Theological Orientation of the University

Fresno Pacific University is sponsored by the Pacific District Conference of the Mennonite Brethren Churches. The school is deeply and intentionally rooted in the Anabaptist Mennonite movement, representative of the radical wing of the Protestant Reformation. As such, it is committed to Anabaptist and evangelical ideals, including: the reconciling power of God's Spirit; an emphasis on voluntary discipleship; radical obedience to Jesus as Lord; the global mission of the church; the church as the community of the new covenant; mutual care and wholistic concern for members of Christ's body; and the call to address, in pastoral and prophetic fashion, the peace and justice concerns of the world.

The theological position of the university is represented in the following tenets, compiled from the Confession of Faith of the General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches. Whereas Fresno Pacific University enthusiastically embraces this theological tradition, it seeks to do so with charity and humility. In keeping with an expressed desire of its sponsoring body in the early 1980s, namely to "broaden the base" of the institution, the university has deliberately chosen to include students, faculty, staff, administrators and board members from a diversity of Christian traditions, who at the same time are supportive of its distinctives and goals. This represents an attempt to embody the New Testament notion of ecumenicalism, rooted in a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and marked by a fervent commitment to a particular core of beliefs and behaviors by people from greatly diverse races, ethnicities and nationalities. Accordingly Fresno Pacific University stresses the following convictions in guiding and shaping the educational community.

God

We believe in one God, eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We believe in God the Father, the Creator and Sustainer of this universe, who in infinite wisdom and love planned the redemption of humanity and accomplished it through Jesus Christ. We believe in Jesus Christ, truly God and truly human, who was born of the virgin Mary, lived a perfect life, was crucified for our sins, rose from the dead and was exalted to the right hand of God. We believe in the Holy Spirit who effects redemption in the lives of those who believe in Christ. He convicts, guides, teaches, rebukes, indwells, empowers, comforts, intercedes, unites believers into one body and glorifies Christ.

The Revelation of God

We believe that God has made His power and deity known in creation. He revealed Himself also in word and deed in the Old Testament. God revealed Himself supremely and finally in the Lord Jesus Christ, as recorded in the New Testament. We believe that all Scripture is inspired by God as people of God were moved by the Holy Spirit. We accept the entire Bible as the infallible Word of God and as the authoritative guide for the faith and life of Christian discipleship.

Humanity and Sin

We believe that humanity was created in the image of God, sinless and in fellowship with God, with a free will to make moral choices. Man and woman chose sin and thus brought death upon the whole human race. As a consequence all people are sinful by nature, guilty.

Salvation by Grace

We believe that there is one God and Mediator between God and humanity. Jesus Christ, who by his substitutionary death has redeemed humanity from the power of sin, death and eternal punishment. We are saved by God's grace through faith in Christ. Those who repent receive forgiveness of sins and by the power of the Holy Spirit are born into the family of God and, as faithful disciples, joyfully obey God's Word.

The Christian Life

We believe that the Holy Spirit indwells every believer and transforms him/her to witness to Christ in daily life. The Christian lives in fellowship with God and other believers and joins a local church at baptism. The believer contributes to the building of the body of Christ with his/her material and spiritual gifts. By the means of grace provided by Christ, the believer seeks to grow to maturity, as this is expressed particularly in the "fruit of the Spirit." Since the Christian's body is a "temple of the Holy Spirit," believers refrain from those things which harm the body and the mind. In striving for perfection the believer recognizes his/her complete dependence on God and the constant need for God's forgiving and cleansing grace.

The Church of Christ

We believe that the church was established through Christ's redemptive work in history, and that it is comprised of all who put their faith in Him and who are baptized by the Spirit into one body, regardless of nation, race or social class. Despite the diversity in congregations and denominations, the Holy Spirit creates unity among all the people of God. The local church is an association of baptized believers. Believers manifest loving concern for each other and submit to mutual admonition and discipline. Those who fail and refuse to be corrected are excluded from the fellowship of the church; those who repent are forgiven and restored.

The Mission of the Church

We believe that the Gospel is "the power of God unto salvation," and that the command to make disciples of all nations is the primary task of the church. Every member of the church is called to participate in the mission of the church as he/she is enabled by God's grace.

The Christian Ministries

We believe that God through the Holy Spirit has endowed all believers and gifts for Christian ministries. Some members of the church, however, are called to lead, to preach, to teach, to evangelize, to nurture; others perform deaconal ministries. The church commissions or ordains people for such ministries and loves, respects and supports those who serve faithfully. Those in leadership are to live exemplary Christian lives.

Christian Baptism

We believe that Christians should be baptized upon the confession of their faith in Christ. Baptism by water is a public sign that a person has repented of sins, received forgiveness of sins, died with Christ to sin, been raised to newness of life and received the Holy Spirit. By baptism a believer enters into the fellowship of the local church and commits him/herself to a life of discipleship and service.

The Lord's Supper

We believe that the Lord's supper is instituted by Christ, whose body was broken for us and whose blood was shed to assure salvation for believers and to establish the new covenant. The supper expresses the fellowship and unity of all believers with Christ. It is a supper of remembrance, celebration and praise which strengthens believers for true discipleship and service. All believers examine themselves in preparation for the fellowship of the Lord's supper.

Marriage and the Christian Home

We believe that God instituted marriage for the intimate companionship of husband and wife, and for the procreation and nurture of children. We also believe that God honors singleness. Believers who marry should have a common Christian commitment; a believer should not marry an unbeliever. We believe that divorce is a violation of God's intention for marriage. We believe that God's love, forgiveness and reconciliation is available also to those who experience brokenness in marriage.

The Lord's Day and Work

We believe that God has called us to work and that work is honorable. However, the Christian also needs to have time for worship, instruction in faith and fellowship. Therefore, following the example of the New Testament church, believers gather on the Lord's day for spiritual upbuilding and limit their labors on that day to work of necessity and deeds of mercy.

Christian Integrity

We believe that Christians are obligated to speak the truth at all times. As a witness to our integrity we refuse the making of oaths, in keeping with what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount. Also, we avoid holding membership in lodges and secret societies, but seek rather to foster fellowship among believers.

The State

We believe that God has instituted the state. Our chief concern and primary allegiance, however, is to Christ's kingdom. We pray for our government, respect those in authority, pay taxes, obey all laws not in conflict with the word of God and witness against corruption and injustice in society.

Love and Nonresistence

We believe that God in Christ reconciles people to himself and to one another, making peace through the cross. We view violence in all forms as a contradiction to the new nature of the Christian. We believe that the evil and inhuman nature of such actions are contrary to the gospel of love and peace. In times of national conscription or war, we believe we are called to give alternative service where possible. Our bond with other followers of Jesus transcends all racial, social and national barriers.

Christ's Final Triumph

We believe that God will some day bring His purposes to a final consummation. When Christ returns, the dead in Christ will be raised and together with the living believers they will be transformed and they shall be forever with the Lord. In the end all evil powers will be defeated, and whereas the ungodly shall suffer eternal punishment, the saints shall enjoy eternal bliss in the presence of God.