What We Believe
For a shorter summary of what we believe about the Bible's teaching click here
We believe that the Bible, contained in the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, is the divinely inspired, inerrant, infallible, living, and all-sufficient Word of God. The ministry of the Holy Spirit as he works through the Word is the primary means by which the elect are united to the risen Christ and thereafter, in Him, nourished unto eternal life.
The Bible alone is the ONLY infallible rule for what we are to believe about God and how we are to obey God. A wonderful summary of what the Scriptures teach about the essential things of the Christian faith and life can be found in our church’s confession of faith and catechisms, The Westminster Standards .
We believe that the Bible teaches a Presbyterian form of church government. The word Presbyterian is derived from the Greek word for elder (presbuteros). The Apostle Paul, in the pastoral epistles, gave explicit direction for the appointment of elders in every church (i.e., Titus 1:5; Acts 20:17), and in addition, provided clear qualifications for the office of elder (I Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). Elders are responsible to provide loving and encouraging spiritual oversight for every member of the flock (I Peter 5:1-3). However, the teaching elder or pastor is called, in particular, to “work hard at preaching and teaching” (I Timothy 5:17).
Under a Presbyterian or representative form of government, members of the local church are accountable to their session of elders, sessions are accountable to their local presbytery, and presbyteries are accountable to the General Assembly (c.f. Acts 15). In a day when moral and doctrinal oversight and accountability are rare in the church, you can take comfort knowing that your pastors and elders are accountable to one another and others as they heed Paul’s instruction to “pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).
We refer to ourselves as Reformed because our church and denomination (Presbyterian Church in America) are confessionally and historically rooted in the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation.
Valley Presbyterian Church is a confessional church. This means that we have a specific set of doctrinal beliefs that we affirm, or “confess” as a denomination. Because we are a confessional church, this means that you can know what our church, and others in our same denomination, believe about the Bible’s teaching.
Two quick comments about confessions: 1) Confessions are not our church's foundation, Christ is; 2) Confessions do not replace Scripture, or even get placed on a parallel with Scripture. Rather, confessions assist the church in the promotion of peace, purity, and unity by providing a tool for the church and her members to systematically discuss and agree upon the the most important teachings of Scripture.
A confession summarizing the teachings of Holy Scripture is never inerrant or infallible--it is not God’s Word! Yet, a confessional church such as ours believes that the confessions we hold to are an accurate summary of those doctrines taught in God’s Word. To that end our confession of faith helps promote unity in the church about what we believe the Scripture's teach by assisting the chruch in educating its members about important Biblical doctrines.
However, to say that we are a confessional church is not specific enough, for there are confessional churches of many theological positions; churches that confess doctrines with substantial differences than our own. Specifically, our church is confessionally Reformed. There are several denominations coming from a Reformed perspective, who have confessed different (but compatible) confessions and creeds in history. Our denomination and church joins with those like-minded Christians and churches in confessing the Westminster Standards, originally written in the 1640s (with a few minor amendments since then). The Standards include the Westminster Confession of Faith, and The Larger Catechism and The Shorter Catechism.
It would be helpful to note that in our church, individual members are not required to subscribe to each of the tenets of doctrine expounded in these Standards. However, every ordained officer in our church and denomination is required to affirm that they “sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and Catechisms of this Church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures.” So, if you visit our church, or another church in our denomination, you should have a great deal of confidence that you know what the leadership in the church believes and confesses.
Confessions are vitially important today when many churches continue to disregard sound doctrine. Every generation seems to have heretical movements rising up from within the church that pervert the truth of Scripture. It can often be difficult for a Christian to discern erring leaders when they don’t clearly come out and confess systematically what they believe the Bible to teach. Furthermore, even among many conservative, Bible-believing churches, there can be doctrinal differences of over the some of the most important teachings in Scripture. As a Christian, when looking for a church to join, it is helpful (and very important) to know where a church stands theologically.
On a practical note for me, this means that whenever I am looking for a church to visit (such as when I’m traveling), or whenever I am asked for a church recommendation in a specific geographical area, I typically start (after my own denomination) by turning to the churches that are a part of the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC). These member churches all are confessionally reformed, and so I have a pretty good sense of what I’ll be getting from any of them, even before I visit them for the first time.
All this to say, our Biblical, Confessional, Presbyterian, and Reformed beliefs are meant to unite, not divide, Christians under the banner of a robust, loving, humble, warm-hearted, pious, repentant, Christ-centered, Spirit-filled, God-exalting, kingdom-advancing body of believers.
We believe in a warm and positive expression of the Reformed Faith, that is, one that promotes and defends sound doctrine while at the same time exhibits sincere love, joy, humility, patience, and kindness.
If you have any questions about the Christian Faith or what we confess the Scriptures teach, please contact either of our pastors, 818-894-9200.