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Our Reformed Heritage

OUR DOCTRINAL COMMITMENT

Augustine

Augustine of Hippo

Westminster Theological College and Seminary in Uganda gladly affirm the teaching and doctrinal distinctives that flowed from the 16th century Reformation. The Reformation, led by men like Martin Luther, John Calvin and John Knox, sought to reform (improve by removing errors and defects) the established Roman Catholic Church of the day. The distinctives of Reformed theology may be described in three ways: our Reformed heritage, our Reformed theology and our Reformed calling and confidence.

OUR REFORMED HERITAGE

The Reformation came to be characterized by five great commitments. These became the five "mottoes," slogans or phrases that expressed the guiding principles and spirit of the Reformation movement. We at WTC/S embrace these transforming Reformed commitments.

Scripture Alone (the Latin phrase is Sola Scriptura)

The Bible alone, which is God's Word, and is therefore infallible, inerrant and totally trustworthy, is our absolute and final authority and sufficient guide for all matters of thinking, life and practice. A local church can err, a denomination can err, an individual Christian can err, a church council can err, human traditions and majority opinion all can err. But the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments cannot err because God has authored them.

In the 16th century, human and church tradition had become equal to the Bible. False teaching became dominant. The Reformers fought error by asserting the absolute, unique and final authority of Scripture. Each generation faces the same challenge of "humanism" or human tradition seeking to dispossess the supreme authority of the Bible. And in each generation the Reformation principle of "Scripture alone" needs to be re-articulated and re-embraced.

Our professors seek to apply the words of II Timothy 3:16 to every class and subject in our curriculum: "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, for rebuking, for correction and for training in righteousness." The church, her worship, her ministries and all the issues of the modern world are to be examined by the final judge of truth, the Bible. Our mentor/teachers seek to understand all things in light of the teaching, rebuking, correction and training of God's Word. Our goal is to take every thought captive to Christ (II Corinthians 10:4) and to develop a worldview that interprets all of life from a biblical standpoint. Our professors do not debate the supreme and final authority of Scripture, rather they seek to submit to its authority, teach it and apply it to all of life and to all of ministry in Africa.

Teaching

Reformed theology is never interested in originality or innovation. It is always supremely committed to being faithful to the Bible and under its rule. The battle cry of "Scripture Alone" means that people in the tradition of the Reformation are ever striving to have a theology in which Scripture reigns supreme. Thus Reformed theology strives to be all, only and consistently biblical in its theology. All ideas are ultimately theological ideas. All ideas have consequences for living. Reformed theology seeks to be consistently biblical in ideas and practice. WTC/S heartily seeks to carry on this Reformed commitment to Sola Scriptura.

Grace Alone (Sola Gratia)

Salvation is by God's grace alone. It cannot be earned or deserved by any human effort or achievement. The Reformers taught this because the Bible does: "For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). We have no hope apart from God's grace and God gives salvation through grace alone.

Christ Alone (Solus Christus)

"The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23). The gracious salvation that the Bible speaks of is found in Christ alone and in His finished work alone i.e. His perfect law-keeping life, His wrath-absorbing, substitutionary death and His sin and death-conquering resurrection. Salvation is never grace plus something (my works or deeds) or Christ plus something (e.g. my righteousness, my practice of religious ordinances, my church). It is always grace alone accomplished by Christ alone.

Faith Alone (Sola Fide)

The salvation wrought by Christ is received by sinners through faith alone. There is nothing a sinner may do but reach the empty hand of faith and say with the hymn writer, Isaac Watts, "Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy Cross I cling". The Scriptures further teach that faith is a gift from God and is not produced by our own ability or effort (John 1:12-13; Ephesians 2:8-9; Philippians 1:29; Acts 16:14). These great truths of grace alone, Christ alone and faith alone form the great Reformation doctrine of "justification." Martin Luther saw this as the doctrine that determines whether the church stands or falls. God's grace and justification must be taught and proclaimed to each generation. These doctrines have profound effects on how WTC/S teaches and operates. They are the reasons we seek to be gospel-driven and Christ-exalting and grace-saturated in all we teach and do, and they are why we seek to be a community that lives by dependence on Christ and His grace through faith and faith alone. These truths fuel our passion to spread the gospel of grace to all nations, the only hope for a lost world.

To God Alone be the Glory (Soli Deo Gloria)

Since God alone is the author of grace and since He alone can impart grace, to Him alone goes all the honor and glory for grace. Paul said it this way in Romans 11:36 "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever."

The essence of life is not to live for self, but to live for Christ (II Corinthians 5:15) and to live in such a way that all of life focuses on glorifying God. Paul says "Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (I Corinthians 10:31).

At WTC/S we are seeking to understand fully what it means to glorify God for His grace and to spread a passion for the glory and worship of God everywhere and to all peoples. We haven't arrived yet. We are still learning. We are in process. But we do know this fact: this God-centered view of life transforms everything.

These five "Alones" are the heritage and soil out of which the tree of the Reformation and its biblical theology, its biblical worldview and its biblical practices have grown and will grow in the future generations. These five "Solas" continue to be the soil from which pastors and church leaders of faith, courage and biblical conviction are developed in our day. These five commitments are the glad commitments of WTC/S.