TTT - Take 5 - Essentials

What beliefs are essential to salvation? Obviously, the existence of God is one easily identifiable prerequisite to salvation. What about a belief in the Trinity? What about agreement on which books of the Bible constitute the canon of Scripture? Would you say that someone could not be saved if he/she believes in an old earth view of creation?

In moving forward with the concept of truth, our class is attempting to evaluate which truths are truly subjective and which Truths are objective. Some things easily fall into the subjective category... i.e. movies, favorite books, etc. The most important discussion certainly focuses upon the objective side of Truth.

Our instructor divides the objective analysis into 2 quadrants - Essential Objectivity and Non-Essential Objectivity. Essential Objectivity includes those beliefs that are 'essential' for salvation. Non-Essential Objectivity includes those beliefs that still have a true or false even though thinking Christians may disagree :). For example, the existence of God is easily placed in the Essential Objectivity category, while the date of Christ's return is easily placed in the Non-Essential Objectivity category. The date of Christ's return is fixed by God; however, Christians hold to differing views of when Christ's return will occur.

As we evaluate those things that belong in the essential category, we can be guided by the following principles:
1. As a body of Christ, we should not be divided over non-essentials, no matter how convicted we personally may be about their truth.
2. As believers, we should be willing to die for those things that we consider essential. Honestly, what specific beliefs are you willing to die for, literally or figuratively speaking? Does death sound like an overstatement? In some parts of our world, actual death is the consequence.

Does the Bible teach all things with equal clarity? Does authentic uncertainty about particular topics compromise or empower your witness to unbelievers?

I will close with the idea that we have differing levels of certainty on various Christian subjects. For example, our certainty that Christ rose from the grave most likely exceeds our certainty that the gift of tongues ceased in the first century, right? Have you ever thought of your faith in this manner? Have you ever over-emphasized a non-essential while leaving a discussion of the essentials untouched?
Other posts in this series:
Take 1 - Introduction
Take 2 - What is theology?
Take 3 - Where do you get your theology?
Take 4 - Modern, Postmodern or Indefinable?


Mrs. Edwards said…
Great topic. This nugget of wisdom from a college professor has served me well over the years: He drew two concentric circles, the inside circle considerably smaller than the outer circle. He then told us that the inner circle represented the sort of convictions that, if we were pushed to compromise, we would quit a job over. The other convictions were those that we would defend but would not quit our job (or risk our job) to defend. (It was an economics class!) The principle is sound. Thinking people decide ahead of time what beliefs are non-negotiable.

That being said, I have to say that:
-The Trinity
-The Incarnation of Christ: Fully God/Fully Man
-The Doctrine of Atonement
-The Resurrection
-Inerrancy and authority of Scripture
are central pillars of the faith. Tear one down and the others begin to crumble.

You ask, "Would you say that someone could not be saved if he/she believes in an old earth view of creation?"

This is interesting. Does one's belief or disbelief in a particular doctrine stand in the way of your salvation? At rock bottom I believe that we must "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved," in a spirit of repentance. The regeneration of salvation, the re-birth, happens by the power of the Spirit. It is not by my own power. Christ saves. So if my child-like faith is put in Christ but my doctrinal understanding is minimal or mistaken, does it impair the power of Christ to save me? I doubt it. But, on the other hand, if my convictions are to disbelieve one of the pillars I mentioned above, I begin to call into question my faith.

I hope you are well!
Our school year is winding down and we are beginning to think about our summer schedule.

By His grace,
Laura said…
Love the circle example... amazing that it was presented in an economics class!

Your articulation of this is excellent...
"So if my child-like faith is put in Christ but my doctrinal understanding is minimal or mistaken, does it impair the power of Christ to save me? I doubt it."
My inability to grasp certain doctrines doesn't impair Christ's ability to save, thankfully!

I'm evaluating my 'pillars' right now to make sure I'm 'dying on those hills' instead of the hills of non-essential subjects that I feel passionate about. (i.e. adoption, orphans, and you can probably guess the rest) That stated, I still choose to speak on those non-essential subjects on my blog :) and in future projects ...

Thank you for your always thoughtful comments. It really helps! Laura
Love the topic. We so often do die for the non-essentials. It is great to be reminded that we need to stop and catagorize the essentials and non-essentials.

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