WHAT IS IT THAT WE BELIEVE?
We are Biblical
The bible is infallible, sufficient, and authoritative. The bible is faithful and true to guide us into knowledge of God, ourselves, and how we are to live. Therefore, our church and denomination are convinced that we must not be so broadly open that it fails to make vitally important distinctions which the Bible itself makes; nor are we to insist that every member share the same precise set of theological convictions. To be more specific, Trinity is and will be characterized accurately with the following terms:
We are Gospel-Centered
To say that we are gospel-centered means that we take our stand with all those who believe in what used to be called the good news, or “the gospel” which includes the existence of God as Trinity, the deity of Jesus, the virgin birth, the substitutionary and vicarious atonement of Christ, the physical resurrection of Christ, the sure return of Christ, and the infallibility and divine authority of the Bible which is a faithful and true guide to what we are to believe and how we are to live. We joyfully affirm our unity with those from every tradition and denomination who hold to these fundamentals of the gospel including those true believers in Christ who, for whatever reasons, find themselves members of denominations or churches with which we might have certain disagreements.
We are Evangelistic
This means we take seriously the Great Commission, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Without compromising the sovereignty of God, we affirm the responsibility of each person to repent and believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and our responsibility to extend the Gospel invitation as a call to salvation to everyone who hears its message. We invite all, without distinction, to drink freely of the Water of Life and to live eternally.
We are Reformed
The word “reformed” can be defined simply in two ways: 1) It is a reference to our historical link to the Reformation of the 16th century and intends to describe us as the heirs of that tradition which comes from Luther, Calvin, Knox and other reformers. 2) The word “reformed” is used most commonly to refer to certain theological distinctives which have marked reformation believers, particularly those in the Calvinist tradition.
These distincitives can be summarized by our glad affirmation of the responsibility of every person to repent and believe, and that it is God who, by His sovereign electing grace, draws men and women, otherwise dead in sin, to faith in His Son. By this faith alone are God’s people justified.
Reformed distinctives include the sovereignty of God in His creation, providence and election of believers apart from any merit of their own; the irresistible grace of God provided for and preceding the faith of the individual; the sufficiency of God’s grace apart from which man is dead in sin and wholly defiled in all his faculties of soul and body; the efficacy of Christ’s death for all those who believe in Him by grace; the safe-guarding of all those for whom Christ died for eternal life.
We seek to hold to our reformed convictions humbly, recognizing the sincerity and earnestness of Godly men and women who have other positions. Trinity is a church where one can grow in theological depth through examining the robust faith of our fathers throughout the centuries.
We are Confessional
This means that we have a written confession of faith which we believe to be a good and accurate summary of the Bible’s teaching. Our confession consists of the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, which faithful men developed through much careful prayer and thought, as well as persecution and struggle. While these documents are not without flaw, we believe they do contain carefully worded summaries of the Bible’s teachings. All ruling and teaching elders in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP) must vow that they hold to these standards and are required to indicate to their presbyteries or sessions where they take exceptions. Today, a confessional church is a foreign concept to many. However, it is important to note that every church summarizes its convictions in some form in order to distinguish its members from those who are not believers or those who do not believe in their church’s distinctives. Regardless of where you stand in relation to our written confessions, all are welcome to attend Trinity Pres. However, our leaders will have read, studied and affirm our confession of faith as a reliable guide for us today.
We are Covenantal
To say we are covenantal means we believe that the unifying principle of the Scriptures is the one covenant of grace that God made with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and finally, and most importantly, in Jesus Christ. The covenant is a pledge or bond of loyalty which God made to His people through each of the above named persons. The covenant is a relationship of loving loyalty that God has initiated with us as His people throughout human history. To speak of the unity of the covenants means that there is one way and one way only to salvation in both Old and New Testaments-that is, by faith alone in Jesus Christ. This covenantal understanding of the Bible is in distinction from any system of organizing the Scriptures which would attribute differing ways of salvation to a succession of historical Biblical eras.
We are Presbyterian
This word refers to our form of governance. We believe that the most clear biblical pattern is for churches to be governed by a session of presbyters (elders) who rule jointly in what are called “church courts”: sessions of the local church, the broader regional church leaders known as presbyteries, and the larger assembly called the General Synod.
We are Kingdon Centered
We believe that the Kingdom of God is a present reality, and that God is working today to extend His Kingdom among men. This means we hold that God reigns supreme over all the affairs of men, that we are called to honor and glorify Him in all our endeavors. All of life is spiritual and every inch of creation is under Jesus’ kingship. Therefore, we exist as a church to extend Christ’s transforming presence to all areas of creation-we call this ‘being about the Kingdom in Norman.’
It is important to know that these distinctives are good ones; that is to say, it is profitable and health-producing for Christians to believe these things. We believe that as we come to appreciate them, we will grow to love and honor the Lord Jesus more fully and understand more richly what it means to live by grace.
Nevertheless, acceptance of all these distinctives is not required for membership in our church. One can join and be a participating member of our church without holding to any but the gospel-centered distinctive. Ruling and teaching elders and deacons, however, must hold to all these distinctives; and while there is room for exceptions to be taken, to be ordained as an elder or deacon in the ARP means that one can affirm that these descriptive terms apply to him.