Convictions

Practical issues that we've chosen to take positions on out of our conviction that Scripture gives clear guidance to each.

Christ & Culture

From the beginning, humanity has been called to be culture makers: to subdue and have dominion over the rest of creation. When sin entered the creation, the society-building project did not end; it simply changed directions. Instead of building a world meant to glorify the Father, sinful humans sought to glorify themselves. All societies have elements of good, as fallen humans are still in God’s image, but nonetheless are fundamentally rebellious from the heart.

Jesus’ reign is absolute and universal; every single part of creation is accountable to Jesus as Lord. Jesus, in both his miracles and his teaching, pushed back the effects of the curse on individuals, societal structures, and the natural world. Now, by his Spirit, he continues his comprehensive and redemptive work on earth; participation in the Way of Jesus cannot be contained to the private realm but implicates every arena of public life as well. Though all things will not be renewed until the final and triumphant return of Jesus, in the meantime, love requires that we seek the flourishing of our neighbors, societies, and cultures.

Rather than secluding ourselves from the world, love takes the first step as we move towards our neighbors with sobriety. We engage our world with both conviction and civility, soft hearts and steel spines because pluralism, systemic idolatry, and brokenness are our present realities. Though ultimate failure is the norm until Christ’s second coming, the Spirit sometimes blesses our obedient efforts.

We are called to love our neighbors with conviction and civility.

The Poor & The Overlooked

God’s prioritization of the poor and overlooked is a theme on display throughout the biblical story. In the Exodus, God’s foundational act of salvation, he saves an enslaved people from the sins of their oppressors. In the Law, he repeatedly calls his people to pay significant attention—both personally and politically—to what theologians have called the “Quartet of the Vulnerable”: widows, orphans, sojourners, and the poor. In the Prophets, he gives warning and rebuke to those who have oppressed the vulnerable or turned a blind eye to the plight of those in need. In the Wisdom literature, he gives insight regarding the complicated nature of both wealth and poverty. In the Epistles, he repeatedly calls his Church to care for the last, the least, and the lost.

In his infinite wisdom the triune God decided that Jesus would take on flesh into a community that was a religious and ethnic minority, into citizenship in a low-influence city, and conceived by unplanned pregnancy into a powerless, sojourning, low-income family. For this reason, among others, Jesus equates kindness to the poor and overlooked with kindness to him.

In the Gospels, to be in proximity to Jesus was to be in proximity to the poor and powerless. In his public ministry, he heals the sick, cares for the poor, feeds the hungry, and ministers to the suffering. Jesus regularly shares meals and spends time with those considered outcasts. Rather than clamor for fame or influence with those in the seats of power, the Savior is content in the company of fisherman and tax- collectors, servants and widows. Jesus does not overlook the people whom society overlooks. There are no God-forsaken people or places.

Jesus’ coming kingdom will bring about the ultimate restoration of creation from every dimension of sin’s curse: spiritual and psychological, bodily and ecological, economic and socio-political. As the Church, we are called to embody Christ’s kingdom today: through concrete acts of compassion, tangible ministries of mercy, and prophetic witnesses of justice. These serve as a sign and foretaste of the kingdom that, upon King Jesus’ return, he will bring in fullness.

God’s people are called to love the last, the least, and the lost.

Church Discipline

The bride of Christ is not nor has it ever been perfectly faithful; she has been shamefully complicit in society’s sin and has thereby harmed people, her witness, and the name of Jesus.

For this reason we commit to the practice of Church Discipline. The informal process of church discipline happens any time a believer confronts another believer about his or her sin and encourages repentance. The formal process of church discipline typically begins when the individual in sin is unwilling to repent over an extended period of time. Thus, most formal church discipline is not as much about the sin as it is about the hard-hearted unwillingness to repent of sin. The process of church discipline concludes when the believer either repents or is formally removed by the elders from participating in the church. Additionally, those who intentionally stir up divisions in the church should be disciplined with greater swiftness.

The leaders of the church are not exempt from this process. For this reason, we emphasize plurality at every level of our organization. Leaders of the church are to be disciplined with an even greater swiftness and publicity, as sin in leadership severely harms the local church.

Church discipline is the process of confronting sin to achieve repentance and restoration.

Ordinances

We believe that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordained by the Lord Jesus himself. The former is connected with entrance into the new covenant community, the latter with ongoing covenant renewal. Together they are simultaneously God’s pledge to us, divinely ordained means of grace, our public vows of submission to the once crucified and now resurrected Christ, and anticipations of his return and of the consummation of all things.

We practice “believer’s baptism,” meaning that baptism is appropriately administered by full immersion and only to those who give a thoughtful profession of faith in Jesus Christ. We believe that baptism should come after faith in Jesus rather than before. For this reason, we will not baptize infants or small children that are unable to make a thoughtful profession of faith. We understand that some within our church family may have different convictions about the value of infant baptism. Therefore, we will not necessarily exclude from membership those who do not agree with our position on baptism and refuse to be baptized as believers, though we do expect that they have a theologically defensible reason for holding to infant baptism and that they will not allow this non-essential issue to cause division.

We believe there are two ordinances: baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

Divorce & Remarriage

Jesus affirms marriage as a divinely ordained institution, grounded in the structure of creation, and commands regarding the sacred nature of its union, “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:6). Yet Jesus and the New Testament also recognize circumstances in which divorce may be permissible. While divorce is always a result of sin (whether from one spouse or another), it is not always sinful.

Biblically, divorce is permitted, but not required, on the grounds of sexual immorality (porneia) or abandonment. We believe physical, sexual, and other types of abuse may be considered a form of abandonment. Stopping abuse may require separation and may lead to divorce. Marriage reconciliation can be the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s work, but it may not always be wise, possible or biblically commanded.
Does the Bible allow for remarriage following a divorce? Paul answers this question in 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, saying that in cases of unbiblical divorce the individual should either remain unmarried or pursue reconciliation. If the divorce was biblical, remarriage is permissible. Every situation is unique. Therefore, we would recommend that those who are concerned about their situation meet with a pastor to receive personal care and biblical direction.

Finally, our convictions about divorce and remarriage lead us to a few important applications as a church. In order to preserve healthy marriages, we will require pre-marital counseling as a prerequisite to being married by a Redemption Church pastor, we will offer counseling and equipping to help strengthen marriages, and we will initiate church discipline on individuals or couples who are pursuing an unbiblical divorce.

Divorce is always a tragedy, but is sometimes permitted because of adultery, abandonment, or abuse.

The Body, Sex & Gender Identity

Our bodies are sacred. We are not just persons who have bodies; we are bodies. Body and soul share an integral union, mutually integral to our personhood: we are embodied souls, and ensouled bodies.

The body’s sexed nature, as male or female, is not only significant but bound up with our creation in the image of God. Jesus reaffirms the diversity of the sexes as ethically significant and grounded in the structure of creation. Jesus also recognizes the exception of those “born eunuchs” (which is analogous, if not equivalent, to intersex conditions) while simultaneously affirming the male/female binary as normative for creation. Christ’s incarnation and resurrection affirm the body’s foundational significance.

Followers of Jesus ought to identify in accordance with our bodily sex, not present ourselves in ways that will intentionally introduce confusion as to our identity as male or female, and not seek to alter our body’s sex through hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery.

We recognize some of our members are born with an intersex condition (a biological reality) and others experience gender dysphoria (a psychological reality): both of these are real and can be painful. If this is you, you are loved by God, created with dignity, value, and worth, and an invaluable part of God’s world and church. We want to walk with you, love you, and serve Jesus together, as a church family where there are no “second-class citizens,” only image-bearers who are members of Christ’s body.

While our conviction is that gender should be understood within (rather than in addition to) one’s biological sex, there is great flexibility in how one expresses their gender, so long as one is not deliberately seeking to identify or present themselves in opposition to their bodily sex. King David was a “real” man when he wrote poetry and played the harp; Deborah was a “real” woman when she led Israel into war. Jesus wept over Jerusalem like a mother hen (Matt. 23:31); the woman of Proverbs 31 buys property, runs a business, has a strong back, and provides for her family.

We cannot expect those who have rejected Jesus as Creator and Redeemer to live in line with the Creator’s order and purpose. God calls us to exercise judgment with one another in our church body, pressing each other towards holiness in the way of Christ, and trust him to deal with those outside.

The body is sacred—including its sexed nature—and a fundamental aspect of our identity.

Church Government

The complementary nature of men and women requires that we partner together to love and lead the church. The consistent pattern in the New Testament is that qualified male pastor/elders shepherd each local body of believers. Pastors/elders are called to a number of formal and specific duties, including: prayer and Scripture study, caring for the people in the church, equipping the church to do ministry, giving an account to God for the church, living exemplary lives, preaching and teaching, praying for the sick, and teaching sound doctrine and refuting error at the corporate level.

While the office of pastor/elder is reserved for men, to serve as “fathers” of the church family, the role of women as “mothers” of the church family is equally necessary and invaluable. Because men and women are complementary, it is essential that pastor/elders seek out formal and informal input from their sisters in Christ. Female leaders are also called to the task of committing themselves to prayer, Scripture, and exemplary obedience as they equip the church through leading, training, praying, and teaching within the various ministries of the church.

Redemption Church is overseen by a plurality of male pastor/elders.

Open-Handed Issues

The following are issues that we consider “open-handed,” meaning that while individuals within our leadership and church may have convictions about them, they are secondary issues and freedom should be given within our church to hold different beliefs as long as the beliefs remain within the spectrum of biblical Christianity.

We have simply named the issues below and given a clarifying statement to ensure that we are clear about what we would not consider to be within the spectrum of biblical Christianity.

SIGN GIFTS
Statement: While we believe “sign gifts” to be an open-handed issue, we do not believe that the gift of tongues (or any other individual spiritual gift) is required as an evidence of salvation.

THE MILLENNIAL REIGN
Statement: While we believe “the millennial reign” to be an open-handed issue, we do not believe that Jesus has already returned or that there are “two peoples of God.”

AGE OF THE EARTH
Statement: While we believe “the age of the earth” to be an open-handed issue, we do not believe in atheistic or naturalistic evolution.