In the coming months, the RBC elders will be publishing a number of “position papers” which will spell out some of the biblical doctrines and practices RBC leadership deems important. The following is the first of this series. As always, if you have any questions about any of this material, PLEASE contact one of the elders.
Have you ever gotten into a dispute with another Christian over some bible doctrine and afterwards wondered how the dispute became so heated? This has happened to me before, and in retrospect, the doctrines being discussed were usually not life-or-death matters.
When discussing bible doctrine, it is important to keep in mind that all doctrinal issues are NOT of equal value. Some theological issues are more important than others. Here is a helpful way of evaluating the relative importance of bible doctrines, taught to me by Dr. Gerry Breshears (Western Seminary):
- “Die for” Doctrines – These are doctrines that are absolutely foundational to the Christian faith and cannot be compromised in any way. If any of these doctrines are compromised, the Christian faith ceases to be. As such, we will stand firmly and resolutely by these doctrines. Some examples would be salvation by grace through faith, and the deity of Christ.
- “Divide for” Doctrines – These are doctrines that are very important but not absolutely foundational to our Christian faith. These doctrines are important enough for a given individual that if compromised, they feel that they must “divide” from that church fellowship and seek out another place to worship. But as emotional as “divide for” issues can be, we cannot allow them to sever our fellowship with other Christians. An example might be the eternal security of believers, though “Divide for” doctrines can vary greatly from person to person.
- “Debate for” Doctrines – These are doctrines that are of lesser importance that Christians can have passionate debates about but not allow any division to occur as a result of the debate. Again, these vary from person to person. An example might be what the bible has to say about God’s sovereignty vs. man’s free will.
- “Dine for” Doctrines – These are doctrines that are interesting to talk about, but are not hugely significant. We can discuss “dine for” topics, and decide ahead of time that the person with the least persuasive argument gets to buy lunch. Examples might include: What was Paul’s thorn in the flesh? Will there be animals in heaven?
When discussing bible doctrine and practice with others, it is helpful to identify what level of doctrine is being discussed. Frequently, this identification will reduce the intensity level of the discussion, avoiding anger and hurt feelings. Also, as RBC leadership publishes doctrinal position papers, this is an important concept to remember and apply.
Resting in His love and grace,