Last week , in a post entitled “Blood in the Water“, I wrote I would start a series on essentials and nonessentials. That post alone drew some obvious interest. The wait is now over. Here we go…
“In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, love.” If I’ve heard this saying once, I’ve heard it a million times. Preachers, teachers, and professors in my “tribe” (the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ) spent many sermons, lectures, and lessons on this saying. What I’ve found interesting is that it isn’t even in the Bible. But the sentiment is. On those things that are essential to the faith, we must be unified. In those things that are not essential to the faith, we have freedom to decide. In all things, essential and nonessential, we’re to love each other.
It’s a really cool statement. I appreciate it. I try to live it out. But I’ve always struggled with something: what things are essential, and what things aren’t? There are a few things we can all agree on (hopefully): the person and work of Jesus, the concept of the trinity (even though that term isn’t in the Bible), the reality of sin, etc. Here’s the thing: beyond these and a few other issues, we don’t agree on what is essential and what isn’t.
First, I think we need to differentiate between what is essential to the Christian faith and what is essential for someone to become a Christian. Many in my tribe have assumed these lists are one and the same. I no longer think they are. Related and intertwined, yes… but not exactly the same. There are some things essential to the Christian faith that aren’t essential for someone to become a Christian (they may not know these things at first, but as they progress in their faith, they come to know these things).
So let’s start the discussion here:
- What is essential to the Christian faith (without these things, the Christian faith falls apart)?
- What is essential for someone to become a follower of Jesus?
A few rules for the discussion:
- Play nice. Feel free to discuss, but do not make it personal. If you can’t play nice, you’ll get one warning and then be placed in time out. Oh yeah–this is your warning.
- Briefly explain your thoughts–don’t just rattle off a list.
Tomorrow, I’ll post about some things I believe are essential. Until then, have at it…