Q & A
The Christian community has welcomed questions and has developed a number of educational tools (e.g. catechisms) in a Q & A format. Not every question can be answered to everyone’s satisfaction and to some questions there is more than one valid answer (yes, we believe in objective truth). The following is a list of questions that we field regularly at Evergreen.
Why are there so many hypocrites in the church?
It is human nature to be hypocritical. At Evergreen we respond to the statement, “the church is full of hypocrites,” with “Thanks be to God!” We can think of no better community in which we can all be liberated from our hypocrisy. The gospel, the central message of the church is one that frees us from our need to be hypocritical, showing us a better and honest way of presenting ourselves. If someone were to say, “the hospital is a bad place because there are so many sick people there,” how would you respond? Evergreen opens her doors and hearts to those who mask their sins and to those who publicize their sins. If you think that you are basically “good,” then you can join us to discover that there is only One Person who is truly “good,” and that our goodness flows from that Person. If you consider yourself too wretched to darken the doorway of the church, then we invite you to enter and to discover that you are not alone.
(Why People Don’t Go to Church on You Tube)
Why are there so many denominations in the Christian Church?
The answer is two-fold. Firstly, much of the development of denominations has be a result of human divisiveness, the inability of people, who know better, to preserve the unity of the community of Jesus, who prayed for our unity. Secondly, some of the development has been positive as different groups within the Church have pursued specific parts of the mission of Jesus and contributed to the whole. Some of this development has also been intentional to promote local/regional ownership of the mission. As the people in Oregon are culturally different than the people in Arkansas or in Malaysia, the Church has allowed for the formation of distinct church governments controlled by the people of a certain geographic region or cultural landscape. Even in Oregon, in the Portland metro, there are different groups of people and so there are churches formed to not only appeal to those different groups but also to employ those groups in the one mission of Jesus.
(Read John Frame’s article, “Guidelines for Church Union”)
“…naturalistic liberalism is not Christianity at all. That does not mean that conservatives and liberals must live in personal animosity. It does not involve any lack of sympathy on our part for those who have felt obliged by the current of the times to relinquish their confidence in the strange message of the Cross. Many ties – ties of blood, of citizenship, of ethical aims, of humanitarian endeavor – unite us to those who have abandoned the gospel. We trust that those ties may never be weakened, and that ultimately they may serve some purpose in the propagation of the Christian faith. But Christian service consist primarily in the propagation of a message, and specifically Christian fellowship exists only between those to whom the message has become the very basis for all life.”
J. Gresham Machen in “Christianity and Liberalism”
What does it mean that you are “Reformed” ?
Primarily, the term “Reformed” refers to the historical Reformation. Our church traces its history back to the new church movement started in Geneva in the 1500′s. Secondly, the term “Reformed” refers to our agreement with the Dutch Reformed Church, who, at the Synod of Dordt (1619) wrote biblical responses to the five doctrinal statements of Arminius, thus preserving the gospel message that God alone, graciously reconciles us to himself and to one another. Thirdly, the term “Reformed” describes the grid through which we interpret Scriptures. We recognize “the covenant” as a major theme running through the entirety of the Bible, telling the story of God redeeming his people.
(For further reading, go to monergism.com, “An Overview of Reformed Theology,” with its collection of fine articles and essays)
(more about monergism.com)
What does “Presbyterian” mean?
“Presbyterian” describes a form of church government providing a plurality of church leaders on the local, regional and national levels. This assures that no one person has inappropriate control. Presbyterians state in the introduction to their books of church government that Christ alone is the sole “head of the Church.” The rest of us who hold office must serve under the authority of Jesus Christ. This drives us to regularly consult the Bible for guidance and to live according to the gospel.
Book of Church Order 2011
Why do you start new congregations when we have so many churches in our community?
The main reason we start new congregations is that they are the easiest church group for new people to join. Everyone is new; there isn’t an established group to break into as a new person. From the 1980′s through 2007 Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, along with Alaska had fewer churches per capita than the other states. In the past three years New England states now contain fewer churches per capita. This is largely the result of many denominations seeing the need in our region and planting new congregations that have significantly and positively contributed to the health of the entire church in our communities – and hopefully to the betterment of our communities.
(Read about our Church Planting strategies and plans)
Can you explain the Trinity?
The Bible presents God as One in three Persons. These three Persons are distinct from each other yet equal in power and in glory. The three Persons of God are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and these coexist with one another enjoying infinite union and fellowship.
(for more than you wanted to know about the Trinity… and there’s more! )
Aren’t all major religions valid paths to the top of the mountain?
No. The major world religions, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam present moral codes for human behavior, placing the responsibility of reconciliation, restoration and righteousness wholly upon humanity. Christianity unlike these other religions proclaims the gospel, the message that God is the one who freely and completely reconciles, restores and makes righteous his creation, including humanity.
(What is the gospel?)
If God is loving and all-powerful why is there so much suffering and evil in this world?
God created all things very good. God created angels and human beings with the faculty of the will giving both the freedom to choose. Some of the angels chose to rebel against God as did the first generation of the human race, causing the entire race to fall into opposition to God. These free choices to disagree with God, even to destroy what he has made good, are the origins of evil and suffering in this world as far as we can tell. The Bible insists that God is not the author of evil, that he is sinless, that he is infinitely just and infinitely merciful. The Bible is the story of God putting all things right in the end.
(Read John Frame’s article, “The Bible and the Problem of Evil.”)
Why do you baptize infants?
We believe that the sacrament of baptism is a visible sign through which God speaks to us. The primary voice at a baptism is God who speaks to us a conditional promise that he surely keeps: “If this baby put his/her faith in Jesus then I will give to her the eternal life.” In the sacrament of baptism God also speaks an unconditional promise to his church: “I am faithful to my covenant and I will pour out my love in great measure upon my church. I am the source of atonement and forgiveness. I will not leave you alone but I have sent to you my very Holy Spirit.”
(articles about infant baptism)
Do you believe in free will?
Yes. We believe that God is Person and so possesses and exercises a will infinitely free to choose. We believe that God created angels and humans with wills free to choose. We created creatures do not possess infinite freedom. Our wills can be moved by other wills, influences, events, persons, even other faculties we possess (e.g. our minds, emotions, bodies…) One individual’s will makes hundreds of choices daily and none of these choices are free of any influence and thus our wills are not “autonomous.” God alone possesses autonomous freedom. We also believe that the human will has been corrupted along with every human faculty. When our human race fell into sin, the human body, emotions, mind, will and every part/aspect/faculty was negatively impacted, unable to perfectly please God, to pursue the right and good. We believe that as the Holy Spirit graciously works in a human life, the will becomes freer and freer to choose what is right and good toward pleasing God.
(Read John Frame’s article, “Free Will and Moral Responsibility”)