What We Believe

To be a Presbyterian, there is really only one thing you must be able to affirm: "Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior." Presbyterians are known for our inclusiveness of diverse theological viewpoints.  We believe in the value of many voices to bring more wisdom to our deliberations.  

That being said, there is a Presbyterian way of doing things and of explaining our faith.  Here are a few highlights:

* We believe in the mystery of the Trinity: one God in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

* We believe that Jesus Christ is Lord of all, and our personal Savior.  Jesus Christ is fully human, fully divine.  He is the incarnation ("in flesh") of the eternal Word of God. 

* We believe that the Holy Spirit is with us in our daily lives, empowering us to live our faith as disciples of Christ.

* We believe in the Sovereignty of God, which means that God is not bound by our actions.  God is ultimately in charge!  On the other hand, we do believe in Free Will, which means that God has created us as independent beings, able to make our own choices, even the choice to sin.  We hold these seemingly opposing truths "in tension."  We believe both are true at the same time, even though they seem to contradict each other!

* We believe that we are "justified" (saved) by grace through faith alone.  That means, there is nothing you can do to earn God's love, yet there is nothing you can do to lose God's love!  God as "Father" is a human way of saying that God is like the best parent ever, who loves us unconditionally.  God created us, and we are his.

* We believe that this salvation calls forth from us a grateful response in which we strive to live the way that pleases God.  We are always growing, always becoming more fully what God created us to be.  This is the process of "sanctification," which just means that the Holy Spirit is helping us to follow the example of Jesus more and more, as we grow in the grace, hope, justice, and mercy of the Lord.

* We believe the Holy Bible, both the Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament and the Greek Scriptures/New Testament, is a witness to God's Word, which became incarnate (human) in Jesus Christ.  The Bible was written by human beings who were inspired by God's Holy Spirit.  It is our final authority for salvation and the life of faith.  Everything we need to know for our faith and Christian practice can be found in the Bible. 

* We believe that we are not saved for self alone; we are saved for service, to share God's love with the world. Presbyterians are very involved with a number of social justice movements and have always struggled to discern how God is calling us to respond to events in our community and world.  Like all humans, we are fallible, and often make mistakes.  But we also believe our gracious God continues to prod us into further reflection, making amends to our beliefs and actions when the Holy Spirit leads us into new understandings.

* We believe that the church is God's chosen means to help us grow in faith and service.  The church is not just a building, not even just the collection of individuals you may find there, but it is the gathering of all believers from all places and through all time.  So, yeah, it's big!  But we also believe that it is necessary to be part of a local community of faith.  It keeps us honest.  It's easy to be a Christian in theory; it's a lot harder when you have to live with people who you love dearly, but sometimes drive you crazy!

* We believe in the priesthood of all believers; that is, all of us are called by God to ministry in some form. Different people will be called to different tasks in the church (i.e., pastor, teacher, deacon, etc.), but every single Christian is part of the ministry of Christ.  Accordingly, our polity (the way we govern ourselves) is comprised of Ruling Elders (lay people elected by the congregation) and Teaching Elders (pastors) who comprise the Session of a local church and together are elected by the congregation to discern the will of Christ for the church, and to guide and lead the church to that end.

Do you agree with all of this?  If not, it's OK!  Another of our foundational beliefs is "Jesus Christ alone is Lord of the conscience."  Presbyterians believe we are a stronger covenant community when all of us honestly bring our whole selves, including our different beliefs and even doubts, into conversation with one another.