What We Believe

The following is a brief synopsis of the doctrinal beliefs of West Coast Church. In the interest of clarity and the proper emphasis of individual doctrinal positions held by the Church, we have organized the statement into a system of 3 levels.

It should be noted that the list of doctrines contained in this statement is by no means an exhaustive one, but rather a representation designed to give an overall sense of where West Coast Church stands on most important and/or divisive doctrines. However, because unity is a driving value for our vision we have endeavored in these levels, particularly level 1, to reflect a doctrinal openness that does not sacrifice the unity of the Church for the sake of doctrinal speculation. In other words we have made an effort to convey these beliefs in such a way that most of Christendom would at minimum agree with what is actually stated below.

Level 1

In the 1st level is a list of essential doctrines that are considered foundational to Christianity and must be held to unambiguously by all members of West Coast Church. In short, anyone who does not hold to the doctrines listed in Level 1, would be considered (by the leadership of this church) to be a non-Christian.

We believe in one God, Creator of all reality, who is all powerful, all knowing, all present, eternally existent, and revealed to humanity in three distinct yet congruent personal manifestations: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Jesus Christ.
We believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, that he was born of the virgin Mary, that he lived a sinless life, that he was crucified, died and raised from the dead on the third day. We believe that in the person of Jesus Christ, all the fullness of God dwelt in bodily form. We believe that the sinless life, the infallible teachings, death by crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ (The Christ Event) was and is God's revealed means of redemption.

Holy Spirit.
We believe that the Holy Spirit is the personal revelation of God's presence and power. He convicts the world of what is immoral and guides them into righteousness. He converts and transforms the believer into the image of Christ. We believe that He indwells, guides, instructs and empowers the believer for godly living, bestowing spiritual gifts upon them for his service.

Human Nature.
We believe that humanity is created in the image of God, but that we are corrupted by a sinful nature, causing spiritual death, which is separation from God, and which is inherent in every member of the human race. We believe that humanity is subject to the influence of the sinful nature and therefore the deception of the spiritual forces of darkness. Moreover, humanity has within itself no ability to overcome these things due to it's fallen nature.

The Means of Salvation.
We believe that salvation from the ultimate consequences of sin is possible only as the gift of God’s grace. It cannot be earned through any strictly human effort. However, it is freely bestowed on all who, by God's grace, put their faith in the teachings and person of Jesus Christ.

Level 2

In level 2 are a list of beliefs held by the pastoral leadership (i.e. pastors and elders) of West Coast Church. So that any person desiring to hold a position of pastoral leadership in the church would be required to hold these same beliefs. However, disagreement with any of the beliefs in Level 2 below would not necessarily exclude a person from membership in this fellowship.

The Bible.
We believe the Scriptures to be the inspired (God-breathed) Word of God, given for the purpose of revealing to those who believe, their relationship to God and the world. Further, we believe the Scriptures, in their full counsel and rightly divided, to be infallible in regards to these relationships. Thus the Scriptures should be, for the Christian, a point of unquestionable authority in all matters of faith and conduct addressed therein.

Sacraments are, in the context of the Church's life together, the outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace. Below is a brief statement on the two sacraments observed by all Christians.

We believe that water baptism is the outward and visible sign of the inward grace of God realized through faith in Jesus Christ. Celebration through water baptism is an act of obedience to give public affirmation to the belief in all that Christ has done and will do for those who come to faith.

We believe that Communion is a sacrament (sacred act) commanded by Jesus for the continual remembrance of his sacrificial love manifest at the cross and the subsequent communion (relationship) we share with God and each other. The elements (bread and wine or juice) used in communion therefore become the outward and visible signs of Christ's body and blood given over to death for us and our salvation.

Level 3

The list of doctrines found in Level 3 are those which the church considers open to debate and that are unfortunately and, in our view, unnecessarily divisive. Leadership and all other members in our fellowship may embrace either side of the debate characteristic of the beliefs found in this level. However, intolerance toward those who hold to the opposing view is the one thing that the pastoral leadership will not tolerate, because that intolerance would be the result of embracing speculative dogma at the expense of doctrinal certainty concerning Jesus desire for unity. Therefore, members will be asked to agree to disagree concerning doctrinal matters of dispute in the interest of obeying the command to love one another and to strive for unity.

Eternal Security or Perseverance of the Believer The Doctrine of Election.
"Eternal Security" is a point of unfortunate division in the Church Universal and especially among Protestant traditions. The question of whether or not a believer can ever lose their salvation is answered with yes or no based on the attempt of sincere and scholarly believers to interpret scripture passages that support one or the other position. The position of our pastoral leadership is that this is a disputable doctrine not only because Christians are in dispute over it, but because it is connected with philosophical differences about predestination and free will, which human beings have not yet fully comprehended. So, as noted above, we are not willing to sacrifice what we do fully comprehend and understand (Christ's desire for unity) for what we do not fully comprehend and understand.

The gifts of the Spirit.
There are a number of Christians who believe that some or all of the gifts of the spirit ceased to exist in the first century; those Christians that believe this are referred to as “cessationists”. Most cessationists tend to focus what seem to be the more “supernatural” gifts, such as speaking in tongues, healing and prophecy. Very few cessationists would claim that the gifts of teaching or preaching ceased in the first century. But this makes the doctrine seem somewhat arbitrary and inconsistent. Moreover, since there are no scriptures that explicitly and clearly state that any of the gifts of the spirit should cease before Christ’s return, it is the position of West Coast Church that it is at least possible for any of the gifts to be made manifest in any Christian at any time. However, we also recognize that some of the gifts may not have as much purpose today as they did in the first century and therefore may be less prevalent.

There are a number of Christians who believe that the six days of creation spoken of in the book of Genesis are literal twenty four hour periods, these Christians refer to themselves as creationists. However, other Christians, in light of modern scientific advances that date the earth as being about 4.5 billion years old, believe that the days of Genesis are symbolic. These latter Christians point to the fact that much of scripture is clearly meant to be taken symbolically. Moreover, they claim that the general scientific understanding of creation supports the first two chapters of Genesis when the text is interpreted as being at least partly allegorical. The creationists however insist that scripture should be interpreted literally whenever possible and therefore the six days in Genesis must be viewed as being literal twenty four hour periods. While the leadership of West Coast Church has some very definite opinions on this issue, we believe that it is even more important to point out that we do not view either of the positions described above as being central to the Christian faith. We therefore see no reason why Christians should separate on this issue. We do however welcome spirited, but loving, debate.


Finally it should be pointed out that the doctrinal beliefs and positions described above were presented in the simplest and broadest form possible. It is understood that any of these doctrines could have been discussed in far greater detail and complexity. However, as we alluded in the preface, our purpose was not to write a thesis on systematic theology, but merely to give the reader a general sense of where West Coast Church stands theologically. If the reader desires a still clearer idea of the doctrinal and theological positions held by the leadership of this church, we suggest the following:

  1. Look at who we are. By understanding the vision of any church, one will probably get a better understanding of the beliefs of that church.
  2. Listen to some, or all, of our sermons. It is a distinct possibility that theological answers to questions that were not addressed in this statement, may be gleaned from a sample of the actual teachings presented to the church as a whole.
  3. Attend some or all of the Core Classes offered annually by the pastoral leadership.
  4. Finally, we invite you to visit West Coast Church of the Cross in person and speak to one of the pastors, or call us at (941) 360-8888. We hope to see you soon, but if not, we pray that God will bless your efforts to find a fellowship where you can serve in good faith according to what God has apportioned to you.

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West Coast
Church of the Cross

3005 South Tuttle Ave.
Sarasota, FL 34239 [map]


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