Statement of Faith

Essentials of Christianity

I cannot in good conscience fellowship, worship, and minister with anyone who professes the name of Christ but rejects the following, as they are the defining essentials of Christian faith and their rejection constitutes heresy:

  • Monotheism: There is one and only one almighty, eternal, self-existing God, and he is responsible for the creation and ongoing existence of everything else. He and he alone is to be worshipped, now and forever.

  • The Trinity: God exists as three eternally distinct and equal persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each of these is equally the one almighty God, but they are nevertheless distinct.

  • The Deity of Christ: Jesus Christ is fully and truly human, but he is also fully and truly divine. He is the incarnation of God the Son in human flesh, one person with two natures, divine and human.

  • Everyone Needs a Savior: Every single human who will have ever lived—with the sole exception of Jesus Christ—is in need of salvation from death, the divinely prescribed consequence of sin.

  • Substitutionary Atonement: Jesus died in our place, in our stead, because death is the divinely prescribed consequence of our sin. His atoning death is therefore substitutionary or vicarious, meaning he bore what was coming to us.

  • Salvation Through Faith Alone: The salvation every human being needs is available only through earnest trust in the atoning work of Jesus Christ and committed submission to his authority (with the possible exception of those who die without the cognitive capacity to exercise such faith, though this is not my view). Salvation is available to all, whether they submit to any particular church or institution.

  • Jesus’ Future Return to Raise the Dead: Jesus will physically return to earth one day, at which point he will raise both the saved and the lost from the dead, physically just as he was raised.

  • Other Creedal Affirmations About Jesus: In the early ecumenical creeds, the church collectively affirms, as definitional of Christianity, the following about Jesus: his virgin birth, having been conceived in his virgin mother’s womb as a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit; his sinless life; his ignominious death; his physical resurrection from the dead; and his bodily ascent to the right hand of his Father, where he intercedes for us as our advocate.
The name of Jesus written in Hebrew.
A bible laying open on a table.
A diagram showing the relationships between the three persons of the Trinity.

On Non-Essentials

My understanding of the biblical data and the early ecumenical creeds leads me to think that the above list constitutes the defining essentials of the Christian faith. Beyond them, Christians are to tolerate differences of opinion on other topics, theological and practical. This is not to say only the essentials are important, and differences on some of the non-essentials may make it practically infeasible to fellowship in the same congregation (e.g., women in ministry). The following are some of the positions I take on non-essentials, in no particular order:

  • Penal Substitution: Dying in our place as our substitute, Jesus bore the punishment we deserve, his death brought about by the righteous wrath of God toward sin.

  • Biblical Inerrancy: The original manuscripts of what Protestants recognize as the Old and New Testaments are without error, as stated in the Chicago Statement.

  • Six-Point Calvinism: The acronym TULIP captures five biblical truths collectively known as the “Doctrines of Grace”: total depravity; unconditional election; limited atonement; irresistible grace; and perseverance of the saints. Additionally, and more foundationally, God exercises meticulous providence over creation, predetermining all that takes place in time.
  • Original Sin (Guilt): All biological descendants of Adam are counted guilty of Adam's sin, he being their federal head, just as the redeemed are counted righteous in Jesus, their federal head. This original guilt explains why Adam's descendants all die, even in utero, and it explains why they all inevitably sin personally.
  • Credo-baptism: Baptism is to be administered by immersion and only to those capable of expressing their trust in and commitment to Jesus Christ. Such are saved from the moment they begin exercising such trusting commitment, even before they are baptized. Nevertheless, baptism should be submitted to as soon as possible after conversion.

  • Young-Earth Creationism: God created the cosmos roughly 6,000 years ago, as would be measured on earth. Adam and Eve were the first two human beings, and they were special creations of God, not descended from subhuman ancestors.

  • Conditional Immortality (a.k.a. annihilationism): Since the fall of Adam and Eve, all human beings are by default mortal. At the resurrection of the dead, only those who meet the condition of being saved will be made immortal and go on living forever. The risen lost will instead die—a second death for the vast majority of humankind—never to live or experience anything ever again.

  • Amillennialism: The thousand years John sees transpire in his apocalyptic vision (Revelation 20) symbolize the period of time between (approximately) 70 A.D. and the future bodily return of Jesus, at which point all the dead, saved and lost, will rise together to face judgment.

  • Preterism: The bulk—but not all—of biblical prophecy typically attributed to the future Second Advent of Christ was in fact fulfilled in and around the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D. Remaining to be fulfilled are the bodily return of Jesus, the resurrection of the dead, the final judgment of the lost, the immortalization of the risen saved, and the restoration of all things.

  • Dispensational Israelology: The Church is not Israel, and Gentile Christians are not Jews. Biblically and theologically, Israel is an ethnic identity: the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who are also known as Jews. The “Israel of God” are those Jews who embrace Jesus as their Messiah.

  • Non-reductive Physicalism: Human beings are physical creatures comprised of only one kind of substance: the physical. They do not have non-physical souls that remain conscious between death and resurrection. Human consciousness depends upon the living, functioning brain, though mind states are not reducible to brain states.

  • Continuationism: The Holy Spirit continues to distribute his various gifts to the church, including those that cessationists think ceased to be given after the apostolic era. However, the gift of tongues is the gift of speaking human languages; it is not a heavenly prayer language.
A painting of the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70 AD.
A stone carving of the Chi Rho symbol.