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Distinctives of Hope Brussels

Christian first and foremost, yet also

Evangelical, Reformed, & Presbyterian

Christian

We believe in the one universal church of all God’s people throughout the ages that is found in all parts of the world. It means that we believe God’s church is way bigger than us. We hope to be right on a lot of things, but we recognize that due to our cultural biases, and sin that still affects our thinking we do not have a monopoly on the truth. We celebrate that many churches see things differently than we do and practice their faith differently than we do.

We embrace the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed as universal church creeds. We consider to be a Christian anyone that accepts these. For this reason we recognize any baptism done with water, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as a Christian baptism whether done by anointing, pouring, springing, or full immersion. 

Hope is part of God’s universal church. All Christians can join and be members. On membership, The International Presbyterian Church Book of Church Order has this to say: BCO 3.8.1 The Bible is clear that commitment to, and full involvement in, one congregation of Jesus’ universal Church is a basic part of being one of Jesus’ followers. As “members” of Jesus’ body, we are to live lives of loving commitment to the family of Christians in one particular church, and of willing submission to the teaching, advice and discipline of the Elders Jesus has placed over that church. Membership of a church, therefore, is simply a normal part of being a Christian. 

To become a member of Hope, we ask that you affirm your faith in the Holy Trinity through the Lord Jesus Christ, and that you promise to be committed to the church in the way the Bile requires, by answering the questions below: 

  • Do you hold to the Christian Faith in the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit  as expressed in the Apostles’ Creed?

  • Have you been baptized, and have you received from Jesus Christ the cleansing from sin and new life in the Holy Spirit which baptism symbolizes?

  • Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins, and do you personally repent of your sins and trust in him alone for your forgiveness?

  • Do you recognize the authority of the Elders, and assent to the governance and oversight of the International Presbyterian Church, and are you willing to accept their discipline, if that should ever be necessary?

  • Do you promise to support this church by prayer, giving money and time, and caring practically for individuals?

  • Do you commit yourself to building and maintaining healthy relationships within this church, treating your fellow believers as your brothers and sisters in Christ? 

Evangelical

Within, the universal church, we fit within a group called Evangelicals. Evangelicals are a broad group that includes Anglican, Baptist, Mennonite, Methodist, Pentecostal, Plymouth Brethren, Quaker, Reformed and nondenominational churches.

 

The most important thing to evangelicals the gospel – Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins of all those who trust in him. Around the center of the cross, evangelical believe in the authority of the Bible; the importance of the conversion experience and being born again; the importance of mission and worldwide evangelization; a shared vision of our faith impacting our lives, our churches, our neighborhood, and the whole world. 

Reformed

We adhere to the Westminster Standards (Confession of Faith, Larger and Smaller Catechisms), and the three forms of Unity: The Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dort.

The Reformed Church gets its name from the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. It agrees with the urgently needed changes brought about by Luther and Calvin. 

The Reformed tradition fully embraces the 5 Solae which summarize the Reformation: (1) Sola Scriptura: Scripture must govern over church tradition. (2) Sola Fide: Salvation is through faith alone. It is not earned by doing good work. (3) Solus Christus: Christ is the only mediator between God and man. Our faith must be in him and no one or nothing else. (4) Sola gratia: Salvation is by God’s grace. It is a free gift, not earned by good works. (5) Soli Deo gloria: All glory is to God alone, as opposed to what appears to be the veneration of Mary, the saints, or angels.

Reformed Church allow their view of the authority of Scripture to affect preaching, which is done through books of the Bible, and its worship which follows the regulative principle, which means we have a Biblical warrant for everything we do in worship. 

We emphasize the Sovereignty of God, though we accept that where the Sovereignty of God and human free-will meet is a mystery.

For Biblical interpretation, we believe (1) Every individual believer has the right to interpret the Scripture without a priest. (2) We see continuity across the OT and NT through God’s Covenants – this affects our view of the Old Testament Law; the relationship between Israel and the New Covenant Church; including children as part of the church; and infant baptism. (3) We allow Scripture to interpret Scripture.

What is Reformed theology? | Reformed Theological Seminary (rts.edu)

Presbyterian

The word Presbyterian comes from the Greek word presbuteros which means “elder.” Following the pattern found in the Old Testament and the New Testament, we believe that each church is not to be led by one pastor/priest/bishop but by a plurality of elders. 

We can summarize the characteristics of a presbyterian government in a local church as:

  • Plurality: A church must have at least three elders.

  • Parity: all elders have equal authority

  • Local: The elders must be local to know the congregation and minister to their needs.

  • Representative: The elders must come from among the people so that they may be attuned with the needs of the congregation. 

  • Accountable: each elder is accountable to each other, and they need to report both to the congregation, and to a “higher court,” the Presbytery (More below). 

  • Transparent: The elders will have to handle sensitive matters that will require discretion, but members can ask and be aware of what the elders are planning and can have access to the minutes to their elder meetings upon request.

  • Qualified: The Bible lays out qualifications of elders, so a congregation cannot simply elect a person because of their charismatic personality. An elder must be elected and appointed by a local congregation, but he must be approved by the Presbytery. Elders will be approved based on their character, love for people, hospitality, generosity, devotion to the Lord, and knowledge of the Bible, Theology, wisdom for practical ministry, ability to counsel and disciple, and management skills.

  • Servants: Elders are the servants of the church. They are not to Lord over or manipulate but lead by humble service.

 

The structure of the Presbyterian government goes beyond the local church. At a regional level, the elders of a church and the elders of its region form a higher court called Presbytery which gathers 4 times a year. At an even higher level, all the Presbyteries combined form the Synod. Each presbytery is accountable at Synod level.

 

This structure includes the Session (local church elder board), the Presbytery and the Synod assure accountability and the good functioning of the church to offer a support system, and accountability system for best practices at the local church level. The general assembly provides the guardrails for a denomination: system of beliefs and qualifications for a pastor. The Presbytery enacts the denominational requirements at a regional level and supports the churches in its regions. The session (local church board of elders) assures the implementation of the denominational standards at the local church level. For support, if a congregation believe their pastor is teaching heresy or is abusive, they can appeal first to their Session. If the Session does not act, they can appeal to the Presbytery, and then to Synod. The Presbyterian form of government assures the implementation of tested a proved way of operating a church and provides accountability and support for church leaders and its members. It also connects a local church to churches all around the world affirming our belief in one universal church.

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