free and righteous, is now crippled and defective.

Jesus Christ - Incarnation of the Eternal Word

Jesus Christ is fully God and fully human. The significance of this is: in Christ we are dealing with God himself; in Christ we have a human being who truly represents us. Jesus Christ is God’s only Mediator between God and humankind and God’s unique agent for the salvation of the world. This same Lord Jesus Christ, as attested in scripture, is to be the center of the Christian Church’s proclamation, worship, discipleship, and mission.

Jesus Christ - His Atoning Work

Jesus’ death on the Cross was the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world. In this act of obedience to God’s will and love for humankind, Jesus acted as the divine agent for the salvation of the world. On the sole basis of the finished work of Christ on the Cross, sinners may now be reconciled to a holy God and set free from their bondage to sin and death to live for God in holiness and joy.

Salvation By Grace Through Faith

Salvation is God’s gracious work through Jesus Christ to reclaim humankind and all creation from sin and its consequences. Salvation is a gift of God’s grace received by faith. Faith in Christ is the only instrument by which this righteousness is received by believers, resulting in their justification. Justification is the righteousness of Christ imputed to a sinful woman or man through faith alone in Christ. Their faith appropriates Christ’s atonement, resulting in their sins atoned for and forgiven and God reckoning them to be righteous.