Our Beliefs

Watch your life and doctrine closely.
Persevere in them, because if you do,
you will save both yourself and your hearers.
1 Timothy 4:16 NIV

 

Over the years, there have been numerous suggestions for amending our statement of faith to reflect particular sectarian beliefs/biases. However, the Christian Research Institute (CRI) is committed to what is aptly referred to as “mere Christianity.” In other words, “In essentials, unity; nonessentials, liberty; and in all things, charity.”

Furthermore, CRI stands in concert with the historic Christian statement of faith expressed in the fourth-century Nicene Creed:

I believe in one God, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages; Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten, not created, of one essence with the Father, through Whom all things were made.

Who for us and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man.

He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried; and He rose on the third day, according to the Scriptures.

He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father, and He will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead. His kingdom shall have no end.

And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Creator of Life, Who proceeds from the Father[1], Who together with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, Who spoke through the prophets.

In one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the age to come. Amen.

Finally, as president of the Christian Research Institute, Hank Hanegraaff has memorably codified the essentials of historic Christianity around the acronym D-O-C-T-R-I-N-E.

Deity of Christ

The biblical witness is clear and convincing that Jesus Christ is the eternal Creator God (John 1; Colossians 1; Hebrews 1; Revelation 1). Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus claimed to be God in word and deed (Mark 14:61–62; John 5:18, 20; 8:58; 10:30–33). He vindicated His claim to deity by living a sinless life (John 8:46; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; 1 John 3:5; 1 Peter 2:22); by manifesting His power over nature (Mark 4:39), over fallen angels (Luke 4:35), over sickness (Matthew 4:23), and even over death itself (John 4:50; 11:43–44; 1 Corinthians 15); and by accurately prophesying God’s judgment on Jerusalem through the destruction of the temple that occurred in AD 70 (Matthew 24:1–2, 32–35).

Original Sin

Sin is not just murder, rape, or robbery. Sin refers to any thought, word, deed, or state of being that fails to meet God’s standard of holiness and perfection. The Bible unambiguously proclaims that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). While the notion of generational curses and spirits is foreign to the text of Scripture, there is a sense in which all people are cursed as a result of an ancestor’s sin: Adam’s rebellion brought death to us all and tainted every aspect of our being (Genesis 3; 1 Corinthians 15:21–22; cf. Ephesians 2:3). God, however, has provided redemption through the atoning work of the Second Adam, Jesus Christ (Romans 5:12–21).

Canon

The Hebrew Scriptures along with the Greek New Testament constitute the Christian canon (meaning “standard of measurement”). While inspiration provides the divine authority for the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16), canonization provides human acknowledgment of that authority. As such, the canon was determined by God and discovered by church fathers who accepted books as part of the canon on the basis that they were widely used within the churches and ultimately traceable to the authority of the apostles and prophets.

Trinity

Although the word Trinity is found nowhere in the Bible, it aptly codifies the essential biblical truths that (1) there is only one God (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 43:10); (2) the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God (1 Corinthians 8:6; Hebrews 1:8; Acts 5:3–4); and (3) Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are eternally distinct (Matthew 28:19; John 15:26; 17:1–26). It is important to note that when Trinitarians speak of one God, they are referring to the nature, or essence, of God. Moreover, when they speak of Persons, they are referring to personal self-distinctions within the Godhead. Put another way, Trinitarians believe in one What and three Whos.

Resurrection

All four canonical Gospels record the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The immutable fact of Jesus’ resurrection is the cornerstone of Christian faith because it not only vindicates Jesus’ claims to deity but also ensures the future bodily resurrection unto eternal life of all who believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior and proclaim Him as Lord (1 Corinthians 15; 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18). The historical reality of the Resurrection can be demonstrated by eyewitness accounts of the fatal torment Jesus suffered on the cross; the empty tomb; the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus; and the transformation of believers throughout the ages whose lives have been radically altered upon experiencing the resurrected Lord.

Incarnation

The doctrine of the incarnation is summed up aptly in the words of the apostle John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14 NKJV). The clear testimony of Scripture is that, in the incarnation, Jesus Christ was, and will forever remain, truly God and truly man; that is, the eternal Son of God, the second Person of the Triune Godhead, added to Himself an additional nature such that He exists as the perfect unity of a divine nature and a human nature in one Person (John 1; Colossians 1). As Theanthropos (“God-man”), the spotless Lamb of God (John 1:29) lived a perfectly sinless human life (Hebrews 4:15) and died a sinner’s death to sufficiently atone — once, for all — for the sins of humanity (Romans 5:1–21; Hebrews 10:11–18).

New Creation

The essential doctrine of New Creation is codified aptly in the words of the apostle Paul: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV). All who believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and confess Him as Lord are reconciled to God and inherit eternal life in His glorious presence (John 3:16; Romans 10:9–10). Jesus’ resurrection from the dead inaugurated the renewal of all things. The new creation of faithful believers and the new creation of the natural world will be consummated in the resurrection when Jesus returns bodily to Earth as the conquering King (Romans 8:18–25).

Eschatology

The word eschatology is an intimidating word with a simple meaning: the study of end times. While the meaning of eschatology is simple to grasp, its importance is difficult to overemphasize. Far from being a mere branch in the theological tree, eschatology is the root that provides life and luster to every fiber of its being. Put another way, eschatology is the thread that weaves the tapestry of Scripture into a harmonious pattern. It is the study of everything we long and hope for. Early in Genesis, Adam and Eve fell into a life of constant sin terminated by death. The rest of Scripture chronicles God’s unfolding plan of redemption. Although Christians debate secondary aspects of eschatology, such as the timing of the Tribulation or the meaning of the Millennium, we are united in the truth that just as Christ came to Earth once to bear the sins of the world, so, too, He will return again to gather the elect and to usher in the resurrection of all things (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18; Hebrews 9:27–28). On that day, the just will be resurrected to eternal life and the unjust to eternal conscious torment and separation from the love and grace of God (John 5:28–29). Paradise lost will become paradise restored, and the problem of sin and Satan will be fully and finally resolved (Revelation 20–22).


NOTES:

[1] Later versions add “and the Son.”

 

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