East Gate is a church within the family of churches called “Reformed.” The word comes from the Reformation of the 16th and 17th centuries, with notable figures such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Own (and other Puritans).
The Reformation proclaimed that God is absolutely sovereign, that Scripture is absolutely authoritative (above any individual or church), and that we are absolutely unable to save ourselves. Rather, salvation is by grace alone through faith alone, in Christ alone. A summary of these teachings are found in the “5 Solas“:
- Sola Gratia – Grace Alone
- Sola Fide – Faith Alone
- Solus Christus – Christ Alone
- Soli Deo Gloria – God’s Glory Alone
- Sola Scriptura – Scripture Alone
We are a confessional church (and denomination). While the “5 Solas” are a good, memorable summary of Reformed teaching, the Westminster Standards, consisting of the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Westminster Larger Catechism (and here), and the Westminster Shorter Catechism are fuller, faithful statements concerning what the Bible teaches.
The Westminster Standards are public documents that can be scrutinized and, if and when necessary, can be corrected (see here for further insight on this). These documents are not Scripture, but they help clarify what Scripture teaches on central doctrines. They do not cover everything, but they cover things in a thorough and thoroughly biblical manner.
East Gate is part of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). We believe that church government (aka “polity”) matters. God not only creates the church; He also provides for Her flourishing. How? First, by setting Christ as King and Head of His church (Eph. 1:20-23). And second, by giving her officers to serve her and minister to her – officers who follow Christ, the King.
“Presbyterian” comes from the word commonly translated as “elder” (e.g., Tit. 1:5). Presbyterian churches are overseen by a Session that consists of Ruling Elders and Teaching Elders (commonly called pastors or ministers). Each presbyterian church has a local Session that answers to a regional “presbytery,” made of all the local sessions from that region. And that presbytery is part of the General Assembly, which oversees each presbytery.
While it may sound complicated, we believe that the structure and layers of accountability help to provide good and wise checks, balances, and supports for Christ’s church.