Christian Higher Education Since 1892

Foundational Documents - Theological Assumptions

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Greenville College is a Christian college of the liberal arts and sciences founded by the Free Methodist Church and committed to the following description of our theological character.

As Christians, we believe that God exists and is presently and actively engaged in the lives of people. Though we employ terms such as wonderful, powerful, righteous, loving, all-knowing, merciful, and holy to describe God, none of them alone, or even in total, can completely capture the identity of God. Because that identity must be both experienced and learned, we commit ourselves to a living and learning environment which nurtures the whole person. We affirm that, as God's creatures, persons are endowed with the ability to respond to, and ultimately to know and achieve intimacy with God. This intimacy with God results in life growing ever more harmonious with God's nature, which can be described in terms of goodness, beauty, truthfulness, freedom and love. Because these qualities transcend all cultural, historical, and ethnic boundaries, Greenville College seeks to do the same.

We have seen that humanity does not live in harmony with God, and we seek to understand why. We believe that God is helping us to gain this knowledge, both through revelation and by discovery in that which God has done in history and has made in creation. Refusal to embrace this revelation and to begin the journey of discovery are at the root of humanity's problem. This problem has traditionally been defined as sin and can be best understood in terms of its consequences: alienation in all relationships, captivity to sin, and a darkened heart and mind. Death is the ultimate experience of this alienation and darkness. We understand that the person of Jesus Christ is the revelation of God, and the work of Christ redeems all creation, dispels the darkness of ignorance, frees people from captivity to sin, and restores all relationships. All this is mediated through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, holding the hope of redemption and life for humankind.

These affirmations lead us to embrace a Christianity that is best defined as orthodox. Orthodox Christianity, holding to what might be described as a central consensus among Christians of all times and cultures, affirms that:

We believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. We believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day He rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

We are confident that affirming the Apostles' Creed is completely necessary and adequate for one to claim to be fully Christian.

In order to define how we at Greenville have and are working out our faith in practice, it must be understood that we are the willing, and sometimes unwilling, inheritors of a number of religious impulses and traditions including orthodox Christianity, the Enlightenment, the Reformation, the Puritan ethos, an Evangelical tradition, the Anglican/Methodist tradition, the Pentecostal/Holiness impulse, and American Revivalism.

As such, let it be understood that we embrace the Bible as the authoritative rule for faith and life, the historic forms and rituals of the church, the evangelical missionary impulse which preaches the gospel of Jesus, the continuing search for truth in all arenas, the affirmation of the good, the preeminence of Jesus Christ, the active ministry of the Holy Spirit in the lives of all people, the beauty of holiness and the holiness of beauty, the ministry of love through works of service and mercy as the goal of Christian practice, the struggle for freedom and justice in all parts of the earth, and the necessity of an individual encounter with and commitment to God in Christ.