The following represents our best understanding of the Scriptural teaching on key doctrines. It is largely extracted and adapted from existing historic confessions of faith, including especially the London Baptist Confession of 1689, the New Hampshire Baptist Confession of 1833, the Abstract of Principles adopted by Southern Baptist Seminary in 1858, and the Baptist Faith and Message (as revised in 2000). Additional material has been included to expand on certain points and to address more recent areas of controversy.
This is not meant to be a substitute source of authority for the Scriptures themselves, nor a firm and final statement of these doctrines in every respect, nor is it meant to squelch discussion or mutual searching of the Scriptures on non-essential matters of faith and practice.
However, this summary does represent our current understanding as an assembly, and unless and until it is revised by mutual assent, it is expected that no teaching or ministry will be presented in the assembly meetings that knowingly diverges from it.
I. The Scriptures.
We believe the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testament were given by inspiration of God. They are fully and verbally inspired and inerrant in the original manuscripts and are the only sufficient, certain and authoritative rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience.
- Although the light of nature and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God as to leave men inexcusable, yet they are not sufficient to give the knowledge of God and his will which is necessary for salvation.
- The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture, unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelation of the Spirit or traditions of men.
- All things in Scripture are not equally plain in themselves, nor equally clear unto all, yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded and explained in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, by a proper use of ordinary means, may attain to a sufficient understanding of them.
- We acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word.
- We acknowledge that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word.
- The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentic; so that in all controversies of religion the church is finally to appeal to them.
- Because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have a right to and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded in the fear of God to read and search them, therefore they are to be translated into the common language of every nation unto which they come.
- In the providence of God, He has allowed minor questions to arise as to the original text of the Scriptures, though much less so than for any comparable ancient document. We deny that these uncertainties in any way alter the general character of the Scriptures, as they are available to us, as the verbally inspired, inerrant Word of God. We gratefully affirm that uncertainties as to the original text of the Scriptures affect no significant point of Christian faith or practice.
- We thankfully possess in the English language multiple translations of superb accuracy and faithfulness to the original text, which therefore may rightly be regarded and made use of as the Word of God. We particularly value for study and regular use those translations that achieve a high level of verbal equivalence to the original while still maintaining good English style. These include, but are not limited to: the King James Version, the New King James Version, the New American Standard Version, and the English Standard Version.
- We deny that perfection or final authority is to be ascribed to any particular English translation of the Scriptures.
We believe the Lord our God is the only living and true God, whose subsistence is in and of himself. He is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body or parts. He alone has immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach. He is immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, every way infinite, most holy, most wise, most free, most absolute, working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will for his own glory. He is most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, the rewarder of them that diligently seek him, yet most just and fearful in his judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.
- In this divine and infinite Being there are three subsistences, or Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These are each of one substance, power, and eternity, each having the whole divine essence, yet with the essence undivided.
- The Father is neither begotten nor proceeding from any. The Son is eternally begotten of the Father. The Holy Spirit eternally proceeds from the Father and the Son. He has eternally existed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, equal in every divine perfection, each with distinct personal attributes but without division of nature, essence, or being.
- Therefore there is but one God, who is not to be divided in nature and being, but distinguished by several peculiar relative properties and personal relations.
- This doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation of all our communion with God and our comfortable dependence on him.
We believe that God from eternity decrees or sovereignly permits all things that come to pass, and perpetually upholds, directs and governs all creatures and all events, yet not so as to destroy the responsible choice of intelligent creatures.
- The purpose of God with respect to the sinful acts of men and wicked angels is in no degree to cause the evil, nor to approve it, but only to permit the wicked agent to perform it, and then to overrule it for his own most wise and holy ends.
- We deny that God is in any respect limited in His knowledge of future events, or that any future contingency whatsoever exists whose result is not known to Him and fully comprehended in His eternal plan.
- As the providence of God reaches in general to all creatures, so in a more special manner it takes care of his church, and disposes of all things for her good. Included in those circumstances that God works for the sanctification and ultimate good of his people are trials of various sorts, sometimes including sickness and financial difficulties. We strongly deny the modern teaching that God always purposes to bless believers, in response to the prayer or declaration of faith or obedient giving, with health and material prosperity on this earth.
IV. The Fall of Man.
We believe man was created upright and perfect, but by voluntary transgression fell from that holy and happy state. As a result of this, all mankind are now sinners, not by constraint but choice, being by nature utterly void of that holiness required by the law of God, positively inclined to evil, and therefore under just condemnation to eternal ruin without defense or excuse.
- Satan, using the subtlety of the serpent to subdue Eve, seduced Adam by her, and he without any compulsion willfully transgressed the law of their creation and the command given to them by eating the forbidden fruit.
- And this act God, according to His wise and holy counsel, was pleased to permit, having purposed to order it to His own glory.
- Our first parents by this sin fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and we in them. For from this, death came upon all, all becoming dead in sin and defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.
- Their descendants are therefore conceived in sin, and are by nature the children of wrath, the servants of sin, and the subjects of death and all other miseries, spiritual, temporal, and eternal, unless the Lord Jesus sets them free.
- During this life the corruption of nature remains in those who are regenerated, and although it is pardoned and mortified through Christ, yet this corrupt nature and all its motions are truly and properly sinful.
We believe that election is God’s eternal choice of some persons unto everlasting life—not because of foreseen merit or foreseen faith in them, but of His mere mercy in Christ—in consequence of which choice they are called, regenerated, justified, sanctified, and glorified.
- Divine election is consistent with the free agency of man and encompasses all the means in connection with the end.
- Election is a most glorious display of God’s sovereign goodness, being infinitely free, wise, holy, and unchangeable. It utterly excludes boasting and promotes humility, love, prayer, praise, trust in God, and active imitation of his free mercy.
- We affirm that any who desire may freely come to Christ and those who come he will in no wise cast out. We deny that anything prevents the salvation of any sinner on earth but his own inherent depravity and voluntary rejection of the gospel.
- We affirm that apart from God’s electing grace, all would be lost and none would ever choose to believe on Christ.
- While acknowledging an element of mystery in the divine purposes of salvation, we deny that there is any injustice whatsoever in God’s merciful salvation of some while passing by others and leaving them to their own freely chosen rebellion.
- We deny that a scriptural belief in election discourages evangelism, prayer, or the use of other means for the conversion of the lost. We affirm that in fact a confidence in the sovereign working of God offers the greatest of encouragements to our efforts in the gospel.
- We believe in the full and free offer of the gospel to every person.
VI. The Person of Christ.
We believe that the Son of God, the second person in the Holy Trinity, being true and eternal God, the brightness of the Father’s glory, of one substance and equal with Him who made the world, who upholds and governs all things he has made, when the fullness of time was come, did take upon him man’s nature with all the essential properties and common infirmities of it, yet without sin.
- He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit coming down upon her and the power of the Most High overshadowing her. In this way He was born of a woman, of the tribe of Judah, of the seed of Abraham and David according to the Scriptures, so that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures were inseparably joined together in one Person, without conversion, composition, or confusion. This Person is truly God and truly man, yet one Christ, the only mediator between God and man.
- The Lord Jesus, in his human nature thus united to the divine, was sanctified and anointed with the Holy Spirit above measure, having in Himself all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, being holy, harmless, undefiled, and full of grace and truth. In Him it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell.
VII. The Work of Christ.
We believe that Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, is the divinely appointed mediator between God and man. Having taken upon Himself human nature, yet without sin, He perfectly fulfilled the Law and underwent the punishment due to us, which we should have borne and suffered. He was made sin and a curse for us, enduring most grievous sorrows in his soul and most painful sufferings in his body. He was crucified, and died, and remained in the state of the dead, yet saw no corruption. On the third day he arose from the dead with the same body in which he suffered, with which he also ascended into heaven and there sits at the right hand of his Father making intercession for His people.
- The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience and sacrifice of himself, which he through the eternal Spirit once offered up unto God, hath fully satisfied the justice of God, procured reconciliation, and purchased an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven for all those whom the Father hath given unto Him.
- Although the price of redemption was not actually paid by Christ till after his incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefit of it were communicated to the elect in all ages in and by those promises, types, and sacrifices in which he was revealed.
- To all those for whom Christ hath obtained eternal redemption, he certainly and effectually applies and communicates it to them, making intercession for them, bringing them to himself by his Spirit, revealing unto them in and by his Word the mystery of salvation, persuading them to believe and obey, governing their hearts by his Word and Spirit, and overcoming all their enemies by his almighty power and wisdom. This is all of free and absolute grace, without any condition foreseen in them to procure it.
VIII. Calling and Regeneration.
We believe that those whom God has predestined unto life, he is pleased in his appointed time effectually to call by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ. He enlightens their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone and giving them a heart of flesh, renewing their wills, by his almighty power inclining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ—yet so that they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.
- This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone. It is not from anything at all foreseen in man nor from any power or agency in the creature, who is dead in sins and trespasses until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it, and this by no less power than that which raised up Christ from the dead.
- Elect infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit; who works when, where, and how he pleases. So also are all elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.
IX. Saving Faith and Repentance.
We believe that repentance and faith are inseparable graces wrought in our souls by the regenerating Spirit of God. Being deeply convinced of our guilt, danger, and helplessness, and of the way of salvation by Christ, we turn to God with unfeigned contrition, confession, and supplication for mercy, at the same time heartily receiving the Lord Jesus Christ in all of his scriptural fullness as our only and all-sufficient Savior.
- Saving faith, then, is the belief on God’s authority of whatever is revealed in His Word concerning Christ, and accepting and resting upon Him alone for justification and eternal life.
- This faith, although it may be different in degrees, and may be weak or strong, yet it is in the least degree of it different in nature from the faith of temporary believers. Therefore, though it may be many times assailed and weakened, yet it gets the victory through Christ, who is both the author and finisher of our faith.
- We deny that saving faith is mere mental assent to scriptural propositions.
- Repentance is an evangelical grace, wherein a person being, by the Holy Spirit, made sensible of the manifold evil of his sin, and the guilt and danger of it, humbles himself for it with godly sorrow and self-abhorrence, with a purpose and desire to walk before God and please Him in all things.
- We deny that saving faith is possible without the corresponding grace of repentance, or that any sinner will sincerely flee to Christ for refuge and embrace him as Savior without a hearty abhorrence of his sins and a desire to be delivered from their guilt, punishment, and dominion.
- We affirm that repentance involves a change of heart about one’s sin. We deny that it is merely a change in thinking about doctrinal propositions or a change from not trusting Christ to trusting Christ. These false definitions are sometimes presented in an effort to argue that one may be saved without a change of heart about sin.
- We deny that repentance is the same as reformation of life, or that repentance comprises in any sense a meritorious work, or that insisting on the necessity of repentance in any way weakens the scriptural truth of justification by faith alone.
- We affirm that, as with faith, repentance may exist in varying degrees, but in its weakest degree, true repentance wrought by the Spirit of God is different in nature from worldly sorrow or insincere repentance.
- We therefore deny that repentance must be perfected before one may believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. Rather, genuine repentance will continue and deepen throughout life, and this is in fact a vital evidence of true salvation.
We believe that justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal from all sin of those who believe in Christ, through the satisfaction that Christ has made, not for anything wrought in them or done by them but on account of the obedience and satisfaction of Christ, as they receive and rest on Him and His righteousness by faith.
- Those whom God effectually calls, he also freely justifies, not by infusing righteousness into them but by pardoning their sins and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous, not for anything wrought in them or done by them but for Christ’s sake alone.
- Faith thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness is the sole instrument of justification, yet it is not alone in the person justified but always accompanied by repentance and other gospel graces, and is no dead faith but one that works by love.
- Christ by his obedience and death did fully discharge the debt of all those that are justified. By the sacrifice of himself in the blood of his cross, undergoing in their stead the penalty due to them, He made a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God’s justice in their behalf, so that both the exact justice and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.
- God did from all eternity decree to justify all the elect, and Christ did in the fullness of time die for their sins and rise again for their justification. Nevertheless, they are not justified personally until the Holy Spirit does in due time actually apply Christ unto them.
- God continues to forgive the sins of those that are justified, and although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may by their sins fall under God’s fatherly displeasure. In that condition they do not usually have the light of his countenance restored unto them until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.
- The justification of believers under the Old Testament was in all these respects one and the same with the justification of believers under the New Testament, though Christ as the object of saving faith was not generally so clearly comprehended. We deny that Old Testament saints were ever justified by the works of the law, but only through faith.
We believe that sanctification is the process by which we are made partakers of God’s holiness. It is a progressive work, powerfully and decisively begun in regeneration and carried on in the hearts of believers by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit through the continual use of the appointed means, such as the Word of God, self-examination, self-denial, watchfulness, worship, thanksgiving, and prayer.
- Those who are united to Christ, effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, are also further sanctified through the same virtue by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them. The dominion of the body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts of it are more and more weakened and mortified, and the Christian more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces to the practice of all true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
- This sanctification extends throughout the whole person, yet it remains imperfect in this life. Some remnants of corruption live on in every part, and from this arises a continuous war between irreconcilable parties—the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.
- In this war, although the remaining corruption for a time may much prevail, yet through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ the regenerate part overcomes, and so the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, pressing after a godly life in evangelical obedience to all the commands Christ has prescribed in his Word.
XII. Assurance of Salvation.
We believe that, while temporary believers and other unregenerate men may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the state of salvation, those who truly believe in the Lord Jesus and love him in sincerity, endeavoring to walk in all good conscience before him, may in this life be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which hope shall never make them ashamed.
- This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a fallible hope, but an infallible assurance of faith founded on the blood and righteousness of Christ revealed in the Gospel, on the inward evidence of those graces of the Spirit that accompany salvation, and on the testimony of the Spirit of adoption, witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God.
- It is the duty of every believer to give all diligence to make his calling and election sure, that his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience. These are the proper fruits of this assurance; it in no way inclines men to looseness.
- True believers may have the assurance of their salvation in various ways shaken, diminished, and interrupted by negligence in preserving it, by falling into some special sin which wounds the conscience and grieves the Spirit, by some sudden or vehement temptation, or by God’s withdrawing the light of his countenance for a season. But even so, they are never destitute of the seed of God and life of faith, the love of Christ and the brethren, the sincerity of heart and conscience of duty out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may in due time be revived and by which in the meantime they are preserved from utter despair.
XIII. Perseverance of the Saints.
We believe that those whom God hath accepted in the Beloved and sanctified by His Spirit will never totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere to the end.
- Though true believers may fall through neglect and temptation into sin, by which they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the Church and temporal judgments on themselves, yet they shall be renewed again unto repentance and be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
- We believe that only those who endure to the end are real believers and that their persevering attachment to Christ is the grand mark distinguishing them from superficial professors of faith.
XIV. The Church.
We believe that the universal church consists of the whole number of the elect that have been or shall be gathered into one under Christ as Head. This universal church is the spouse, the body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. It has its primary expression in local gatherings of believers characterized by scriptural order, authority, and ordinances.
- A visible and local church of Christ is a congregation of baptized believers (and in some degree, whether formally or functionally, their minor children), associated by mutual covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel, observing the ordinances of Christ, governed by his laws, and exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by his Word.
- The primary leadership and oversight of the local church is to be provided by a plurality of elders, assisted where circumstances warrant by deacons.
- As is evident from Acts 20:17-28 and 1 Peter 5:1-2, the New Testament titles of elder, overseer (or bishop), and pastor (or shepherd) refer to the same office or work. Thus we deny that pastor is a local church office distinct from or superior to that of elder.
- We affirm that the local church eldership in Scripture is consistently spoken of as a plurality. We deny that the normative scriptural pattern is for one man to be recognized as the pastor of a local church, or for any one of the pastors/elders/overseers to be named as the senior pastor (a title essentially reserved for Christ – 1 Peter 5:4), or for one elder to be granted an authority greater than the others.
- The elders of a local assembly are spoken of in Scripture as being among, not above, the flock (Acts 20:28). While elders do possess a God-given authority to shepherd the flock, this authority is never to be exercised capriciously or dictatorially. The work of the elders should be carried out with humility and a sense of accountability to Christ and to the assembly as a whole.
- While gifts and ministries will differ among the elders, all are to be apt to teach, and we deny that the scriptural pattern allows for one elder to be considered exclusively the “teaching elder” of an assembly. We also deny that the teaching or preaching ministry is to be limited to those recognized as elders, if there are other sound and gifted brothers who might exercise their gifts with profit. We affirm that 1 Corinthians 14 and other passages point toward a shared, participative, Spirit-led ministry within the assembly, provided that all things are done for edification.
- While there is scriptural warrant for providing financial support to certain elders and other Christian workers as circumstances might indicate, and in certain cases for setting apart a brother for full-time service, it is wholly unscriptural and a snare to the church to regard the Christian ministry as a paid profession. We deny that the Scriptures give any warrant for dividing the flock of Christ into the categories of clergy and laity.
- We affirm the scriptural principle of male leadership in the church, and deny that the gender role distinctions found repeatedly in the New Testament are to be taken as temporary instructions based on the culture of the day. Therefore we deny the scriptural validity of women assuming leadership roles as elders or deacons.
- We gladly affirm the excellent worth and often the exceptional giftedness of our sisters in Christ, and believe there are many valuable channels of ministry open to them. However, when the whole church is gathered for worship and ministry, we believe the Scriptures require the sisters to remain silent, not absolutely, but as regards leading in prayer or addressing the assembled group during the worship and ministry times.
We believe that baptism is an ordinance of the Lord Jesus, obligatory upon every believer, wherein he is immersed in water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit as a sign of his fellowship with the death and resurrection of Christ, of remission of sins, and of his giving himself up to God to live and walk in newness of life.
- We deny that baptism is necessary, in any absolute sense, for salvation, and neither does it in and of itself procure regeneration or remission of sins. However, it is often represented in Scripture as the initial and decisive act of faith of a converted person. As such, it is not to be considered optional, nor long delayed without sufficient reason.
- Immersion, or dipping of the person in water, appears to be the scriptural mode of the ordinance. However, we do not consider those baptized in fellowships that practice other modes, such as pouring or sprinkling, to be unbaptized persons, nor do we consider it a reason for barring them from full membership in our fellowship.
- Wise and godly Christians have heartily disagreed over the centuries on the question of household baptism or the baptism of young or infant children of believers. The distribution of good men and plausible scriptural arguments on both sides of the question should caution us from making too dogmatic a determination. While we are open to greater light on the issue, the current position of our church is to baptize only children or adults who have made a profession of faith in Christ. In so saying, we recognize the possibility of regeneration and Spirit-wrought faith at a young age, and we attempt to give a good deal of deference to Christian parents’ convictions of conscience on the matter.
- We do not exclude any from full fellowship because of paedo-baptist convictions, or because they themselves were baptized as infants and continue in good conscience to consider that as their Christian baptism, or because they have followed or continue to follow the practice of paedo-baptism with their own children.
XVI. The Lord’s Supper
We believe that the Lord’s Supper is an ordinance of Jesus Christ to be administered with the elements of bread and wine (or grape juice) and to be observed by his churches till the end of the world. It is in no sense a sacrifice, but is designed to commemorate his death, to confirm the faith and other graces of Christians, and to be a bond, pledge, and renewal of their communion with him and of their church fellowship.
- The doctrine commonly called transubstantiation, which maintains a change of the substance of bread and wine into the substance of Christ’s body and blood, by consecration of a priest or by any other way, is repugnant not only to Scripture but even to common sense and reason. It overthrows the nature of the ordinance and has been and is the cause of manifold superstitions and gross idolatries.
- Christians outwardly partaking of the visible elements in this ordinance do then also inwardly by faith, really and indeed though not carnally and bodily, spiritually receive and feed upon Christ crucified and all the benefits of his death. The body and blood of Christ are not then carnally and bodily present, but are spiritually present to the faith of believers in the ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their outward senses.
- All ungodly persons, as they are unfit to enjoy communion with Christ, so are they unworthy of the Lord’s Table, and while they remain in this condition cannot without great sin against him partake of these holy mysteries or be admitted to them. Indeed, those who receive in an unworthy manner are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, eating and drinking judgment to themselves.
- We deny that the specific form of the elements (as in, leavened versus unleavened bread or fermented versus unfermented wine) is essential to the proper observance of the Supper, but is a matter of Christian prudence and liberty.
- While the eldership of the local church has authority to protect and guide the observance of the Supper, we deny that the elements may be administered only by them, or that any clerical or ministerial qualifications are required to participate in the serving of the Supper.
XVII. The Family.
We believe that the family is ordained by God as the foundational institution of human society and is crucial to the purposes of God in salvation, sanctification, and advancement of the kingdom of Christ. We stand in support of the recent revival and reformation of family life that has taken place in connection with the homeschooling movement and the family-integrated church movement, though naturally we do not concur with all things taught or practiced by various adherents of these movements.
- The church should stand fully in support of its families and seek to strengthen them, endeavoring never to undercut the proper jurisdiction of the parents and exercising caution about age-segregated programs that tend toward fragmenting the family unit. In turn, families should recognize the immense worth, scriptural importance, and proper jurisdiction of the church.
- While we affirm the parents’ responsibility for the godly training and education of their children, and we gravely question the wisdom of placing sons and daughters under the largely pagan and often anti-Christian instruction of the government school systems, we do not hold that homeschooling, as such, is a specific biblical mandate for parents. Thus homeschooling is by no means a requirement for full fellowship in the assembly.
- We heartily embrace the scriptural view that children are a heritage from the Lord and that he is the one who grants life by opening and closing the womb. Thus we deny that the biblical norm (or the Christian norm for nearly two thousand years of church history) is for married couples to use artificial means to prevent conception of children. We recognize that there may be specific circumstances that require this issue to be left as a matter of Christian liberty.
- We believe that life begins at conception and deplore the cruel and perverse practice of deliberately destroying life in the womb.
- Large families are presented in Scripture as a blessing, not a curse, and we joyfully affirm this truth. At the same time, we deny that family size should be viewed as an indicator of one’s commitment to God or to biblical family principles, and we affirm that smaller families, including marriages where no children are granted by God, may be equally under the blessing of God and likewise useful to the kingdom.
- In addition, we affirm that single adults, one-parent families, individuals whose families do not join them in faith and fellowship, and others not attending as part of a traditional family unit all have their full and uniquely valuable place in the assembly.
- We believe marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime. It is God’s unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship, the channel of sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race. We abhor the modern, perverse redefinition of marriage to include the illicit partnership of those practicing the grave sin of homosexuality.
- We believe the husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God’s image. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.
XVIII. Last Things.
We believe that, according to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth. The dead will be raised, and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, and the righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.
- The bodies of men after death return to dust and see corruption, but their souls, which neither die nor sleep, immediately return to God who gave them. The souls of the righteous, being then made perfect in holiness, are received into paradise where they are with Christ, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies. The souls of the wicked are cast into hell, reserved to the judgment of the great day.
- All persons that have lived upon the earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds, and to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil.
- This final judgment will fix forever the final state of men in heaven or hell, on principles of righteousness.