The following information is an abbreviated statement of our shared beliefs. It is not meant to be a creed, formal apology, or official articles of faith. It is only meant to express generally what we understand the New Testament to teach on: what it means to be a Christian; the foundation of faith in God and His Son (Jesus Christ); and our collective and individual responsibilities to God. We are not attempting to speak for all people who call themselves "Christians," since this name is regularly misused by many. Instead, our aim is to:
- Accurately interpret the Bible according to its given context, not our preferences or opinions. We strive to accept conclusions that can only be naturally, intelligently, and necessarily proved in an objective study of the Bible.
- Accurately and solemnly represent God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit as each of these Divine Personages is revealed in Scripture.
- Provide straightforward, biblical answers to anyone who asks, to the best of our ability and knowledge. Our endeavor is to win souls, not arguments. At the same time, we understand the doctrine of salvation to be non-negotiable, and we present it as such.
The Bible and Its Implications: We believe the Bible to be the revealed Word of God given to men through the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This does not mean that God literally wrote the words of the Bible, but that He provided the content and authority for what is written, and has divinely preserved that message for all mankind to read (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We believe that what has been written has also been substantiated by history, archaeology, credible eyewitness accounts, prophecy (and its fulfillment), and supernatural signs (Hebrews 2:4). These latter "signs" (or miracles) serve as God's personal signature to the things recorded, so that we can know that this message is from heaven and is not of men (John 3:1-2). God's purpose for this is to prove to men once and for all that:
- He exists (Romans 1:18-20).
- He is in authority over us (Hebrews 4:12-13).
- We are responsible for the life (or soul) He has entrusted to us (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
- We are ultimately accountable to Him (2 Corinthians 5:10).
- He cares about us (Luke 12:6-7, 2 Peter 3:9).
- He desires our salvation, which means: He wants us to voluntarily choose Him to save us from our own spiritual demise (1 Timothy 2:3-5, 2 Peter 1:2-4, and others).
- This salvation includes fellowship with Him now, forgiveness of our sins, and everlasting life with Him in the hereafter (John 20:30-31, Acts 2:38).
- This salvation is made possible by the sacrificial offering (atonement) of His Son, Jesus Christ, who serves as our only Advocate (John 3:16, 1 John 2:1-2).
God the Father: We believe that God the Father—the Jehovah of the Old Testament—is the head of the triune Godhead (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10). We believe that He is the ultimate Source of all Life and Creation; accordingly, we believe the Creation account in Genesis 1 to be literal and authentic. We believe that God has supreme and absolute sovereignty over the entire universe, and especially over this world and every person upon it—including you. This means that all souls originate from God and ultimately return to Him (Ecclesiastes 12:7). God is perfect, absolutely just, and is unchallenged in authority. God does not share His glory or reign with any other so-called god (1 Corinthians 8:5-6). He is a God of power and justice, of love and compassion, and of salvation and condemnation.
God the Son: We believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God: He was a genuine, historical Person who was also God incarnate—a Divine Being who "became flesh" (John 1:14). We believe that He preached a gospel of repentance and the kingdom of God (Mark 1:14-15), performed miracles to substantiate this message (Matthew 4:23-24), and provided the only means by which all men can come to God (John 14:6). We believe that Christ has always been a Divine Personage of the Godhead (John 1:1-3, 8:58) and pre-existed in glory with God the Father (John 17:4-5). The Son of God is not a created Being, but actually is Himself the Creator of all that exists (John 1:3, Hebrews 1:1-2). His pre-eminence over all the creation is incomparable; He has sole headship over His church (Colossians 1:15-18). We believe that Jesus' blood sacrifice on the cross satisfies God's justice toward man and cleanses the soul of the person who puts his faith in Him. We believe that Jesus died according to prophecy and raised Himself from the dead, just as He predicted (Matthew 16:21, John 10:18, and 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). We believe that the risen Jesus has ascended to heaven (Acts 1:9-11) and now reigns as King over God's kingdom (Acts 2:36) and simultaneously serves as High Priest for God's people (Hebrews 4:14-16).
God the Spirit: We believe that the Holy Spirit is a Divine Person of God. He has an active presence throughout the realm of man and especially the spiritual body of believers. While His specific activity remains often mysterious and always invisible, we believe He has a crucial role in leading people to God and providing guidance for those who live by faith in Christ (Romans 8:5-9, Galatians 5:16-17). We believe the Spirit is "given" to believers in a real but spiritual manner (Acts 5:32, Romans 5:5). We also believe He intercedes for the prayers of believers (Romans 8:26-27) and gives hope to those who follow Him (Romans 15:13). We believe in the indwelling of the Spirit (Romans 8:6-9, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20), but we do not believe that the Spirit ever compels us to act against our own will.
Salvation in God through Christ: We believe that Jesus has fulfilled the entire Law of Moses by having kept it perfectly (Matthew 5:17). This allowed Him to supersede that Law with a "better ministry" and a better covenant, that is, a superior means by which to have fellowship with God (Hebrews 8:1-13). The terms and conditions of this new covenant comprise what is known as the gospel (or "good news") of God. The sacrifice of Christ provides spiritual life to all those who obey this gospel; His blood provides for forgiveness of sins and a clear conscience to God (Ephesians 1:7, Hebrews 9:13-14, and Revelation 5:9). We believe there is absolutely no other means by which a person can call upon God except through Christ and His gospel. Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me" (John 14:6). This exclusive, universal, and non-negotiable statement negates any religion or philosophy that stands in disagreement to it.
The Church of Christ: We believe that Jesus is the sole head of His church (Colossians 1:18). His church is not governed by a board of directors, or by any central earthly institution. Jesus provided the groundwork for the church's existence through His atoning work on the cross, His resurrection from the dead, and His ascension to the right hand of God (Acts 2:33). Jesus built His church (Matthew 16:18) and He has absolute authority over it.
The Bible uses the word "church" in two different ways. First, it may refer to the universal and spiritual body of believers, both living and dead, who comprise the "body" of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23). Second, it may refer to a localized gathering (or congregation) of believers who regularly meet, work, and worship together (as in 1 Corinthians 1:2, Galatians 1:2, Philemon 1:2, etc.). The Westside Church of Christ, for example, is not "the" church, but is merely a group of those who are in Christ's spiritual church—that is, "in Christ." We derive the name "church of Christ" from Romans 16:16; however, the New Testament also uses other names that would be equally acceptable in designating who we are.
Christ has established only one church, not many (Ephesians 4:4-6). Local churches are established by men, not Christ; however, the source of our doctrine is Christ, not men. Local churches are self-governed by men, according to the pattern laid down in the New Testament. Accordingly, we have elders, deacons, ministers, teachers, and other men and women who work toward a common goal, which is defined in Ephesians 4:11-16. Those who have specific roles or responsibilities (such as elders or deacons) are appointed by each congregation, not Christ; however, these men must meet the criteria which Christ has provided in His Word (Galatians 1:10, 1 Timothy 3:1-16, Titus 1:5-9). We understand that mere membership in a congregation is not a guarantee of one's spiritual standing with God, or even of his (or her) salvation. On the other hand, we cannot support the habitual forsaking of the physical churches by those who claim to be Christians (Hebrews 10:24-25).
We believe the (universal) church of Christ to be impartial toward a person's gender, language, color of skin, ethnicity, or race. With regard to our common fellowship in Christ, we are all equal as spiritual brothers and sisters in the Lord. However, this does not eradicate the separate roles and responsibilities of men and women in the church and in marriage. One context is spiritual (Galatians 3:28); the other is earthly (1 Corinthians 11:3). We believe that no person, regardless of his (or her) earthly status, will be denied entrance into Christ's church provided he accepts a believer's responsibility and all that this requires (Romans 10:11-13). One cannot call upon Christ's name for salvation and at the same time refuse to submit to His authority. Thus, we believe it is impossible for people of different faiths to be united by a singular authority. Likewise, we believe the New Testament pattern never leads churches to become denominational in name or structure. (This addresses only names and structures, not the spiritual standing of each person involved in these institutions.)
In sum: We believe that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23) and therefore all of us are in need of Christ's intercession. We believe that any person who calls upon the Lord for salvation, however sinful that person might have been, God will deliver him (or her) from condemnation (Romans 8:1-3, 1 Timothy 1:12-17). All those who are "in Christ" and remain faithful to Him until death will be in heaven with God for all eternity. We also believe that those who spurn the opportunity for salvation, as well as those who turn away from their promise to serve the Lord, will face God's wrath in the world to come. "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God" (2 Corinthians 5:20).