Over the years our family of churches has been described as a unique blend of reformed and charismatic doctrine and practice. Given the wide range of meanings applied to these terms, let me explain what they mean for the doctrinal foundations of our church.
Stating that we hold to “reformed” doctrine means essentially that we believe the Christians are saved by the grace of God, not because of any merit of their own or owing ultimately to their choice of righteous actions. God acts first to regenerate the heart of men and women who respond to God’s overwhelming grace in repentance and faith. God applies the atoning death of Christ and his unchanging and undiminished righteousness to the “account” of the believer, to be their foundation for assurance before God for eternity. We also believe that once a person has been united to Christ they can never be dis-united, can never lose their salvation. Other doctrinal beliefs sometimes associated with the word “reformed” such as infant baptism, or extreme and distorted expressions of these doctrinal views–such as a diminished passion for evangelism and outreach–are not included in our doctrines nor practiced in our church. The heart we wish to express in our reformed doctrine is passionate gratefulness for the amazing grace of God, unchanging confidence in the finished work of Jesus Christ, and unflagging boldness in offering to unbelievers the free grace of God purchased by the sacrificial death of the Savior.
Saying that we hold to a charismatic or “continuationist” doctrine of spiritual gifts is perhaps open to even greater misinterpretation. It is important to state first that we believe in Scripture as God’s inerrant and infallible Word, our only final authority for faith and practice. We believe that the New Testament Scriptures teach that the Holy Spirit has been sent to fill believers and to give them power to witness with courage and to serve one another with power and effectiveness. We are not persuaded by the arguments of “cessationism” which would claim that certain gifts of the Holy Spirit’s work as referenced in the New Testament were intended to cease after a previous age of the church. We believe that even gifts such as speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues, prophecy, healing, and miracles should be sought and practiced by believers. We believe the practice of these gifts should be ordered by the Scriptures in precise ways (i.e., tongues in a public setting must have an interpretation, prophecies are fallible expressions of edification from one believer to others that are judged according to the authority of Scripture, healing and miracles are prayed for and even expected but ongoing suffering is also anticipated until the Lord returns.) By far the most important aspect of our belief in the Holy Spirit is our conviction that apart from his regenerating power men and women cannot be saved, that apart from his infilling power Christian will not witness or serve faithfully, that apart from his sanctifying effort we will not become more and more like Christ until he returns. In short, we believe that to be a Christian and to build a church is an ongoing supernatural event, made possible only by the Holy Spirit indwelling each and every believer.
As explained above, and hoping not to communicate more or less than we believe–we are excited to be a “reformed/charismatic” church in this community!