What We Believe
All members of the Western Seminary community are united in trusting that God has spoken authoritatively in the inspired words of Holy Scripture. All confess, “Jesus is Lord,” and live as faithful disciples of this Gospel. Western Seminary does not impart a particular doctrinal system or denominational creed to our students. Instead, we train our students to develop their own statement of faith which is grounded in the Bible. With this approach, our classes provide a stimulating learning environment in which students from diverse evangelical traditions wrestle together through theological issues, some which are essential to our faith and others on which we can agree to disagree. We want our students to wrestle with Scripture like Jacob wrestled with the Angel of the Lord, and we hope that the results are similar-- that our students would come away from the experience having come to a closer knowledge of God through Christ and His Spirit, and going forward with a changed walk and a changed identity.
At the same time, we require all students to affirm the Statement of Faith of the World Evangelical Alliance as an expression of unity in the Gospel.
Our core faculty are required to affirm a teaching position that is more extensive than what is required of our students. Although our faculty personally affirms this lengthier position, our approach to teaching theology allows them to teach students who come from over 40 denominations and a greater range of theological perspectives. Our highest priority is to ensure that our students can defend their theological perspectives biblically.
World Evangelical Alliance Statement of Faith
...in the Holy Scriptures as originally given by God, divinely inspired, infallible, entirely trustworthy; and the supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct;
One God, eternally existent in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;
Our Lord Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh, His virgin birth, His sinless human life, His divine miracles, His vicarious and atoning death, His bodily resurrection, His ascension, His mediatorial work, and His personal return in power and glory;
The Salvation of lost and sinful man through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ by faith apart from works, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit;
The Holy Spirit, by Whose indwelling the believer is enabled to live a holy life, to witness and work for the Lord Jesus Christ;
The Unity of the Spirit of all true believers, the Church, the Body of Christ;
The Resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life, they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.
Faculty Teaching Position
We believe that the Bible is the final standard of faith and practice for the believer in Jesus Christ and for his church. While recognizing the historical, interpretive and guiding value of creeds and statements of faith made throughout the history of the Church, we affirm the Bible alone as the infallible and final authority.
With this in mind, we, the faculty and administration of Western Seminary, recognize a solemn responsibility to give a contemporary confession of our faith. In so doing we acknowledge the formal statement of faith made by the founders of the seminary as God's instrument in establishing his work and providing the scriptural guidelines for that day. We also acknowledge that with the passing of time there is need to refine and restate our faith in terms of the critical and more exacting demands made upon us. Recognizing this two-fold allegiance, first to the Word of God and secondly to the convictions of our forebears who bequeathed to us these challenges, we the faculty undersigned reaffirm our teaching position in the form which follows.
Concerning the Scriptures
We believe that God has revealed himself and his truth by both general and special revelation. General revelation displays his existence, power, providence, moral standard, patience, goodness, and glory; special revelation manifests his triune nature and his program of redemption through Messiah for humanity. This special revelation has been given in various ways, preeminently in the incarnate Word of God, Jesus Christ, and in the inscripturated Word of God, the Bible. We affirm that the sixty-six books of the Bible are the written Word of God given by the Holy Spirit and are the complete and final canonical revelation of God for this age. (Rom. 1:18-2:4; 2:14-16; Psa. 19; Acts 14:15-17; 17:22-31; John 1:1- 18; 1 Thess. 2:13; Heb. 1:1-2; 4:12)
These books were written by a process of dual authorship in which the Holy Spirit so moved the human authors that, through their individual personalities and styles, they composed and recorded God’s Word which are inerrant in the autographs. These books, constituting the written Word of God, convey objective truth and are the believer’s only infallible rule of faith and practice. (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:19-20; John 10:35; 17:17; 1 Cor. 2:10-13)
The meaning of Scripture lies in the canonical text and is that which God intended to convey through the human authors. An interpreter discovers this meaning through careful application of the grammatical-historical method of interpretation of a text in its context, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and in the community of Christ. The Holy Spirit illumines the text, enabling the reader to embrace that which God has communicated and to see the glory of Christ in the Word of God. (Jn. 7:17; 16:12, 13; 1 Cor. 2:14, 15; 1 Jn. 2:20)
The Triune God
We believe there is only one true God who describes himself as compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, full of lovingkindness and faithfulness who forgives sin but does not leave the guilty unpunished. This God is one in essence and eternally existent in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each equal in nature and attributes and equally worthy of worship, trust, and obedience. He is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being, knowledge, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, faithfulness, love and truth. He is absolutely transcendent, exalted above the world as its creator and king, yet everywhere present and involved in the world as the sustainer of all things. (Gen. 1:26; Deut. 6:4; Ps. 100:5; 139:8; Isa. 45:5 7; Matt. 28:19; Mk. 10:18; Jn. 4:24; Acts 17:24, 29; 2 Cor. 13:14; Eph. 4:6)
God the Father
God the Father, the first person of the Trinity, decrees and works all things according to his own purpose and for his own glory, being sovereign in creation, providence, and redemption. He created the universe out of nothing. He continually sustains, directs and governs all creatures and events, accomplishing this without being the author or approver of sin nor minimizing human responsibility. He has graciously chosen the elect from all eternity, he saves from sin all who come to him through Jesus Christ, and he personally relates to his children as their Father. (Ps. 145:8, 9; 1 Chr. 29:11; Ps. 103:19; Jn. 1:18; Rom. 11:33; 1 Cor. 8:6; Eph. 1:3 6; Heb. 4:13; 1 Pet. 1:17)
God the Son
Jesus Christ is the incarnation of the eternal second person of the Trinity. He is the Son of God and the virgin-born Son of Man. He came as the God-Man to reveal God, glorify the Father, redeem human beings, and will as Messiah rule over God’s kingdom. (Ps. 2:7 9; Isa. 7:14; 9:6; Jn. 1:1, 3, 18, 29; 10:36; 17:1-6; 1 Jn. 1:3)
In the incarnation he is both fully God and fully human without sin, possessing two natures in one person. By his obedient life, miraculous ministry, and substitutionary death, he brings salvation to humanity. He rose bodily from the dead on the third day, the resurrection confirming the Father’s acceptance of his atoning work on the cross and bringing resurrection life to all believers. He ascended into heaven and sat down at the Father’s right hand, and he now performs the intercessory aspect of his high priestly work for believers. (Jn. 1:14, 29; Rom. 3:24 26; 2 Cor. 5:18-21; Phil. 2:5-11; Col. 2:9; Heb. 1:3; 4:15; 7:25-26; 10:5-10; 1 Pet. 2:21 24; 1 Jn. 2:2; 4:10)
Christ is the only mediator between God and humanity, the head of his Body the Church, the coming Messiah and king, and the final judge of both believers and unbelievers. (Isa. 53:10; Lk. 1:31 33; Jn. 5:27 29; 2 Cor. 5:10; Eph. 1:22, 23; Col. 1:18; 1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 7:25; Rev. 20:11 15)
God the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit, the eternal third person of the Trinity, is active in creation, the incarnation, the writing of Scripture, and the work of salvation. (Gen. 1:2; Matt. 1:18; Jn. 3:5 7; 2 Pet. 1:20, 21)
Coming from the Father and the Son at Pentecost, he initiated the Church. He glorifies the Son, convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment, indwells all believers, regenerating them, and exercises his ministries of sealing, sanctification, instructing, transforming into the likeness of Christ, and empowering for service. He gives spiritual gifts which are to be used according to biblical guidelines to build up the Church for its mission in the world. He is the agent of Spirit baptism which incorporates believers into the Church at their conversion. (Jn. 14:16, 17; 15:26; 16:7 9; Acts 1:5; 2:4; 1 Cor. 12:13; 2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 2:22)
We believe the angels are created as personal spirit beings who worship and glorify God, serve him, and minister to human beings. Although all angels were originally created holy by God, some followed the prideful lead of Satan and fell from their position. Demons attempt to subvert the work of God through such stratagems as temptation, accusation, and deception. (Ps. 148:2; Jn. 8:44; 2 Cor. 2:10-11; 4:3-4; Eph. 2:2; 6:12, 16; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:14;1 Pet. 5:8; 2 Pet. 2:4; Rev. 12:9-10)
Humanity and Sin
We believe God created the first humans, Adam and Eve, in his image, mandating a pattern for marriage and sexuality. God established them as persons with dignity from the time of conception to natural death, with the intention that they should glorify God, enjoy his fellowship, and fulfill his purpose on the earth. Created with integrity and without sin, our first parents fell into sin by disobeying the will of God. As a result of identification in Adamic sin and individual acts of sinning the human race is dead in sin, separated from God and subject to his wrath. While all people bear the image of God, they are inherently sinful and hopelessly lost apart from divine grace and salvation in Jesus Christ. (Gen. 1:26 28; 2:15 25; 3:1-19; Jn. 3:36; Rom. 3:23; 5:12-19; 6:23; 1 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 2:1 3; 1 Jn. 1:8)
We believe that the death of Jesus on the cross is the perfect sacrifice for sin. His substitutionary work satisfied divine justice and is the propitiation of the wrath of God for the sins of the whole world. (Isa. 53:1-13; Jn. 10:27-29; Rom. 3:24; 5:8, 9; 8:38, 39; 2 Cor. 5:18-21; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 1:7; 2 Pet. 1:3; 1 Jn. 4:10)
Through his death and resurrection, we are redeemed from sin, reconciled to God, justified by grace alone through faith alone, adopted into the family of God, and regenerated by the Holy Spirit. Salvation is appropriated by personal conversion, consisting of repentance from sin and trust in God’s provision in Christ, resulting in full forgiveness of sin and new life with Christ. (Jn. 1:12; 3:5, 7, 16; Acts 16:31; Rom. 8:1-4, 29, 30; 10:8-13; Eph. 1:4, 5; 2:8-10; 2 Thess. 2:13, 14; Heb. 11:6)
Believers are commanded to pursue sanctification, to grow in Christ-likeness as they keep in step with the Holy Spirit and live in obedience to the Word of God. They are kept by the power of God through faith and will persevere to the end, culminating in their glorification at Christ’s coming. (Jn. 5:24; 10:28; Rom. 8:35-39; 1 Cor. 6:19, 20; 2 Cor. 3:18; Gal. 5:16-26; Eph. 2:10; 5:17-21; Phil. 2:12, 13;Col. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:3-10; 1 Jn. 3:2, 3)
Concerning the Church
The Church is the people of God, initiated at Pentecost and completed at the return of Christ who is its head. The mission of the Church is to glorify God by worshiping corporately, building itself up as a loving, faithful community by instruction of the Word, observing baptism and communion, communicating the Gospel and making disciples of all peoples. (Matt. 16:18; Acts 1:4, 5; 11:15; 2:46, 47; 1 Cor. 12:13; Rom. 12:4-21; Eph. 1:22, 23; 2:19-22; 3:4-6; 5:25-27; Col. 1:18; Rev. 5:9)
Believers should gather together in local assemblies. They are priests before God and to one another, responsible to serve God and minister to each other. The biblically designated officers serving under Christ and leading the assembly are elders and deacons. Although church and state are distinct institutions, believers are to submit to the government within the limits of God’s Word. (Matt. 18:15-18; 22:15-22; 28:19; Acts 2:41, 42; 6:1-6; 1 Cor. 14:40; Eph. 4:11, 12; 1 Tim. 3:1-13; Tit. 1:5-9; Heb. 10:25; 1 Pet. 2:5-10, 13-17; 5:1-5)
Baptism is the immersion in water into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is a biblically ordained confession of personal faith, portraying death to sin and resurrection to new life. The Lord’s Supper was instituted by Christ in remembrance of him. This portrays his death, unites believers in fellowship, and anticipates their participation in the marriage supper of the Lamb. (Matt. 28:16 20; Luke 22:19, 20; Acts 2:41; 10:47, 48; Rom. 6:1-6; 1 Cor. 10:16-18; 11:23-29)
Concerning Last Things
We believe that at death, the spirits of believers pass immediately into the presence of Christ and there remain in joyful fellowship awaiting their bodily resurrection. The spirits of unbelievers are in misery and torment as punishment for sin awaiting their bodily resurrection. (Dan. 12:2; Lk. 16:22, 23; 23:43; 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:21-26; 3:10, 11, 21; Rev. 20:11-15)
This age will culminate in the rapture of believers and the tribulation, followed by the return of Christ in glory with his saints to the earth to destroy his enemies, to restore Israel, to initiate the millennium, and to reign over the cosmos as Lord and Messiah. (Deut. 30:1-10; Isa. 11:1-16; 65:17-25;Ezek. 36:22-38; 37:21-28; Dan. 9:27; 12:1; Jn. 14:2, 3; Acts 1:4-8; Rom. 11:25-27; 14:10-12; 1 Cor. 3:11-15; 15:51-53; 2 Cor. 5:10; 1 Thess. 4:13-17; Tit. 2:11-13; Rev. 3:10; 16:1-21; 19:1-21; 20:1-6)
At the close of Messiah’s millennial reign the devil, his demons, and the unbelieving dead will be judged and committed to eternal conscious punishment in hell. God will create a new heaven and new earth where all his people will dwell eternally in his presence, giving worship and service to him to whom belongs all glory. (Mk. 9:43-48; Matt. 25:31-46; 1 Cor. 15:24-28;2 Thess. 1:9; 2 Pet. 3:10-13; Rev. 20:11-15; 21:1-4; 22:5, 11)