The best way to describe EPIC’s theological foundation is using three words/phrases: Biblical, Consistent with Historical Christianity, and Reformed. Let’s flesh out what we mean by both of those.
Biblical: The Bible is the Word of God; therefore, it is completely true and forms the foundation for all belief and practice. The Bible reveals all that we must know in order to be saved and all that we must do in order to glorify God. Therefore, we are committed to the study and application of the Bible to all of life. A constant question we ask is “what does the Bible say?”
Consistent with Historical Christianity: We recognize our indebtedness to those who have gone before us. Many wise, godly men and women have studied the Scriptures, counseled with one another and sought the Holy Spirit’s guidance in forming doctrinal statements which help the church distinguish between truth and heresy. So, we fall in line with Christians throughout the ages in affirming one of the earliest Christian creeds, the Nicene Creed.
The Nicene Creed states the following:
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic (catholic here does not mean Roman Catholic but means the “universal” church) and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Reformed: EPIC’s theological foundation also finds its roots in the Protestant Reformation which was sparked in 1517 by a German monk named Martin Luther. He was deeply disturbed by the practice of indulgences in the church where people paid money to have their sins forgiven by a priest. He was heartbroken that the church had elevated tradition and papal authority above the Word of God. He was undone by the reality that the church of Jesus Christ was no longer faithfully proclaiming the Gospel. So, on October 31, 1517, Luther nailed his famous 95 theses to the door at the Castle Church in Wittenburg. These words were intended to spark debate; instead, they sparked a reformation. At the heart of the Reformation (and our doctrine) were 5 “Solas.” The 5 Solas identified the distinctive theological positions held by the reformers and continue to serve as distinguishing characteristics of Reformed Theology. Below is a brief description of each.
Sola Gratia (Grace Alone): Reformed Theology maintains that salvation cannot be obtained through human effort (Ephesians 1:7). It is only by the unmerited grace of God that we have a means of forgiveness and justification to restore our relationship with Him. Martin Luther said, “Truly, then, we are saved by grace alone, without works or other merit.”
Sola Fide (Faith Alone): Coupled with the previous sola, we hold that justification is an act of God’s grace which can only be received through faith. No good work or deed on our part will allow us to earn this gift, but instead we put our faith in Christ as our only means of salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9). The main Reformed distinctive seen in Sola Fide is that the instrument of receiving God’s grace is faith, not faith and works. Faith alone is, of course, in reference to our justification, or being made right with God. The believer’s sanctification is a process of becoming more Christ like, where our good works spring forth from our faith.
Solus Christus (Christ Alone): God is gracious, but He is also holy and just. In order for sinners to be justified, these sins must be accounted for. This was accomplished through the sinless life, sacrificial death, and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. The atoning death of Christ is the only means by which we can obtain the forgiveness of our sins (John 14:6; Acts 4:11-12).
Soli Deo Gloria (Glory of God Alone): All things, including the justification of sinners and the lives of believers, are created for the purpose of bringing glory to God (Revelation 4:11). As stated in the Westminster Catechism, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever” (WSC 1).
Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone): The Bible is our ultimate authority for understanding God, salvation, and how we are to live our lives. All matters of theology and doctrine are to find their source in Scripture, as it is God’s inerrant Word and is all-sufficient for teaching and correction (2 Timothy 3:16–17). John MacArthur says, “Scripture is therefore the perfect and only standard of spiritual truth, revealing infallibly all that we must believe in order to be saved and all that we must do in order to glorify God. That—no more, no less—is what sola Scriptura means.” Reformed Theology maintains that all theological stances must find their footing in Scripture.
In Summary: Reformed Theology teaches that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ, to the glory of God alone. Furthermore, the Bible is our authoritative source for understanding this and all other aspects of our faith. These biblical truths are succinctly captured in the Five Solas.