All of our churches subscribe to the following three forms of unity:
The Heidelberg Catechism is a series of questions and answers that were developed early into the reformation to deal with errors creeping into the Christian churches in Germany. Many old errors of Roman Catholic Church were still held onto and this document was written to provide a simple and easy to memorize catechism explaining the doctrines of grace. It was commissioned to be written by Fredrick the III of Saxony, Germany to be used to instruct the people of his electorate and afterwards was translated into many languages and is still used worldwide today.
The Belgic Confession of Faith was composed and written as a defense to those outside the reformed church with a detailed creed (or list) of what was believed by those adhering to the reformation movement. There were many rumors by those opposing the reformation as to what the reformation was about. It was thought that this document would quell the rumors and still the opposition. It was not successful and the author, Guido de Bres, was martyred for writing the confession, but not before it was copied down. It still provides a timeless account of what we believe today.
This historic document was created and sanctioned in 1618 and 1619, by a council of the highly esteemed Synod of Dorth, in response to the errors of the Remonstrants, who adhered to the doctrine of the "Free-will of man". Free-will is a doctrine that crept into many reformed churches in the early 1600s and taught that man is free to choose his own salvation or to reject it. This movement was led by the theologian Jacobus Arminius. While this might appear to be a subtle point of doctrine it really impacts all matters relation to salvation. The reformed church in Europe called a council or "synod" of ministers and professors of theology to examine what God's word teaches on the issue. Their findings were compiled into cannons and are very relevant today, given the continued prevalence of the free-will error.
We also agree in principle with the Shorter and Longer Westminster Catechisms
handed down from the English reformation and written by the famous Westminster
Assembly of divines (1643-1649). Since these two documents were primarily
written for the reformation movement in England and Scotland and the 3 Forms of
Unity were written primarily for the Continent of Europe the NRC churches
hold to the 3 Form of Unity as our primary statement of faith.
We believe the five point of Calvinism briefly summarized below. For a more detailed treatment and for scriptural proofs please consult the three forms of unity mentioned above. (Although John Calvin was instrumental in reasserting these doctrines they are the same as were embraced by Augustine and others of the early church fathers shortly after Christ's ascension.):
Man's Total depravity and inability to choose good over evil. With the fall into sin in the Garden of Paradise the will or desires of everyone in the human race have been bent to Satan and to evil. By God's common grace we are kept from living out the evil in our heart and through His influence we may make some good decisions and do kind things, but ultimately we desire to be our own god and worship ourselves. Unless and until God breaks this control we are at war with Him and will not "go over" to His side.
God's Unconditional election whereby He chooses for reasons in Himself and not in anything He foresees in the individual whom He will save. Given our war with the Almighty God there is nothing desirable in us that causes God to be moved to save us. He must therefore decide to save only because of reasons in Himself. Since He is the moving cause or the first to act in a sinner's salvation all good that results from the sinner's side is attributed to God and cannot be the reason God provides the moving cause.
God's Limited atonement in that He has not chosen to save everyone in the world but has elected a set number whom He will bring to repentance in faith in His Son. As awful and dreadful as the thought is that many will not be saved but will perish eternally and forever, it is no less true. Jesus spoke much about Hell when he was on earth and gave us many of the proofs that it is a real place. God was not bound to save anyone, but has chosen to save some.
God's Irresistible grace whereby all that He divinely calls will, through the working of His Holy Spirit be made willing and turn to Him. As all human beings are at war with God and want to be their own gods, only a divine power can break their hold and crush their resistance. Nothing short of the irresistible power of God can free us from our desire to rebel against God.
God's Preservation of saints where He holds all of His own in His hands and will not let them fall away no matter how Satan may rage against them. Since God irresistibly draws the elect sinner to Himself there is nothing that can remove the sinner from His power. Jesus speaks of none being able to pluck them out of His Father's hands.
We also believe the five Solae of the protestant Reformation:
The Bible, being authored by the influence of the Holy Spirit, is the final authority in all matters of doctrine and practice. The creeds, confessions, and catechisms are all held because they agree with scripture but the Bible alone is the ultimate authority.
Grace implies that all benefits to the believer have come and do come from God as gifts. They are neither merited nor earned but are free gifts. Even faith itself is a gift from God worked in the elect sinner before they are even aware of it.
Only Christ's sacrifice on the cross of Calvary has any merit or value with God the Father. Our efforts before and after our salvation add nothing to worth or estimation in the eyes of God.
True religion is for the glory and praise of God Himself and there is no praise or worship of His creatures be they saints, angles or any others. As well and The Apostles Creed, The Nicean, etc