Concept for a New Church

Welcome to the Worldview Christian Church website! We are honored for you to visit and we would love to get to know you personally. We are a community of imperfect humans thankful for God’s grace and love, which we want to share with the world.

Christianity is the most sublime and successful religious movement in the history of the world. Even non-Christians often acknowledge that Jesus was at least the greatest moral teacher of all time. But we sinful humans have sometimes managed to mess up the perfect system that Christ gave us. So let us especially speak to those who may not have had a satisfactory experience with church, or who may harbor questions about Christianity. Some people have “tried out” church and have left. They may have said that what they found there was “superficial” or “unfriendly” or “hypocritical” or “untrue”—or for whatever reason did not meet their needs or expectations.

There may be several reasons for such failure to connect. It could be the fault of the person—that he or she had the wrong expectations. Perhaps the individual was more interested in what he could receive from church rather what he could give. On the other hand, it is sometimes true that the church has failed in its mission to connect with people—or failed in its biblical mandate. For those who have doubts about Christianity, we hope to be able to allay those doubts. While we will not be able to address all of your concerns on this web page, we are confident that questions raised by skeptics have satisfying answers, and we refer you to the links at the bottom for further study. We hope that the skeptic and the believer alike will find the comments below refreshing, informative, and even challenging. We also trust that from these comments you glean our commitment to God’s Word.

Broadly speaking, there are two major groupings of Protestant churches in America—(1) the denominational/institutional church and (2) the non-denominational Bible/community church movement. As regards the first group, nearly all of the “mainstream” denominational churches have been steadily losing adherents for a half-century or more for a number of reasons which include creeping culturalization and liberalization often associated with arbitrary denial of historic biblical truths. Even denominations which have retained a strong official commitment to historic Christian beliefs have experienced an incursion of skepticism, and many of their local churches continue to pursue worship and outreach strategies designed more to accommodate the gospel to the culture than to speak truth to the culture.

At the root of these troubling trends are serial failures, among them: a failure to respond to skeptics and to communicate the many solid reasons why the Bible is true and trustworthy, failure to impart a biblical worldview on its members, failure to hold people accountable for their faith, sectarianism, nominalism, malaise from institutionalization and bureaucracy along with a measure of ecclesiastical tyranny, deference to church hierarchy rather than the biblical church participation of all believers, reliance on tradition rather than on a strong biblical foundation—and more. These are failures of the institutional church, not of God, his truth, his power, or his love.

On the other hand, the non-denominational church movement has experienced growth in recent decades. But while this movement continues to grow rapidly in the third world, we perceive that it is slowing and is probably capped in the U. S., or at least is at a turning point. This is likely due to several factors, including the erosion of the credibility of certain of the highly-visible preachers and authors especially in the neo-pentecostal movement, the dubious gospel of prosperity, fundamentalism (the hyper, rigid literalization of certain biblical texts taken out of context or clearly meant symbolically—or spiritualizing texts clearly meant to be understood literarily), and especially the pervasive influence in the movement of millennialism—in particular dispensational premillennialism.

Millennialism—the view that Christ will come again to establish a utopian political kingdom on earth— has been a breeding ground for false prophets. False prophecies have been an embarrassment to Christianity. If you inspect the statement of faith on websites of evangelical churches (both non-denominational churches as well as certain well-established denominations), you will often see  a statment that they expect the “Soon Return of Christ.” Harold Camping caught the attention of even the secular media by his false prophecy of the end of the world in 2011. Even the venerable Billy Graham, for all the good he has done for the church, began in 1934 telling the world to expect the soon return of Christ. These men are just two in a long line of questionable prophets as indeed some Christians throughout history have been falsely predicting various eschatological events. Can we blame the skeptic for having doubts about the reliability of the church?

In all of this, the worship services of many churches have morphed into little more than rock concerts and do not display the reverence that we think God deserves. Often reflecting the self-centered theology of many churches, services are “me” oriented (especially in the music) rather than God honoring. (Where in the Bible does it say that worship services should be entertainment?) Meanwhile, survey after survey has revealed that there is widespread ignorance among professing Christians about truly important Christian doctrines—the nature of God, the nature of man, how Christianity compares to other religions, the meaning of sin and death, salvation and the afterlife. Christians are largely unable to give a convincing apologetic (a reasonable defense) for the faith. All of these factors have resulted in an anemic, impotent church. Christianity is rapidly losing ground in America along with a growing sense of dissatisfaction with church. These things are unacceptable and must be reversed in order for the church to be credible and healthy.

There are thousands of Christian sects. Why is there so much division? There are indeed legitimate differences of interpretation of the Bible on some points. But the main reason is that most Christians, in spite of what they profess, do not really follow the Bible. They follow what someone or some external document has told them that the Bible says. They often have faith in a faith system, rather than faith in Jesus. They do not follow the teachings of Christ but rather the teachings of an organization. They are deeply committed to various faith traditions and are inexorably—perhaps unwittingly— subject to peer pressure rather than relying on diligent study of the God’s Word. These things too often result in Christians effectively identifying themselves first as a member of a group or by a doctrinal distinctive—and only as a Christian second. (I am Reformed, or Catholic, or Methodist, etc.)

Other groups have taken the opposite extreme and have attempted to ignore doctrine. Increasingly, websites of some non-denominational churches have scrubbed doctrinal statements altogether, leaving the impression that one can believe anything in these churches.

Young people especially are fed up with questionable doctrines and practices in the church: slaying-in-the-spirit, speaking in tongues, transubstantiation, left-behind rapturism, etc. They are no longer satisfied to accept carte blanche what is being fed to them and are ready to re-examine church teaching. They want solid biblical answers unfettered by sectarian tradition or weak exegesis.

We believe that it is time for a new Reformation and revival. We call for a new dynamic church based on biblical principles that meet a biblical test for unity while rejecting errant theology that is damaging the church. As reformers in previous eras have addressed issues plaguing the church—while re-asserting biblical principles—so we do again today. Below are our beliefs which we draw from careful study of sacred Scripture. We believe that all true believers have the truth of the essential doctrines of the Christian faith and in these there must be unity. However, no one man or denomination is without some measure of error. Therefore, it is a mistake to follow after any sect’s teaching at the exclusion of the teachings of the universal Christian Church. Our agenda is Truth, so we are always open to any correction that is based on sound biblical exegesis, and would be thankful for your contribution to that end. We are called to test all things and hold on to what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21) and to search the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things are so (Acts 17:11).

 

Our Vision, Affirmations and Denials

  • Worldview Christian Church is a community of followers of Jesus Christ. Our goals are to love one another, nurture one another, care for one another, correct one another, and bear one another’s burdens (John 13:34-35, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Colossians 3:12-16, 1 John 4:13-17). We seek to extend that love to the culture, as Christians are called to love even our enemies (Matthew 5:43-44, Matthew 6:15, Luke 6:35-36, Luke 10:25-37, Romans 12:9-21).
  • In matters of doctrine—we profess unity on the essentials (John 17:20-23, Romans 15:5-6, 1 Corinthians 1:10-32, Ephesians 4:1-16), on non-essentials we profess liberty whenever possible unless an issue is a detriment to the faith (Luke 9:49-50, Romans 14:1-23, Galatians 5:1, 2 Corinthians 3:17). The New Testament has strong and consistent demands for unity among Christians and warnings against sectism (1 Corinthians 1:12, 3:1-11). Thus we unite on a short list of basic principles, while acknowledging that there will forever be humble and deliberate study of subjects which have tended to divide us in the past. For example, we accept either believer’s baptism or infant baptism as possible interpretations of Scripture. Another example is the various views on justification: Even though these terms often elicit strong and polarizing opinions, we are not specifically Calvinist, Lutheran, or Arminian as we acknowledge that each view is within the circle of orthodoxy.
  • While we are Protestants, we hold the Catholic church and its rich heritage in high esteem. Indeed, we are closer to the conservative Catholic than to the liberal Protestant. We think that there are areas that Catholics and Protestants should seek to unite upon. But we also see that both groups have erred in certain areas. For example, there are traditions within Catholicism that are not biblical. However, the Protestant Reformers’ reaction against tradition probably went too far. One cannot prove Sola Scriptura (a tenet of Protestanism) biblically. We agree with Catholics that at least some important issues of faith are beyond the Bible’s limitations. For example, the canon of the Bible itself is rooted partially in tradition and not solely from biblical authority itself.
  • We believe in the unity of the whole church of the living God which is God’s family (Ephesians 2:19, 1 John 5:10), Christ’s Body (1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 27; Ephesians 1:22-23), and the Holy Spirit’s habitation (Ephesians 2:22, 1 Corinthians 3:16, 1 Peter 2:5) among men. We believe that we should receive as brethren all who sincerely embrace Christ as Lord (Romans 14:10, Romans 15:7, 1 Corinthians 12:11-31). We believe that there is no valid reason to divide the church institutionally into separate fellowships defined by differences in particular theological convictions, much less by loyalties to men or systems of thought (1 Corinthians 1:12-13). We believe that to define the fellowship of the saints more narrowly than God does is sin (1 Corinthians 3:3-4, 1 Corinthians 12:25).
  • We believe in the priesthood of all believers, that to each believer grace is given for service to God, and that every believer is to be engaged in some aspect of the work of the church (Romans 12:3-6, 1 Corinthians 4:1, 12:7, 14:26, Ephesians 4:7-16, 1 Peter 2:5-10, 4:10-11). This also implies that Christians have the responsibility to share the truth with others, and especially to nurture the faith of their children, not leaving such important work up to the church.

We have a simple statement of faith. While this is just the beginning of one’s knowledge as a Christian, to become a member of our church one should simply:

  1. Believe and affirm that Jesus was the Son of God and Savior of sinners,
  2. Repent of one’s sins and receive the grace of forgiveness through Jesus Christ,
  3. Seek in humble obedience to know and to conform one’s life to God’s will, relying on the power of the Holy Spirit and the means of grace provided to every believer.

However, the Bible warns us repeatedly to discern truth from falsehood (Proverbs 14:12, Isaiah 5:20, Matthew 7:15-23, Matthew 24:4-5, 24, 2 Corinthians 11:1-4, Galatians 1:6-9, 2 Peter 2:1-3, 2 Timothy 3:6-9). We must remain faithful to God’s Word. We specifically reject as unbiblical and outside the bounds of the orthodox Christian faith these extremes:

  1. Liberalism (the denial of the authority of the Bible in key or arbitrary areas foundational to the historic orthodox Christian faith—especially the denial of supernatural events, historical accounts, exclusive claims of Jesus, or selective moral precepts of the Bible)
  2. Antinomianism (the idea that law and obedience are of no importance to the life of a Christian)
  3. Legalism (the idea that entrance into heaven is determined in whole or in part by specific righteous works or sacraments—and which is usually associated with hyper-literalism, exclusivism, sectism, or cultism). Contrary to the shallow understanding of many—and contrary to every other religion—Christianity is not about a list of rules, but about the gospel. A set of rules is not what make things right.

Affirmations and Denials

  • We affirm the gospel—the perfect life, sacrificial death, and bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead—which is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16-17, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). We are persuaded that these events are objective and determinative facts of history (1 Corinthians 15:5-11, 2 Peter 1:16-18). We deny that there is any other gospel (for example, a social gospel, a prosperity gospel, a works righteousness gospel, liberation theology, etc.).
  • We affirm that the Bible is uniquely the Word of God, inspired by God through human writers (2 Timothy 3:16-17, Hebrews 4:12, 1 Peter 1:3, 2 Peter 3:16). We believe the Bible is (a) true, (b) that there is ample physical, textual, and archeological evidence that it has been transmitted to us through a process that has preserved it as substantially free of error in the English translations we use today, and (c) that it is profitable and authoritative in all matters pertaining to life and faith that it addresses (Acts 20:27). We deny that the Holy Scripture is not in all its parts the Word of God, thus that it is in part the Word of God and in part the word of man.
  • We affirm the Trinity—one true God, eternally existence in three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—each of whom possesses attributes of deity in nature and essence and also characteristics of personality, though each member of the Trinity has different roles or rank (Deuteronomy 6:4, Isaiah 44:6, Matthew 28:19, John 1:1-3, John 14:28, Colossians 1:15-20, Hebrews 1:1-4, and numerous other passages.) We deny that the Bible teaches anything other than the Trinity.
  • We affirm that all men are sinners and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23, also Genesis 6:5, 1Kings 8:46, Job 25:4-6, Psalm 14:1-3, 51:5, 53:1-3, 58:3, 130:3, Proverbs 14:12, 20:9, Ecclesiastes 7:20, 29, 9:3, Isaiah 53:6, 55:8-9, 64:6, Jeremiah 17:9, Mark 7:20-23, Romans 3:9-18, 5:12-21, 7:14-25, Ephesians 2:1-3,  1 John 1:8). When theologians say that men are “totally depraved,” it does not mean that men are as bad as they could be or that they can do no good—but rather that all aspects of our lives are touched by sin. We deny that men are basically good—which is the view of all non-Christian worldviews including atheism, communism, cults, Eastern religions, and Islam.
  • We affirm that salvation from sin, death, and the wrath of God is the comforting gift of God, given by grace (Romans 3:24, Romans 5:15-17, Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9, etc.) through a sincere living faith (John 3:16, John 15:1-17, Romans 2:5-13, Romans 3:21-26, Romans 4:5, Romans 10:9-13, Galatians 5:6, Ephesians 2:10, James 2:14-26, 1 John 2:2-6, etc.) in Jesus Christ alone (John 14:6, also, John 3:18, 36, 8:24, Acts 4:12, Hebrews 10:35-36, Galatians 1:6-10, Philippians 2:9-11, 1 Timothy 2:5, 1 John 5:12). We believe that the Bible teaches that while man possesses free will, even our will is corrupted (John 1:12-13, Romans 3:11-12, Romans 7:13-25, Romans 8:7, 1 Corinthians 2:14, Ephesians 2:1-3). It is only by God’s sovereign electing intervention that anyone can come to Christ (John 6:65, Romans 8:28-30, Romans 9:6-24, Romans 12:3, 2 Corinthians 4:3-6; Ephesians 1:3-12, 2 Timothy 1:9, Titus 3:5). We deny that man can earn his own salvation, that a dead faith can save, or that there are alternative ways to heaven outside of the finished work of Jesus Christ and the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit.
  • We affirm that believers have been made alive through what the Bible refers to as a new birth in Jesus Christ (John 3:3-8, 2 Corinthians 5:17). A believer does not have to face the world without help. We rely on God’s ongoing work in us through Christ (John 15:1-8, Philippians 1:6, Hebrews 12:1-2) and through the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17, John 16:5-16, Romans 8:9-17, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, Galatians 4:6-7, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, 2Timothy 1:14, Titus 3:5-8, 1 John 4:13-17). A living faith is one that in response to God’s grace and with God’s help results in a penitent, sacrificial, sanctifying life marked increasingly by the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:19-23). We recognize that while man’s sinful nature will always result in imperfection toward these goals, the Christian with a true saving faith will desire to conform his life to these principles. We deny that a person can be considered a Christian whose heart and life are no different from others in the culture (Luke 14:33, Romans 12:1-21, Ephesians 4:22-32).
  • We affirm that it is important for a Christian to grow and mature in his or her faith. An important part of such growth is lifelong learning and study of Scripture and its applications in life. Thus, we place importance on Bible study and teaching (Hosea 4:6, 2 Peter 1:5). We deny that anything can replace Scripture as the standard for faith and practice.
  • We affirm that a vital and dynamic union with Jesus Christ naturally results in both evangelism and compassion. Working with God where He is working we will find meaning and purpose bigger than and beyond ourselves. It is not enough for us to be personally fulfilled. We also want to help others find eternal life, meaning and fulfillment in relationship with Jesus Christ (Isaiah 61:1-4, Matthew 28:18-20, John 10:10, Acts 1:8). We deny that the Christian faith can be selfish or isolationist.
  • We affirm that it is important for a Christian to have a Biblical Worldview. That is, the entirety of the Christian’s life is a vocation from God, and every aspect of life is germane to and must be influenced by Christian thought, including each of these ten disciplines: theology, philosophy, ethics, science, psychology, sociology, law, politics, economics, and history (2 Corinthians 10:5, Ephesians 4:27, Philippians 2:10). The word secular does not appear in Scripture. Thus, one’s faith cannot be relegated merely to worship. We deny that a Christian can compartmentalize his faith.
  • We affirm objective truths that apply to everyone, whether they acknowledge them or not. And while there may not be many, there are at least some objective moral values discernable from Scripture and its extension—natural reason. Accordingly, biblical truth has application to all aspects of society. Christians should be a voice of moral suasion in the culture against injustice to the innocent. Our compassion for members of society demands that we engage the culture in order to positively influence it—being salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16)—in accordance with moral and spiritual truth (Genesis 1:26-28, Matthew 5:13-16, Matthew 22:21, John 14:6, 2 Corinthians 10:5). We deny relativism—the view that morality is fungible or dependent on the cultural setting, or the idea of “true for you but not for me.”
  • We affirm that the Christian faith is based on faith in evidence. We believe that the major doctrines of Christianity (the existence of God, the divine origin of Holy Scripture, and the historical bodily resurrection of Christ) can be demonstrated to be true beyond a reasonable doubt by careful examination using general revelation and the disciplines of reason and evidence—that is, apologetics. This does not mean that we can prove these things beyond ANY doubt, but we are confident that they can be proven by the same standard as in a court of law—the standard of beyond aREASONABLE doubt. People do not reject Christianity because of insufficient evidence, but rather either because they have not been presented the evidence or simply the stubborn refusal to accept it based on the desire for autonomy. We believe that Christians should be prepared to give a defense of the faith, a reason for the hope that they have through personal testimony as well as the science of apologetics (John 14:11, Acts 1:3, Acts 17:2, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, 1 Peter 3:15, Jude 3). We should not arbitrarily limit the avenues in which the Holy Spirit may operate, including apologetics. We believe that the Bible calls us to honor God with our minds, and that a Christian’s faith grows stronger by learning to intellectually defend the faith (Matthew 22:37). We deny that the Christian faith is blind faith (fideism or presuppositionalism), which would be superstition.
  • We affirm that our faith rests on Christ’s finished work and that the believer’s future hope is eternal life in heaven.

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Additional Thoughts on Eschatology

Concerning eschatology—the study of the so-called “last things,” we realize that Christians hold to different views.  But we are concerned about the direction that the American church has taken to embrace millennialism. “End times” prophecy has become a hallmark of modern American evangelicalism. Eschatology, though important and to be rightly understood, is arguably not the epicenter of Christian theology. And it should not be considered either an issue of salvation nor fellowship. Yet its prominence in the evangelical community today has rendered it a keynote issue for the church. We think there is inadequate biblical warrant for a literal millennium and all that is commonly associated with such a view (“Armageddonism,” easy believism, and failure to engage the culture due to the exprected nearness of Jesus’ return, etc.).

The expectation of a Messianic political kingdom on earth is essentially the same error that the first century Jews made concerning the advent of the Messiah. We see millennialism as at best a prominent distraction and at worst a serious error (Deuteronomy 18:20-22, Matthew 7:15-23, 2 Peter 2:1-3). Millennialists teach that Christ’s kingdom is not yet present. This denigrates Christ’s finished work. It is unimaginable to most Christians that Christ is not now King of King and Lord of Lords. Our primary concern is that millennialism detracts from the gospel, and may even be considered a different gospel promising a false hope (2 Corinthians 11:1-4). The Christian’s hope rests on Christ’s finished work (Matthew 5:18; Luke 21:28; John 19:30), not on a coming political messianic kingdom.

Many evangelical Christians today have been so steeped in millennialism that they think it is normative. While a few of the early church fathers apparently held to types of millennialist views, such views were effectively rejected by the church at the Councils of Constantinople (381 AD) and Ephesus (431 AD). John Calvin in his Institutes of the Christian Religion (3.25.5)said that millennialism (“chiliasm”) is a “fiction” that is “too childish either to need or to be worth a refutation.” Lutherans also formally rejected millennialism in The Augsburg Confession (Article XVII), as did Martin Luther himself.

We also recognize that there is a renewed debate occurring among conservative scholars about eschatology. This debate was sparked by various books including the 1998 book by the eminent Reformed scholar R. C. Sproul entitled The Last Days According to Jesus. There are various biblically defensible views on Bible prophecy including amillennialism, post millennialism, partial preterism, and full preterism.  We welcome the vigorous discussion within evangelical circles about the merits of these four views and the efforts to reconcile over 100 eschatological passages in the Bible. None of these views, however, including premillennialism which we consider these least acceptable position, should be a test for fellowship.

Our position is that Christ did not come to give us a shiny new planet in the future, but rather to redeem us from our sins. We believe that at least some, if not all, of the prophecies thought by some Christians to be yet still future were fulfilled by Christ’s coming in judgment against the Jews and the nation of Israel in 70 AD. At that time the temple was destroyed and the age-old system of animal sacrifices for sin ended—ushering in the New Covenant order to its fullest. We understand the end of the age spoken of by Jesus (Matthew 13:40, 13:49, 28:20) to be the end of the Old Covenant Age and not the end of the world (Acts 2:14-17, 1 Corinthians 7:31, 10:11, Hebrews 1:1-2, 6:5-8, 8:13, 9:26, 1 Peter 1:20, 1 Peter 4:7, etc) . The King James Version has confused English speaking Christians on this point for hundreds of years.

Confirmation comes from the Apostle Peter and the writer of Hebrews who clearly place the last days in the first century (Acts 2:14-21, Hebrews 1:1-2, 1 Peter 1:5, 20). We take Jesus at his word that the prophesied events would happen when he said they would—in his own generation (Matthew 10:23, 17:27-28, Luke 21:22, 32, Revelation 1:1, 1:3, 3:11, 22:6-7, etc.). This time line was also the clear expectation of the inspired New Testament writers (Romans 13:11-12, 1 Corinthians 1:7-8, 7:29, Philippians 4:5, 1 Thessalonians 4:15, 5:2-11, Titus 2:13, Hebrews 10:25, James 5:7-9, 1 Peter 5:1,4, 2 Peter 3:12, 1 John 2:17-18, etc.). Thus the prophesied events were indeed fulfilled in some sense within Jesus’ own generation just as he predicted, confirming Jesus as a true prophet contrary to the persistent charges of skeptics. We live today in the kingdom of God in which Christ reigns (Isaiah 9:7; Daniel 7:13-14; Matthew 3:2, 10:7, Mark 1:15, Luke 10:9, 11; 1 Corinthians 15:22-24; Revelation 11:15; 19:1, 16) and we do not await the end of the world or a utopian political Christian kingdom on earth. We deny premillennialism, especially dispensational premillennialism.

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