STARTING WITH THE SCRIPTURES
The Presbyterian Church of Victoria, in accordance with the Presbyterian Church of Australia, is committed to the primacy of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the rule of our faith and of our practice. We believe the Bible to be both inerrant in the original autographs and infallible in the teachings it contains for our world and life views. Our understanding of Scripture is governed by grammar, historical setting and its overall theology – always allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture. While taking into account that the Bible is made up of narrative and history, poetry and song, wisdom and writings; all of which are meant to reveal the history of the redemption of man by a holy God who accomplished such a great Salvation through the sacrifice of His son, Jesus Christ. The Christ is the focus of all of history and His revelation is unveiled in the Scriptures. This is most carefully laid out in the first chapter of the Westminster Confession of Faith (see below) along with the many Scripture verses that attest to the truth of this revelation with God as its author.
Translations of the Bible into English and other languages are many and varied. Individual congregations of our denomination decide for themselves which version to use in the course of their public worship, usually through the elders of the Church Session.
THE WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH
This famous document expresses the doctrine of the Christian faith and that which is revealed in Scripture in a very clear and concise way.
It comes from a group of men known as the Westminster Divines in England who presented their final edition in 1647 A.D. The Westminster Confession of Faith gives us the system of doctrines contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. While the Bible is the supreme standard of our faith in the Presbyterian Church of Victoria, we understand and adhere to the Westminster Confession of Faith as subordinate, and read in light of the Declaratory Statement adopted by the Presbyterian Church of Australia in 1901. You can download a copy of the Westminster Confession of Faith here.
THE BASICS OF CHRISTIANITY
The Presbyterian Church of Victoria is committed to the ancient heritage of true-to-the-Bible theology. We believe in the authority, sufficiency and necessity of God’s revealed Word, the Bible, for all of life. We earnestly strive to follow Christ and His apostles. We believe that the best human expression of Scriptural doctrines is found in the Westminster Confession of Faith.
- We believe that salvation comes by God drawing people to the Lord Jesus Christ by his Holy Spirit. He convinces them of their sin and enlightens them so that they repent of their sins and trust in Jesus Christ as He is offered in the Gospel.
- We believe in the Trinity of the Godhead. There is one God who exists eternally in three Persons–the Father who saves people by drawing them to his Son through the Holy Spirit. These three are one in power and glory.
- We believe in the full divinity and the full humanity of Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God. He is the fullest and final revelation of God to mankind.
- We believe that Jesus Christ, as the eternal Son of God, became man, lived, died and rose again to atone for the sins of those who trust Him alone for their salvation. Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and mankind.
- We believe that the Bible is the written Word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit and without error in the original manuscripts. The Bible is our infallible and divine authority in all matters of faith and life.
- We believe that God’s Holy Spirit gives Christians, as they rely on Him, the daily strength and wisdom they need to walk according to His will and to grow in holiness.
- We believe that all people are sinners and are unable to save themselves or even co-operate with God in efforts to earn their salvation.
- We believe that Jesus Christ shall return personally, visibly and bodily to judge all mankind and to receive His people unto Himself.
Additionally, we believe the following regarding the application of the above doctrine into our present culture:
- We believe it to be biblical that we take the teachings of Jesus to wherever people are and not just expecting them to come to us.
- Worshipping together in larger groups is desirable and expected because Jesus established local congregations in which Christians are to flourish spiritually and worship God together.
- We believe we have a responsibility for the welfare of the poor and disadvantaged around us, welcoming the stranger, refugee and alien within our midst; and tending to the needs of our local community both spiritual and physical.
- We believe in a complementarian approach with regard to the role of women in ministry within the church and in the home. Complementarianism is the viewpoint that God restricts women from serving in church leadership roles and instead calls women to serve in equally important, but complementary roles. The Presbyterian Church emphasizes that a difference in role does not equate to a difference in quality, importance, or value. Men and women are equally valued in God’s sight and plan. Women are not inferior to men. Rather, God assigns different roles to men and women in the church and the home because that is how he designed us to function.
- We understand that God takes our sins seriously and has given voice to the concept of sin and its specifics. We do not allow our surrounding culture to dictate what is or is not a sin. Among the more pervasive sins within our world today are the sins of gossip, slander, drunkeness, greed, self-centredness, addictions to anything, sexual permissiveness as well as homosexuality. Sin in all of its forms and manifestations is to be recognised, confessed and repented of in full reliance on God’s Holy Spirit to keep ourselves pure and holy.
- Knowing that all people sin, we do not exclude anyone from our fellowship who genuinely seeks or embraces the saving grace of Jesus Christ. We recognise that some people are just starting their spiritual walk with God and are not at the same levels as those who are more mature in Christ. Thus, patience, love and forebearance are marks of the church in our dealing with one another in Christ Jesus. Since all Christian churches are made up of sinners who are saved by grace, there is no one “more righteous” than another. All Christians are equal in Christ Jesus, and therefore should relate to one another with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Love of others is the mark of Jesus and of the Church which He heads. As such, all who seek relief from their sins through Christ Jesus are welcome in our churches, no matter their background or past.