Dave differentiated with:
Chris and Stephen,
I wonder if we are using the word "essentials" in the same way. For
>Just like there is unity and plurality
>in the Trinity, maybe stressing both unity and
>plurality among churches would be healthy
>and stressing one against the other would be unhealthy?
Does that mean churches should have unity in essential beliefs? Or are
you saying they have unity in love, mutual respect, etc. but can have
different even contradictory beliefs?
>I suggest that one can make a good beginning
>at the essentials by determining what beliefs
>all of these different yet truly Christian
>churches held in common
I wouldn't think that sharing common beliefs means those must be
essential. However I would expect essential beliefs to be shared by all
I am using "essential" in the sense of what is "required and absolutely
necessary." To remove something essential means that the first thing no
longer exists and it becomes something different. For example Christ is
an essential part of the Trinity. Remove Christ and there is no
Trinity. A god that is not triune is a different god from a trinitarian
god. That does not necessarily mean that everyone must believe in the
trinity. It just means that one belief is true and the other is false.
God may or may not require that people believe that he is 3 persons in
one being. He may graciously accept many people with incorrect beliefs
about his nature. Certainly God cannot require that we have a perfect
conception of him because finite beings cannot fully understand an
On the other hand, is it likely that God requires some minimal
requirements for what we believe? Certainly Paul expressed this at the
Areopagus in Athens. Acts 17:16 says, "While Paul was waiting for them
in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of
idols." If all conceptions of God are equally acceptable then why would
Paul be distressed? Paul goes on to tell the story of Christ and his
resurrection. Then he states in Acts 17:30, "In the past God overlooked
such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For
he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he
has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from
"He commands...he will judge...has given proof..." those are strong
words. If we do not have minimal correct knowledge of God then is it
possible we are really worshiping an idol rather than God? If there are
essentials then it would be good to know them.
Thanks Dave, a helpful distinction.
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