Doctrinal Triage

Secondary Beliefs Matter

“Doctrines” is an old word for “teachings” or “instructions.” We tend to use the word “doctrine” when we list our beliefs, usually derived from someone’s attempt to summarize important teachings from Scripture.

We tend to distinguish between the “essential” (fundamental) doctrines of the evangelical faith and what we call “secondary” matters. I have heard many Christians dismiss important secondary doctrines as trivial because they are not among the fundamentals. succinctly summarizes what most of us consider the fundamentals of the faith and what, in the past, used to define the original version of fundamentalism (most of which later came to be known as “evangelicalism”):

1) The Bible is literally true. Associated with this tenet is the belief that the Bible is inerrant, that is, without error and free from all contradictions.

2) The virgin birth and deity of Christ. Fundamentalists believe that Jesus was born of the virgin Mary and conceived by the Holy Spirit and that He was and is the Son of God, fully human and fully divine.

3) The substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ on the cross. Fundamentalism teaches that salvation is obtained only through God’s grace and human faith in Christ’s crucifixion for the sins of mankind.

4) The bodily resurrection of Jesus. On the third day after His crucifixion, Jesus rose from the grave and now sits at the right hand of God the Father.

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Review: Finding the Right Hills to Die On by Gavin Ortlund

"...everybody separates, has lines of demarcation around a set of acceptable views, lines that keep out unacceptable ones. Everybody, I think, stratifies doctrine, from the irascible discernment blogger who seems to treat every doctrine as of first importance to the liberal who makes it all negotiable." - Mark Ward

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“Sometimes we flatten out all doctrine—either because we want to fight about everything or because we want to fight about nothing.”

"If our identity is riding on our differences with other believers, we will tend to major in the study of differences. We may even find ourselves looking for faults in others in order to define ourselves." - TGC

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