Doctrinal Basis

A Brief Apologia - Why Do We Have a Doctrinal Basis?

Why do we have a doctrinal basis?  Briefly, it identifies us with the confessions of historic Christianity and is hence a point of unity among diverse Christian traditions. C.S. Lewis (former Oxford professor and a "patron saint" of the Christian student movement worldwide) called this "mere Christianity"; others call it "core" or "cardinal" doctrines. It clarifies our stand for those who want to join a like-minded group, as well as for those who (while we do not necessarily doubt their faith) choose not to join because their own views diverge too greatly. It can help protect us against false teaching as well an providing a fruitful foundation for deepening faith, community, and witness. InterVarsity Staff, faculty advisors, and student leaders all affirm the basis of faith each year (note this is not a requirement of members -- anyone can participate in LCF no matter what his or her beliefs).

Many people in the modern "skeptical" university question any sort of "confessional basis" at all, but it is hard to imagine establishing an identity without some sort of confession. Even a foundational belief of like "all truth is relative" (relativism) is a "confession" for a certain kind of worldview (albeit one that undermines itself). Everyone has a confession (or starting point), though not everyone can articulate it, reflects on it, or acts on it consistently. 

In a time when the existence of campus Christian organizations is being challenged (you can read about various legal wranglings in Wisconsin and other places on ADF or IV's site) having an official statement like a "doctrinal basis" seems to provide opponents with an easy thing to attack. We've decided to stay "out of the closet," however, and go ahead with being explicit about who we are.

All this being said, it is important to keep in mind that our identity is found ultimately in relationship to Christ. It is not finally in any summary of teachings, however useful it might be in clarifying and supporting that relationship.

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA Doctrinal Basis

We believe in:

The only true God, the almighty Creator of all things,

existing eternally in three persons

Father; Son; and Holy Spirit; full of love and glory.

The unique divine inspiration,

entire trustworthiness,

and authority of the Bible.

The value and dignity of all people:

created in God’s image to live in love and holiness,

but alienated from God and each other because of our sin and guilt,

and justly subject to God’s wrath.

Jesus Christ, fully human and fully divine,

who lived as a perfect example,

who assumed the judgment due sinners by dying in our place,

and who was bodily raised from the dead and ascended as Savior and Lord.

Justification by God’s grace to all who repent

and put their faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.

The indwelling presence and transforming power of the Holy Spirit,

who gives to all believers a new life and a new calling to obedient service.

The unity of all believers in Jesus Christ,

manifest in worshiping and witnessing churches

making disciples throughout the world.

The victorious reign and future personal return of Jesus Christ,

who will judge all people with justice and mercy,

giving over the unrepentant to eternal condemnation

but receiving the redeemed into eternal life.

To God be glory forever.

The Purpose of InterVarsity

In response to God’s love, grace, and truth: The purpose of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA is to establish and advance at colleges and universities witnessing communities of students and faculty who follow Jesus as Savior and Lord: grow in love for God, God’s word, God’s people of every ethnicity and culture and God’s purposes in the world.

The Vision of InterVarsity

This is an older statement from IV, but helpful because it gives a more specific list of the historic values that still inform the student movement.


The vision of InterVarsity is to build collegiate fellowships, develop disciples who embody biblical values, and engage the campus in all its ethnic diversity with the gospel of Jesus Christ. InterVarsity pursues its vision committed to these Biblical Values:

      Evangelism. We believe that every person ought to have the opportunity to respond to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and to accept His invitation to follow Him into a life of Christian discipleship.

      Spiritual Formation. We will teach and practice spiritual discipline (i.e. personal bible study, prayer, reliance upon the Holy Spirit, worship) so that men and women can learn to grow in Christian obedience and Christ-like maturity.

      The Church. We will serve the church by helping each person to appreciate its purpose and by encouraging their activity as lifelong worshipers and participating members.

      Human Relationships. We will teach and demonstrate by example the command of Christ that we love one another and that healthy human relationships are a mark of true discipleship and eventuate in fruitful friendships, marriages, and working partnerships.

      Righteousness. Aware of the reality of evil as it exists in the human heart and in the social structures and systems of the global community, we will teach and demonstrate repentance and humility and the importance of personal integrity, compassion, and prophetic renunciation and confrontation.

      Vocational Stewardship. We will challenge Christians to acknowledge the stewardship of personal skills and vocational opportunity so as to bring honor to God through our work in the college community, in the home, or in the marketplace.

      World Evangelization. Believing that God has called all Christians to involvement in world evangelization, we seek to help each person know how to hear that call and discover their place of maximum participation.