At Van City, we work to embody and exemplify uncompromising faithfulness to the essential, core doctrine precious to disciples of Jesus throughout church history while simultaneously making room for honest questions and complex, often painful wrestling with God. We want our family to be an environment where both new and seasoned Christians can work out what it means to follow Jesus faithfully, and there is grace and accountability for both.
The Apostles’ Creed is an early summation of doctrine core to Christianity. Though discipleship to Jesus is expressed across many traditions, each with unique nuance of doctrine and interpretation of the Scriptures, we recognize brothers and sisters who hold these things to be true:
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
The Nicene Creed is a 3rd Century statement of belief for early Christian churches across the Greco-Roman world:
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds;
God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God;
begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.
Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven,
and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man;
and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate;
He suffered and was buried;
and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures;
and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father;
and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead;
whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life;
who proceeds from the Father and the Son;
who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified;
who spoke by the prophets.
And I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins;
and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
God, Humanity, Salvation
We believe in the triune God revealed in the Bible—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We believe in one all-powerful cosmic creator who spoke the universe into existence, who is the gracious and nurturing father, and who is best revealed in Jesus—the exact representation of his being—and who continues to speak, convict, teach, heal, and redeem by his Spirit.
Humanity was created in God’s image and granted genuine autonomy to carry out life within the good and gracious collaborative reign of God or to define what is good for themselves at the expense of other humans and all of creation. Humanity consistently chooses the latter.
Rather than destroying the human project, God instead chooses to pursue his unrequited love, going as far as to step down into a finite world marred by human beings that he might be with them in the mess of their own making and rescue them from the consequences of their own sin.
The creator God was made flesh in Jesus, who succeeded in humanity’s divine mandate where humanity had failed. Jesus inaugurated God’s kingdom, and by his life, death, and resurrection, humanity can be reconciled to God. Because of the saving work of Jesus, initiated and accomplished by God, the Spirit of God enables broken humanity to accept Jesus’s call of apprenticeship. Any and all people who accept the invitation of Jesus (come, take up your cross, and follow me) will apprentice in a new way of life—and life to the fullest, and as we follow Jesus, the Spirit of God in us empowers us to become like Jesus.
The Bible is a library of writings composed and compiled by many human authors in collaboration and concert with one divine author. A work of supreme literary artistry, the Bible was “breathed out” by God himself and is, therefore, authoritative, true, and trustworthy in all it intends to say and teach.
In the Scriptures, we encounter the story of God and learn the will of God for his people then and now. Though understanding and applying the Scriptures requires thoughtful interpretation, we enter this process with an advance commitment to accept as authoritative truth all that the Scriptures teach for belief and practice.
Discipleship to Jesus is always carried out in the context of community. The Christian community—the church—is made up of all kinds of people with all sorts of stories. In the church, we experience the transformative power of vulnerability, accountability, and shared life. The church is a people; thus, it is broken and imperfect. As with all relationships and communities, we accept the inevitability of human failure without being overwhelmed or undone by it. Though we can be hurt by others, spiritual formation happens first and foremost in the context of relationships.
In community, we open our lives to one another in vulnerability and hold one another accountable to the authority of the Scriptures and the teachings of Jesus with compassion and forgiving grace. This is the only way to follow Jesus.
We believe that the journey of discipleship is just that, a journey. All of us are becoming someone else over time through the trial, rigor, joy, and suffering of life. Becoming like Jesus happens neither by an instantaneous bolt of purification from the Holy Spirit nor by an entirely effort-driven human struggle. Instead, the disciple of Jesus—like all who apprentice a master—makes every effort to take up a life of consistent, disciplined faithfulness while, concurrently, we partner with the Holy Spirit in transforming our character.