You will find a summary of our Theological views in the sidebar to the right. We believe that orthopraxy presupposes orthodoxy i.e. how you live is inextricably tied to what you believe and our goal is to see all of life transformed by the truth of Scripture.
What are some of our non-negotiables?
Justification is by Faith Alone.
How is a person made ‘right’ with God? How are they ‘justified’? By faith in Jesus Christ alone. People often talk about theological topics and ask, ‘is it a sword worth dying on?’ Our answer to that question about ‘Justification by Faith Alone’ would be a resounding “Yes!” There is nothing that man can do to remedy his condition before God. Nothing. The finished work of Christ is our only hope. Martin Luther said, “Justification is the hinge upon which all Christianity stands or falls.” Christ is our only hope in life and death.
Justification is by Faith Alone, but it never comes alone.
From the first moment that grace was preached there was someone protesting that such grace would lead to ‘license.’ The accusation that freedom from ‘works’ as a means of salvation would lead to a life absent of merciful acts to the poor, love for our neighbors and service in the kingdom has been leveled from the time of Scripture forward. Southwood believes that faith alone saves, but that faith never comes alone! True saving faith ALWAYS ‘looks like’ love for neighbor, service to the needy and caring for the poor. It ALWAYS does, or it is not true faith!
We are grace junkies.
Our understanding of grace flavors everything we do. When you come to see and understand the mercy of God shown to us in Christ, it cannot help but transform everything- every decision, every program, every worship service and every person who comes in contact with it. We don’t love grace because we are ‘good Christians’; we love grace because we are ‘wretched sinners’ who have been loved by God!
It’s okay that you are not okay.
You are a mess. You can clean up for an hour on Sunday mornings, but let’s face it: that’s a façade. If you are looking for other people who are recovering from ‘faking it,’ then you’ve found us. We aren’t ‘fixed’, we can still fake it with the best of them, but we’re repenting of our hypocrisy and often having to repent of our repentance. Southwood is not a place where you have to be perfect it’s a place where you have to be okay with the fact you ARE NOT okay… As one author said, “Being saved is better than being ‘better’!” Amen.
If you are a ‘good person’ you will HATE Southwood.
This is serious. This is NOT a place for high performing, ‘got it all together,’ ‘let me be your spiritual resource’ kind of people. If the thought of sitting in the pew next to people who are messy, in-process, needy sinners who sometimes repent really well and sometimes really ‘blow it’ turns you off, then please consider yourself “disclaimered.” (Here’s a little secret we learned from Jesus: the second sentence is actually a lie. Christ would say that this is precisely the place for you, but it’s going to be really painful and difficult. It can be life changing, but it will likely take some dying on your part first.)
We believe both halves of the Gospel.
Too often the ‘Gospel’ is reduced to simply believing that ‘Jesus died for me.’ We DO believe that Jesus died for us, but we ALSO believe that Jesus lived for us. That living was not simply to be a ‘good example’ or to tell creative Bible stories! We believe He lived to earn our righteousness. He daily kept the Law. We are saved by works; just not our own works. Many well-intentioned religious people believe that Jesus took care of their law-breaking on the cross, but they wake up daily with the mindset that law-keeping is something which they can accomplish with their pious behavior. Only Jesus was blameless and upright before God in every sense. We believe that Christ dealt with our law-breaking as well as our law-keeping! God requires that we be holy and the holiness he required Jesus earned on our behalf. In that sense the Gospel does have two halves: believing Jesus died for me AND believing that Jesus lived for me.
Southwood is a member of the Presbyterian Church in America. We believe that the only infallible rule of faith and practice is Scripture Alone. We subscribe to the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms as containing a summary of Biblical Truth.
We are governed by a board of ruling and teaching elders (called a Session); who are subject to a regional court of churches and ministers (called a Presbytery) and connected nationally to our highest church court (called General Assembly). The General Assembly is comprised of all ministers and churches in the denomination.
Here are a few excellent online resources for further investigation:Presbyterian Church in America
byFaith Online Magazine
Reformed Theology Website
Book of Church Order
Westminster Shorter Catechism