Gutenberg College grew out of a campus ministry (McKenzie Study Center) that distinguished itself by its lively interchange of ideas and its willingness to question the unquestionable. The founders of Gutenberg College were scholars who participated in that dialog for many years. Individuals changed their minds on many issues over the years, but a consensus resulted from the dialog; a set of beliefs came to characterize this community of scholars, as it does the Gutenberg faculty today. The Gutenberg College Biblical Foundation Statement documents these beliefs.
Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason—I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other—my conscience is captive to the Word of God. —Martin Luther
Biblical Foundation Statement
This is a statement concerning the relationship between Gutenberg College and the biblical message. It is intended to clarify that relationship for Gutenberg personnel, students, and the public. All members of the board of governors, all faculty (except adjunct faculty), and all other Gutenberg employees and volunteers whose responsibilities entail setting policy for the college; overseeing the programs, departments, and offices of the college; and/or representing the college to oversight bodies are required to sign compliance to the Gutenberg College Biblical Foundation Statement. Gutenberg College does allow these individuals the freedom to disagree, in good conscience, with particular statements in Part Two, Doctrinal Statement, subject to review as prescribed in Gutenberg’s Policy Manual. We do not require that students agree with this Biblical Foundation Statement; they are only required to read the Statement so that they understand the college’s perspective.
Part One: The Bible and Gutenberg College
The Bible is at the heart of everything we do at Gutenberg College. This is true in at least three important ways.
The Biblical Text
We believe two things about the written books of the Bible: 1) that everything they assert to be true is in fact true, and 2) that they communicate these truths through normal human language. Now, we are well aware of the complexities involved with interpreting the Bible and discovering its truths. The Bible communicates in many ways, through narrative, parables, visions, poetry, and so on. And we know that the philosophers have raised good points about how people’s presuppositions, cultural influences, and desires can impact how they interpret a text, especially a complex text like the Bible. Nobody gets it all right. But we reject the spirit of skepticism that insists that we cannot make progress in knowing the truths that the biblical authors are communicating. Those authors clearly believed that what they had seen, what they had been told, what God had given them to understand, could be communicated in words, and that through those words people could learn and lives could be changed.
Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness… (2 Timothy 3:16)
So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31)
Human language is not a perfect means of communication, but God gave us human language as the primary way to convey life-changing truths about God and His relationship to His fallen world.
This confidence that the words of the Bible can communicate truth has great implications for all the teaching at Gutenberg. Learning to be careful readers of difficult texts is one of our key goals. Learning to read well by paying attention to context, the original language, historical background, and one’s own biases applies not just to the Bible but to all texts. In all our reading at Gutenberg, and there is a lot of it, we seek to avoid both skepticism and arrogance. But the conviction that the truth is in the Bible, and that people have and will continue to make progress in understanding that truth, is central to everything we do.
The Biblical Worldview
We believe that in the Bible God has revealed the fundamental truths of human existence, the origins, purpose, and destiny of human beings. The Bible reveals these truths by telling of God’s dealings with the Jewish people and His sending of Jesus, the Messiah. That story in its outline, as we understand it, is this:
God created all things and all peoples, and He called them to love their Creator and to love each other. Those people, however, fell into rebellion against God and selfish conflict with each other. God intervened in His creation to save it by calling the nation of Israel into existence, requiring repentant faithfulness of them, and giving them great promises with implications for all humanity. Israel failed to be faithful, and God sent them into exile and judgment. But His prophets made clear that God would intervene once more by sending the Messiah. That Messiah was Jesus. As the incarnation of God entering into His creation, Jesus brought God’s salvation by a) being the High Priest to bring humanity to God, offering His own life as a sacrifice so that we could receive God’s mercy, b) pouring out the Spirit to bring about spiritual restoration that only God can provide, c) being the greatest of all prophets, calling us to be His students and learn from Him, and d) being the King of the Kingdom of God, which one day will come in its fullness and rescue the world from sin, futility, and death. Once again, it is repentant faithfulness that God calls for, believing in and submitting to the Messiah, Jesus, which can only come about through the restoring work of the Spirit.
This story and its implications undergird everything we do at Gutenberg College. We study many writings besides the Bible: books of philosophy, history, theology, science, and so on. But we view the intellectual journey of Western culture in the light of the biblical story.
The Biblical Call to Individual Choice
We believe that a biblical faith must be the choice of each individual, made without manipulation or coercion from anyone else. Only the Spirit of God can bring about the needed spiritual transformations in the human heart. This belief fosters a delicate but constructive tension at the heart of Gutenberg life. On the one hand, we firmly believe that the Bible is true and that one’s eternal destiny hinges on one’s belief in the truth of the Bible. On the other hand, we firmly believe that we should not try to pressure or manipulate our students into making that choice. We want the discussions at Gutenberg to be marked by respect for the dignity of all participants, even as those participants believe strongly in the truth they are advocating for. It is not easy to marry strong convictions with respectful listening, but that is what we seek to accomplish.
We call on all involved at Gutenberg to respect the dignity of everyone else. For ourselves, we are committed to respecting each student, whether a student agrees with us on everything or not. For the students, we expect them to respect the place of the Bible in the Gutenberg project, whether they agree with us on everything or not.
Part Two: Doctrinal Statement
- There is one and only one true God. He transcends the entire created order. He is the Creator of all that exists; and in accordance with His will, He transcendently determines all that happens. He has revealed Himself to all of mankind through ongoing disclosure of Himself to the Jewish people through His prophets first, but especially and finally through a man from Nazareth, Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God.
- The one and only transcendent God is a personal being—having the essential attributes of a person. But, uniquely, He is eternal, unlimited in His power to do whatever is logically possible to do and to know whatever can be known. He is completely and utterly good with no trace of evil in His character. And, most importantly, He is utterly and unfailingly loving so that He is faithful and reliable to bring to pass all the good that He has promised to bring about in and for those whom He has chosen.
- The Bible speaks of three divine persons: (1) Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; (2) Jesus of Nazareth; and (3) the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God. These three divine persons are all one. They are all the one and only transcendent God Himself.
- God has left the record of His disclosure about Himself and His will in the Holy Scriptures of sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments. These Scriptures we hold to be fully, and uniquely, inspired by God in every aspect of what their authors intend and to be an unerring and true testimony of what God has objectively disclosed to His people through word and act.
- Jesus Christ is God, the living Word, who became a human being through His miraculous conception by the Holy Spirit and His birth by a virgin. Accordingly, Jesus is both truly Deity and truly human at the same time. He lived a sinless life and voluntarily atoned for the sins of the human race by dying on the cross, having the wrath of God that every human being deserved poured out upon Himself in their stead. Thereby appealing to God for mercy, He accomplished salvation from death to Life for all who trust in God for their justification. He rose from the dead in the same body, though glorified, in which He lived and died. He ascended bodily into heaven. He is now clothed with the glory of the Father Himself and has been “seated at the right hand of the Father,” having been qualified for and having assumed all the authority in heaven and earth that He was destined to be granted by God. He now makes intercession for His own.
- Man was created in the image of God from the beginning of his creation. Man is not a product of random mutations and natural selection as portrayed in Darwinian evolution; rather, mankind is a product of the supernatural design and creation of God and distinct and qualitatively different from the animals. Man sinned by disobeying God, and consequently he was alienated from his Creator. Thus, by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin, and so death passed to all men, for all sinned. Man’s nature is corrupted, and he is thus totally unable to please God in the “flesh”—his natural-born humanity. Every man needs regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. The salvation of humanity is wholly a work of God’s free grace and is not the work, in any part, of human worthiness or goodness or of religious ceremony, practice, or discipline. In view of the work of Jesus Christ, God forgives the one who humbles himself and puts his faith in Christ alone for his salvation. From such a one, God withholds His wrath against sin and grants His righteousness.
- The Holy Spirit is God Himself come into the world to make God known to the world, to reveal the Truth of God’s purposes, to enlighten the mind of the believer and open his heart to truth, and to convict the unbelieving world of the coming judgment. The evidence of the Spirit in a person’s life is the seal of and down payment on his eternal inheritance.
- Jesus Christ is the Head of the church, His body, which is composed of all believers, living and dead, who have been joined to Him through saving faith. He, however, has chosen to organize His body and direct it through enabled leaders who seek His wisdom and direction by the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures. They are called to be examples to the body in humility and service. The church is encouraged to come together and share their lives with one another through mutual encouragement and edification in the faith through the teaching of the Scriptures, the mutual example of authentic faith, and through mutual loving service to one another.
- Jesus Christ will come to earth—personally, visibly, and bodily—to consummate history and the eternal plan of God. After physical death, believers will be resurrected to everlasting glory and blessing and will enter into eternal conscious reward. At that time, they will share in the glory of Christ Himself. After physical death, unbelievers will undergo an eternal punishment and everlasting condemnation.
- The Lord Jesus Christ commanded His apostles to proclaim the gospel throughout the world and to disciple men and women of every nation. The spreading of that gospel is ultimately the most important endeavor of the Church. Mature believers, pursuing righteousness and wisdom, will consider of utmost importance the proclamation of the gospel to unbelievers, of greater importance than any worldly and personal ambition.
- Satan is real and personal and intent on frustrating the purpose of God.