For some, theological labels can be a burden and even counter-productive; we should just do away with all of them because they do more harm than good. For others, theological labels are everything; they proudly proclaim that they hold to this or that doctrine and they find their identity in that. I fall in the middle of this mix, seeing value in holding to certain doctrines and labels, but also seeing the dangers in being completely consumed by them. My conviction, then, is that doctrine is only useful insofar as that it leads to greater love for and worship of God. If doctrine is used for anything less than this, it is not being used for its intended purpose, and we are being unfaithful in our walk with Christ.
This being said, I would like to outline some of the core, as well as secondary and tertiary doctrines and convictions I hold. My intention in doing this is not to draw dividing lines and create tensions between myself and other true and faithful Christians who doubtless love God and are being sanctified by his grace, but may disagree with me on some of these things; many faithful Christians fall on different sides of many of these debates! My intention is twofold, and that is to give an understanding of where I am coming from whenever I write or preach with the hope that I can communicate as clearly as possible, and to encourage others to dig into the Bible so that they also can know what they believe and why they believe it.
For some of these terms, I have provided links to articles that give a more detailed explanation of the position in order to be as brief as possible here. This list is not exhaustive of everything I believe, but only entails positions that I have currently landed on; there are other doctrines that I have not taken a position on yet and am still working out.
- I am Trinitarian. I believe, as the Athanasian Creed states, that “We worship one God in trinity and the trinity in unity, neither blending their persons nor dividing their essence. For the person of the Father is a distinct person, the person of the Son is another, and that of the Holy Spirit still another. But the divinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal.”
- I am Protestant, and consider myself Reformed. I hold to the main tenets of the Protestant Reformation, particularly the 5 Solas: that salvation is by grace alone (sola gratia), through faith alone (sola fide), in Christ alone (solas Christus), according to Scripture alone (sola Scriptura), for the glory of God alone (soli Deo gloria).
- Going off of holding to Sola Scriptura, I believe in the clarity, authority, necessity, and sufficiency of Scripture. I also hold to the plenary verbal inspiration (each word is inspired) and inerrancy of the Bible.
- I am Baptist. I believe in 1) regenerate church membership, that the membership of a church should only be made up of those who have repented of their sins and trusted in Jesus, 2) believer’s baptism (or credobaptism) by immersion as the only proper way to administer the ordinance of baptism, and that this should only be applied to those who have given a credible profession of faith in Christ, 3) congregational polity or congregationalism, that churches should be governed by their own membership, and 4) local church autonomy, that no denominational hierarchy or convention can force any church to do something it does not wish to do.
- I adhere to penal substitution. I believe that Christ died in the place of sinners, bearing the wrath of God in their place, and imputed to them his own righteousness.
- I am a complementarian. I affirm that both men and women are created in the image of God and therefore are equally valuable in his sight, but headship belongs to males both in the home and the church. This is not a domineering headship, but one of service and love.
- I am a Calvinist, which is outlined in The Doctrines of Grace, also known as the acronym, TULIP.
- I hold to progressive covenantalism. I believe that redemptive history and God’s plan for his people has been unveiled more and more as time has gone on, with all covenants and promises finding their fulfillment in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20). Additionally, I see the ethnic Israel of the Old Testament and the universal Church of the New Testament not as two separate peoples of God with different purposes for each, but rather as one, united people.
- I hold to partial preterism. I believe some prophecies in the Bible have already been fulfilled, while others are yet to be fulfilled in the future.
- I am an amillennialist. I believe the millennial reign of Christ described in Revelation 20:1-10 is currently happening, not something that yet to happen in the future. I do not believe in a rapture where some are brought up to Heaven while others remain on Earth, but that when Christ returns, the dead will be raised, the final judgment will occur, and believers will enjoy the New Heaven and New Earth for all eternity.
- I am a Christian hedonist. I believe that God’s goal in all things (his glory) is not at odds with our pursuit of joy and happiness, because “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him” (John Piper).