What we believe the Bible teaches in detail: Westminster Confession of Faith
Ok, here’s the secret. We’re in a denomination. But, don’t let that scare you. It basically means that our leaders and members are accountable to remain within the historic teachings and practices of the church. If things get weird, someone will have to answer for it. We’d love it if every Bible-believing church in the world would come together in the same organizational body, but that hasn’t happened yet. In times past, Christians fought wars when they disagreed on how the church should be run. Many Christians emigrated to the “new world,” coming from a variety of places, bringing with them a variety of particular beliefs. When they decided not to kill each other and just keep their space, modern denominationalism was born. See, it can be much worse!
Our church follows in the line of Reformed Churches that started in Geneva, Switzerland under John Calvin, jumped the channel with John Knox to Scotland, and then made its way to America with successive waves of English, Scottish and Irish emigrants. Various other Reformed believers came from Germany, Holland, Switzerland and others with essentially the same system of belief and church government. They probably would have joined together, but they didn’t speak the same languages initially, and old habits die hard. All these churches were seeking to remain in the line of apostolic doctrine and practice that began in the New Testament and was continued by the church fathers. If you want to know more than that, check out our Westminster Confession class in the podcast section. There’s enough historical information in the first two to occupy your earbuds for a good while.
Today the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) has churches all over the world, but mostly in the US. These churches take seriously Paul’s command to be “in full accord, with one mind.” We have a fairly lengthy statement of what we believe the Bible teaches called the Westminster Confession of Faith (top of page.) It’s been only slightly altered since its formulation in the 1640’s, so at this point it has stood the test of time.
We confess the same simple faith that the early Christians confessed in the Apostles’ Creed. We confess the same more mature faith of the Nicene Creed. We confess the same finely-honed precise faith of the Chalcedonian and Athanasian Creeds. One God exists eternally in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. This God revealed Himself in a number of ways throughout history but ultimately ensured the preservation of His Word in writing. Faithfully translated, we now have the Bible, the only authority to tell us what to believe and do in regard to life and faith.
The Story of How We All Got to Where We Are Today:
Man was made in the image of God, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. To err is not intrinsically human, but is a result of sin. We were more human before sin.
In Genesis 2 the first man and his wife fell to the temptation to be their own gods (autonomy). Every human since has been born in Adam’s image, like God but with an appetite for sin instead of righteousness, autonomy instead of loving submission to God’s will.
God is good. Good people don’t turn a blind eye to wrong. God is the archetype of goodness. He doesn’t turn a blind eye to wrong either. God could have sent humanity to everlasting punishment immediately. But before time began, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit had agreed together to initiate grace when this happened.
The Bible tells us how this plan to save God’s elect was worked out historically. It tells us what implications this history has on our lives. It tells us what implications God’s attributes have on our lives. It tells us what is true, good, and beautiful.