The shortest version of my Statement of Faith appears in Martin Luther’s rallying cry, “Sola Fide – Sola Gratia – Sola Scriptura – Soli Deo Gloria”:
- Sola Fide (“Faith Alone”) – We are saved by faith [in Jesus Christ] alone, which is both necessary and sufficient for salvation.
- Sola Gratia (“Grace Alone”) – We are saved by God’s grace alone, and cannot earn salvation through good “works” or deeds.
- Sola Scriptura (“Scripture Alone”) – Scripture, in the form of the 66 books of the Old and New Testament, is our only accurate source of truth about God, beyond the proofs in nature that He exists. This means tradition (as in the Catholic and Orthodox churches) and later “revelations” (such as the Qur’an or the Book of Mormon) are not to be considered sources of Truth.
- Soli Deo Gloria (“To God Only Be the Glory”) – Though not technically part of Luther’s core principles, this means that God alone deserves the glory for all that is, whether the miracle of salvation or the moment-to-moment breath which keeps us alive. We can accomplish nothing without His grace, so we should give Him all due praise.
A more complex and even more traditional Statement of Faith to which I subscribe is the Apostle’s Creed, dating to the late first or early second century:
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell.
The third day He arose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,
whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.
Various phrases in this text have caused a great deal of controversy, but I will merely comment on two. The first and most obvious is the use of the word “catholic,” which simply means “universal.” Indeed, the Creed dates from well before the foundation of what we call the “Catholic Church.” The “catholic” here simply means “worldwide and eternal.” Secondly, “He descended into hell” does not mean that Christ was damned eternally, nor that he paid a “ransom to Satan” (proposed originally by Origen, but showing a misunderstanding of the natures of God and of Satan), nor does it merely refer to physical death. Rather, it goes further and addresses Christ’s spiritual separation from God the Father for the three days between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, for if Christ had only died physically, this would not have fully atoned for our sins, since our penalty also included this spiritual separation. For more on this, see Calvin’s treatment, which is excellent.
If you are looking for my opinions on controversial issues, you’ll have to e-mail me your flames and questions if you want to hear more.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact me! I love a good discussion on the Word of God and its meaning in our lives.