Beliefs of St. Matthew
Our theology has been referred to as medium, somewhere between Calvinism and Armenianism.
Moderate and Middle-of-the-road:
We do not run to extremes, nor are we fanatic in theology, attitudes, or practices. Some of our congregations are more conservative while others are more liberal and we are fine with that.
Members reflect many denominational and theological backgrounds and concepts. We are tolerant and accepting of different notions. We are not dogmatic. However, we have an official creed in our Confession of Faith to which we require loyalty on the part of ministers and church officers. It is a guide for instruction and for publications.
We are evangelical. We believe salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ and that we have been commissioned to preach this good news to all the world.
A Mixture of Traditionalism and Openness:
Some Basic Beliefs:
We attempt to conserve established traditions while at the same time we try to adapt our methods and message to the present day.
We believe in God as Creator and Caretaker; in Jesus Christ as divine Savior and Lord; and in the Holy Spirit as God present and at work everywhere in creation.
Sin and Salvation:
Human beings disobey God, like Adam and Eve, and are in need of spiritual rebirth. God initiates salvation, sending the Holy Spirit to all persons, calling them to repentance and faith. They have a choice of acceptance or rejection. "Whoever believes" is redeemed. We are not, nor have we ever been, Predestinarian. Persons are set into right relations with God by faith, and not by works. Salvation is a gift of God's grace, not something earned or merited. Once God makes covenant with persons, and they with God, they will never totally fall from the state of grace, nor withdraw permanently from God. God never forsakes them, and continually works to maintain the relationship.
Beginning Christians are like babes in Christ, they have only just been born. All Christians need to grow continually throughout their years in capacity to receive God's grace, and in the ability to live the Christian life.
The holy scriptures are the infallible rule of faith and practice, the authoritative guide for Christian living. The holy scriptures are the 66 books contained in the Old and New Testaments. We recognize that while the scriptures are infallible their translation from ancient languages is subject to human limitations. We do not limit ourselves to any one translation of the Bible but seek always for a deeper understanding of God's word.
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church considers itself to be a part of the Holy Universal Church, consisting of all who have made covenant with God through Jesus Christ, We are not sectarian. We are one of the many communions who belong to God.
The Sacraments are celebrations of the covenant in which Christ mysteriously is present and active. We accept two Sacraments, Baptism and the Lord's Supper or Holy Communion. Through God's presence, work, and will, they are made effective. The elements of water, fruit of the vine, and bread are signs and symbols and remain what they are. The Sacraments are not essential to salvation but are necessary means of grace. The Sacraments are central to Christian worship.
Death and Resurrection:
We do not believe in the natural immortality of the soul. Eternal life is a gift from God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. We are raised with him through our conversion. Eternal life is a living relation with God (John 17:3) which continues more completely after death when full redemption shall be ours in the resurrection of the body.
End of Days:
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church accepts what the Bible says about heaven and hell, though the Confession of Faith speaks but briefly about them. There is a divergence of opinions concerning these concepts. There is no full statement in the Confession of Faith about the Last Days and the Second Coming of Christ. No speculation is done about the time and manner of these events. However, Cumberland Presbyterians declare in the final words of the Confession of Faith, "in the consummation of history, at the coming of Jesus Christ, the kingdoms of the world shall become the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever."