The central message of our preaching is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, who freely came down from heaven in order to rescue fallen creation, at great cost to Himself, through His substitutionary death upon the cross and victorious resurrection on the third day (John 1:14; Philippians 2:5-11; Corinthians 15:1-4; Matthew 20:26-28; Luke 22:19-20; John 3:16; Isaiah 53). Through faith in the Son humanity is reconciled to God, and by His Spirit we are transformed into His image.
God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
We believe in one God, eternally existing in three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is the Creator, Sustainer, Judge, and Savior of all; infinite in power and beauty and worthy of all glory. God is love. The Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it well: “God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.”
We confess the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments to be the inspired Word of God, containing all things necessary for salvation, and to be the final authority and unchangeable standard for Christian faith and life.
We believe in the value and dignity of all people, created in God’s image to live in love and holiness, but alienated from God and each other because of our sin and selfishness, and justly subject to God’s judgment.
We believe that salvation is a gift from God, flowing from the Father’s great love for the world, being accomplished by the incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of His only Son, and being applied to the life of believers by the power of the Holy Spirit. Salvation is ‘by grace alone (sola gratia), through faith alone (sola fide), in Christ alone (solus Christus).’ Jesus Himself has said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
According to the catechism of the Anglican Church North America, “The Church is the whole community of faithful Christians in heaven and on earth. The Church on earth gathers in local congregations to worship in Word and Sacrament, to serve God according to the Scriptures, and to proclaim the Gospel, under the leadership of those whom God appoints for this purpose. (Articles of Religion, 19; Matthew 28:19-20; 1 Peter 2:9)”
The Church is the ransomed people of God from every nation, the Body of Christ of which He is Head, the temple of the Holy Spirit, the royal priesthood, and the new humanity. The Church is made up of disciples of Jesus Christ who have repented of their sins, put their faith in Him, and are seeking God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. At the same time, the Church is full of sinners who are saved by grace. It is only when we live in response to God’s love that we are able to love our neighbors and be a blessing to all nations.
Regardless of our man-made denominational (whether Anglican or Baptist or even non-denominational) and ethnic divisions, we believe that there is in reality only one Church—just as Christ has only one Bride (Ephesians 5:25-32) and God’s people form one olive tree (Romans 11).
We confess Baptism and the Supper of the Lord to be Sacraments ordained by Christ Himself in the Gospel, and thus to be ministered with unfailing use of His words of institution and of the elements ordained by Him.
“A sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. God gives us the sign as a means whereby we receive that grace, and as a tangible assurance that we do in fact receive it” (1662 Catechism).
We believe in the victorious reign and future personal return of Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead with both justice and mercy, giving over the unrepentant to eternal condemnation but receiving the redeemed into eternal life. At that time He will resurrect and restore all creation to God’s original intent.
As the Scriptures say, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new'” (Revelation 21:1-5a).
While we believe the Anglican Church has deep roots and great riches to offer, we identify with the Lord Jesus and his universal Church more than any denomination. Nevertheless, a brief explanation of Anglicanism may be helpful.
“The Anglican Communion,” Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher wrote, “has no peculiar thought, practice, creed or confession of its own. It has only the Catholic Faith of the ancient Catholic Church, as preserved in the Catholic Creeds and maintained in the Catholic and Apostolic constitution of Christ’s Church from the beginning.” It may licitly teach as necessary for salvation nothing but what is read in the Holy Scriptures as God’s Word written or may be proved thereby. It therefore embraces and affirms such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the Scriptures, and thus to be counted apostolic. The Church has no authority to innovate: it is obliged continually, and particularly in times of renewal or reformation, to return to “the faith once delivered to the saints.”
To be an Anglican, then, is not to embrace a distinct version of Christianity, but a distinct way of being a “mere Christian,” at the same time evangelical, apostolic, sacramental, reformed, and Spirit-filled.
For more on Anglican theology and practice, visit the website for the Anglican Church North America.
What Do We Mean By “Three Streams”?
At Incarnation we sometimes speak of being “three streams.” By this we mean that we seek, at the same time, to be evangelical, sacramental, and charismatic. Another way to put it is that we are protestant, catholic, and Spirit-filled.
EVANGELICAL: Our identification with the evangelical stream means that we hold to the major doctrinal distinctives of the Protestant Reformation regarding salvation, the authority of Scripture, the priesthood of all believers, the Bible in the vernacular, the freedom of clergy to marry, etc. We believe that salvation is ‘by grace alone (sola gratia), through faith alone (sola fide), in Christ alone (solus Christus).’
We believe that the Church is called to live out the Great Commission, including spreading the Gospel, ministering the sacraments, and seeking to raise up mature disciples in every nation (Matthew 28:16-20). We are also called to live out the Great Commandment, which involves loving God above all else, sacrificially loving our neighbor, caring for the poor, and working for the common good of all humanity (Matthew 22:36-40).
For more on our evangelical heritage, our view of salvation and Scripture, our understanding of human sexuality, and our commitment to God’s global mission, see The Jerusalem Declaration of the global Anglican church.
SACRAMENTAL: Our sacramental or “catholic” heritage means that we have a high value for the Church, the sacraments, the liturgy, the historic episcopacy, and the Trinitarian creeds. The word catholic means “universal” or “according to the whole” (i.e. the whole Church) and is not specifically a reference to Roman Catholicism.
In particular, we hold to the Nicene Creed as the classic summary of Biblical teaching on the Trinity. Drafted at the First Ecumenical Council in 325A.D., its contents continue to be affirmed by all Christian churches from Anglican to Lutheran, from Eastern Orthodox to Roman Catholic, and by other churches of the Reformation.
CHARISMATIC: Finally, we also identify with the charismatic stream in that we believe that the Holy Spirit is still miraculously intervening in the world today. The Holy Spirit points us to the Son, convinces the world of sin, guides us into all truth, teaches us to pray, helps us in times of weakness, brings new birth to those who put their faith in Christ, and assures Christians of our adoption as God’s sons and daughters (see, e.g. John 16:7-16; 3:5-8; 2 Corinthians 3; Romans 8:26-27). The Spirit also bestows spiritual gifts upon God’s people, inspires prophetic utterance, accomplishes healings and miracles, and brings about our transformation into the image of Christ, “from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18; 1 Corinthians 12-14; Joel 2 & Acts 2; Galatians 5).