Everyone Should Write A Statement of Faith….Here’s Mine
As you might expect I really love and enjoy all of the major world religions. I have studied, and taught them for many years and hopefully will continue to do so for many years to come. I am always learning something new about them; each religion is fascinating, and a joy to teach. In another blog, I am planning to go through the major world religions and share one teaching from each that I really appreciate. There is no doubt that they have informed, enriched and assisted me in an understanding of my own faith. I am even writing a book about them, which I hope to publish next year.
Inevitably, one of my students will ask me which religion out of the ones we study I ascribe too. Only fair since I ask them to share what they believe. So my answer is the essence of this blog post. I think it is a good discipline for anyone to take some time to reflect on what they really believe and write it down. Of course this could open me up to criticism, but it may also open up discussion about religion and what people believe and why. These are questions and discussion that I think should take place, and often don’t in our society. So if you have any questions, or would like further clarification of what I share, please leave your comments below or send an e-mail and I will get back to you.
I would also appreciate and invite you to send me your own Statement of Faith. I would be interested to learn about what you believe. As I tell my students, “It’s ok to talk about religion!”
The simple answer is that I am a Christian. Of course the answer is more complex, because every religion is multifaceted. To be specific, I am a protestant who follows the teaching of John Calvin. Therefore, I am known as a “Calvinist.” Now, I won’t be able to define in this post every doctrinal aspect or historical creed so you may need to look them up to learn more. There is so much that could be included but I have taken what I believe are the most commonly covered topics in most Christian Statements of Faith.
I believe in The Apostles Creed, The Nicene Creed, and The Athanasian Creed as the Executive Summary of my Statement of Faith and what connects me with fellow Christians of all denominations and teachings throughout the world. I also ascribe to the Possibility Thinkers Creed as a practical and personal application of my faith in daily living.
I believe in The Belgic Confessions and hold to its 37 articles as the summation of the Doctrine of God and the eternal salvation of man. I believe in The Heidelberg Catechism and hold to its teaching as the foundation of my own understanding of how theology should be preached and taught within the Reformed family of Churches. That my own comfort and joy in life can only be found in Jesus Christ and that to come to this understanding I must know about sin, grace, and gratitude. I also believe in The Canons of The Synod of Dort which set forth the five points of Calvinism including Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and the Perseverance of the Saints. I believe in the Westminster Catechism and strive to make the chief end of my life be that of glorifying God.
The Inspiration of Scripture
I believe that the Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments, are verbally inspired of God and are the revelation of God to man, the infallible, authoritative rule of faith and life. I believe the cannon of scripture is closed (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Peter 1:21).
I believe God is the only Supreme Being with no real gods before or after Him in all of existence, in all places, in all time (Isa. 43:10; 44:6; 44:8; 1 Tim. 1:17). He has always been God and was never anything else (Ps. 90:2). He is holy (Rev. 4:8), eternal (Isa. 57:15), all-powerful (Jer. 32:17,27), everywhere present at one time (Ps. 137:12), all-knowing (1 Jn. 3:20); He is love (1 Jn. 4:8, 16); light (1 John 1:5); Spirit (John 4:24); truth (Psalm 117:2); creator (Isaiah 40:12, 22, 26); unchanging (Mal. 3:6). He is to be worshiped (Gen. 24:26; Ex. 4:31; 2 Chron. 29:28; 1 Cor. 14:25; Rev. 7:11). He is to be served (Matt. 4:10; 1 Cor. 6:19; Phil. 3:7; 1 Thess. 1:9; Heb. 9:14). He is to be proclaimed (Matt. 28:19f.; Jn. 14:15f.; Acts 1:8).
I believe in the mystery of the Trinity. Which is one God in whom there are three eternal, distinct persons; the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. All three are the one God, coeternal and coequal. (Isa. 44:6, 8; 45:5; Gen. 1:26-27; 3:22; Matt. 3:17; 28:19; Lk. 10:35; 2 Cor. 13:14).
I believe Jesus Christ is God who became a man. He is both human and divine, and, therefore, has two natures. One nature is wholly God and the other wholly man. (Phil. 2:5-11; Col. 2:9; 1 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 1:5-13; Jn. 1:1-3,14).
I believe the Holy Spirit is a divine eternal person possessing all the attributes of personality and deity, including intellect (1 Cor. 2:10-13), emotions (Eph. 4:30), will (1 Cor. 12:11), eternality (Heb. 9:14), everywhere present at once (Ps. 139:7-10), all-knowing (Isa. 40:13-14), all-powerful (Rom. 15:13), and truthfulness (Jn. 16:13). In all the divine attributes He is coequal and is one in essence with the Father and the Son (Matt.28:19, Acts 5:3-4. 28:25-26; 1 Cor. 12:4-6; 2 Cor. 13:14; Jer. 31:31-34 with Heb. 10:15-17).
The Human Condition
I believe that all human beings are dead in their trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1) and are fallen, corrupt, and wicked (Job 15:16). Humanity is unable to come close to God through its own efforts (Jn. 3:3,5; 6:44; Rom. 3:10-12). No one can understand the spiritual things of God on their own (1 Cor. 2:14; Rom. 8:7), nor can they earn salvation by attempting to do good works (Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 4:1-6), nor once saved do they maintain salvation by their works (Gal. 3:1-3). Eternal punishment in hell and separation from the blessed presence of God are the consequences of the unregenerate person’s sinfulness that has not trusted in the redemptive sacrificial work of Christ on the cross (Eph. 2:1-3; Rom. 6:23).
I believe Salvation is being saved from the righteous judgment of God upon the sinner. Salvation is obtained by grace alone, through faith alone, in the work of Christ alone (Jn. 3:16) and not by our good works (Rom. 3:20; Eph. 2:8-9). We are chosen for salvation by God (2 Thess. 2:13). Therefore, I believe in predestination and election (Eph. 1: 4-23).
Justification by Grace through Faith Alone
I believe in Justification is being declared legally righteous by God. This justification is received by faith alone (Rom. 4:1-6), in the work of Christ fulfilling the Law in his earthly ministry (1 Pet. 2:22), and His removing of sin by His sacrifice. Justification is a gift from God (Rom. 3:24) and is received apart from the works of the Law (Rom. 3:28; Gal. 2:21).
I believe Regeneration is the act of God by which He imparts new spiritual life to those who believe in Jesus Christ. This is often called being born again (Jn. 3:3, 5). Upon this regenerating work of God, man is transformed into a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17) and is then able to resist his sin and grow in personal holiness before the Lord. The regenerate does not continue in unrepentant sin (1 Jn. 3:9-10; 5:4, 18). Though they do struggle with it, they battle against it and repent of sin before the Lord (Rom. 6; 7:21-25; 1 Cor. 15:57; 2 Cor. 12:9-10).
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand,” (John 10:27-28). Christ has done all that is needed for our salvation and He says that those who have eternal life will never perish. Those who appeared to be Christian, but fell away never were Christians to begin with (1 Jn. 2:19). Eternal security does not mean that we have a license to sin (Rom. 5:21-6:2) and those who believe this do not understand God’s ability to regenerate the sinner and turn his heart to repentance.
I believe Sanctification is the process by which the Holy Spirit makes us more like Christ in all that we do, think, and desire, and increases our ability to repent from and resist sin by God’s grace, (1 Thess. 4:7; Eph. 2:10; 1 Tim. 4:4; 1 Peter. 3:15; 2 Tim. 2:25). This process continues through all of the Christian’s life and is the result of salvation, not a cause of it, nor a contributing factor to it.
God calls Christians to His Church where the Word of God is preached, where baptism and the Lord’s Supper (communion) are administered, where believers are discipled and disciplined, and where believers serve to build up one another (Matt. 16:18). There is no one true earthly body that is “the true church.” Rather, the True Church consists of all true believers wherever they might be.
I believe there are only two sacraments, instituted by Christ, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Both are signs and seals to believers of God’s grace. Baptism’s being the incorporation into Christ and of the washing away of sin through his sacrifice, and the Lord’s Supper being our ongoing communion with the living Christ and of his life continuing to nourish us. (Rom. 3:28-30; 4:3,5; 5:1; 6:3-4; I Cor. 10:16; 11:23-26; 12:13; Gal. 2:16, 21; Eph. 2:8-9;Phil. 3:9; see also Acts 10:44-48).
I believe in the present day operation of all Spiritual Gifts given to the Church through the power of the Holy Spirit. I do not believe that any one gift is greater than another or in itself is the sign of salvation. All the gifts are given for the edification and growth of the body of Christ. (I Cor. 12; Eph. 4:11-13)
I hold to amillennialism believing in the imminent and personal return of Jesus Christ and the completion of his Kingdom on earth and in heaven. I believe in the bodily resurrection of all humanity and in the judgement of God over all humanity with a conscious everlasting reward in heaven or punishment in hell.
Once again, I invite you to send me your own Statement of Faith. It doesn’t have to be anything like mine, and it certainly doesn’t have to be related to Christianity. I would be interested in learning about what you believe. As I tell my students, “It’s ok to talk about religion!” So send your statement to firstname.lastname@example.org
John M. Scholte, M. Div.