The Bible is Our Primary Standard and Final Authority
We are a church that believes in the Bible, studies the Bible, preaches and teaches the Bible, and seeks to obey the Bible. The Bible is central to all that we are and do. In it God speaks to us today concerning every area of life and thought. In a day when biblical authority is undermined or neglected in many churches, we seek to be faithful the the Word of God.
We place our trust and faith in Christ alone: in his person, work, and Word. The Bible and it alone, as the Word of Christ, is our final standard for all that we believe and do. It is inspired of God and therefore the absolute authority as truth; inerrant and infallible in all matters, including history and science. The whole counsel of God in Scripture is our standard in every area of life and thought.
We affirm that the Bible is the Written Word of God
We confess that this Word of God was not sent nor delivered by the will of man, but that men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit, as the apostle Peter says; and that afterwards God, from a special care which He has for us and our salvation, commanded His servants, the prophets and apostles, to commit His revealed word to writing; and He Himself wrote with His own finger the two tables of the law. Therefore we call such writings holy and divine Scriptures. (Belgic Confession)
Commitment to the Inerrancy of the Bible
As a Reformed church we hold the highest estimation on the Bible. The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy provides a full statement of the correct view of Scripture. In the summary statement we read:
- God, who is Himself Truth and speaks truth only, has inspired Holy Scripture in order thereby to reveal Himself to lost mankind through Jesus Christ as Creator and Lord, Redeemer and Judge. Holy Scripture is God’s witness to Himself.
- Holy Scripture, being God’s own Word, written by men prepared and superintended by His Spirit, is of infallible divine authority in all matters upon which it touches: It is to be believed, as God’s instruction, in all that it affirms; obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires; embraced, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises.
- The Holy Spirit, Scripture’s divine Author, both authenticates it to us by His inward witness and opens our minds to understand its meaning.
- Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God’s acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God’s saving grace in individual lives.
- The authority of Scripture is inescapably impaired if this total divine inerrancy is in any way limited of disregarded, or made relative to a view of truth contrary to the Bible’s own; and such lapses bring serious loss to both the individual and the Church.
“The Word, the Whole Word, Nothing but the Word!”
When asked, “What does the Bible teach?” or “How do you interpret it?” we respond with a unified voice by referring to the historic creeds and confessions of the Reformed church which summarize the message of Scripture. The RCUS does not, however, make its confessional statements equal to, or elevated above, Scripture, for our Constitution says,
The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, which are called canonical, being recognized as genuine and inspired, are received as the true and proper Word of God, infallible and inerrant, and the ultimate rule and measure of the whole Christian faith and doctrine. (Constitution, Art. 176)
Mere human writings can never be our ultimate and final standard, even those with ecclesiatical authority due to the fact that they were decided in the councils of the church:
Neither may we consider any writings of men, however holy these men may have been, of equal value with those divine Scriptures, nor ought we to consider custom, or the great multitude, or antiquity, or succession of times and persons, or councils, decrees or statutes, as of equal value with the truth of God, since the truth is above all. (Belgic Confession, Art. 7)
It is an integral part of our confession to define the nature of biblical authority and distinguish scripture from confessional statements. Our creeds, confessions, and catechism are to be understood as subordinate standards. And yet they have real authority in the church because they are based upon and embody biblical truth.
Our statement of faith includes the Apostle’s Creed as well as the historic confession of the churches of the Reformation. We affirm and teach that system of doctrine which is set forth in the Three Forms of Unity: the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dort. These three doctrinal statements, born of the Protestant Reformation, define what it means to be “reformed.” The Consitution of our denomination states,
The Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession of Faith, and the Canons of Dort are received as authoritative expressions of the truths taught in the Holy Scriptures, and are acknowledged to be the subordinate standards of doctrine in the Reformed Church in the United States. (RCUS Constitution, Part IV. Doctrine and Worship, Section 1, Doctrine, Article 177)
Because the The Heidelberg Catechism, The Belgic Confession of Faith and the The Canons of Dort accurately summarizes the teachings of Scripture, we have adopted them as our confessional standards.