We here at Grace have what you could call a specific “theological heritage.” We’ll try to explain what we’ve inherited by highlighting various words and associated documents from history.
The first word is biblical. Grace is biblical. And the document behind this is the Bible. The Bible was completed in the first century AD and represents God and the truths about and events of salvation recorded in its pages. This document directly influences everything we believe and do at Grace. If you ask us why about anything, ultimately the answer will be because of something in the Bible.
The second word is orthodox. The document to highlight is actually a group of documents produced in the 4th -8th centuries by four or seven councils (such as the Nicene Creed). These councils were gatherings of Christian leaders who represented the global church at the time, every Christian was represented at these meetings. And they produced documents recognizing what is called orthodoxy, orthodoxy. Orthodoxy is what must be believed if someone is to be saved, more or less. If you reject orthodoxy, called heresy, and know what you are rejecting, then you cannot be saved. For example, Arianism taught that Jesus was not God. Arianism was declared heresy in 325 by the Council of Nicea, from which we get our Nicene Creed. Grace is an orthodox church which we show through sharing the gospel of Jesus and sometimes reciting a creed such as the Nicene Creed.
The third word is reformed. And this doesn’t have any single document, although I will give one in a moment, but a single rally point. This rally point is called the five solas. Regarding salvation, the five solas stated that the Bible is the sole authority of salvation, not the Bible and the church; Jesus is the sole accomplisher of salvation, not Jesus and works; Saved people receive salvation through faith alone, not faith and works; Jesus gives salvation by grace alone, not grace plus merit; and God gets all the credit for our salvation. These are the fives solas that delineate what it means to be Reformed. Behind the word reformed is the word protestant. To be Reformed is to be a protestant particularly influenced by John Calvin and the subsequent Canons of Dort.
The document I promised is called the Westminster Confession of Faith, which was written in the 1640s (in the building pictured above!) to give a detailed description of what we believe concerning the Bible, God, salvation, and the church. It is this where we will point you if you have questions about the Lord’s Supper or baptism. Or if you have questions about how to be saved, or what you should do after you’re saved.
The fourth word is Presbyterian. And the document I could point you to is the Book of Church Order of our denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America. To be presbyterian means quite a bit, actually, but practically it means that the church does not have just one leader overlooking it spiritually. There are many elders within the local church, and in other churches who care about that church. This means that the pastor has a pastor himself. He has accountability and shepherding. Church unity and missional synergy are both made easy when in a denomination like the PCA.
What about the tulip in the logo? Is Grace Dutch?
No and yes and yes:
No, we are not ethnically Dutch. Many people in our church have no Dutch ancestors.
Yes, we are ministering to our area, which identifies as Dutch. Grace is located in Orange City, one of the most Dutch cities in North America.
Yes, our reformed heritage is largely Dutch. Here are two Dutch connections our theology has:
- First are Dutch documents such as the Canons of Dort. The Westminster Confession of Faith is an heir of the Canons of Dort. It would not be the same if Dort had not met before the Westminster Assembly. We at Grace are Calvinists in large part due to the impressive work in the Canons of Dort.
- Second is a handful of Dutch theologians, and I could actually name more than a handful. Louis Berkhoff, Herman Bavinck, Abraham Kuyper, G. C. Berkouwer, Herman Ridderbos, and Cornelius Van Til are all Dutch Reformed theologians that Grace and many pastors and churches in the PCA are unquestionably indebted to.