Concerning this statement of faith, there are many ways that I could go with offering a statement of faith for this book revue website.
I considered using only the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed, but even though I consider these accurate summaries of biblical, orthodox Christian belief, they are lacking in describing evangelical distinctives.
So, I have included them and consider them foundational, but I have also decided to include Alister McGrath’s summary of the evangelical distinctives found in his work, Evangelicalsim & the Future of Christianity (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity, 1995). These include but go beyond doctrinal beliefs to capture the ethos of evangelicalism.
The Apostle’s Creed
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
The Nicene CreedWe believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
begotten from the Father before all ages,
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made;
of the same essence as the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,
and was made human.
He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried.
The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again with glory
to judge the living and the dead.
His kingdom will never end.
And we believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life.
He proceeds from the Father and the Son,
and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.
He spoke through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.
We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look forward to the resurrection of the dead,
and to life in the world to come. Amen.
Evangelical Distinctives (adapted from McGrath, Alister. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity, 1995)
1. The supreme authority of Scripture as a source of knowledge of God and a guide to Christian living.
a. The Bible is the Word of God
i. Sola Scriptura: only those beliefs and practices that are based on Scripture are binding on Christians.
ii. As God’s revelation, the Bible is both a divine and human book.
iii. Scripture is authoritative
b. When Scripture is unclear, two leading principles must guide evangelical thinking.
i. Views that attempt to be faithful to Scripture are to be respected and honored as evangelical, even where this necessitates a plurality of possibilities of evangelical doctrines.
ii. If Scripture does not make an issue clear, it is debatable how important the issue actually is.
2. The majesty of Jesus Christ, both as incarnate God and Lord and as the Savior of sinful humanity.
a. Christology and scriptural authority are linked because Scripture bring us to a true and saving knowledge of Jesus Christ
b. Five points of significance:
i. Jesus Christ is God’s revelation of himself to humanity
ii. Jesus Christ is fully divine and fully human
iii. Jesus Christ death on the cross is the basis of our salvation
iv. Jesus Christ is the ground and means of the doctrine of justification by faith
v. Jesus Christ is the Savior and Lord of us and others
3. The lordship of the Holy Spirit.
a. The Spirit
i. Brings spiritual understanding and rebirth
ii. Seals our knowledge of salvation
iii. Works to conform us to Christ
b. While some evangelicals emphasize the Word over the Spirit and others the Spirit over the Word, both are needed in the Christians’ lives
i. Without the Word, we become blown around by every whim of those claiming the Spirit told me so…
ii. Without the Spirit, we become dead and lifeless in our orthodoxy
4. The need for personal conversion.
a. God is personal and desires a personal relationship with people
b. The Christian faith…
i. Must be personally assimilated
ii. Is relational and personal, not just propositional
c. Personal conversion
i. May be a dramatic and sudden experience, or
ii. It may be through a quiet and growing awareness of a personal trust in Christ
5. The priority of evangelism for both individual Christians and the church as a whole.
a. The emphasis on evangelism arises naturally from four considerations.
b. First, the need for a personal faith leads to the question of how that personal faith arises and the responsibility of believers toward that developments
c. Second, the evangelical proclamation of the majesty of Christ as Savior and Lord naturally expresses itself in a concern to extend his kingdom
d. Third, the concern to remain faithful to Scripture means that the great biblical injunctions to proclaim Christ to the world are taken with the utmost seriousness
e. Fourth, the intense joy of knowing Christ makes it natural for evangelicals to wish to share this experience with those whom they love, as an act of generosity and consideration.
6. The importance of the Christian community for spiritual nourishment, fellowship and growth.
a. Evangelicalism sees Christian community as important to the tasks of evangelism, spiritual nourishment, teaching and discipling
b. Evangelicalism is committed to the church, but not to any one denominational understanding of the church
i. Evangelicals may represent any number of different doctrines of the church as long as they are well-grounded in Scripture and carefully thought through in practice.
ii. Evangelicalism is best thought of as “transdenominational”. It is not confined to any one denomination, nor is it a denomination in its own right. While some denominations are considered evangelical denominations (Southern Baptist, Christian & Missionary Alliance, Presbyterian Church in America, Wesleyans), other Christians are evangelicals within a non-evangelical denomination (Anglican evangelicals, Methodist evangelicals, Presbyterian evangelicals).
iii. Individual evangelicals may have a very well-defined, scriptural, and thoughtful theology of the church, but evangelicalism as a whole does not endorse a single ecclesiology
c. Christian community guards us against any highly individualized interpretations of Scripture which are outside of an evangelical and traditional understanding of the text.