We believe and confess the following truths
The historic orthodox Protestant standard confessions such as the Westminster confession of faith, the London Baptist Confession 1689, and the Belgic Confession are documents which guide us, for they accurately reflect, though not infallibly, what sacred Scripture teaches.Â Yet, not these alone but the following truths we confess:
A Short Statement
1. God, who is Himself Truth and speaks truth only, has inspired Holy Scripture in order thereby to reveal Himself to lost mankind through Jesus Christ as Creator and Lord, Redeemer and Judge. Holy Scripture is God’s witness to Himself.
2. Holy Scripture, being God’s own Word, written by men prepared and superintended by His Spirit, is of infallible divine authority in all matters upon which it touches: it is to be believed, as God’s instruction, in all that it affirms: obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires; embraced, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises.
3. The Holy Spirit, Scripture’s divine Author, both authenticates it to us by His inward witness and opens our minds to understand its meaning.
4. Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God’s acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God’s saving grace in individual lives.
5. The authority of Scripture is inescapably impaired if this total divine inerrancy is in any way limited or disregarded, or made relative to a view of truth contrary to the Bible’s own; and such lapses bring serious loss to both the individual and the Church.
Articles of Affirmation and Denial
WE AFFIRMÂ Â that the Holy Scriptures are to be received as the authoritative Word of God.
WE DENYÂ Â that the Scriptures receive their authority from the Church, tradition, or any other human source.
WE AFFIRMÂ Â that the Scriptures are the supreme written norm by which God binds the conscience, and that the authority of the Church is subordinate to that of Scripture.
WE DENYÂ Â that Church creeds, councils, or declarations have authority greater than or equal to the authority of the Bible.
WE AFFIRMÂ Â that the written Word in its entirety is revelation given by God.
WE DENYÂ Â that the Bible is merely a witness to revelation, or only becomes revelation in encounter, or depends on the responses of men for its validity.
WE AFFIRMÂ Â that God who made mankind in His image has used language as a means of revelation.
WE DENYÂ Â that human language is so limited by our creatureliness that it is rendered inadequate as a vehicle for divine revelation. We further deny that the corruption of human culture and language through sin has thwarted God’s work of inspiration.
WE AFFIRMÂ Â that God’s revelation within the Holy Scriptures was progressive.
WE DENYÂ Â that later revelation, which may fulfill earlier revelation, ever corrects or contradicts it. We further deny that any normative revelation has been given since the completion of the New Testament writings.
WE AFFIRMÂ Â that the whole of Scripture and all its parts, down to the very words of the original, were given by divine inspiration.
WE DENYÂ Â that the inspiration of Scripture can rightly be affirmed of the whole without the parts, or of some parts but not the whole.
WE AFFIRMÂ Â that inspiration was the work in which God by His Spirit, through human writers, gave us His Word. The origin of Scripture is divine. The mode of divine inspiration remains largely a mystery to us.
WE DENYÂ Â that inspiration can be reduced to human insight, or to heightened states of consciousness of any kind.
WE AFFIRMÂ Â that God in His work of inspiration utilized the distinctive personalities and literary styles of the writers whom He had chosen and prepared.
WE DENYÂ Â that God, in causing these writers to use the very words that He chose, overrode their personalities.
WE AFFIRMÂ Â that inspiration, though not conferring omniscience, guaranteed true and trustworthy utterance on all matters of which the Biblical authors were moved to speak and write.
WE DENYÂ Â that the finitude or fallenness of these writers, by necessity or otherwise, introduced distortion or falsehood into God’s Word.
WE AFFIRMÂ Â that inspiration, strictly speaking, applies only to the autographic text of Scripture, which in the providence of God can be ascertained from available manuscripts with great accuracy. We further affirm that copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original.
WE DENYÂ Â that any essential element of the Christian faith is affected by the absence of the autographs. We further deny that this absence renders the assertion of Biblical inerrancy invalid or irrelevant.
WE AFFIRMÂ Â that Scripture, having been given by divine inspiration, is infallible, so that, far from misleading us, it is true and reliable in all the matters it addresses.
WE DENYÂ Â that it is possible for the Bible to be at the same time infallible and errant in its assertions. Infallibility and inerrancy may be distinguished, but not separated.
WE AFFIRMÂ Â that Scripture in its entirety is inerrant, being free from all falsehood, fraud, or deceit.
WE DENYÂ Â that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science. We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.
WE AFFIRMÂ Â the propriety of using inerrancy as a theological term with reference to the complete truthfulness of Scripture.
WE DENYÂ Â that it is proper to evaluate Scripture according to standards of truth and error that are alien to its usage or purpose. We further deny that inerrancy is negated by Biblical phenomena such as a lack of modern technical precision, irregularities of grammar or spelling, observational descriptions of nature, the reporting of falsehoods, the use of hyperbole and round numbers, the topical arrangement of material, variant selections of material in parallel accounts, or the use of free citations.
WE AFFIRMÂ Â the unity and internal consistency of Scripture.
WE DENYÂ Â that alleged errors and discrepancies that have not yet been resolved vitiate the truth claims of the Bible.
WE AFFIRMÂ Â that the doctrine of inerrancy is grounded in the teaching of the Bible about inspiration.
WE DENYÂ Â that Jesus’ teaching about Scripture may be dismissed by appeals to accommodation or to any natural limitation of His humanity.
WE AFFIRMÂ Â that the doctrine of inerrancy has been integral to the Church’s faith throughout its history.
WE DENYÂ Â that inerrancy is a doctrine invented by scholastic Protestantism, or is a reactionary position postulated in response to negative higher criticism.
WE AFFIRMÂ Â that the Holy Spirit bears witness to the Scriptures, assuring believers of the truthfulness of God’s written Word.
WE DENYÂ Â that this witness of the Holy Spirit operates in isolation from or against Scripture.
WE AFFIRMÂ Â that the text of Scripture is to be interpreted by grammatico-historical exegesis, taking account of its literary forms and devices, and that Scripture is to interpret Scripture.
WE DENYÂ Â the legitimacy of any treatment of the text or quest for sources lying behind it that leads to relativizing, dehistoricizing, or discounting its teaching, or rejecting its claims to authorship.
WE AFFIRMÂ Â that a confession of the full authority, infallibility, and inerrancy of Scripture is vital to a sound understanding of the whole of the Christian faith. We further affirm that such confession should lead to increasing conformity to the image of Christ.
WE DENYÂ Â that such confession is necessary for salvation. However, we further deny that inerrancy can be rejected without grave consequences, both to the individual and to the Church.
Evangelical Christians at the dawn of the twenty-first century find themselves living in a period
of historic transition. As Western culture has become increasingly post-Christian, it has
embarked upon a massive revision of what it means to be a human being. By and large the spirit
of our age no longer discerns or delights in the beauty of Godâ€™s design for human life. Many
deny that God created human beings for his glory, and that his good purposes for us include our
personal and physical design as male and female. It is common to think that human identity as
male and female is not part of Godâ€™s beautiful plan, but is, rather, an expression of an
individualâ€™s autonomous preferences. The pathway to full and lasting joy through Godâ€™s good
design for his creatures is thus replaced by the path of shortsighted alternatives that, sooner or
later, ruin human life and dishonor God.
This secular spirit of our age presents a great challenge to the Christian church. Will the church
of the Lord Jesus Christ lose her biblical conviction, clarity, and courage, and blend into the
spirit of the age? Or will she hold fast to the word of life, draw courage from Jesus, and
unashamedly proclaim his way as the way of life? Will she maintain her clear, counter-cultural
witness to a world that seems bent on ruin?
We are persuaded that faithfulness in our generation means declaring once again the true story of
the world and of our place in itâ€”particularly as male and female. Christian Scripture teaches that
there is but one God who alone is Creator and Lord of all. To him alone, every person owes gladhearted
thanksgiving, heart-felt praise, and total allegiance. This is the path not only of glorifying
God, but of knowing ourselves. To forget our Creator is to forget who we are, for he made us for
himself. And we cannot know ourselves truly without truly knowing him who made us. We did
not make ourselves. We are not our own. Our true identity, as male and female persons, is given
by God. It is not only foolish, but hopeless, to try to make ourselves what God did not create us
We believe that Godâ€™s design for his creation and his way of salvation serve to bring him the
greatest glory and bring us the greatest good. Godâ€™s good plan provides us with the greatest
freedom. Jesus said he came that we might have life and have it in overflowing measure. He is
for us and not against us. Therefore, in the hope of serving Christâ€™s church and witnessing
publicly to the good purposes of God for human sexuality revealed in Christian Scripture, we
offer the following affirmations and denials.
WE AFFIRM that God has designed marriage to be a covenantal, sexual, procreative, lifelong
union of one man and one woman, as husband and wife, and is meant to signify the covenant
love between Christ and his bride the church.
WE DENY that God has designed marriage to be a homosexual, polygamous, or polyamorous
relationship. We also deny that marriage is a mere human contract rather than a covenant made
WE AFFIRM that Godâ€™s revealed will for all people is chastity outside of marriage and fidelity
WE DENY that any affections, desires, or commitments ever justify sexual intercourse before or
outside marriage; nor do they justify any form of sexual immorality.
WE AFFIRM that God created Adam and Eve, the first human beings, in his own image, equal
before God as persons, and distinct as male and female.
WE DENY that the divinely ordained differences between male and female render them unequal
in dignity or worth.
WE AFFIRM that divinely ordained differences between male and female reflect Godâ€™s original
creation design and are meant for human good and human flourishing.
WE DENY that such differences are a result of the Fall or are a tragedy to be overcome.
WE AFFIRM that the differences between male and female reproductive structures are integral
to Godâ€™s design for self-conception as male or female.
WE DENY that physical anomalies or psychological conditions nullify the God-appointed link
between biological sex and self-conception as male or female.
WE AFFIRM that those born with a physical disorder of sex development are created in the
image of God and have dignity and worth equal to all other image-bearers. They are
acknowledged by our Lord Jesus in his words about â€œeunuchs who were born that way from their
mother’s womb.â€ With all others they are welcome as faithful followers of Jesus Christ and
should embrace their biological sex insofar as it may be known.
WE DENY that ambiguities related to a personâ€™s biological sex render one incapable of living a
fruitful life in joyful obedience to Christ.
WE AFFIRM that self-conception as male or female should be defined by Godâ€™s holy purposes
in creation and redemption as revealed in Scripture.
WE DENY that adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with Godâ€™s
holy purposes in creation and redemption.
WE AFFIRM that people who experience sexual attraction for the same sex may live a rich and
fruitful life pleasing to God through faith in Jesus Christ, as they, like all Christians, walk in
purity of life.
WE DENY that sexual attraction for the same sex is part of the natural goodness of Godâ€™s
original creation, or that it puts a person outside the hope of the gospel.
WE AFFIRM that sin distorts sexual desires by directing them away from the marriage covenant
and toward sexual immoralityâ€” a distortion that includes both heterosexual and homosexual
WE DENY that an enduring pattern of desire for sexual immorality justifies sexually immoral
WE AFFIRM that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that
such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness.
WE DENY that the approval of homosexual immorality or transgenderism is a matter of moral
indifference about which otherwise faithful Christians should agree to disagree.
WE AFFIRM our duty to speak the truth in love at all times, including when we speak to or
about one another as male or female.
WE DENY any obligation to speak in such ways that dishonor Godâ€™s design of his imagebearers
as male and female.
WE AFFIRM that the grace of God in Christ gives both merciful pardon and transforming
power, and that this pardon and power enable a follower of Jesus to put to death sinful desires
and to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.
WE DENY that the grace of God in Christ is insufficient to forgive all sexual sins and to give
power for holiness to every believer who feels drawn into sexual sin.
WE AFFIRM that the grace of God in Christ enables sinners to forsake transgender selfconceptions
and by divine forbearance to accept the God-ordained link between oneâ€™s biological
sex and oneâ€™s self-conception as male or female.
WE DENY that the grace of God in Christ sanctions self-conceptions that are at odds with Godâ€™s
WE AFFIRM that Christ Jesus has come into the world to save sinners and that through Christâ€™s
death and resurrection forgiveness of sins and eternal life are available to every person who
repents of sin and trusts in Christ alone as Savior, Lord, and supreme treasure.
WE DENY that the Lordâ€™s arm is too short to save or that any sinner is beyond his reach.
A WORLD IN NEED
The extent of hunger and deprivation around the world is a reality haunting modern times.
Confronted with disaster, disease, and chronic poverty, relief and development agencies have
provided massive material assistance. Yet for all the resources expended, hunger and deprivation
appear to be increasing. The sad reality is that so much effort has produced little in long-term
This reality calls us as Christians to reassess the work of relief and development in light of Godâ€™s Holy
Word. It is our conclusion that the consistent application of Biblical teaching will require a
reorientation of relief and development practices, and that this may involve a change in our
understanding of human need and in strategies to relieve suffering.
â€œRelief and developmentâ€ is an expression that recognizes two Biblical principles. Relief refers to
the insistence in both Testaments that the people of God must help the hungry and oppressed.
Development stems from the Biblical vision of a people exercising their proper stewardship of
Godâ€™s giftsâ€”of societies that are productive, healthy, and governed justly. Together, relief and
development envision substantial improvement in economic and human well being.
We acknowledge our own sinfulness and fallibility, and we recognize that other committed
Christians may not agree with all our convictions. Nevertheless, we are compelled by Godâ€™s Word
and by the reality of human suffering to share our convictions with Christians and others. We do not
claim to have spoken the final word. Thus, we offer the following conclusions of the Villars
consultation for the research, dialogue, and open debate among all who claim Christ as Lord.
ISSUES OF CONCERN
With this as our goal, we raise our concerns over the following issues:
1. The failure to operate from a distinctively Biblical perspective in both methods and goals.
2. The tendency to focus on meeting material needs without sufficient emphasis on
3. The attempt to synthesize Marxist categories and Christian concepts, to equate
economic liberation with salvation, and to use the Marxist critique, without
VILLARS STATEMENT ON RELIEF AND DEVELOPMENT, 2
recognizing the basic conflict between these views and the Biblical perspective.
4. The emphasis on redistribution of wealth as the answer to poverty and deprivation
without recognizing the value of incentive, opportunity, creativity, and economic and
5. The attraction to centrally controlled economics and coercive solutions despite the
failures of such economies and their consistent violation of the rights of the poor.
6. A disproportionate emphasis on changing structures without recognizing the
frequency with which this only exchanges one oppressive structure for another.
7. The danger of utopian and ideological entrapment, whether from the left or the right.
8. Neglecting to denounce oppression when it comes from one end or the other of the
9. Focusing on external causes of poverty in exploitation and oppression without
confronting those internal causes that are rooted in patterns of belief and behavior
within a given culture.
10. The need to make conversion and discipleship an essential component of Christian
relief and development work, and to carry this out in conjunction with the local
11. The need to apply the teaching of the Bible as a whole in the areas of personal life,
family, and work, but equally in the shaping of the culture and social life.
12. The need to reaffirm the Biblical support for the family as the basic social and economic
unit and its right to own and control property, and to stand against any ideology that
would diminish the familyâ€™s proper role in any of these areas.
13. The need to oppose a false understanding of poverty which makes poverty itself a
virtue, or which sanctifies those who are poor on the basis of their poverty.
In response to these issues we draw attention to the following Biblical teaching and its
implications for relief and development:
1. God created mankind in His own image, endowing man with freedom, creativity,
significance, and moral discernment. Moreover, prior to the Fall, man lived in
harmony with all of Godâ€™s creation, free from pain, suffering, and death.
2. The devastating reality of sin and evil, hunger, oppression, deprivation, disease,
death, and separation from God is the result of manâ€™s rebellion against God, which
began at the Fall and continues through history.
3. The causes of hunger and deprivation, therefore, are spiritual as well as material and
can only be dealt with adequately insofar as the spiritual dimension is taken into
4. Manâ€™s rebellion against God affects every aspect of human existence. The Fall resulted
VILLARS STATEMENT ON RELIEF AND DEVELOPMENT, 3
in Godâ€™s curse on creation and in destructive patterns of thought, culture, and
relationships, which keep men and women in bondage to poverty and deprivation.
5. The work of Christian relief and development, therefore, must involve spiritual
transformation, setting people free from destructive attitudes, beliefs, values, and
patterns of culture. The proclamation of the gospel and the making of disciples,
then, is an unavoidable dimension of relief and development workâ€”not only for
eternal salvation, but also for the transformation of culture and economic life.
6. When people were held in bondage to hunger and deprivation by unjust social
structures, the Bible consistently denounced those who perpetuated such
oppression and demanded obedience to Godâ€™s law. The Biblical emphasis, then, is
not on â€œsinful structures,â€ but rather on sinful human choices that perpetuate
suffering and injustice.
7. Godâ€™s ultimate answer for suffering and deprivation is the gift of His only Son, Jesus
Christ, who broke the power of sin and death by His own death and resurrection.
The decisive victory was won on the cross in the atoning death of Christ for all who
would believe Him. The final victory will be accomplished when Christ returns in
power and glory to reign with His people. Until that time, all who claim Jesus as
their Lord are called to care for those in need as the Holy Spirit enables them, and
to share the only message of true hope for a broken world.
Therefore, in light of the issues raised and the Biblical perspective outlined here, we encourage
research, dialogue, and debate among all who claim Christ as Lord, so that we may serve Him
more faithfully and work together more effectively.