What We Believe

What We Believe

At New Life Ithaca, we believe that the Bible is God’s holy, inspired, inerrant, infallible, and authoritative word. This may seem like an antiquated belief about a holy book, but it’s actually what the Bible says about itself. The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is breathed out [inspired] by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” (2 Tim. 3:16). The Epistle to the Hebrews states, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart,” (Heb. 4:12). St. Peter writes:

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Pet. 1:16-21)

Later in his Epistle, he states that what he and Paul were writing was Holy Scripture, “And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures,” (2 Pet. 3:15-16).

The Codex Vaticanus
The Codex Vaticanus, one of the earliest copies of the entire Bible dating from the 4th century.

The first Christian leaders after the Bible was written agreed. In the early 2nd century, Clement of Rome wrote this to the Christians in Corinth, “Take up the epistle of the blessed Apostle Paul. 2 What did he write to you at the time when the Gospel first began to be preached? 3 Truly, under the inspiration of the Spirit, he wrote to you concerning himself, and Cephas [Peter], and Apollos, because even then parties had been formed among you,” (1 Cl. 47:1-3). Around the same time, Ignatius of Antioch wrote this to the Christians of the city of Rome, “I do not issue commandments unto you like Peter and Paul did. They were apostles; I am but a condemned man: they were free, while I am, even until now, a servant,” (I.Ro. 4:3). In this Ignatius demonstrates that he believed that the writings of Peter and Paul were of a greater authority than his own.

Flowing from the Holy Scriptures, at New Life Ithaca, we affirm the ancient faith of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. This is reflected in the historical, orthodox beliefs about God, the Trinity, Jesus Christ, the Church, and the afterlife as stated in the Nicene Creed. The Nicene Creed was affirmed at the Council of Constantinople in 381 A.D. and has been the foundational statement of the Christian faith since then.

The Council of Nicaea

The Greek Original

Πιστεύω εἰς ἕνα Θεόν, Πατέρα, Παντοκράτορα, ποιητὴν οὐρανοῦ καὶ γῆς, ὁρατῶν τε πάντων καὶ ἀοράτων.

Καὶ εἰς ἕνα Κύριον Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν, τὸν Υἱὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ τὸν μονογενῆ, τὸν ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς γεννηθέντα πρὸ πάντων τῶν αἰώνων· Θεὸν ἐκ Θεοῦ, φῶς ἐκ φωτός, Θεὸν ἀληθινὸν ἐκ Θεοῦ ἀληθινοῦ, γεννηθέντα οὐ ποιηθέντα, ὁμοούσιον τῷ Πατρί, δι’ οὗ τὰ πάντα ἐγένετο.

Τὸν δι’ ἡμᾶς τοὺς ἀνθρώπους καὶ διὰ τὴν ἡμετέραν σωτηρίαν κατελθόντα ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν καὶ σαρκωθέντα ἐκ Πνεύματος Ἁγίου καὶ Μαρίας τῆς Παρθένου καὶ ἐνανθρωπήσαντα; Σταυρωθέντα τε ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἐπὶ Ποντίου Πιλάτου, καὶ παθόντα καὶ ταφέντα. Καὶ ἀναστάντα τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ κατὰ τὰς Γραφάς. Καὶ ἀνελθόντα εἰς τοὺς οὐρανοὺς καὶ καθεζόμενον ἐκ δεξιῶν τοῦ Πατρός. Καὶ πάλιν ἐρχόμενον μετὰ δόξης κρῖναι ζῶντας καὶ νεκρούς, οὗ τῆς βασιλείας οὐκ ἔσται τέλος.

Καὶ εἰς τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ Ἅγιον, τὸ κύριον, τὸ ζῳοποιόν, τὸ ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς ἐκπορευόμενον, τὸ σὺν Πατρὶ καὶ Υἱῷ συμπροσκυνούμενον καὶ συνδοξαζόμενον, τὸ λαλῆσαν διὰ τῶν προφητῶν.

Εἰς μίαν, Ἁγίαν, Καθολικὴν καὶ Ἀποστολικὴν Ἐκκλησίαν. Ὁμολογῶ ἓν βάπτισμα εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν. Προσδοκῶ ἀνάστασιν νεκρῶν. Καὶ ζωὴν τοῦ μέλλοντος αἰῶνος. Ἀμήν.

English Translation

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His father before all worlds. God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried. And the third day He rose again according to the scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father. And He shall come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end.  

And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son], who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spoke through the prophets.

And in one holy catholic and apostolic church. I acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. And I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.

We also affirm the doctrinal teachings of the first four ecumenical councils: Nicaea (325 A. D.), Constantinople (381 A. D.), Ephesus (430 A.D.), and Chalcedon (451 A.D.). Our affirmation and ancient beliefs include our administration of baptism to the infants of believing parents and our adherence to the Real Presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper.

St. Augustine of Hippo

As Western Christians, we affirm the Athanasian Creed, the FIlioque, and the Augustinian formulations on original sin, predestination, and grace, expressed at the Council of Orange (529 A. D.). We do not break fellowship with non-Western believers who do not hold to these doctrines, but we believe they are very important to how we think about God, humanity, and salvation.

Martin Luther

As Protestant Christians we adhere to Martin Luther’s great doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone, and the Five Solas of the Reformation. We do, however, affirm the fraternity of Roman Catholics who place their trust in Jesus.

John Calvin

As Reformed and Covenantal Christians, we affirm the teachings of John Calvin about God’s Word, the Church, the Integrity of the Old and New Testaments, and Salvation as expressed in the Scots Confession, the Galican Confession, the First and Second Helvetic Confessions, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Canons of Dort, and the 39 Articles. However, we welcome to full fellowship our brothers and sisters of other Protestant faith traditions including Lutherans, Wesleyan, Anabaptists, Baptists, and Pentecostals.

The Westminster Assembly

As Presbyterians the leaders of our church sincerely receive and adopt the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures, and we observe the form of church government that is stipulated by the Book of Church Order, namely Presbyterian (elder led). However, one does not need to adhere to the teachings of Westminster in order to be a member of New Life Ithaca, and we express close kinship with other Reformed traditions, including Anglicans, Dutch, French, German, and Hungarian Reformed, and other Presbyterian denominations.

The Presbyterian Church in America

We are a member congregation of the New York State Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America. Our pastors are also actively involved in the Ithaca Pastor’s Fellowship, and value Christian fellowship, support, and cooperation with all Christians churches in the Ithaca area.