Why Do We Draw the Line?

By Carl Trueman: In recent years, talk of uniting around the center has been very popular in conservative evangelical quarters. One obvious reason for this is that many regard such a center as reflecting the fact that there is a solid core of key doctrines on which evangelicals agree, even though there are areas of disagreement. Thus, many consider Trinitarianism, penal substitution, and justification by grace alone through faith alone to be central points of agreement. At the same time, these same people would regard the subjects and mode of baptism or the details of church polity to be areas of disagreement. Yet, by seeing the former as more important, they regard diversity on the latter as not of truly fundamental significance. A second reason for emphasizing talk about the center is, perhaps, more problematic. Frequently, those who talk of the center as all-important contrast themselves favorably with those they see as emphasizing boundaries. Boundaries are much more problematic in our

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Where and How Do We Draw the Line?

By Kevin DeYoung: “In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity.” Sounds nice, but which are which? Everyone wants to be unified in what really matters, to agree to disagree on what isn’t as important, and to exercise love in all things. But no one seems to agree on what really matters a lot, a little, or not at all. As hard as it can be determining the content of our faith, it can be even harder figuring out where to put up our fences. This business of deciding where and how to draw doctrinal lines is incredibly complex. I can’t begin to do all the necessary biblical, theological, historical, and practical exploration in this article. But perhaps I can sketch an outline of some important considerations. In that vein, here are seven steps we ought to pursue in establishing doctrinal boundaries. The explanations of the points will get shorter as we move through the list. 1. Establish

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Let’s Get Our Theological Priorities Straight

Luke Stamps: Get your priorities straight. This is true in the realm of Christian doctrine, just as it is anywhere else in life. Doctrinal prioritization has a strong pedigree. Jesus himself placed priority on the two great commandments: love God and love your neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40). The apostle Paul placed priority on the gospel proclamation of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection—the message he considered to be “of first importance” (1 Corinthians 15:3). And so all theologians must prioritize. Certain doctrines have greater significance than others for the whole of Christian theology. The deity of Christ is more consequential for the Christian faith than the timing of the millennium. The latter is still important, but it is not “of first importance,” to borrow the apostle’s phrase. But how do we get our doctrinal priorities straight? How do we know when to place special priority on a particular doctrine and when to avoid overstating the significance of another? Several years ago Albert

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Certainty and Openness

This is excellent from Ray Ortlund: Some Christians seem “all certainty.” Maybe it makes them feel heroic, standing against the tide. They see too few gray areas. Everything is a federal case. They have a fundamentalist mindset. Other Christians seem “all openness.” Maybe it makes them feel humble and cool. They see too few black-and-white areas. They’re giving away the store. They have a liberal mindset — though they may demonstrate a surprising certainty against certainty. The Bible is our authority as we sort out what deserves certainty and what deserves openness. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 defines the gospel of Christ crucified for our sins, Christ buried and Christ risen again on the third day, according to the Scriptures, as “of first importance.” Here is the center of our certainty. From that “of first importance” theological address, we move out toward the whole range of theological and practical questions asking for our attention. The more clearly our logic connects with that

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