Statements of belief remind us what matters and tell the world where we stand. They are also imperfect, made by humans in a specific time and place facing specific challenges and realities. Recognizing this, we have divided our statement of belief into three sections:
- Confession of Faith
- Guiding Principles
The Confession Faith is foundational, it is our why.
Our Guiding Principles ensure that we stay on track in all that we do, they are how we live out our Confession of Faith.
Our Values reflect what we believe God has specifically called us to in our time and place.
Confession of Faith
Over the centuries the Church has developed many Creeds and Confessions of Faith summarizing Christian belief. We have chosen three–one ancient and two modern–to convey the heart of what we believe. Two are included here in full, the third is considerably longer and is therefore only introduced and linked to here. We decided on these three because:
- We want to reflect historic Christian orthodoxy.
- We want to include as many people as possible who identify as Christians in our teaching and discussions, while maintaining our commitment to #1.
- We recognize there are many doctrines on which Christians faithfully disagree and a relative few upon which we agree are essential.
- We recognize our cultural situatedness and wanted a statement that reflects the stream of Christianity in which we are growing.
- We recognize that we are a part of the Global Church and wanted to include a contemporary, international statement.
The Nicene Creed
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and became truly human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father [and the Son],
who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
English translation, © 1998, English Language Liturgical Consultation (ELLC), and used by permission. www.englishtexts.org
NAE Statement of Faith
We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.
We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.
We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful people, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.
We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.
We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.
We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.
As adopted by the National Association of Evangelicals.
The Lausanne Covenant
The Lausanne Covenant emerged from the First Lausanne Congress in 1974. British evangelical theologian John Stott was its chief architect. In the words of the Lausanne organization, “it served as a great rallying call to the evangelical Church around the world. It defined what it means to be evangelical, and challenged Christians to work together to make Jesus known throughout the world. It is a covenant with one another, and a covenant with God himself.”
The Lausanne Covenant contains fifteen articles focused on worldwide evangelical theological distinctives. Topics include God, the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, the Church, Culture, and Social Responsibility with a significant emphasis on Evangelism.
The text of the covenant can be found here.
Three core principles guide how Apollos Watered ministers to you:
Because we believe that the Scriptures uniquely inform us about who God is, what he is doing and in turn who we are to be and what we are to do, we endeavor to ground everything we do in the Scriptures. The Bible is neither an afterthought, nor a tool to be used to justify what we would like to believe is true, rather, it is the ground on which our faith is built. It is God’s Word for us.
Too often contemporary Christians of all types and backgrounds focus on certain passages, themes or biblical writers while ignoring others that are difficult to understand, or say things we do not like. Verses are often ripped out of context, attempting to make Scripture say things that it does not intend. We believe and are committed to understanding the whole Bible, not just a part, and to proclaim what it actually says.
Being biblically grounded also requires that we treat it appropriately. As many have said, “the Bible was written for us but not to us.” This means that we must approach the Bible on its terms, exegeting it based on type of literature (narrative, law, wisdom, etc.), author, audience, and context. The work of proper exegesis is not the end of biblical grounding, however. Scripture must be interpreted and applied to our present realities.
Because we are Christian, we maintain that Jesus Christ is central to all that we believe and do. As we interpret Scripture, we are always looking for how it points to Christ, just as Jesus instructed the disciples on the road to Emmaus how the Scriptures from Moses to the prophets point to him (Luke 24:13-35).
By confessionally Christian, we mean that there are certain beliefs that all Christians must maintain. We believe the Nicene Creed is a good starting point. Originally created at the Council of Nicaea in AD 325, its current form reflects updates made and recognized at the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451. Importantly, the Nicene Creed begins with “we believe”. Substituting “I believe” is certainly appropriate for personal professions of faith, but “we” language reminds us that these beliefs do not belong to any one person. They belong to the Church in all places, in all times, no matter our status or ethnicity, whether we are rich or poor, educated or uneducated, male or female. Together we are the Body of Christ, the Family of God, the Bride of Christ–the Church of Jesus Christ.
Being Confessionally Christian means that we are not content to simply agree to a few statements about God or Christ. These are beliefs which we proclaim and which we build our lives on. Being confessionally Christian is a commitment to seek and to understand the deep truths of God. It is a commitment to developing a robust and Christ centered theology.
The Nicene Creed reflects the need for orthodoxy–it was developed as a response to heresies creeping into the Church–as well as the need for unity among the Church. While later controversies surrounded this creed and would eventually create rifts which exist to this day, its earliest forms where accepted by the church in the east and the west.
The NAE Statement of faith is, we believe, entirely consistent with both the doctrine and the spirit of Nicaea. It situates us broadly within the evangelical stream of Protestantism, without specifically identifying with any one branch alone.
The Lausanne Covenant reflects the global nature of Christianity, stating:
We are deeply stirred by what God is doing in our day, moved to penitence by our failures and challenged by the unfinished task of evangelization. We believe the gospel is God’s good news for the whole world, and we are determined by his grace to obey Christ’s commission to proclaim it to all mankind and to make disciples of every nation.
We believe that there is much to be learned from our brothers and sisters across theological commitments and denominations, nationalities and traditions. In all things we seek to be faithful to Christ.
We are Americans. American Christianity is where we found Jesus, and has been the major shaping force in our lives, but we recognize that it is only a part of the “one holy catholic and apostolic church” as stated in Nicaea. We have been influenced by, learned from, have been ministered to and have ourselves ministered to churches spanning the globe: from Canada to India, Uganda to Liberia, Russia to Australia, The Philippines to the UK and beyond.
Jesus has one church. It includes every tongue, tribe and nation, spanning the entire globe. From the ministry of Jesus until his return, the Church includes those who have gone before and those who will come after. It means “catholic” in the truest sense of the word–universal.
“Engaged” means more than acknowledgment. It means recognizing true fellowship and oneness even when we are different. It means that we recognize the need to learn across time and culture. We believe that we must read and gain insights from the early Church Fathers and from contemporary believers around the world. We must hear from and value the passion of the young and the wisdom of our elders.
We recognize that for a variety of reasons, some understandable and some shameful, that the American Church we love has often solely viewed our role as leading the global church, often in paternalistic ways. We are seeking to better understand our brothers and sisters across the globe, to learn from them as well as to teach, and to share their stories as best we can.
Our Confession of Faith and our Guiding Principles are worked out in several values which make Apollos Watered Unique. They are:
We believe that looking at Jesus is seeing God’s heart. He is our savior and Lord, our teacher and example. He is the very source of our lives. Being a Christian means dying to self and living to Christ. We believe that as we look more and more like him we become who we were meant to be and we draw others to him as well. When Christianity ceases to be about Jesus, when it becomes merely a set of dogmas or a list of rules, it withers and dies, creating a rotting stench that drives the world away.
Jesus is our King. We owe our primary allegiance to him. All identities: ethnic, national, religious, gender, age, socioeconomic status, or any other must come under his lordship. We seek to honor him and to live out his teachings in all that we do.
Celebrating Our Diverse Unity
We live in a global world and are part of the global body of Christ. We want to celebrate the wondrous variety that God has created. We want to celebrate his redeeming work with our brothers and sisters around the world and in our backyard. We are committed to exploring and understanding God’s grace to us all around the globe. We believe that by exposing what God is doing in the Church around the world, we do more than understand. We strengthen the global church by celebrating and lifting one another up in the love of Christ.
God has called us to make the deep things of God available and understandable to everyday people. Too often the Church creates artificial divisions between the clergy, academy, and everyday laypeople. This is a tragedy. Christianity is a faith born primarily among everyday people in Galilee and Judea, and spread primarily to everyday people across the Roman world. At the same time, Church leaders often give too little credit and expect too little of everyday people. Part of shepherding people well is stretching their faith, helping them to see and understand more than they imagined they could. Caring for the flock means helping them to develop a thirst for the deep things of God.
A Learning Spirit
We want to cultivate a spirit that constantly seeks to know God more. We never want to stop learning from the Scriptures, from those who came before us, and from those around the world who are seeking to follow Jesus. We believe that we have only just begun to see what God is doing and we want to know more. We believe, as Arthur Holmes famously said, “all truth is God’s truth,” and we want to know it better and deeper today than we did yesterday.
We believe that boldness and humility go hand in glove. Jesus was both and we seek to be like him. Bold does not mean brash or uncaring. Humility does not mean weak or lacking a backbone. In the dry and parched reality that is 21st century culture from the great cities of the world to the smallest hamlets, it is crucial that we emulate Jesus as we offer living water to the thirsty. We must engage our cultures boldly in the confidence that Jesus has overcome the world. We must also engage our cultures in a spirit of humility not arrogance, learning to engage confidently but appropriately so that if there is a stumbling block to our message, it will be Jesus himself and not us.
Too often we are stunted in our faith and our effectiveness as the Church of Jesus Christ because we have become insulated against those who are different from us. We are committed to fostering connections with believers across the street and across the world, in our backyards and across our borders. We know that connections like these can be intimidating, uncomfortable and awkward, but together we are the Body of Christ. We want to cross these often-difficult boundaries and barriers because we believe that we are stronger together. Apollos Watered is committed to presenting the stories of the Church of Jesus Christ around the world in order to foster understanding, build one another’s faith, help build the Kingdom and above all to give God glory.