Christian Non-Negotialbles?

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by cowboymatt, Jan 28, 2008.

  1. cowboymatt

    cowboymatt
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    What are the beliefs or doctrines that one must hold to in order to be called Christian?

    In my opinion there are two that one must affirm to be Christian: The Trinity (three persons, one substance; includes the deity of Christ) and the efficacy of Christ's death for salvation.

    Would you add more to this? Why or why not?
     
  2. skypair

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    I believe we see them in Eph 4:4-6. These are what it takes to be a Christian: There is only one body (of believers), one Holy Spirit who brings the call of one hope (the gospel truth), one Lord (Jesus Christ), one faith (trust in Him), one baptism (regeneration/rebirth), one God and Father of all Who is above all, through all, and in you all (which seems to mean "all" of the "one body").

    All above that is "unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man" (4:13) or what we call "Christian growth."

    As you see, I added more because that is what gives us "unity in the Spirit," 4:3. You're not really a Christian without it.

    skypair
     
    #2 skypair, Jan 28, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 28, 2008
  3. BobRyan

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    Yes - They have to actually claim to "believe the Bible" rather than constantly trying to re-write and water it down to fit man's preferences.

    So in the case you give of the Trinity - They have to claim to have found the Trinity Doctrine IN scripture. (which can be done with some work) Simply believing a popular idea is NOT Christianity. If anything the first century NT saints were "UNpopular".
     
  4. Chemnitz

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    For creedal churches this is always an easy question to answer. Subscription to the Apostle's and Nicene Creeds and to a slightly lesser extant the Athenasian Creed. Now for salvation althat is need is faith in Christ. I don't expect new Christians to understand or even hold to the creeds right away that will come with time.
     
  5. Alcott

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    Christian Non-Negotialbles?

    Does this have anything to do with the offeing plate?

    I do not hold the word trinity, nor language such as "three persons, one substance" as something one must affirm to be Christian, because scripture does not say it that way. I do think one should affirm Jesus as The Word made flesh, that he is One with the Father, that the Spirit-- which teaches, comforts, and can be grieved by us-- is "given" to every believer, and that by one spirit have we all been baptized. But these phrases-- not 'trinity', 'three-in-one', et al-- are the scriptural ones. And I said the word "should" because it's also not a requirement that one be literate to be a Christian.

    But also, if a Christian must have every doctrine perfect, I don't think there is such a person as a Christian.
     
  6. cowboymatt

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    Let me clarify my point a bit...what I am getting at is how do we tell if a group of believers is Christian or not? Individual beleivers is one thing; only God can be their judge. But can't we and shouldn't we try to determine if sects, cults, churches, etc are Christian? How can we do this?

    I believe we can do this by holding to two non-negotiables: the Trinity and the efficacy of Christ's death to bring about salvation.

    Here's an example. Is Benny Hinn's ministry Christian or not? (Note that I asked if his ministry was Christian, not whether or not he was because that's God's job not mine). Well, Benny Hinn breaks the first of my non-negotiables -- he doesn't believe in the Trinity: he believes that each person of the Trinity is a Trinity, which places him outside of the Christian tradition. Thus, Benny Hinn's ministry is not Christian.

    Another example, T.D. Jakes ministry. Jakes does not believe in the Trinity, therefore his ministry is not Christian. Jakes believes that there is not a Trinity, instead in the unity of God...part of the Oneness movement.

    Other examples could be Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons who don't believe properly about Jesus' nature as expressed in the Bible and Christian tradition, thus their churches are not Christian.

    Any group of people who teach that someone can go to heaven in any way other than through faith in Jesus, who's death on the cross opened the way for us to have eternal access to God, is not Christian. This also would excise any group who taught Jesus plus anything gets one to heave, like the opponents of Paul in Galatians who taught that Jesus plus Law overservance was required.

    It should be noted that there is much room left for disagreement without pulling out the "you're not a Christian!" card. We can disagree about exactly how Jesus' death is efficacious, about the observances of the church, about modes of baptism, etc, etc. But the two things that we must hold to are the Trinity and the efficacy of Jesus' death for salvation.
     
  7. cowboymatt

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    Alcott, read my above post (#6) where I sharpen the theme of this thread. I'm talking about ministries, churches, etc...not individuals.
     
  8. swaimj

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    I agree that the two you have given are critical.

    However, on the subject of the efficacy of Christ's death, I believe that this statement is possibly to broad and too ill-defined to be of use. Some who call themselves Christian would say they agree that Christ's death is efficacious, but not necessarily sufficient alone for our salvation. They would require works for salvation as well. I think the reformers are right to say that salvation is "by grace alone" and "through faith alone".

    Also, if we are going to define the irreducible minimum as to what makes a group Christian, there must be agreement as to our source for forming that definition. The reformers recognized that source as "scripture alone". A group that holds to another source or holds open the possibility of another source is either not truly Christian now or apt to cease being truly Christian in the future.
     
  9. cowboymatt

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    Hmm. Thanks for your comments. You lead me to revise them further: The Trinity and the efficacy of Christ's death alone. I did allude to your point about Jesus plus in a previous post...but thanks for having me spell it out explicitly.

    As far as sola scriptura goes, that can't be a non-negotiable because our first non-negotiable is dependent on the Bible and tradition!
     
  10. trustitl

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    Cowboymatt: "Let me clarify my point a bit...what I am getting at is how do we tell if a group of believers is Christian or not? Individual beleivers is one thing; only God can be their judge. But can't we and shouldn't we try to determine if sects, cults, churches, etc are Christian? How can we do this?"


    Groups can't be Christian. Only individuals can be. Even if a group's doctrines meet your litmus test what good does it do? If you think you are going to take on a group and change them, go ahead. I am going to deal with individuals.
     
  11. skypair

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    trustitl is right. The "church" is not made up of VISIBLE members but the "church" is INVISIBLE to the naked eye -- there are members who believe on Christ in many of these "groups." They have merely been deluded or in the case of wives, led by errant "spiritual heads." I know of a former Baptist woman who nevertheless submits to her Seventh Day Adventist husband.

    Do I think we can identify false Christianity! Absolutely! But don't try to do the reverse -- claim that folks who believe on Christ are not saved because of their affiliations.

    skypair
     
  12. swaimj

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    Luther said (and my quote may be inexact) "Except I am persuaded by scripture and plain reason...." The doctrines of the Trinity and salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone are the results of scripture and plain reason, not scripture and tradition. Again, Luther, "Popes and councils (i.e. tradition) have all been wrong...."
     
  13. cowboymatt

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    Even still swaimj, that's not sola scriptura, thats the Bible plus reason.

    And I believe that it is our duty to call a group Christian or not. It can help keep people from being led astray. I believe that one way to differentiate between groups that are really Christian and the pretenders are my non-negotiables.

    The other purpose of the non-negotiables is to not limit what is Christian to a too-small group, that is, it would be quite bad to say that only people who agree with me about 25 doctrinal issues are Christian. Isn't this exactly what many Christians of the past have done?
     
  14. FriendofSpurgeon

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    Good question -- but I agree with Chemnitz --- look to the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed.
     
  15. cowboymatt

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    Re: the Apostles Creed -- So if someone doesn't believe that Jesus went to hell and interprets those passages differently they aren't a Christian?

    Re: the Nicene Creed -- Boiling down this creed to its composite parts you get my two non-negotiables: the Trinity and the efficacy of Jesus death alone. So I am more willing to accept this but find it simpler and more effective to use my non-negotiables.
     
  16. Agnus_Dei

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    Even Luther couldn’t bring himself to fully support sola scriptura. As Luther translated the bible into German, Luther, as a safeguard, included footnotes…the first biblical commentary.

    InXC
    -
     
  17. mrtumnus

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    That is a very good point Agnus_Dei. If scripture is indeed sufficient, shouldn't one therefore conclude that any sort of biblical commentary is not only unnecessary but also contradictory to a true 'sola scriptura' doctrine?:confused:
     
  18. cowboymatt

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    Sola Scriptura does not mean that we should be Lone Ranger Christians.

    Understanding Scripture is difficult at times, mostly because of the large cultural gap between today's world and the world of the Bible. Why not use the work of people whom you respect to help you bridge this gap?

    But more on point, is sola scriptura a non-negotiable?
     
  19. Heavenly Pilgrim

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    HP: My answer would be an emphatic no. Certainly there are many truths that we receive from Scripture alone, but that is not the position of those claiming sola scriptura as I understand them.

    It is impossible in reality for anyone to hold such a position across the board on all issues. It is a mere sophism, having the ring of truth but practically and in realty impossible to conceive or practice. God grants to men intuitive truth very early in life without which much truth even in Scripture could not be affirmed or denied.
     
  20. cowboymatt

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    I heartily agree!
     

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