Beliefs

Westminster Abbey north side

Our beliefs are summarized in several historic creeds and confessions which culminate in three documents that were composed by an assembly of ministers and laymen at Westminster Abbey (1643-1649), and later amended and adopted by the Presbyterian Church in America:

Westminster Confession of Faith
Westminster Shorter Catechism
Westminster Larger Catechism (Q. 1-115 and Q. 116-196)

Nevertheless, our commitments can be summarized briefly.

Brief Summary of Our Faith:

Scripture: We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the inspired Word of God, and a perfectly authoritative guide for what we ought to believe, how we ought to live, and how we ought to worship (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

God: We believe in the Trinity, which is to say that God is an individual Being, and three divine Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—who have loved, enjoyed, and blessed one another for eternity (Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 John 4:8).

Creation and Providence: We believe that God created the universe out of nothing, and governs all that which comes to pass according to his unsearchable wisdom with the result that all things will ultimately bring glory to him, and blessing to his chosen people (Eph. 1:11; Rom. 8:28).

Humanity and Sin: We believe that God originally created man in His own image, upright and pure, and placed him in a special covenant relationship with Himself.  However, the first man, Adam turned his heart to sin and disobedience, breaking covenant with God (Eccl. 7:29; Hos. 6:7).  As a result of Adam’s disobedience both he and all of his offspring (the entirety of humanity) are born in bondage to sin, and under the guilt of a broken covenant with God (Gen. 6:5; Rom. 5:12-14; 3:23).  No individual can voluntarily elect to stop sinning, or even to turn his heart to God in faithful obedience (Jer. 13:23; Rom. 3:9-18).

Jesus Christ and the Gospel: We believe that God the Son took on human flesh (John 1:14), becoming the historical person Jesus of Nazareth, in order to save humanity from their sin and alienation from God.  Jesus Christ is a single person with two distinct natures, one fully divine and the other fully human.  As a man Jesus offered God the Father the perfect obedience of which we have deprived Him, and paid the penalty for human sin—death—on behalf of His people, the church (Matt. 1:21; Eph. 5:25-27).  As God, Jesus’ righteous obedience and His sacrificial death were of infinite value (Heb. 9:13), capable of pacifying the Father’s righteous indignation toward human sin (1 John 2:1-2; Rom. 3:21-26), and of relieving our conscience that we are indeed reconciled to God (Rom. 5:1-5; Heb. 10:22).

Salvation: We believe that the sole way to become a beneficiary of the saving work of Christ is through faith in the message of the Gospel (Eph. 2:8-9; Gal. 2:16).  Faith itself is a gift granted to those whom God has chosen for life from before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:3-5; Rom. 8:30).  The beneficiaries of salvation cannot be severed from Christ, but may have the most profound assurance that they are children of God, destined to spend eternity with God (John 6:37-40; Rom. 8:35-39).

The Holy Spirit and the Church: We believe that after having died and resurrected for our sins, Jesus ascended to the right hand of God the Father, became the first participant in resurrected life, and was endowed with the authority to send the Holy Spirit to empower believers to bear witness to Christ as a community of worshipers (John 15:26; Luke 3:16; Acts 2:1-4).  The Holy Spirit teaches us by turning our hearts to the Word of Christ (John 14:26; 1 John 2:27); He dispenses gifts to believers with which we bless one another (1 Cor. 12:4-11); He compels us to pray, and even grants us the right words to speak (Rom. 8:16; Gal. 4:6); He empowers us to boldly bear witness to the Gospel before unbelievers (Matt. 10:19-20; Acts 4:31); and He produces godly characteristics within us, enabling us to become ever more holy (Gal. 5:22).

Sacraments and Worship: We believe that God has granted His people special “means” through which we receive and rest in the grace of salvation, and which should appear regularly in Christian worship.  (For a more detailed description of our worship service, click here.)

Baptism: God uses the sacrament of baptism to unite believers’ children and adult converts to Christ and His Church (Acts 2:41; 16:15; 16:31-34; 1 Cor. 12:13), and to signify, seal, and confer cleansing from sin through Christ’s blood (Acts 2:38; 22:16).

Lord’s Supper: God uses the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper to nurture our faith, to remind us of Christ’s death and our future glory, to bind believers to one another, to draw us into his presence, and to empower us as participants in the resurrected body and life of Christ (1 Cor. 10:16-17; Luke 22:14-22; 24:30-35).

Word of God: God uses the preaching of the word to convert sinners, to convict believers, to inspire obedience, to assure us of salvation, and to disclose to us the most profound truths about heavenly things (Jer. 31:10; Matt. 4:4; Heb. 4:12; Rom. 10:14-15; Acts 2:41; 1 Tim. 3:16).

Prayer: God uses prayer to turn our hearts to contemplate His holy nature, the ends of his kingdom, and our utter reliance on Him.  He also uses prayer to well up from us pleas for His presence, so that through the Holy Spirit we may advance the kingdom of God, be unified as one church with a common mission, express our joy and grief to Him, and confidently request for his provision (Ps. 55:16-19; Jer. 12:1-13;  Matt. 6:5-13; Luke 11:13; Acts 4:31).  Both singing and confession of sin are prayerful components of our worship, as speech directed to God (Ps. 32; Ps. 34; Ps. 96; Eph. 5:18-20; Jam. 3:13-18).

The Great Commission and the Future: We believe that it is the duty of the church to make disciples, first by baptizing and then by more thoroughly teaching individuals, families, and whole nations (Matt. 28:18-20) until the “the earth is full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Is. 11:9).  As the church worships God in Spirit and in truth, we believe that Christ will faithfully place all of His enemies under His and our feet (Ps. 2; 1 Cor. 15:25-26), and reconcile a world of believers to Himself (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2).  At the end of Christ’s reign, all people will be resurrected from the dead (John 5:28-29), and judged at the seat of Christ.  Unbelievers will be cast out of Christ’s presence for eternity, and believers will enjoy eternal communion with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Acts 17:31; Matt. 25:31-46; Rev. 20:11-15).