The Free Reformed Churches of Australia adhere to the following doctrinal standards and confessional statements that summarise the teachings of Scripture.
The Three Forms of Unity
The Three Forms of Unity is a collective name for the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dort.
The Heidelberg Catechism was written in Heidelberg at the request of Elector Frederick III, ruler of the most influential German province, the Palatinate, from 1559 to 1576. This pious Christian prince commissioned Zacharius Ursinus, twenty-eight years of age and professor of theology at the Heidelberg University, and Caspar Olevianus, twenty-six years old and Frederick’s court preacher, to prepare a catechism for instructing the youth and for guiding pastors and teachers. Frederick obtained the advice and cooperation of the entire theological faculty in the preparation of the Catechism. The Heidelberg Catechism was adopted by a Synod in Heidelberg and published in German with a preface by Frederick III, dated January 19, 1563. A second and third German edition, each with some small additions, as well as a Latin translation were published in Heidelberg in the same year. The Catechism was soon divided into fifty-two sections so that a section of the Catechism could be explained to the churches each Sunday of the year.
Originating in what is now current day Belgium this document is a confession of faith chiefly authored by Guido de Brès. First written in 1561, it was revised and adopted by the Synod of Dort in 1618-1619. It is one of the best statements of the Calvinistic system of doctrine. Guido de Brès was martyred for the Reformed faith in 1567.
Canons of Dort
The Canons were written in response to the Five Articles of Remonstrance authored by followers of Jacobus Arminius in 1610. They refute five Arminian articles, namely; conditional election, universal atonement, partial depravity, resistible grace and the possibility of a lapse from grace. The Synod of Dort in 1618-1619 set forth the Reformed doctrines on these points, namely; unconditional election, particular or limited atonement, total depravity, irresistible or invincible grace and the perseverance of the saints.
We confess the ecumenical creeds to be true and accurate summaries of the Bible.
The Apostles’ Creed
This creed is called the Apostles’ Creed, not because it was written by the apostles themselves, but because it contains a brief summary of their teachings. It sets forth their doctrine, as has been said, “in sublime simplicity, in unsurpassable brevity, in beautiful order, and with liturgical solemnity.”
The Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is a statement of the orthodox faith of the early Christian church in opposition to certain heresies, especially Arianism. These heresies concerned the doctrine of the Trinity and of the person of Christ; they were refuted at the First Council of Nicea (325 A.D.).
The Athanasian Creed
This creed is named after Athanasius of Alexandria (293-373 A.D.), champion of orthodoxy against Arian attacks on the doctrine of the Trinity. The teachings of Augustine (354-430 A.D.) in particular form the background to the Christological section.