Beliefs and Affiliation
Beliefs about Beliefs
Before diving into the perspective that forms the basis of Winding Creek’s teachings and beliefs, it’s important to understand what we mean by doctrinal integrity and good, biblical teaching.
Winding Creek is committed to doctrinal integrity. That’s simply another way of saying we’re committed to interpreting Scripture with care. With ‘care’ means that the goal of our Bible interpretation is to find the meaning of the original author.
If the Bible can mean ‘anything’ then it means nothing. In some circles today, Scripture’s meaning has tortured and twisted to mean some novel things. This happens when teachers have set aside the accepted rules for understanding and interpreting written words. Especially those written in different languages and in the context of various cultures and histories.
Doctrinal integrity means we follow the proven Historical-Grammatical method of interpretation, which helps ensure we hear Scripture speak from its own language, history and culture. It further means that we work to understand its meaning, uncolored by our own subjective cultural or prejudicial ideas.
But when discussing the idea of doctrine, it’s always important to note the difference between doctrinal integrity and doctrinalism.
Doctrinal Integrity versus Doctrinalism
Doctrinalism is when our trust is in our own doctrinal comprehension rather than in Christ himself. Jesus addressed this in the first century. Speaking to religious leaders he pointed to the central purpose of Bible teaching: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me…” (John 5:39 – ESV).
Christ himself is the goal of biblical teaching. On the flip side, doctrinalism is about us, and its fruit is religious pride. We can deny we have religious pride, but it can’t be kept hidden. It slips out here and there in a smug religious superiority, manifesting in anger, judgement and censorship toward those who might believe a bit differently. Jesus’ command that Christians love even their enemies should temper such religious arrogance.
The Doctrinally ‘Perfect Church’
People hold varying views of church and its purpose. Some look for churches that seem to have all of its theological ducks in a row. Others pursue a church that is relationally warm. Still others a church with great programs. And the list goes on.
Regardless our particular expectations, if we seek ‘the perfect’ church, then we’ve fallen into a kind of perfectionism with unbiblical expectations.
Biblical Church: A Place of Community and Growth
First and foremost, church is intended to be a community of fallen but redeemed believers in Christ Jesus, joined by his Spirit and intent on living out his commands together.
Churches cannot be, without personal harm, reduced to a mere set of pristine theological statements or any other stylistic or ministerial perfection. Rather than a real community where we work out our salvation alongside others, we’ve turned a holy thing into another idol of the heart.
Only individuals dissatisfied with their current spiritual state are candidates for the kind of biblical community and discipleship of the New Testament church.
This is why the outreach and ministries of Winding Creek aim to echo the Spirit of Christ when he said, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). And “…make disciples…teaching them to observe all I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19-20)
Prospective Winding Creek Members
It’s also important to note differing local church missions. Churches can exist to service Christians who are merely transferring from one church to another within a certain set of beliefs. This is often the expectation of denominational churches.
Winding Creek pursues a different mission. Our outreach is not aimed toward ‘settled believers’ (i. e., folks contented with their doctrine and spiritual depth), but first toward non-Christians who’ve yet to become Jesus’ disciples, and then yes, to those who already profess Christianity, but who also have a deep desire for ongoing spiritual growth.
The Aim of Doctrinal Integrity
Lastly, excellent teaching is not an end in itself. Rather, good doctrine is to be a roadmap to help toward a destination.
No one stops at simply finding a good map. It’s never only about the map. Ultimately it’s about the destination.
For Winding Creek, doctrinal integrity is a roadmap whose destination is Christ himself. Arrival at that destination produces discipleship and the opposite of religious pride. In place of immaturity and spiritual smugness we’re moved toward a deep love for Christ and others (1 Corinthians 13).
In his Imitation of Christ, written in the 14th century, Thomas A Kempis said it well: “What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity, if lacking humility you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God.”
Winding Creek’s Biblical Perspective
With the above qualifications in mind, Winding Creek is a confessional church. That simply means we look to historic Confessions and Creeds to publish our beliefs and as the basis of our teaching and discipleship.
In particular we look to the Heidelberg, Belgic and Westminster Confessions. We’ve recently added the New City Catechism, a modern language Q & A based on the historic confessions.
Winding Creek was first launched in the fall of 2000, under the care of Grace Network of Churches and especially Grace Church of Fredericksburg.
It’s important to note that since Grace Network is a network of churches and not a denomination, its churches can differ in their worship styles and with regard to some of the lesser doctrines. Though all hold to the basic tenants of the Christian faith, they are not uniform along the lines of denominational churches.
In June of 2017, Grace Network joined with another network to form a new network of churches called One Focus.
A second new network is also forming from some of the churches formerly connected with Grace Network. Founded on the ideals found in Ephesians chapter 4, it is called E-4 Network of churches.
Since the two new networks are still in their earliest stages, Winding Creek is participating in both till we settle on our permanent, formal affiliation.