Values & Beliefs
As a member of the Reformed Church in America, above all, our faith is centered in Christ. Every need we experience finds its answer in Jesus Christ.
The final authority in the Reformed faith is Scripture, the living Word of God, spoken to the human heart through the work of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who takes the Word of God and makes it real and actual in our lives. This has always been and will always be the authentic wellspring of Reformed faith.
The following confessions and creeds are historic statements of Reformed beliefs:
- Three historic documents--the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dort
- Three historic creeds--the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed
Beliefs about the Sacraments
What is a sacrament?
The word sacrament is based on the Latin word sacramentum, which means "something sacred." In the early church sacramentum came to stand for many things sacred, including rites that had a hidden meaning. During the Reformation, using Scripture as a guide, the reformers limited the number of sacraments to two: baptism and the Lord's Supper. These sacraments, instituted by Christ, are a means of grace within the covenant community. They are visible signs and seals of something internal and invisible and the means by which God works in us through the power of the Holy Spirit.
What is baptism?
Baptism is a sign and seal of God's covenant of grace with us and our children. Baptism is the visible word of God that we are cleansed in Christ's blood and buried with him unto death, so that we might rise with him and walk in newness of life. In the Reformed Church, baptism is always performed in the context of a congregation of God's people. The congregation commits itself to the spiritual nurture of the infant, child, or adult being baptized. Thus, baptism is a mark of corporate, as well as individual, faith.
What happens during baptism?
In baptism God promises by grace alone
- to forgive our sins;
- to adopt us into the Body of Christ, the church;
- to send the Holy Spirit daily to renew and cleanse us;
- and to resurrect us to eternal life.
Through baptism Christ calls us to new obedience,
- to love and trust God completely;
- to forsake the evil of the world;
- and to live a new and holy life.
How does the Reformed Church practice baptism?
The Reformed Church baptizes infants as well as older children and adults. Recognizing the symbolic cleansing and refreshing characteristics of water, the RCA affirms sprinkling, immersion, and pouring as methods of baptism.
What is communion?
Communion, also known as the Lord's Supper or Eucharist, is Christ's gift to the church. On the night in which he was betrayed, Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and shared it with his disciples. "This is my body that is for you," he said. "Do this in remembrance of me." He also took a cup of wine and said, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this as often as you drink it in remembrance of me."
Following Jesus' example and instruction, when the church celebrates the Lord's Supper we receive gifts of bread and wine; we give thanks to God; we break the bread and pour the wine; we share the food and drink with each other. In these simple actions believers experience a profound mystery: Christ himself is present, and His life passes into us and is made ours. As baptism is the sign and seal of our ingrafting into Christ, so the Lord's Supper is a means by which Christ continually nourishes, strengthens and comforts us.