Defining ‘Essential’ Doctrine in the Church

I like this analogy:


… but also believe it overly simplistic to assume every doctrinal issue within the church can easily be categorized essential/non-essential.

What do you think about this concept? What do you think about the list they share in the video … would you add or take away anything?

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15 thoughts on “Defining ‘Essential’ Doctrine in the Church

  1. Like the analogy as well. But, one man’s state is another man’s national. 🙂

  2. mattdabbs says:

    I kind of find it eerie to just toss around “state” and “national” on these issues off the cuff like that. I think we should know which are which and which ones start getting fuzzy around the line between but I don’t know if I would so quickly jump to answer that question on all the items he was giving. These things take more than gut reflex. Often our gut is wrong.

    One rule of thumb I use is that if I have to jump through more than one flaming hoop of assumption then I can’t make a core doctrine out of it. For instance, they put depravity at birth as a national issue. Really? We all have to agree on that to be a Christian? Or am I misunderstanding them on that? What verse are they basing that off of as a core, identifying marker of Christianity? Are they really willing to draw a line in the sand on that? That is why, for me, I can’t make instrumental music a core issue. I can point to Ephesians 5 but it takes all kinds of assumptions and logical twists to come to an “everything but acappella worship” will send you to hell conclusion. Do I have problems with some IM? Sure. I have some problems with acappella too 🙂 Anyway, you get my point.

    • WesWoodell says:

      Yeah – what’s hilarious is that the entire doctrine of depravity from birth stems from Augustine’s teaching on it, and that teaching was BASED UPON A MISTRANSLATED COPY of Romans 5.

      Romans 5:12 says “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned—”

      Augustine did not know Greek, and the copy of his Bible had a mistake in this verse. Augustine’s version mistakenly said “death spread to all because in Adam all sinned.” That makes a BIG difference! (Learned this tidbit from this guy who wrote his dissertation on Romans in my Romans class at Fuller.)

      An entire doctrine these guys term essential – worth going to war over – was based upon a mistranslated version of the Bible early on.

      Not only is that doctrine non-essential, it’s stupid.

  3. charliesohm says:

    Weak, and a waste of time. If I think you are wrong on a salvation issue, and you think it’s a non-critical difference, then your calling it a national issue belies your convictions, and your calling it a state issue is just restating your ambivalence.

    The other speakers’ hesitancy in tagging those last few as national issues speaks volumes. Obviously, they were in disagreement up to that point, but were willing to play this little word game so they could appear to be accommodating without admitting that they changed their minds about some issue being a salvation issue.

    I have no doubt they all went home, shrugged their shoulders, and were unaffected in their beliefs.

    Also, half of their national issues I would have called state (or even local) issues.

  4. Tyler Ellis says:

    It concerns me any time someone makes a requirement of fellowship what God has not made a requirement of salvation.

    The moment we make any doctrine a test of fellowship, we are adding to the gospel, and making the death of Christ insufficient. The gospel then becomes Jesus + ________ = salvation & fellowship. This goes against the definition of the gospel according to 1 Cor. 15:1-4 and causes one to be in danger of violating Gal. 1:6-9, “another gospel.”

    A challenge I often extend to people is to read the conversion accounts in the book of Acts. Take note of what the apostles preached. Then you can make an endless list of what they did NOT preach. If something is on our list that was not on their list, either they failed to bring people into a relationship with God or we failed to do so.

    Rather than “national” and “state” distinctions, I like to use what is taught in Eph. 4, “unity of the Spirit,” and “unity of the faith.”

    • WesWoodell says:

      “It concerns me any time someone makes a requirement of fellowship what God has not made a requirement of salvation.” – GREAT point.

    • K. Rex Butts says:

      Amen! I’m so glad to see other people catching a whiff of the many ways some Christians turn faith into a “Jesus + _______” faith. There are too many brands of Christianity that do this in order for the subscribers of those brands to protect their own dogma. In the end, it seem that what we have is a conflation of the Gospel with doctrines to the point that there appears to be a great commitment to dogma than to Jesus Christ.

  5. K. Rex Butts says:

    Well, I guess I’m way outside their national border and I suspect I’m not the only Christian. To be quite honest, listening to Discroll on the video just sounded of arrogance…I’m so glad to know he has the boundaries of God’s grace so clearly figured out. Seem’s like there were a few of Jesus’ contemporaries that felt the same too.

  6. […] Recent Comments K. Rex Butts on Defining ‘Essential’ Doctrine in the ChurchK. Rex Butts on Defining ‘Essential’ Doctrine in the ChurchWesWoodell on Defining ‘Essential’ Doctrine in the ChurchWesWoodell on Defining ‘Essential’ Doctrine in the ChurchTyler Ellis on Defining ‘Essential’ Doctrine in the Church […]

  7. […] Ellis made a great point (as usual) in his comment under the previous […]

  8. Tyler Ellis says:

    Terry Haynie, a mentor of mine, once said, “We condemn people to an eternity in hell on less evidence than a judge condemns a criminal to life in prison… and we do it without a tear in our eyes.”

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