What is a Christian?

people + 2 Commandments

A Christian is an ordinary person who tries to love and serve God through his son Jesus Christ. The bible tells us how to do that because the bible is God's own explanation to humans of the truth about this world in which we live.

That is a very broad statement which needs refining: The bible is our authority for both faith and life; we cannot serve God properly using our own ideas. As a group of Christians we try to practice genuine Christianity as it has always been understood throughout history, we are not trying to make up something new. - we can’t just make up our own new ideas or interpretations of the Bible, and then call them Christianity. And to make sure we’re not doing that, we keep on testing all that we say and believe and all that we do under the authority of Jesus Christ, as revealed in the Bible - if we find things we believe or do don’t fit with the Bible, we’re ready to change them.

The first truth that we all have accepted is that we acknowlege that we have done and thought things which are wrong and hurtful and have failed in many ways to be the people God desires us to be. The second truth is that we have no way within ourselves of putting the wrongs right or of avoiding the penalty for offending God who is perfect; we acknowledge our sins. We accept that the death of Jesus Christ on the cross has paid the penalty that we rightfully deserve. This acceptance of God's mercy is what it means that we are saved by faith; there is nothing we could have done or can do so we trust that God has done it through his son Jesus Christ

Accepting that what God says in the bible is the truth to live by has two implications. Firstly, this means that we are what is known as a Reformed church. Secondly and more significantly, we are open to discussion about our beliefs and actions. "Honest answers to honest questions" is a way to live. If Jesus Christ is Lord of the whole of life, not just in church or on Sundays, then that has an effect on everything we see or do and that will take thought and discussion to work out how we try to live in obedience in all that we do, say, and think.

Our supreme authority is the Bible, as the only way for human beings to know of the one true God. We are among other things the people of the book.

A keynote understanding of Christianity is that what the bible says are not just ideas in our heads but, because the bible is true, they are ideals to live by. The whole of our life must be changed when we come into contact with God. This affects our understanding of our relationship not only to God but also to this world he has created, the animals and plants in it and all other people.

One of the aspects common to all Christians is the attempt to be obedient to Jesus’ command to be outward looking – The “Great Commission” – “to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” In other words, we are evangelistic in our outlook, proclaiming the good news of forgiveness of our sins.

What we understand the Bible to teach is summarised by several historic Christian statements:  Like all Christian churches we hold to the ‘ecumenical creeds’ that very many Christians affirm and use: (the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed the Athanasian Creed) and the Creed of Chalcedon), which are statements of essential Christian beliefs, written in the early centuries of the Christian church. see Creeds

We also hold to the more detailed ‘Westminster Confession of Faith’, written in the 17th Century at the request of Parliament to be a standard description of what the Church in England should believe. It is the official statement of faith of huge numbers of churches across the English-speaking world.  see Westminster Documents

We also agree enthusiastically with the ‘UCCF Doctrinal Basis’ - UCCF stands for Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship and consists of students, staff and supporters working together through Christian Unions to make disciples of Jesus Christ in the student world. Visit the UCCF Site

All the above are designed to be precise and technical, rather than easily readable. For a more straightforward summary of the Christian gospel, see Our Beliefs.