Statement of Belief
The Statement of Belief of the Netherlands Reformed Congregation at Norwich is as follows.
1. We believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament (the “Bible”), in the translation of the Authorized King James version or the Dutch Statenvertaling, to be the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice.
2. We believe the creeds of the early Apostolic Church namely, (a) the Apostles Creed, (b) the Nicene Creed, and (c) the Athanasian Creed. These creeds are an excellent summary of the catholic undoubted Christian faith.
3. We believe that the Three Forms of Unity and the doctrinal truths therein explained are undoubted, being a sound explanation of God’s Word. We subscribe to the Three Forms of Unity established at the Synod of Dordt in 1618/1619; The Three Forms of Unity are the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession of Faith and the Canons of Dordt:
(a) The Belgic Confession of Faith was written as a detailed creed in 1561 to prove to the persecutors of the Reformation that the adherents of the Reformed faith were not rebels as was charged, but law-abiding citizens who professed only biblical doctrines. The author, Guido de Bres, was martyred for writing the confession, but not before it was copied down. Its 37 articles still provide a timeless account of what we believe today.
(b) The Heidelberg Catechism is a series of questions and answers that were developed early into the Reformation (1563) in Heidelberg, Germany, to teach adults and children the principal doctrines of the Reformation in the line of the Apostolic Church. Under the mandate of Fredrick the III of Saxony, Germany, Zacharius Ursinus and Caspar Olevianus wrote the Heidelberg Catechism, to provide a simple and easy to memorize method explaining the doctrines of free and sovereign grace and the way of salvation through Christ as experienced by all His people. It is written to be used to instruct the people of his electorate and afterwards was translated into many languages and is still used worldwide today. All questions and answers in our English translation of this catechism are supported by biblical references as found in the Authorized King James version.
(c) The historic document, the Canons of Dordt, was written and sanctioned in 1618 and 1619, by a council of the highly esteemed Synod of Dordt, in response to non-biblical interpretations that were being promoted by many reformed churches in the early 1600s. Although the Synod of Dordt (held in Dordrecht, The Netherlands) was a national synod of the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands, it had an international character, since it was composed not only of sixty-two Dutch delegates, but also of twenty-seven foreign delegates representing eight European countries (including for instance England, France and Germany). The “synod” of ministers and professors of theology was called to examine what God’s Word teaches on the various issues. Their findings were compiled into canons and are very relevant today, given the continued prevalence of the various errors.
4. We believe that the Shorter and Longer Westminster Catechisms handed down from the English Reformation and written by the famous Westminster Assembly of divines (1643-1649), further support the three forms of unity.
5. We believe the five points of Calvinism as briefly summarized below and also known as the acronym TULIP.
(a) Man’s Total depravity: after our willful disobedience and fall in Paradise, we are born in sin and are spiritually dead. We cannot do anything anymore that can please God and have in ourselves no ability to ever be reconciled with our Creator. If there had not been a way opened from God’s side we all would go eternally lost and that righteously. Only God can make us from spiritually dead alive.
(b) God’s Unconditional election: God has elected a people from eternity, not because of a foreseen faith or good works in man, but in His sovereign good pleasure. Those He has elected He will, at His appointed time, bring to conversion, justify, sanctify and glorify them. Salvation is a Divine work without any contribution by man. Election is an act of God’s sovereign predestination, which includes reprobation.
(c) God’s Limited atonement: although Christ’s blood shed on Golgotha is sufficient to save the entire human race, His blood has only been shed to redeem His people that are given Him by His Father.
(d) God’s Irresistible grace: God, through the work of the Holy Spirit calls His people irresistibly. A person may try to resist this calling but will fall on God’s side at His time.
(e) Perseverance of the saints: God preserves His people in grace. Although His people may fall into sin, God will bring them to repentance and ultimately to glory, at His time. Jesus speaks of none being able to pluck His people out of His Father’s hands.
6. We believe the five Solae of the Reformation:
(a) Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone): the Bible, the inspired Word of God, is the final authority in all matters of doctrine and practice. The creeds, confession, and catechisms are all upheld because they agree with, and further explain scripture but the Bible alone is the ultimate authority (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:19-21).
(b) Sola Fide (Faith Alone): the sinner is saved by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ, not in any precondition or anything done of themselves. The just shall live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4, John 3:18,36, Romans 1:17).
(c) Sola Gratia (Grace Alone): grace implies that all benefits to God’s people have come and do come as gifts from God. They are merited nor earned but are freely given (Romans 3:24, Ephesians 2:5,8).
(d) Solus Christus (Christ Alone): only Christ’s sacrifice on the cross of Calvary has any merit or value with God the Father. Our efforts before and after our salvation add no merit (John 14:6, Acts 4:12).
(e) Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone): God’s purpose in all His Work is to glorify and honour His Name. Everything in life and all the happenings in the world, as they occur in His Providence, will work out to the glory of God alone (Revelation 4:11, 7:12).
7. We also believe in the following:
(a) We acknowledge the absolute authority of God’s Word in all areas of life, including but not limited to the examples below (b-h).
(b) God wonderfully and immutably creates each person as male or female. These two distinct, complementary genders together reflect the image and nature of God (Genesis 1:26-27, Matthew 19:4, Mark 10:6). We believe that rejection of one’s biological sex and the attempt to alter one’s gender is a rejection of the image of God within that person; God disapproves of and forbids any attempt to alter one’s gender by surgery or appearance.
(c) The term “marriage” has only one meaning; the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:5-6, Mark 10:7-9). We believe that God intends sexual intimacy to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other (1 Corinthians 6:18 and 7:2-5; Hebrews 13:4). We believe that God has commanded that there should be no intimate sexual activity, outside of a biblical marriage between a man and a woman.
(d) Any form of sexual immorality (including but not limited to homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality, bestiality, incest, fornication, adultery and use of pornography) is sinful and offensive to God (Leviticus 18, Romans 1:24-29, Romans 7:1-3, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, 7:10-11).
(e) All human life is sacred and created by God in His image. Human life is of inestimable value, including pre-born babies, the aged, the physically or mentally challenged, and every other stage or condition from conception through to natural death. We are therefore called to defend, protect, and value all human life including the pre-born and the aged (Psalm 139:13-16).
(f) Christian holidays (Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, Ascension etc.) must be celebrated in a Christian manner for their religious significance as practiced in the Reformed tradition.
(g) Men and women are to dress modestly and in accordance with their biological sex (Deuteronomy 22:5).
(h) Office bearers shall only be males (1 Corinthians 14:34 and 1 Timothy 2:11-15).