What We Believe

The great ancient ecumenical creeds – Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed, Athanasian Creed, Definition of Chalcedon – are excellent statements of faith regarding the Holy Trinity, Christ, and the essential Christian Gospel. we confess and believe all that is taught in the Old and New Testaments, the inspired, inerrant, infallible, sufficient and authoritative word of God. We are committed to the whole of Scripture, and to the systematic exposition of biblical truth known as the Reformed faith.

In addition to the Three Forms of Unity (Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession of Faith, Canons of Dort), we treasure the rich and harmonious diversity of creeds and confessions within the historic Protestant Reformation tradition. In particular, we recognize that the system of doctrine contained in Scripture is also confessed in the Westminster Standards, namely the Confession of Faith, the Larger Catechism (Part 1 and Part 2), and the Shorter Catechism.

Being part of the historic Reformed church, we trace our heritage from the Apostles through the ancient church to the Protestant Reformation. This “faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3) is summarized in the “five solas” below:

Sola Scriptura | Salvation is revealed in the Scripture alone. The Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God, the only authoritative revelation of God’s will for our faith and life.

Sola Gratia | Salvation is by grace alone. God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves, in showing us favor we could never earn or deserve, before we would even want it or ask for it.

Sola Fide | Salvation is received through faith alone. We are counted righteous in Christ by believing and trusting in him, and we can add nothing to his finished work of salvation by our own good works (even though good works are evidence of a true and living faith).

Solus Christus | Salvation is in Jesus Christ alone. Jesus lived the perfectly obedient life that we should have lived, died the death under God’s wrath that we deserved to die, was resurrected from the dead and ascended into heaven… all on our behalf, to reconcile us to God. It is only by our sins being imputed to him, and his righteousness being imputed to us, that we are saved.

Soli Deo Gloria | Salvation is to the glory of God alone. The plan, initiative, and outworking of our salvation from start to finish is entirely due to the wisdom, grace, and acts of the Holy Trinity. Therefore, God alone is to be thanked and praised for his saving work in our lives.

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About Nollie

Associate Pastor of Trinity United Reformed Church in Walnut Creek, CA. Assigned as missionary to the Philippines. Lives just outside Metro Manila with wife and daughter. Three older boys live and work in CA.
Joel de Leon says:

This is excellent. For anyone who might be wondering whether the Three Forms of Unity (Belgic, Heidelberg an Canons of Dordt) are harmonious with the Westminster Standards (Confessions, Larger and Shorter), there is a very good book by Joel Beeke entitled “Reformed Confessions Harmonized.”

One of the most common objections that one usually hears from evangelicals when it comes to subscribing to a confessional standard(s) is that they claim it to be mere tradition of men (often citing Col. 2:8, which is a misapplication). Some would state, “We have no creed but Christ.” However, this kind of attitude is very problematic because even the cults, like the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, say that they believe in Christ too. And, it is very distressing that a lot of these churches who encourages this kind of mindset are often the ones wherein you will find people with “goofy” theology. One who is acquainted with Church History shouldn’t be surprised at all. The Nicene Creed was formulated in order to safeguard the church from Arianism (claims that Christ is a created being). The Canons of Dordt (where the TULIP comes from) was formulated as a response to the Remonstrants or the Arminians. It is no surprise at all that churches who even claim to be Calvinist but does not subscribe to any Reformed Confession has drifted from Biblical Christianity. Many evangelical churches these days can hardly be described to be biblical neither in doctrine nor in practice.

Is this problem mainly due to the ignorance of  the pastors and their congregants concerning what has taken place in the church historically? I believe the answer is no. When I was still in the Philippines, I used to attend a bible institute that mainly catered to a Fundamental Baptist denomination. The denomination did not subscribe to a confessional standard. However, it would be difficult to believe that their pastors were ignorant of church history because Church History was one of the subjects taught at that institute. In fact, most pastors, who studied either at a bible school or at a seminary, would almost certainly have been acquainted with the history of the church. The problem is not ignorance but their worldview or mindset. Amongst evangelicals, especially those of struggling nations, there is a mindset of anti-intellectualism. The false concept that faith is antithetical to reason, I believe, is one of the causes for this anti-intellectual cloud that hangs over the minds of evangelicals in countries like the Philippines. Reason does not bring us to faith in Christ but, since faith is based on the knowledge of the Word of God (Romans 10:17), then reason should not be seen as antithetical to faith so long as reason does not become the standard by which Truth is judged. We are deceiving ourselves, however, if we are to insist that it is with those groups of Christians who believe that faith is antithetical to reason that Modernism has the least effect on. They are very much affected by it, which is why their mindset is like that. They have reacted against the ideas of Modernism, one of which is the championing of man’s intellect and they have swung the pendulum to the opposite direction resulting in this anti-intellectual, faith contra reason, worldview. And this is one of the greatest errors of many in the evangelical church, because we are not to simply react by swinging the pendulum to the opposite extreme but we are to contend for the faith and stand for biblical truth! And, Modernism has actually been victorious over these churches who reject the confessional standards. I am not simply referring to liberal churches or denominations. I am referring to the vast majority of evangelical churches. Modernism has poisoned evangelical churches and had given them the worldview that it has. This is the worldview that rejects tradition and authority. This is the kind of attitude that you will amongst evangelicals these days. One can often hear them saying, “All I need is the Bible and nothing else.” Tradition and authority is thrown out because, after all, one only needs to read Scripture and pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. However, all too often, this so-called “guidance by the Holy Spirit” is nothing but reason or self-judgement disguised by false humility. Thus, one should not be surprised that there are many “lone rangers” out there who claim to know God’s Word but refuses to be part of a church. Yet, those are just extreme cases. There are people leading bible studies even though they have had no formal training at all. And, if you go to almost any evangelical church these days, one will find a wide range of beliefs when it comes to doctrines usually ranging from Arminianism to inconsistent Calvinism. Those who claim to be the opponents of Modernist thinking themselves have employed the presupposition of the enemy: to judge truth for one’s self and to disregard authority. Scripture is the authoritative Word of God and the Lord has ordained elders (teaching and ruling) who holds authority over the church. These elders, like the Westminster divines, formulated their Confession in order that posterity may keep to the faith unblemished. That is why I belong to a Reformed church and I subscribe to the Confessional standards. Although God’s Word is my ultimate standard, I keep to the safeguards that prevent me from making my own judgment the standard.