Please note this document is currently under review (October 2017)
These Doctrinal Distinctives state the doctrinal position and thereby determine the practice of Christ Church Southampton in respect of certain issues. It is recognised that true evangelical Christian believers may hold different views on these matters. Persons will be welcomed into membership of Christ Church Southampton who hold different views, provided they are prepared to respect the beliefs and practices of the church and not seek to undermine them. A person may only become an elder who wholeheartedly subscribes to these beliefs and is willing to uphold them.
Sufficiency of Scripture
Christ Church Southampton believes that God speaks to men and women today through the Scriptures. When the Scriptures are read publicly or privately, God speaks by His Spirit. The Scriptures contain everything that is necessary for God to say, whether explicitly or through deduction, to enable men and women to come to salvation through Christ, to grow to maturity in Christ such that they might live to please Him. The Scriptures are entirely sufficient in this regard; therefore no additional word or revelation from God is required to enable a person to know God or to know His will. Should anyone claim that God is speaking a word by any means other than through the Scriptures, such word would not be accepted unless it were first rigorously tested to determine whether it is consistent with the Scriptures. In accordance with the New Testament, the elders of the church are the persons within the congregation who bear the responsibility for assessing whether any such word is genuinely from God.
Election and Evangelism
Christ Church Southampton believes that God is sovereign in the salvation of men and women. Those persons who exercise genuine repentance and true faith in Jesus Christ do so because they have been chosen by God. Knowledge of this truth promotes amongst believers absolute humility and assurance of salvation. However, it does not follow from the truth of election that believers need not participate in witness and mission. The Church is commanded by Jesus Christ to preach the gospel to all nations and the proclamation of the gospel is the means by which the elect are brought to salvation.
Christ Church Southampton believes that baptism into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is an outward sign that marks a person’s regeneration and baptism by the Holy Spirit into membership of the Church of Jesus Christ. As such it should only properly be administered to a person who publicly professes faith in Jesus Christ. Baptism should, wherever possible, be administered by immersion in water, symbolising that the person baptised has been united with Christ in His death and resurrection, and is the possessor of the benefits thereof.
The Lord’s Supper
Christ Church Southampton believes that the Lord’s Supper is a remembrance meal at which Christian believers share the elements which represent the body and blood of Christ together. This is to remind themselves of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, of the new covenant which He inaugurated, and to proclaim that He will return. Jesus Christ is no more present at a celebration of the Lord’s Supper than at any other gathering of the local church. The Lord’s Supper should be celebrated on a regular basis.
Christ Church Southampton believes that the whole of the Christian life should be one of worship. Singing has always been a significant element within Christian worship. We sing because we rejoice in being in Christ. Singing is a key element in expressing gratitude, in training us to be thankful in everything, to proclaim God’s Word and to prepare us to hear and respond to Bible teaching. Our singing at Christ Church Southampton aims to use a selection of older hymns, with their strong theology and scriptural experiences of our Christian faith, together with appropriate modern hymns and songs. Our criteria for choosing any song are that it should contain biblical truth and the expression of scriptural experience in contemporary language. We use Praise! hymn book as a primary source, which makes the language of traditional hymns more accessible to the modern worshipper.
Pastoral responsibility in the Local Church
Christ Church Southampton believes that, in accordance with the pattern established in Scripture, a local church congregation should be led by a plurality of gifted elders. Whilst God created men and women in absolute equality, he also ordained that leadership in the family, within the context of marriage, and in the church, should be the functional responsibility of men. For this reason, in obedience to the Word of God, the elders of Christ Church Southampton are required to be male. Christ is the Head of the Church. The duly appointed elders of the local church are therefore the under-shepherds of Christ. Following the example of Christ, they are to love and serve the members of the church, working to present them to God as holy and blameless. In return, the members of the church are required to submit themselves to the leadership of the elders, in so far as it is exercised in accordance with the Scriptures. Also, in accordance with the pattern of Scripture, male and female members of the church with appropriate gifts may be set apart as deacons to serve particular needs arising in the life of the church.
The Priesthood of all Believers.
We believe that every member of the church is called by God to exercise his or her gifts, whatever they may be, by ministering to other members. Christ Church Southampton does not believe that there is any scriptural justification for a distinction amongst believers between clergy and laity, but affirms that every believer is a priest who enjoys direct access to God and is able to minister to others. The elders and deacons of the church are not superior to other members of the church. They are believers who are recognised by fellow church members as being appropriately gifted by God, in character and gifts, to undertake such responsibilities. Ensuring the delivery of public Bible teaching within the life of the church is the responsibility of the elders.
Baptism in the Holy Spirit
Christ Church Southampton believes that every genuine believer is baptised by the Holy Spirit at the moment when they are regenerated and brought to faith in Jesus Christ. The experiences of the disciples at Pentecost and of the Samaritan believers in Acts chapter 8 were unique moments of salvation history, and they do not provide a pattern for present day spiritual experience. All believers are urged by Scripture to ensure that they are increasingly yielded to the power, influence and control of the Holy Spirit dwelling within them. This fullness of the Holy Spirit is evident when the fruit of the Spirit is apparent in the life of the Christian believer.
Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Christ Church Southampton believes that all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit mentioned in the New Testament may be bestowed upon believers today as God himself directs in His sovereignty. The gifts of the Holy Spirit did not cease to be available to the church with the passing of the apostolic age and they will only pass away when Christ returns to establish His Kingdom. Nevertheless, there are no modern-day prophets or apostles who are vehicles of direct revelation in the sense that the Old Testament prophets and New Testament apostles were. The foundation on which the church is being built was laid and finished centuries ago and we cannot tamper with it in any way today.
Gift of Tongues
Christ Church Southampton believes that although the gift of tongues may be given to believers today, it is not a gift which is given to every believer, nor is it a sign of receipt of the Holy Spirit. Tongues are given not as a means by which God may speak to His church, but as a gift whereby members of the church are enabled to praise God in languages other than their own. The gift of tongues should be used publicly to offer praise to God only when an interpreter is present who will be able to translate the praise offered, so that it can be understood and affirmed by all members of the congregation.
Sex and Sexuality
Christ Church Southampton believes that God created men and women as sexual creatures. As such it is entirely right and pleasing to God that they should enjoy the pleasure of sexual intimacy. However, God has ordained that the only proper relationship within which such sexual intimacy may be enjoyed is in heterosexual marriage. Sexual intimacy between a man and a woman who are not married to each other, or between persons of the same gender, is sinful and displeasing to God. Those who engage in sexual intimacy outside of the context of a marriage relationship, whether co-habiting or not, and who do not repent of their sin, face the certain prospect of judgement. However, God longs that all persons who have fallen short of His standards of sexual behaviour should repent, so that they may receive complete forgiveness through Jesus Christ, resist temptation and live in a manner pleasing to Him.
Marriage and Divorce
Christ Church Southampton believes that it is the clear teaching of Scripture that marriage is for life. The husband must accept the responsibility to lead and to love sacrificially, as Christ loved the church. The wife is expected to respond in sacrificial love and godly submission. Both partners are to work hard to maintain their lifelong commitment and the church will support them to that end. It is the view of Christ Church Southampton that the Lord Jesus Christ permitted divorce for one cause only, namely the adultery of a married partner. In the event that there is no repentance and reconciliation they may separate and if all else fails, divorce. There are two traditional, but contrasting interpretations of Scripture concerning the permissibility of re-marriage after divorce. In practice, in deference to the more conservative view, Christ Church Southampton will not re-marry divorced persons.