Overview: We believe the two major collections of teaching given to us by the first-century Apostles of Jesus Christ: The Proclamation (called kerygma) and The Teaching (called didache).
Jesus Christ defines what we believe. He Himself is the greatest and most complete revelation of God (Hebrews 1:1-4), so we must diligently study the record of His life and teaching — the Bible — and base our belief system on that rather than the ever-changing, popular opinions of man (1 Corinthians 1:18-31).
The way we study the Bible is also important. What we believe is based on “biblical” theology rather than “systematic” theology. Simply put, biblical theology is letting the Scriptures speak for themselves — seeking to discern what the writers of the Bible emphasized and what they didn’t. Systematic theology is the attempt to understand what the writers said about various subjects. Both are important, but we believe — as many others believe — that it is crucial to begin with biblical theology so we accurately represent the original intent of the authors and avoid taking their writing out of context.
We believe this biblical theology approach leads to two general categories of teaching:
The Proclamation (Kerygma)
This first body of beliefs was called The Kerygma by the earliest church. “Kerygma” is the Greek word for “proclamation.” This proclamation is entirely focused on Jesus. It is the good news (the gospel) about God’s plan for reconciling mankind to Himself — basically, the entire story of the Bible!
However, we also see in the New Testament that the first disciples summarized this good news — this kerygma — in a simple way: That Jesus Christ had been predicted throughout the Old Testament, that He came in human flesh, taught like no one before Him, did miracles and died for our sins, that He rose again from the dead to demonstrate that He was the Giver of Life (the only religious leader of all time who could give people eternal life) that He chose a small group of apostles (literally, “sent ones”) to proclaim the good news that all who put their faith in Him receive eternal life, and that He will return again to reign over all the earth and judge all mankind.
In the early chapters of the Book of Acts, the Apostle Peter’s “proclamation” of this kerygma is recorded in five different messages — including the first proclamation among non-Jews or Gentiles. As the Book of Acts continues, the mission work of the Apostle Paul becomes the focus as the kerygma message is proclaimed throughout the Roman Empire in the first century. As people believed it, they were brought together into churches where they were established more deeply in the kerygma and equipped to participate in its proclamation. The earliest letters of the Apostle Paul (Galatians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Corinthians and Romans) show us exactly what they were taught.
The Teaching (Didache)
The other main body of teaching was called The Didache by the earliest church. “Didache” is the Greek word for “teaching.” This teaching focused on the way of life Jesus-followers are called to live — the life our Creator calls every human being to embrace. This way of life is found throughout the letters written by Jesus’ Apostles (His personal disciples) and focuses on the character and lifestyle of the individual disciple, the Christian family and the local church — its mission and purpose, and how it is to be ordered and led. The didache also defines our priorities and values and explains how we should relate to the people and authorities of this world.
The middle and later letters of the Apostle Paul (Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, Philippians, 1 Timothy, Titus and 2 Timothy), as well as the letters of the Apostles John and Peter, James and Jude and the Book of Hebrews all explain this important way of life.
There are many theological issues that divide Christians and we certainly have our opinions about all of these. Some are more important than others. But, we believe these two great bodies of teaching — the kerygma and didache — represent the emphases of Christ and His Apostles, so we choose to make these the emphases of our teaching, and the bases of fellowship as well.
For a more complete description, please see Full Kerygma and Didache Statement.