While our Statement of Faith includes doctrines that are recognized to be universal and primary within the Church, there are several secondary beliefs debated among Bible-believing, gospel-centered churches that we are passionate to proclaim. Not all Christians hold these beliefs to the same degree or with the same conviction, even within our congregation. Nevertheless, they are important and true as we understand the Scriptures. These theological distinctives will inform the preaching, teaching, and other ministries of the pastors of ECC, though total agreement with them is not required for membership.
For more information on these subjects, check out our Recommended Reading List
Baptist Covenant Theology
We teach that God’s redemptive plan and dealings with mankind throughout history are based on the covenants he sovereignly and graciously established. Baptist Covenant Theology, as found in the 1689 London Baptist Confession, is the interpretive framework we believe most accurately explains the whole of Scripture and the relationship between the Old and New Testaments. It impacts our understanding of God and his gospel, Israel and the Church, the ordinances, the end times, and more. This approach to Scripture differs from both Dispensationalism and Presbyterian Covenant Theology found in the Westminster Confession. It developed as a result of the magisterial Reformation, but is rooted in the earliest days of catholic Christianity and historically appreciated in all the various branches of the Reformed community (Baptist, Presbyterian, Congregationalist, Independent, Anglican, and Reformed).
The Doctrines of Grace
We teach, as understood from the consistent testimony of the Scriptures, that salvation, from beginning to end, is solely the work of our triune God. The unmerited favor that God grants to radically corrupt sinners is entirely of His sovereign grace and according to his eternal purposes to the praise of his glory alone. Therefore, we believe that God is decisively responsible for drawing those He would save unto Himself, overcoming their natural resistance to the gospel, sanctifying them, and sustaining them to the end. We affirm the doctrines of total depravity, sovereign election, definite atonement, effectual call, and preserving grace. Yet, we also believe that God’s omnipotent grace serves as the foundation of, and fuel for, the believer’s holiness, prayer, perseverance, and evangelism. In other words, we humbly embrace the mysterious tension between God’s sovereignty and our responsibility (Deut. 7:6-8; John 1:12-13; 3:19-21; 6:35-44; 10:7-16, 25-30; 17:1-26; Acts 2:23; 13:48; Rom. 8:7-8; 8:28-9:23; 11:36; 1 Cor. 1:8-9; 2 Cor. 4:4-6; Eph. 1:3-14; 2:1-10; Php. 1:6; 2:12; 1 Thess. 5:23-24; 2 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 1:9-10; 2:19, 25; 1 Pet. 1:3-5).
The Gifts of the Spirit
We teach that, while the gifts of the Holy Spirit are still distributed to the church for its edification according to God’s sovereign prerogative, there are no more Apostles today (1 Cor 15:8; Eph 2:20; cf. Acts 1:20-26). Therefore, the signs of a true Apostle (2 Cor. 12:12) do not occur as they did in the first century church, before the canon of Scripture was completed. We believe the “sign” gifts of tongues (speaking in unknown lexical languages), healings, prophecy, and the working of miracles do not function in the same manner as they did in the early church (i.e., to confirm the word of God and lay the foundation of the church) and are no longer normative for the church today. All we need to know for salvation and sanctification has been given to us through the teaching of God’s apostles and prophets, and this teaching is now found in the Scriptures (Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Cor. 12:11, 28-31; 14:1; 15:8; 2 Cor. 12:12; Eph. 2:20; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; Heb. 1:1-3; 2:1-4; Jude 3).
We teach that men and women, while absolutely equal in essence, dignity, and value as they together bear the image of God, are nevertheless different by divine design. As part of God’s good created order, men and women are to have different, important, strategic, yet complementary roles in the home, church, and society. We affirm that the teaching office of the Church is assigned only to biblically qualified men (Elders), grounded in creation, fall, and redemption, and must not be sidelined by appeals to cultural developments. These role distinctions are God’s gracious gift to man and woman and are to be protected, preserved and practiced for His glory and our joy (1 Cor. 11:2-16; 14:33-35; Eph. 5:22-33; Col. 3:18-19; 1 Tim. 2:8-15; 1 Pet. 3:1-7). For more information, see the Danvers Statement, the 9Marks Journal on Complementarianism, and our article, Why We Are a Complementarian Church
The Kingdom of God
We teach that, through death and resurrection of Jesus, the kingdom of God has broken into this present age though it is not yet fully realized. Jesus is reigning now (Ps. 2; 110:1-2) and will accomplish his purpose on earth as it is in heaven through his church, which is the sign of his kingdom. While the gospel is the good news of forgiveness, deliverance, and eternal life, it is fundamentally the announcement that God reigns as king through the sacrifice and exaltation of Jesus, and that God intends to make the kingdoms of this world the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ (Rev. 11:15). We teach that the church is the present form of the future new Jerusalem (Gal. 4:26; Heb. 12:22), the bridal-city of God that exists even now among the cities of men (Rev. 21:9-22:5), that will be perfected in the new heavens and earth (Rev. 21:1-8). The church is the city that brings life and healing to the nations through the preaching of the word, its worship, and the faithful witness of its members to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. By the Spirit, every true church is to be a small Eden—a community of righteousness and peace in an unrighteous and fractured world, a foretaste of the new creation, where the comfort of the triune God is known and joyful songs of thanksgiving are found (Isa. 32:14-17; 51:3). For these reasons, we believe that what happens in the liturgy is more vital to the future of the world than anything else, and that while we are called to be faithful citizens of earthly nations, we are first and foremost citizens of heaven (Eph. 2:19-22; 3:6-10; Phil. 3:20-21; Heb. 11:8-10, 13-16; 12:22-24; 1 Pet. 2:9-17).