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  1. #1
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    Christianity, United in Essentials

    Inspired by this thread (and a discussion we were having in the Christian forum), I created this simple outline which I plan to elaborate on as time allows. In short, it is not true that there is no central or core teachings of Christianity. All Christian denominations teach the core

    These are called "essential doctrines." It is a doctrine that is connected with our salvation. It is these doctrines that are embedded in the early creeds of Christendom. Moreover, there are a number of doctrines that theologically undergird this gospel that saves. Paul spells out these 3 aspects of salvation in Romans 1-8. After discussion our condemnation in 1-3, he sets forth the gospel in 3 stages: justification (3b-5), sanctification (6-7), and glorification (8).

    Justification is defined as saving us from the past penalty of sin. Sanctification is is salvation from the present power of sin. Glorification is salvation from the future presence of sin. As time becomes available, and as more interest is shown in a particular essential (or even nonessential), I will provided a theological defense for the specific doctrines. For now, a general outline and explanation will have to suffice.

    In essentials, unity. In nonessentials, liberty. In all things, charity (love). - Augustine, giving the famous dictum in which this argument is inspired.



    Essentials - the major doctrines

    Doctrinal Essentials - doctrines that make salvation possible

    These are the essential doctrines on which all orthodox Christians have agreed down through the centuries. It is in these essential teachings taht the church finds is true doctrinal unity. To date, every major section of Christendom has assented to these teachings. That is, the doctrinal essentials have been accepted explicitly by all, and the other two essentials (revelation & interpretation) have been either expressed (revelation) or implied (interpretation) in their teachings as well.

    Navy - Justification (1st stage of salvation); salvation from the penalty of sin
    Green - Sanctification (2nd stage of salvation); salvation from the power of sin
    DarkRed - Glorification (3rd stage of salvation); salvation from the presence of sin


    1. God's Unity
    2. God's Tri-Unity
    3. Christ's Deity
    4. Christ's Humanity
    5. Human Depravity
    6. Christ's Virgin Birth
    7. Christ's Sinlessness
    8. Christ's Atoning Death
    9. The Bodily Resurrection of Christ
    10. The Necessity of Grace
    11. The Necessity of Faith
    12. The Bodily Ascension of Christ
    13. Christ's Priestly Intercession
    14. Christ's Bodily Second Coming


    Without any of the points in Justification being true, we cannot be delivered from the wrath of an angry God for our sins.

    Christ's ascension constituted an official completion of His earthly mission of salvation and signaled the beginning of His high priestly ministry on behalf of our sanctification. It is by virtue of His blood that He entered heaven on our behalf and lives to make intercession for us. Christ is our advocate in direct opposition to Satan's charges against us.

    Christ's 2nd coming signals the final defeat of death, sin, and suffering. We will be saved from the very presence of sin.

    Revelational Essential - the source of knowledge that makes us aware of these fundamentals by which we are saved

    1. Inspiration of the Bible - more on this later

    Interpretive Essential - what makes doctrinal essentials possible

    1. Historical-Grammatical Method of Interpreting Scripture (Literal) - more on this later


    Nonessentials - the minor doctrines

    The nonessentials are about theological diversity, which as such, need be no more divisive than ethnic diversity. However, like ethnic superiority, when theological diversity turns to dogmatism in nonessentials, it becomes divisive. So, with the major exception of liberalism, which denies essential doctrines, the problem of true doctrinal unity among all major sections of Christianity has not pertained to the first 3rd of the famous dictum, "In essentials, unity." The problem has invariably pertained to the last 2 parts. The failure to recognize liberty to differ in nonessentials has been one of the great problems plaguing orthodoxy. Indeed, Fundamentalism has constructed nonessentials into essentials, just as surely as liberalism has made nonessentials out of essentials. Both have been divisive.

    Historically, for example, the church divided into East and West (A.D. 1054) over the nonessential doctrine of whether the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son (West) or from the Father alone (East). The doctrine of church government is another nonessential over which many churches have divided. More specifically, the early postapostolic period witnessed the emergence of competing Presbyterian (rule by elders) and Episcopal (bishop over elders) forms of church government. Premedieval times witnessed the emergence of regional bishops over area churches.

    This was followed in the medieval church by one bishop of Rome over all churches (the Pope). By the time of the Reformation and following, all three basic forms of Episcopal government (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and some Lutherans), Presbyterian government (Reformed and Presbyterian), and Congregational government (Anabaptist) were in full swing.

    Further divisions came to pass over time, and all were over nonessentials. As the thread progresses (and/or as I have more time available to devote to this topic), I will provide those examples. For the purposes of introducing this topic for discussion however, I think there have been sufficient examples provided.


    1. Procession of the Holy Spirit
    2. Forms of Church Government
    3. Grace, Faith, and Works
    4. The Extent of Salvation
    5. The Candidate, Mode, and Efficacy of Baptism
    6. Nature and Function of Communion
    7. Nature of Sanctification
    8. Use of Musical Instruments in Worship
    9. Day of Worship
    10. Order of Second-Coming events
    11. Role of Women


    In essentials, unity. In nonessentials, liberty. In all things, charity (love). - Augustine


    So what needs to be believed for Salvation?

    An important distinction must be made at this point. There is a difference between a doctrine necessary to make salvation possible and one that is necessary to believe in order to be saved. All the essential doctrines listed above are necessary to provide salvation, but not all are necessary for an individual to obtain salvation.

    It is not necessary, however, to believe all of those essentials to be saved (or justified). To clarify, to be saved, it is necessary to (1) believe in one God, (2) that Christ is His Son, (3) that we are sinners in need of God's grace, and (4) that Christ died and rose from the dead for our sins. That's it. Nothing more. The other doctrines are implicit (implied, though not directly expressed), but not necessarily explicit (fully and clearly understood) in what we must believe to be saved.

    This doesn't make the essential doctrines unimportant however. It is through these essentials that salvation is possible, and it is what all churches of God (the Christian God) ought to be teaching as an essential, according to Scripture. To teach something other than the essentials as an essential, would be heresy, unscriptural.

    Historical Approaches to the Essentials of Faith

    Throughout church history, a number of important creeds* -- formal confessions of belief based on Scripture -- have been formulated as statements of orthodoxy. What is significant is that the essential doctrines listed above also appear in these early creeds of the Christian churc. Thus, we have historical confirmation of the theological process by which we have come to the same conclusion. What follows are the various creeds and the # of the essential doctrine being represented in these early creeds.

    The Apostle's Creed

    The roots of the Apostle's Creed began in the 2nd century, and additions have been made in the centuries that followed. This creed arose out of the early Western church and should be thought of as a summary of the Apostles' teaching rather than directly attributable to them. All the essential doctrines are found therein:

    I believe [11] in God [1] the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord [2,3];
    who was conceived by the Holy Ghost [6,7], born of the Virgin Mary [6,7], suffered [4,8] under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead [4,8], and buried; [he descended into hell;]**
    the third day he rose again from the dead [9]; he ascended into heaven [12], and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father [13] Almighty;from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead [14].
    I believe in the Holy Ghost [2]; the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness [8] of sins [5]; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting [10,13]. AMEN.

    It is noteworthy that all 14 salvation doctrines are contained in this earliest of the patristic creeds. Further, the revelational essential [14] is listed as well.

    * Creeds are not inspired as Scripture is inspired. Neither are they authoritative as Scripture is authoritative. But insofar as they accurately reflect what the Scripture teaches, they are helpful "measuring sticks" for orthodoxy.
    ** This phrase is not in the earliest forms of the creed, but was added in the 4th century.

    The Nicene Creed (A.D. 325)

    This creed was first formulated at the First Ecumenical Council, held at Nicea, located in what is now Turkey, in 325, as a response to the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ. It was revised at the Second Ecumenical Council, held at Constantinople in 381 as a response to the Macedonian or Pneumatomachian heresy, which denied the divinity of the Holy Spirit. The Nicene Creed likewise contains all 14 essential salvation doctrines:

    We believe [11] in one God [1] the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

    And in one Lord Jesus Christ [2,3], the only-begotten Son of God [3], begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made [3], being of one substance [2] with the Father by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation [10], came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit [4] of the Virgin Mary [6,7], and was made man [4], and was crucified [8] also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried [4], and the third day he rose again [9] according to the Scriptures [14], and ascended into heaven [12], and sitteth on the right hand of the Father [13]. And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end [14].

    And we believe [11] in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life [2], who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified [2], who spoke by the prophets [14]. And we believe [11] one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the remission [5,10] of sins [4]. And we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come [14]. Amen.

    Notice that in addition to the 14 essential salvation doctrines, this creed makes reference to its teaching being "according to the Scriptures" [14] (a revelational essential) as the basis for the salvation doctrines mentioned in the creed*. As well, many of its phrases are taken directly from Scripture, thereby showing its obvious dependence on Scripture.

    * Various updated translations of this creed have been adopted by different groups, but the general content remains the same.

    The Creed of Chalcedon (A.D. 451)

    This creed was adopted at the Fourth Ecumenical Council, held at Chalcedon, located in what is now Turkey, in 451, as a response to certain heretical views concerning the nature of Christ. It established the orthodox view that Christ has two natures (human and divine) that are unified in one person. It embraces all the essentials of the preceding creeds and adds further definition to the unfolding theological essentials. It stresses the triune Godhead, the virgin birth of Christ, His humanity and deity. The creed also speaks of the revelational essential of Scripture, affirming, "the prophets from the beginning [have declared] concerning Him, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself taught us.

    We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [co-essential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets from the beginning [have declared] concerning Him, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.


    The Athanasian Creed (after A.D. 451)

    This creed is attributed to Athanasius, the fourth century bishop of Alexandria who was the strongest defender of the doctrines of the Trinity and the divinity of Christ. It defines the doctrines of the Trinity and the nature of Christ in very concise language.

    Please note that the term "catholic" with the lower case 'c' is not a reference to the Roman Catholic Church, but is a reference to the universal Christian faith, since that is how the term was originally used.

    Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance.

    For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit. But the godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is all one, the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal.
    Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.
    The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal. And yet they are not three eternals, but one Eternal.

    As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated, but one Uncreated, and one Incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Spirit Almighty. And yet they are not three almighties, but one Almighty.
    So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. And yet they are not three gods, but one God.

    So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord. And yet not three lords, but one Lord.

    For as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge each Person by Himself to be both God and Lord, so we are also forbidden by the catholic religion to say that there are three gods or three lords.

    The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone, not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Spirit is of the Father, neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
    So there is one Father, not three fathers; one Son, not three sons; one Holy Spirit, not three holy spirits.

    And in the Trinity none is before or after another; none is greater or less than another, but all three Persons are co-eternal together and co-equal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.
    He therefore that will be saved must think thus of the Trinity.

    Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right faith is, that we believe and confess, that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man; God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of the substance of his mother, born in the world; perfect God and perfect man, of a rational soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father, as touching His godhead; and inferior to the Father, as touching His manhood; who, although He is God and man, yet he is not two, but one Christ; one, not by conversion of the godhead into flesh but by taking of the manhood into God; one altogether; not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person. For as the rational soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ; who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, He sits at the right hand of the Father, God Almighty, from whence He will come to judge the quick and the dead. At His coming all men will rise again with their bodies and shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.

    This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved.

    The Athanasian Creed affirms the foregoing doctrines (1-14), placing strong emphasis on the deity of Christ (3). In addition to affirming the essential doctrines of the previous creeds, it emphasizes the Trinity and incarnation of Christ. Further, it was directed against many heresies. Against Tritheism, it affirms "there are not three Gods: but one God." Against monophysitism (which merged the divine and human natures of Christ) it asserts that there is no "confusion" or commingling of the two natures of Christ. Against the nestorians (who taught there were two natures and two persons in Christ) it declares there is a "unity" of the two natures in one person. Against Arianism (which denied the absolute deity of Christ), the Son is declared "coequal" in "substance" with the Father, and was not "made" but was "uncreated" and "eternal."

    This also eliminates the heresy of adoptionism, which argued that Jesus was merely a man adopted into the Godhead as Son. Moreover, Apollinarianism, which argued that Jesus was not fully human (having a human body and soul, but lacking a true human spirit), is excluded because it refers to the Son being fully human, a "perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting," not partially human.

    Finally, this is the first of the creeds to explicitly address the nature of the final judgment after Christ's second coming as leading to everlasting life (heaven) for the saved and everlasting fire (hell) for the lost, thus rejecting both universalism and annihilationism.




    Summary

    What that saying means, is that we (as people who claim to believe in the Christian god) are to be united in the core doctrines, the essentials. And when we are not, then we are to be divided in these essentials. And what this means is that when someone/a church preaches/teaches something other than the essentials, there needs to be that divide on the grounds of heresy. The reason being is that they are not teaching scripturally, not teaching what is considered by the early church and its fathers to be true, and instead, they are teaching something else (something heretical). If they do not share these essentials, they are simply not an orthodox Christian church or denomination and are heretical. Essentials are a matter of truth, they are a matter of what is relevant to salvation and are what is required for salvation to be so. To teach that which is contrary is to teach a heretical teaching, leading people astray and possibly away from salvation as their doctrines are guilty of heresy.

    In the nonessentials, we allow for liberty or the freedom to believe what their culture or sub-society prefers and values. We are not to be divided over such things because these are the minor doctrines, they have nothing to do with salvation itself which is what is relevant. We are not to cast out other churches or people who for example, believe that there should be no music in church or the significance of works (either being trumped up or downplayed). They are allowed to believe such things and still be a part of the Christian Church (not a formal church, but an inclusion in the church or following of Christ). Such things are a matter of taste, not a matter of truth.

    Lastly, when we have differences in nonessentials, we are to be charitable and welcome such diversity. It is not heresy to use a different amount of water in baptism than another church. To proclaim it so and be combative is what causes unnecessary division over nonessential doctrines. It is what causes chasms in churches, and tears apart communities (of which, Paul speaks about quite a lot in all his letters). It is about these things that it is not important what we believe, but how we behave (Ephesians 4:15).

    So it is not true that there is no unity, that there is no "theology" in Christianity. It is a gross misunderstanding of theology but also of history itself. What Christianity does unite in, it does so on the essentials. And where there are differences, they are the nonessentials and ought to be allowed. When there is a difference in a nonessential, the church (collection of Christians and Christian churches) ought to accept that theological differences are perfectly fine, just like ethnic differences. It is only when these differences become dogmatic and erroneously claimed to be essentials that there is a problem. When differences do exist, charity ought to be exercised. It is unfortunate that throughout the history of Christianity that principles such as unity without diversity, diversity without divisiveness, and cooperation without compromise have been neglected. On one extreme, orthodoxy has often been expressed without charity. On the other extreme, some have shown a propensity to sacrifice orthodoxy for the sake of unity or in the name of charity. Still, other ecumenically minded proponents have confused uniformity with unity, or diversity with divisiveness.

    In all of this, there are many lessons to be learned from the history of the church - lessons that can help us (Christians of many backgrounds and beliefs) overcome these extremes and practice more perfectly the dictum, In essentials unity; in nonessentials, liberty; and in all things, charity. And perhaps those who are unbelievers will come to understand why there is diversity within the church and that diversity does not equate to divisiveness. That there is diversity is not an argument for the nonexistence of essentials or the unity thereof. It is merely an example of how diversity stretches across all aspects of human culture, including religion. And that is just fine.


    Sources
    The above is summarized from an excellent book on this very topic titled Conviction Without Compromise.
    http://carm.org/christianity/creeds-...n-creed-451-ad
    http://carm.org/apostles-creed
    http://carm.org/nicene-creed
    http://carm.org/christianity/creeds-...n-creed-500-ad
    Last edited by Apokalupsis; September 12th, 2012 at 07:14 PM.
    -=]Apokalupsis[=-
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    I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. - Thomas Jefferson




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    Re: The Doctrines of Christianity

    This is a great post, but I can't see how it reconciles the current and historical divide between Catholics and Protestants.

    Notably, their position that salvation is earned through both faith and "meritorious works" seems to contradict your section on salvation. Also, your post's emphasis on the Scripture as the only necessary core source (I am paraphrasing) seems to me to be distinctly Protestant, and something that Catholics would not entirely agree with.

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    Re: The Doctrines of Christianity

    I'm trying to find the right words in my reaction to reading this...

    As a person outside your essential faith, it strikes me as just a sort of grandstanding based on the authority of a specific tradition rather than any kind of independently reasoned argument. So if the question is "What are the core traditions of the roman catholic church" then this is a fairly reasonable answer. If the question is "what is the truth of god" then it doesn't have much to stand on unless you accept that tradition = truth.

    If a christian group claims that the christian roman emperors politicized and corrupted Christianity, then none of this holds any weight for them. If like Jefferson you distrust biblical writers like Paul who mythologized Jesus, then none of this holds much weight for you.

    So I guess I'm curious who the intended audience is for this debate. What underlying assumptions come along with it?

    --- further thoughts ----

    If I were Jesus all this would strike me as a bit silly. Jesus didn't ramble on about his mother being a virgin, Jesus didn't teach anything called trinity, yet he did take pains to teach other things about poverty, and obedience and so fort repeatedly which don't appear in your list of essentials. Indeed what you deem essentials I would describe as window dressing for the real message of love, forgiveness and obedience. Jesus didn't demand you have a certain mental picture about god, he demanded that you simply obey god and be humble before him. Jesus was not big on a bunch of stickler details about faith and worship. He didn't talk about metaphysics or require certain symbolic ideas to be accepted. All that seems to come from some desire that there be a one true way that men can point to other men and judge them, but that is something Jesus specifically warned against.

    It strikes me as very misguided.
    Feed me some debate pellets!

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  6. #4
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    Re: The Doctrines of Christianity

    I would say point one two and three all say the same thing. Jesus was God on earth. I wouldn't go far as saying most, but many unitarians don't teach Jesus as God.

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    Re: The Doctrines of Christianity

    Quote Originally Posted by AuspiciousFist View Post
    This is a great post, but I can't see how it reconciles the current and historical divide between Catholics and Protestants.

    Notably, their position that salvation is earned through both faith and "meritorious works" seems to contradict your section on salvation. Also, your post's emphasis on the Scripture as the only necessary core source (I am paraphrasing) seems to me to be distinctly Protestant, and something that Catholics would not entirely agree with.
    Neither is an issue.

    Both Protestant and Catholic believe in the necessity of grace [3]. It is what makes salvation possible. The divide is how works plays a role in the faith. That is, it is the relation of grace to works, the extent of grace, and the means of obtaining grace. Ask any Catholic, and they will tell you that it is not because of one's works that one is saved. That is, one's works is not meritorious of one's salvation. They do agree that it is because of Christ's sacrifice, offering to us, and our acceptance of Christ's grace that we are saved. To be clear, Roman Catholics believe in the necessity of grace but not in its exclusivity in salvation. Catholics believe good works are also a condition of salvation. Protestants of course, deny this. This view, however, still maintains the necessity of grace and faith as fundamental to salvation.

    To be clear:

    Catholics and Protestants agree that bare, sterile faith cannot save. Furthermore they agree that true faith is always accompanied by good works. However they part company when it comes to the purpose of such works. For Evangelicals, good works are the necessary fruit and proof of genuine faith, for which Christ will reward them at His return. For Catholics, good works preserve and increase their personal righteousness for their final justification.

    It is true that no sinner is saved by his own works. "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us" (Titus 3:5). When Lazarus died, he could not do anything to revive himself. Only the Lord Jesus could bring him back to life by His almighty power. Yet, when Christ saved him from death, Lazarus came out, breathing, moving, and walking. This is a picture of salvation. Our works do not save us, yet saved people do good works because they are saved and have eternal life! To say that works are 'not necessary at all' is akin to saying that Lazarus did not need to breath and move after Christ called him from the grave.

    In Ephesians 2:8-10, the Bible teaches that we are not saved because of our good deeds ("not of works, lest anyone should boast"). That is only half of the story. The same passage also teaches that we are saved for a very specific purpose, namely, to do good works ("created in Christ Jesus to do good works"). Good works are not the cause, but rather the result (the purpose, the fruit) of salvation. So good works must always accompany true faith. Yet true faith rests in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation, and not in the merits of personal works. We are called to believe "in Christ"!

    Both truths - salvation is not by works, but saved people do good works - are emphasized in the Scriptures.
    http://www.justforcatholics.org/salvation_works.htm

    Catholicism does not teach that because one does works, one is saved. Both Protestant and Catholic agree with the various orthodox views, and that is what is important here. Specifically:

    1. Man is so depraved that he cannot save himself [5].
    2. God's grace is absolutely necessary to our salvation [10]
    3. Faith is absolutely essential to receive the gift of salvation [11].
    4. Not our works, but only Christ's death can procure our salvation [8].


    In addition to these fundamental doctrines all orthodox Christians hold in common, there are other core truths all parties can or should agree on:

    1. Apart from God's grace, no one would even seek to be saved.
    2. Our faith is not the source of our salvation; God's grace is.
    3. We cannot merit our salvation by doing good works alone; God's grace is necessary.
    4. Even the good works we perform after salvation are not performed apart from God's grace.


    Of course, there are many more issues on which there are disagreements, but they are not fundamentals of the Faith, and should not be treated as such. Even though we may have strong beliefs about some of these nonessential doctrines, they should not hinder us from fellowshipping and cooperating with those who disagree. Unfortunately, this nonessential is one that has caused direct conflict between Protestant and Catholic, both failing to realize that it is not an doctrinal essential, but a nonessential.

    As far as Scripture being the only necessary core source, that is not an essential. Nor have I argued anywhere that it is. What is agreed upon by both Protestant and Catholic alike, is that Scripture is divinely inspired, and from this, theology is derived.

    This should not be confused however, with the idea that one must believe that scripture is inspired in order to be saved. They don't have to believe that at all. But if the Bible were not inspired, we would have no sure foundation for the essentials that are necessary to believe in order to be saved. So the doctrine of Scripture is fundamental to the other fundamental doctrines. This is recognized by all Christian denominations, it is the fundamental of the fundamentals.

    ---------- Post added at 02:13 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:12 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by kevin View Post
    I would say point one two and three all say the same thing. Jesus was God on earth. I wouldn't go far as saying most, but many unitarians don't teach Jesus as God.
    Points 1-3 are distinctly different. And examples of how are given in the creeds. Lastly, Unitarians are not Christians.

    btw...someone's prediction just came true. Good thing no one went in on that little wager he made in the shoutbox.
    -=]Apokalupsis[=-
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    I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. - Thomas Jefferson




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    Re: The Doctrines of Christianity

    So Mormans, Unitarian, Johovas' witness, United Church of God, many Pentocastals, and who knows all else don't count as Christians anymore? I don't think the trinity is established as mandatory.

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    Re: The Doctrines of Christianity

    Quote Originally Posted by kevin View Post
    So Mormans, Unitarian, Johovas' witness, United Church of God, many Pentocastals, and who knows all else don't count as Christians anymore? I think the idea of the trinity is not solidly Christian unless you establish Paul as the sole authority.
    All those who reject the essentials cannot be considered orthodox Christians. They reject both the scripture and the historical agreement (through the cited creeds) and practices of the early church. They hold beliefs that the early church directly addressed through these creeds. And to avoid this thread turning into irrelevant discussions and pointing out the logical fallacies (as seems to occur in almost the threads you participate in unfortunately), I will avoid addressing your posts unless there is an actual sound or cogent and substantiated argument. I will have to reserve my participation to serious debaters only as my time is limited and valuable.
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    Re: The Doctrines of Christianity

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    All those who reject the essentials cannot be considered orthodox Christians. They reject both the scripture and the historical agreement (through the cited creeds) and practices of the early church. They hold beliefs that the early church directly addressed through these creeds. And to avoid this thread turning into irrelevant discussions and pointing out the logical fallacies (as seems to occur in almost the threads you participate in unfortunately), I will avoid addressing your posts unless there is an actual sound or cogent and substantiated argument. I will have to reserve my participation to serious debaters only as my time is limited and valuable.
    Seems like the only non catholics who might quilify are lutherans. No too much room for debate unless your a catholic.

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    Re: The Doctrines of Christianity

    This may seem like a vague or irrelevant question, but can the OP be read, from a Christian perspective as, "if you follow these core doctrines you will be "saved" and thus be a Christian"?

    in other words, is it accurate to say that proof of the singularity of Christian doctrine is shown because all of those who believe in the essentials will go to heaven, while the rest will not"?

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    Re: The Doctrines of Christianity

    Quote Originally Posted by AuspiciousFist View Post
    This may seem like a vague or irrelevant question, but can the OP be read, from a Christian perspective as, "if you follow these core doctrines you will be "saved" and thus be a Christian"?
    No. See So what needs to be believed for Salvation?

    The thesis of the op is that there is unity in the essentials. There is liberty in the nonessentials.

    Where there needs to be divide (that is, an exclusion of those who claim to be a part of the church), is found in the essentials.
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    Re: The Doctrines of Christianity

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    No. See So what needs to be believed for Salvation?

    The thesis of the op is that there is unity in the essentials. There is liberty in the nonessentials.

    Where there needs to be divide (that is, an exclusion of those who claim to be a part of the church), is found in the essentials.
    so why aren't the essential doctrines simply the ones required for salvation?

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    Re: The Doctrines of Christianity

    They are. You are confusing "necessary to make salvation possible" (aka "necessary for salvation") with "necessary to believe in to be saved."

    So what needs to be believed for Salvation?

    An important distinction must be made at this point. There is a difference between a doctrine necessary to make salvation possible and one that is necessary to believe in order to be saved. All the essential doctrines listed above are necessary to provide salvation, but not all are necessary for an individual to obtain salvation.

    It is not necessary, however, to believe all of those essentials to be saved (or justified). To clarify, to be saved, it is necessary to (1) believe in one God, (2) that Christ is His Son, (3) that we are sinners in need of God's grace, and (4) that Christ died and rose from the dead for our sins. That's it. Nothing more. The other doctrines are implicit (implied, though not directly expressed), but not necessarily explicit (fully and clearly understood) in what we must believe to be saved.

    This doesn't make the essential doctrines unimportant however. It is through these essentials that salvation is possible, and it is what all churches of God (the Christian God) ought to be teaching as an essential, according to Scripture. To teach something other than the essentials as an essential, would be heresy, unscriptural.
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    Re: The Doctrines of Christianity

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    They are. You are confusing "necessary to make salvation possible" (aka "necessary for salvation") with "necessary to believe in to be saved."

    So what needs to be believed for Salvation?

    An important distinction must be made at this point. There is a difference between a doctrine necessary to make salvation possible and one that is necessary to believe in order to be saved. All the essential doctrines listed above are necessary to provide salvation, but not all are necessary for an individual to obtain salvation.

    It is not necessary, however, to believe all of those essentials to be saved (or justified). To clarify, to be saved, it is necessary to (1) believe in one God, (2) that Christ is His Son, (3) that we are sinners in need of God's grace, and (4) that Christ died and rose from the dead for our sins. That's it. Nothing more. The other doctrines are implicit (implied, though not directly expressed), but not necessarily explicit (fully and clearly understood) in what we must believe to be saved.

    This doesn't make the essential doctrines unimportant however. It is through these essentials that salvation is possible, and it is what all churches of God (the Christian God) ought to be teaching as an essential, according to Scripture. To teach something other than the essentials as an essential, would be heresy, unscriptural.
    I'm sorry, I'm having a hard time understanding this:

    So it is necessary for a Church to teach the Virgin Birth, but it is not necessary for me to believe it in order to be saved?

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    Re: The Doctrines of Christianity

    I suppose that's a very loose way to put it, but more accurately it should be understood that if a church is going to teach about Christ's birth, then it does need to be taught it was a Virgin Birth. But more importantly to the point, an essential doctrine is one that makes salvation possible, is the foundation of salvation itself. All major sections of Christendom throughout history have held these doctrinal essentials to be true. Some of these essentials are necessary for an individual to believe in order to be saved (according to scripture), but not all. Specifically, it is necessary to (1) believe in one God, (2) that Christ is His Son, (3) that we are sinners in need of God's grace, and (4) that Christ died and rose from the dead for our sins.

    But these 4 doctrines do not makeup Christianity...that is, there is more to the core. How so? Because there is a difference between what one needs to accept (believe) and the actual allowance for salvation itself. That "allowance," is a collection of essential doctrines, they are the foundation of salvation.

    Think of it this way (and this is a very simplistic analogy mind you, but one I think is fitting on a surface level that at least explains in a crude way the difference between essentials, nonessentials, and the "obligation" or belief of the person)...in order for a usable building to exist, it must have a foundation (floor), walls, entrance, and covering (ceiling). This is a very basic building of course. But together, these components make up what is referred to as our building. These are essential elements of a building. There are of course many features we can add to this building (pluming, lighting, heating/cooling, windows, etc...). Some buildings have such features (and more) and some buildings do not. There are a great many types of buildings. Buildings are diverse as they have many "nonessential" elements to them. But all buildings have at least a foundation, some walls, ceiling and an entrance of some sort (the essentials).

    Now, what is required for someone to use the interior of the building and seek shelter (against rain for example)? There must be the ability to enter the building and there must be space inside the building for them to fit. They must willingly use the entrance to enter the building and use the space available. They do not need to have a position on what the foundation is made out of....nor do they need to believe that the dimensions of the walls are of a specific value...nor do they need to believe that the ceiling will protect them from all disasters (such as a nuclear catastrophe) in order to use the building. What the person must do to gain shelter from the building is entirely different than the building itself. The building allows the person to seek shelter from the rain. The person doesn't need to understand all the facets of building construction, have a firm grasp of the materials used, agree with the dimensions of the building, etc... They merely need to use the entrance and move from the outside of the building to the inside of the building.

    Think of it as "abstraction" if you are familiar with computer science (although, really, abstraction applies in everything we do on a daily basis). We need not understand everything about a computer (its circuitry, how data is processed from our keyboards into machine language and stored in binary formats, understand how images are compressed then stored as bits, etc...) to actually use a computer. Likewise, we need not fully understand or even believe every essential doctrine in Christianity to be saved...we need only believe a few core truths (which happen to be essentials).

    This thread isn't how to be saved...but rather it is an argument that essentials of Christianity do exist and all major denominations or sections of Christianity accept these essentials, without exception. What they get sidetracked on, and what unfortunately, creates divide which has resulted in physical conflict, is a disagreement on nonessentials and their categorization. The essentials however, have remained in place, and it is what makes a particular sect/denomination Christian.
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    Re: The Doctrines of Christianity

    I think what Apok is saying is that without that core doctrine, the christian philosophy doesn't work, aka doesn't make sense. So for example if you didn't believe in virgin birth, then it would mean Jesus is the son of man rather than God and thus couldn't save you. So if you believe something different than the core, then the conceptual framework that enables salvation would bey dysfunctional.

    You don't personally have to understand that instinctual engineering to be saved by God, but if you believe something else you are failing to understand the true structure of the way God operates which enables salvation.

    So if you were a Mormon, it would be like believing there are gnomes in your corroborator. You still are driving the car around, but your understanding of the car is fundamentally flawed since if there were gnomes in the corroborator the thing wouldn't actually work. On the other hand if you believe the Naugahyde seats are leather, it doesn't really matter that much since either one will get you where you are headed.
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    Re: The Doctrines of Christianity

    lol well, I guess that is true to an extent. I do agree with it, but I think the post goes a little further than that in that it is claiming throughout the history of Christendom, all denominations have agreed on the listed essentials and where they have differed, even to the point of resulting division and unfortunate violence is in the nonessentials. In addition, there is a way to determine whether or not a particular sect is Christian or not...and that is to compare its teachings and core beliefs (as a church) to the doctrinal essentials.

    ---------- Post added at 04:29 PM ---------- Previous post was at 04:16 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    I'm trying to find the right words in my reaction to reading this...

    As a person outside your essential faith, it strikes me as just a sort of grandstanding based on the authority of a specific tradition rather than any kind of independently reasoned argument. So if the question is "What are the core traditions of the roman catholic church" then this is a fairly reasonable answer. If the question is "what is the truth of god" then it doesn't have much to stand on unless you accept that tradition = truth.

    If a christian group claims that the christian roman emperors politicized and corrupted Christianity, then none of this holds any weight for them. If like Jefferson you distrust biblical writers like Paul who mythologized Jesus, then none of this holds much weight for you.

    So I guess I'm curious who the intended audience is for this debate. What underlying assumptions come along with it?
    The audience is for both Christian and non-Christian. It is a clarification of doctrines and what they are considered (essential or nonessential). Furthermore, each and every doctrine and placement of it (as an essential or nonessential) is in fact reasoned and revealed to be the case. Scripture supports the doctrine as well as it being an essential or nonessential. Historical practices and corrections by the early church confirms this. Arguments can be presented for each of the doctrines being labeled as such as well. But as explained in the op: I created this simple outline which I plan to elaborate on as time allows. Meaning, the parts to elaborate on would be the justification of a particular doctrine itself. Each doctrine could of course, take up an entire thread. It is not my intent to create a wall of text that turns off the reader due to many inapplicable or irrelevant explanations, but rather provide an outline and opening case for the existence these doctrines in their respective categories.

    --- further thoughts ----

    If I were Jesus all this would strike me as a bit silly. Jesus didn't ramble on about his mother being a virgin, Jesus didn't teach anything called trinity, yet he did take pains to teach other things about poverty, and obedience and so fort repeatedly which don't appear in your list of essentials.
    I think you misunderstand what an essential is then. There have been a few posts since your initial post I'm responding to, perhaps clarification has been provided since.
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    Re: The Doctrines of Christianity

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    I think you misunderstand what an essential is then. There have been a few posts since your initial post I'm responding to, perhaps clarification has been provided since.
    More likely I disagree about what qualities make something essential. I would say that which is most essential thought is that which is most critical to good decision making. Whether Jesus was born from a virgin is not as essential for decision making as if you should be forgiving to other people. The first is a magic act, the second is a fundamental part of human interaction and spirit.
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    Re: The Doctrines of Christianity

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    More likely I disagree about what qualities make something essential. I would say that which is most essential thought is that which is most critical to good decision making. Whether Jesus was born from a virgin is not as essential for decision making as if you should be forgiving to other people. The first is a magic act, the second is a fundamental part of human interaction and spirit.
    This is just equivocation though. The context in which I am using "essential" is not "that which promotes good decision making in general" in this specific thread, but rather "What Christian doctrines allow for the salvation of one's soul?."

    In other words, the issue here is not "What promotes good decision making?", that is a different thread. The issues here are:

    1) What is necessary to allow for salvation to be possible? <--- primary
    2) What is necessary for one to believe in order to be saved?
    3) Is there agreement between all major sections of Christendom and what are they?

    You may not find this particular thread interesting Sig, but I do, as do several members (especially considering another thread is related to it and there is a discussion in the private Christian forum about it). Fortunately, we as members can always choose to participate or not participate in threads we do not find interesting.
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    Re: Christianity, United in Essentials

    Quote Originally Posted by apok
    I suppose that's a very loose way to put it, but more accurately it should be understood that if a church is going to teach about Christ's birth, then it does need to be taught it was a Virgin Birth. But more importantly to the point, an essential doctrine is one that makes salvation possible, is the foundation of salvation itself. All major sections of Christendom throughout history have held these doctrinal essentials to be true. Some of these essentials are necessary for an individual to believe in order to be saved (according to scripture), but not all. Specifically, it is necessary to (1) believe in one God, (2) that Christ is His Son, (3) that we are sinners in need of God's grace, and (4) that Christ died and rose from the dead for our sins.
    What if, hypothetically, all knowledge of the other essential doctrines are lost and a church teaches only these four doctrines (any question about things like Christ's birth is answered with "I don't know")? Is that church a Christian church?

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    Re: Christianity, United in Essentials

    Quote Originally Posted by AuspiciousFist View Post
    What if, hypothetically, all knowledge of the other essential doctrines are lost and a church teaches only these four doctrines (any question about things like Christ's birth is answered with "I don't know")? Is that church a Christian church?
    I don't see why not. But I don't think that is likely to happen. I think one of the rather interesting things about Christianity is its perseverance through adversity and hostility. Many regimes have attempted to silence and/or destroy it. The fact that we have so many manuscripts and so much history made available to us about Christianity, it's doubtful that it will ever be in a state that no one knows "much" about it. In fact, if Christianity is true, then it will not happen for it is protected by God. If it is not true, it is of course possible, but because, like I said, it has so much support in the form of historical documents, there will probably never come a time in which it is an "unknown" religion. Perhaps the most likely scenario would be if there were some apocalypse that destroyed most of humanity and the documents of antiquity (of all kinds). But again, a condition of that would be that Christianity is not true I think.
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