Denominational Statements of Belief or Faith
While most Christian denominations accept the basic beliefs outlined on the right, most have their own 'statements of belief' or 'statements of faith' which include much more detail and much more than the 'basics.' And although there is a great deal of overlap there are also differences - why else would we have different denominations? That said, when I read these statements from various denominations, I am comforted by the fact that we have far, far more in common than we have in disagreement.
Here are some links to the belief statements for various denominations:
A Brief Statement of Faith - from the Presbyterian Church - USA.
The Church of the Nazarene has a nice, brief Agreed Statement of Belief.
How about Hillsong? What We Believe.
The United Methodists have a number of foundational documents, but here is their Confession of Faith.
Here are the Episcopal Church Core Beliefs and Doctrines.
I'm not sure where to go with the Catholic Church - the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a bit long. Catholics, if there is something a little more succinct, please let me know.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has its Confession of Faith.
Here is What We Believe from the United Church of Christ. Note that the UCC, which is noted for its left-wing advocacy, still adheres to basics in its statement.
Our Beliefs from the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
(I'll be adding more - send yours in if I've missed it)
It isn't just denominations that have statements. Individual churches do as well other Christian organizations.
Here is the Doctrinal Statement from my old church.
Here is What We Believe from Saddleback Church.
New Life Church of Colorado Springs settles for the Nicene Creed although they elaborate a bit in What We Believe.
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has its own Statement of Faith.
(there has been no effort to be all-inclusive it the above listings!)
Note: A denomination, organization or individual church may have a statement of faith or belief. That does not mean they actually adhere to it. Or that on some issues (say SSM) their statement could be interpreted as being at odds with their current position.
More to Come
Christianity - Basic Beliefs
Just over 70% of Americans consider themselves to be Christian. Another 16% 'nothing in particular,' some of whom consider themselves 'casual' or 'cultural Christians.' That is, they consider themselves 'Christian' but do not attend church or associate with any particular denomination. Based on these statistics alone, one could consider the United States to be a 'Christian' nation.
But what does it mean to be a Christian? Are well over 70% of Americans really Christian? If someone self-identifies as a Christian, does that make them a Christian?
I will attempt to cover that bare essentials of Christian doctrine. I believe that all genuine Christian denominations accept these, which is why Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, for example, cannot be considered Christian.
But first, a definition of 'salvation' is in order. What do Christians mean when they speak of being 'saved?' Christians believe that we are all sinners and hence are deserving of a holy God's wrath rather than mercy. But Jesus Christ, though his sacrifice on the cross, paid the price for our sin. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we are 'saved' from God's wrath and delivered from the consequences of our sin and gain eternal life in Heaven. Note that being saved does not mean that we become sin-free or that we are free to sin.
5 Key or Essential Doctrines of Christianity
The Deity of Christ. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, wholly God and wholly man; conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. If you believe that Jesus was a great moral teacher, but just a man, you are not a Christian.
Salvation is by grace alone. The Bible is clear that you cannot earn your way into heaven, but are saved only by the grace of God, though faith in Jesus Christ. Your faith may lead you to do good works, but such works, in and of themselves, can never earn salvation for you.
Jesus was resurrected from the dead. As Paul made clear (1 Cor. 15:14) "And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."
Monotheism - there is only one God. As Christians, we see that God in three persons - the Trinity. Father, Son and Holy Spirit: they are distinct yet are one, existing in perfect harmony.
Scripture. The Bible is the inspired Word of God.
The 5 Solas
The 5 Solas (sola being Latin for alone) came out of various writings from the Protestant Reformation are are similar to the above 5 doctrines.
Sola Fide, by faith alone.
Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone.
Solus Christus, through Christ alone.
Sola Gratia, by grace alone.
Soli Deo Gloria, glory to God alone.
A creed is a statement of belief. The three creeds below are efforts by the early church to summarize what Christians believed. Whether or not one believes that the creeds have 'authority,' they do provide good summaries of Christian beliefs.
Note: 'catholic' as it is used in the creeds does not refer to the Roman Catholic Church, but rather to the whole or all encompasing church - that is, the entire body of believers.
The Apostle's Creed
(So named because of the legend that each of the twelve apostles contributed to it. Given that there are many English variations, I am taking the liberty of including that which I memorized as a child.)
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth;
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and was buried; he descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he will come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.
(Was originally formulated at the Council of Nicea in 325 and amended in 381 at the first council of Constantinople.)
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.
Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.
And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.
The Athanasian Creed
(The Althanasian Creed in not as well known today as the Apostles Creed and Nicene Creed, but makes a firm and clear statement on the Trinity. Although often credited to Athanasius of Alexandria, the source of this creed is subject to debate. It was clearly in use by the late 5th or early 6th century.)
Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.
And the catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one: the glory equal, the majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three Eternals, but one Eternal. As there are not three Uncreated nor three Incomprehensibles, but one Uncreated and one Incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Ghost almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties, but one Almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords, but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be God and Lord, So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say, There be three Gods, or three Lords.
The Father is made of none: neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son: neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is before or after other; none is greater or less than another; But the whole three Persons are coeternal together, and coequal: so that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshiped. He, therefore, that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.
Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe faithfully the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right faith is, that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God of the Substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and Man of the substance of His mother, born in the world; Perfect God and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood; Who, although He be God and Man, yet He is not two, but one Christ: One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking the manhood into God; One altogether; not by confusion of Substance, but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead; He ascended into heaven; He sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty; from whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies, and shall give an account of their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire.
This is the catholic faith; which except a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.