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RE: [findingfaith] What are the essentials?

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  • Stephen Shields
    Dave differentiated with: Chris and Stephen, I wonder if we are using the word essentials in the same way. For example, ... Does that mean churches should
    Message 1 of 17 , Jun 1 2:33 PM
      Dave differentiated with:

      Chris and Stephen,

      I wonder if we are using the word "essentials" in the same way. For

      Chris said:
      >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?

      Stephen said:
      >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
      infinite being.

      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
      the dead."

      "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.

      Stephen Shields
      "navigating theology, leadership, and spiritual formation in

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