The following are thorough, biblically based answers to common questions meant to clarify our perspective on some controversial issues:
Issues Involving God & Humanity
1. Does God choose who will be saved and who will not?
We affirm that God loves all whom he has created, that he desires all to be saved, and that Christ died for all people. (I Tim 2:4; 1 Jn 2:2) All who perish do so of their own volition.
2. Is all suffering ordained by God?
We affirm that while God may use suffering to discipline his children and punish sinners, people suffer primarily because the world is under the control of the evil one. (1 Jn 5:19) Following Jesus, we thus commit ourselves to helping, not judging, people who are in pain.
3. Does God foreknow all that shall come to pass, including future free decisions?
We affirm the omniscience of God with regard to the past, present and future. We also recognize the current disagreement among evangelical Christians about the biblical data regarding the content of the future that God perfectly knows. All views hold that God is omniscient, but some interpret this to mean that God knows all things that shall come to pass, while others hold that the future is not completely there to know. Within the bounds of the whole-hearted affirmation of God’s omniscience, we recognize both positions as legitimate evangelical options. As a local church, we hold no single position on this issue. As with many issues within the church today, we encourage ‘unity in the essential things, freedom in the non-essential things, and agape-love in all things.’
Issues Involving the Holy Spirit
1. What is the significance of the ‘baptism of the Holy Spirit’?
We affirm that there is an experience, often subsequent to conversion, of being ‘filled’ with the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18). This experience is primarily for the purpose of empowering a believer for ministry. (Acts 1:8)
2. Are the ‘Gifts of the Spirit’ for Today?
We affirm that the gifts of the Spirit are for every believer today, though they are not to be used as ‘criteria’ of one’s spirituality. They are to be used in appropriate contexts and within the New Testament guidelines. (1 Cor 12-14 )
3. Are ‘Tongues’ the evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?
While we affirm the value of speaking in tongues for those who have the gift, we deny that it is the single necessary ‘evidence’ of receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
4. What about ‘holy laughter’ and being ‘slain in the Spirit’?
While affirming that various extraordinary manifestations of the Holy Spirit are possible, we deny that they should be made into any sort of spiritual criteria.
This document provides a more in-depth explanation of our church’s perspective on the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts.
Issues Involving Ministry
1. Can women be leaders in the church?
We affirm that ministerial authority is based upon a person’s character, calling and giftedness, not his or her gender.
2. Can people who have been divorced and remarried be leaders in the church?
While affirming the strong biblical teaching on the centrality of the covenant of marriage, we deny that any sin, including whatever sin was involved in a believer’s divorce, in and of itself permanently disqualifies a person from any area of ministry.
Issues Involving the Christian Life
1. What is the appropriate expression of human sexuality?
It’s our belief that God’s ideal for human sexuality is that it be expressed only within the bounds of a monogamous, heterosexual marriage covenant.
2. Can Christians use mood-altering substances?
In keeping with the teachings of Scripture, we reject the use of all illegal substances. (Rom 13:1-2) While recognizing the role of individual conscience in deciding certain matters, we reject the addictive and/or immoderate use of any substance. (Gal 5:13; 1 Cor 8:10-13)
3. What are the appropriate roles of husband and wife in a Christian marriage?
We affirm that biblical paradigm of a God-centered, agape-oriented covenant marriage relationship. We also recognize the disagreement among evangelical Christians regarding the nature of gender roles within marriage. Some believe the Bible teaches a timeless principle of male headship, where headship is defined as the model of servant-leadership exemplified by Jesus Christ. Others believe that the idea of male headship expressed in Scripture is a culturally-conditioned teaching, and that the ideal model of marriage is that of mutual submission and leadership by gifting, within an egalitarian relationship. We believe that, when guided by the principles of agape-love and servant-leadership, either model of gender roles in marriage can serve to foster God-glorifying covenant-marriages. To that end, we offer the following biblical challenge and encouragement.
- To those couples who follow the model of male headship: Husbands strive to avoid both self-centered control and worldly authoritarianism, and seek to exemplify the self-sacrificial servant-leadership demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ toward his bride, the church. Wives, strive to avoid both selfish independence or passive apathy in the marriage, and seek to exemplify the active, passionate submission that characterizes the church’s love for its eternal groom, Jesus Christ.
- To those couples who follow the egalitarian model: Strive to avoid a marriage characterized by indecision, and seek to lead and/or follow in the various areas of your marriage as God has gifted each of you. In all things, exemplify a heart-attitude of submission toward each other, after the pattern of self-sacrificial servanthood demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ toward our heavenly Father.
4. What should Christians do about abortion?
While not endorsing any particular political position or politician as a Church, we affirm on the basis of Scripture the preciousness of life in the womb. On this basis we commit ourselves to encouraging and assisting women to go through with their pregnancy, while also committing ourselves to graciously assist in the healing process of women who have chosen otherwise.
5. Is it God’s will for Christians to always be healthy, wealthy and prosperous?
While affirming that health and wealth can be a blessing from the Lord, we deny that sickness or poverty are necessarily evidences of a lack of faith or of sin in a person’s life. Following the example of Jesus, we understand sickness and poverty primarily as works of the kingdom of darkness. Thus, we affirm that one of the Kingdom responsibilities of those who are blessed with health and wealth is to help those who are sick and/or in poverty.
6. Can a Christian be demon possessed?
While we acknowledge that a Christian can never have their spirit ‘possessed’ or controlled by demons, we affirm that Christians can be significantly influenced by demonic powers and need deliverance ministry.