What We Believe
Established in the free-church tradition of Protestant Christianity, Wilshire does not require its members to sign or recite a creed or specific statement of faith. Following the earliest Christian confession of faith, we unite around the simple affirmation that "Jesus Christ is Lord."
That does not mean the church endorses any and all beliefs. Wilshire's faith is rooted in the fact that Jesus Christ is the pre-existent Son of God, was born to a virgin, lived a sinless life, was crucified, buried and resurrected and now reigns in heaven with God the Father.
The most comprehensive confession of faith in which most Wilshire members would find agreement is the 1963 Baptist Faith & Message.
Through a strategic planning process, Wilshire has outlined a statement of commonly held core beliefs within the congregation. This outline is not intended to be exhaustive or creedal in nature. Additionally, these beliefs and distinctives have little meaning without application to our thoughts, words and deeds. Knowledge of these ideas must be accompanied by the work required to integrate them into our habits.
We join together as Wilshire Baptist Church to help and support each other in this effort. We are a fellowship of believers who seek God’s love, Jesus’ grace and the community of the Holy Spirit. We devote ourselves to love God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength. We commit to loving our neighbors as ourselves. We strive to realize the kingdom of God on earth, seeking justice, loving mercy and walking humbly with God.
Core Christian beliefs
I. God is Triune. God is one being in three persons alternatively known as Father, Son and Holy Spirit or Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. (Although traditional biblical language defines the trinity as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, that language should not be interpreted as preferring masculine images of God or implying the superiority of the Father over the Son and Holy Spirit.)
II. God is Father/Creator. God deliberately created the universe out of love and God continues to seek community with creation. Creation and all within it belong to God.
III. God is Son/Redeemer. Jesus Christ is the Son of God and is both a historical and divine figure. While on earth, Jesus was fully divine and fully human. He suffered, was crucified until dead and buried. Jesus was resurrected three days later and, after completing his work on earth, ascended to return to God.
IV. God is Holy Spirit/Sustainer. The Holy Spirit is the continuing presence of God on earth.
V. The Bible reveals God. The Bible contains the specific revelation of God, making clear God’s hope for restoration.
VI. Creation is broken but God seeks to redeem it. God created a perfect creation that humanity made imperfect. At creation, God instructed humanity to be stewards of the earth. As a result of the degradation of humanity through the fall, creation is also broken and not as God intended it to be.
VII. Humanity sinned and is fallen. Although created in the image of God, humanity fell from fellowship with God through sin: the continuing choice of all men and women to disregard God’s will in favor of their own desires. Because of their choice, men and women are incomplete in every aspect of personhood.
VIII. Sin can be forgiven and, consistent with God’s intention, creation can return to fellowship with God. Through sending Jesus Christ and as a result of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection, God has provided the means for sin to be forgiven and for creation to be redeemed to eternal fellowship with God. Despite humanity’s corruption of God’s perfect creation, God maintains a longing to restore creation and all of humanity to a perfect relationship that will continue in perpetuity.
IX. The church, as fellowship, is the community of the new creation. The church is the continuation of the body of Christ on Earth and is ordained by God to further the kingdom of God on Earth.
Historic Baptist Distinctives:
I. Soul Freedom. Each person is responsible for her or his own relationship with God. Only in freedom can a person give one’s heart and life to Christ. Through soul freedom we recognize the importance that God places on the free will given to humanity. Through soul freedom we recognize that no one else can answer for us: not the church, not a creed, not the denomination, not the clergy.
II. Freedom of Religion. Because each person is responsible for his or her own relationship with God, it is imperative that no person or human institution, particularly government, be a coercive influence either in support of or in opposition to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Each individual must be afforded the right to define their own relationship with God. This right should be guaranteed in both law and practice. Preventing the government from involvement in religion protects society from the tyranny of the majority, individual liberty from coercion and religion itself from corruption by powerful but sinful, finite individuals. For these reasons, church and state should be separate.
III. Priesthood of All Believers. Through the saving work of Jesus Christ, each person has been given direct access to God. No woman or man needs an intermediary to commune with God, interpret Scripture or minister on her or his behalf. Pastors and full-time clergy are called by God to ministry as a vocation. Although they inhabit a leadership position by virtue of their vocation, their role does not place them in a theologically superior position to the laity.
IV. Autonomy of the Local Church. Each Baptist church is intended to be a fellowship of like-minded believers, autonomous in its governance and affiliations. All affiliations with local associations, or state or national conventions are voluntary. In affiliating with an association or convention, a Baptist church does not relinquish any of its autonomy or independence regarding either theology or governance.
V. Sufficiency of Scripture with Christ as Hermeneutic. The Bible is the supreme theological determinant of our beliefs. All creeds or statements of belief, including this one, are secondary to, and should be examined in light of, Scripture. The appropriate lens through which we understand Scripture is the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Scripture cannot be interpreted independently of either Jesus Christ or the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
VI. Believer’s Baptism by Immersion. Although Wilshire accepts into membership all Christians who have professed faith in Jesus Christ and have been baptized in a Christian church, Wilshire's normative practice for new believers is rooted in our Baptist heritage. In that tradition, baptism follows a voluntary profession of faith. Believer's baptism is a symbol of the death and burial of the individual’s “old life” and the resurrection of the person to their “new life” bestowed through the grace of God through Jesus Christ. Consistent with the koiné Greek word on which the word “baptize” is based, baptism is performed by full immersion of the individual.
In order to provide a welcoming environment and to maintain the spirit of the church as a place of worship and reverence, Wilshire has adopted the following policy regarding weapons on church property: “With the exception of uniformed security personnel retained by Wilshire to provide security services, entry on the property by any person with any handgun or other weapon, regardless of government-issued license or permit, is forbidden.”