Skip to main content

Why it is Essential to Know the Essentials

Last week I completed the first year and first third of the total course work for the Master of Theological Studies at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Of the classes that I am taking in pursuit of this degree, all are online except one (Leadership Practicum). I will be fulfilling this requirement during a unique experience. I just completed History of Christianity I and will be taking History of Christianity II during the second term of the spring semester.
History of Christianity I covered the apostolic age through the middle ages up to the reformation. History of Christianity II will cover the reformation to the modern church age. Following that class I have been blessed to go on a trip with the seminaries Historical Theology professors (Dr. Owen Strachan, Dr. Jason G. Duesing and Jared C. Wilson) to fulfill the Leadership Practicum requirement. We will be going on a historical tour of New England; studying the reformation as it occurred in New England, as well as the gospel work going on there today. My wife will be taking part in the experience alongside me.
This recalls a concern that I have regarding historical theology. My concern regards some of the post that I have seen on social media. Social media is a strange phenomenon, because of this I have been on and off social media a few times in the past. At present, I endeavor to remain on social media in order that I might keep up with those who I know and love.
The problem that I have noticed is a tendency, by those on social media to make non-essentials an essential. I will explain by comparing two men and their beliefs; let’s call them Bill and Bob. Bill and Bob both believe that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit; one God in three persons, a Holy Trinity. Both men believe that Jesus is the God Man; fully God and fully Man except in sin. Both men believe that Jesus death on the cross was a sin sacrifice; Christ died for our sins per the scriptures. Both men believe that on the first day of the week Jesus rose bodily from the dead. Both men believe that Jesus will return and all the dead will rise to face Him in judgment; the goats to eternal punishment and the sheep to eternal life. However, the two men disagree on how to interpret Genesis 1-3. Bill believes Genesis 1-3 to be an historical narrative of creation and the fall of man. Bob believes Genesis 1-3 to be an allegorical narrative on the sovereignty of God and total inability of man. Which one of these two men’s beliefs are orthodox?                           
The correct answer throughout the history of Christianity is that both Bill and Bob’s beliefs are orthodox. A word of warning; if you chose one man’s beliefs over the other there is a chance that you are not orthodox in your beliefs. Notice that I did not ask which man was correct with regards to Genesis 1-3, nor do I endeavor to do so, but I only asked which one of these two men’s beliefs are orthodox. Orthodoxy is based on one’s beliefs regarding the essentials alone. How one interprets Genesis 1-3 is not essential to the Christian faith, it is an important discussion, but not essential to the Christian faith.
These two men can have a brotherly discussion as to why each believes his view of Genesis 1-3 is correct. The conversation must occur where both Bill and Bob affirm the other to be a Christian based on his faith in the essentials alone. They also must end the conversation on those same grounds. If at any time Bill or Bob believes the other to not be Christian, because they do not hold the same position on a tertiary belief like the question in prose, though holding to the previously mentioned essentials, he has crossed the line and is the one in need of repentance. He needs repentance, because he is adding too orthodoxy by making a non-essential an essential.
Dr. Duesing, my last instructor and provost at the seminary described seminary as formal, structured, discipleship. I have learned so much during this past year. Therefore, if you are willing, pray that I continue to grow in faith and knowledge of God, the Father, His only begotten Son Jesus Christ, and the church. May I also grow with regards to love; love both for the church and the lost. Blessings to you all in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Popular posts from this blog

Suffering and Death in the ICU

Suffering: The state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship.[1]Death: The end of the life of a person.[2]Intensive Care Unit: A department of a hospital in which patients who are dangerously ill are kept under constant observation.[3] I cannot continue doing what I have done for the past 21 years. My last day in the intensive care unit will be January 4, 2019. I will be transitioning to Cardiac Rehabilitation. This will be a completely different type of nursing. Cardiac Rehabilitation combines my love of aerobic exercise, knowledge of cardiology and love of people suffering with heart disease. I will be able to invest in their lives in a way that I was never able to do before.  These past 5 days are an example of what my work has been like for the past 21 years: I worked 4, 12 ½ hour shifts. I took care of 10 persons, all of whom suffered but some greater than others. A woman 10 years younger than I suffered a myocardial infarction (heart attack); a woman suffered greatly in the i…

Please, Please, Please Open Your Mouth and Preach the Gospel!

Please, Please, Please open your mouth and preach the gospel! Recently I was asked to do two things: 1) Think back to my own experience of how I was evangelized and describe the experience. 2) If I could go back and give advice to the person or people who ministered to me what would it be?  I began running as a young child. At the age of 5, I ran my first mile with my dad. At the age of 10, I wanted a pair of running shoes like the big runner’s wear. My dad challenged me, if I could run 5 consecutive miles at less than 8 minutes per mile he would by me a pair of running shoes. I met the challenge and he bought me the shoes. While at the runner’s store there was a flyer for an upcoming 10k race. My dad signed us both up for the race. The next year my dad was too busy with work to run with me, but we had new neighbors across the street. I noticed that this man would come home every evening and go for a run. I began running with him, at the time he was pursuing a doctorate at D. T. S., …

Evangelism and Discipleship

The defining mission of the church is to make disciples of all the nations, initiate the new disciples into fellowship through the ordinance of baptism in the name of the Triune God and teach them to observe all that Jesus commanded the first disciples; doing so by the power of the Holy Spirit. For this reason, Matthew 28:18-20 has been called the great commission because Jesus, who has all authority in heaven and on earth (Mt 28:18) commissioned his disciples to do just that. There is an utterance of this great commission at the end of each gospel account and the beginning of Acts. (cf. Mk 16:15, Lk 24:46-48, Jn 20:21, and Acts 1:8) Why? Because evangelism and discipleship are the church’s purpose for existing. For this reason, evangelism and discipleship cannot be separated. They are wholly dependent on one another. Jesus did not commission his disciples at the beginning of his ministry, but at the conclusion, and before his ascension. However, He did send them out on practice evang…