Who decides?

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by bmerr, May 17, 2007.

  1. bmerr

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    bmerr here. There's alot of talk going around about "essentials" and "non-essentials" regarding the doctrine of Christ. There's even a thread here where people are discussing "what are the essential doctrines of Christianity"?

    What I'd like to know is, "Who decides what is essential and what isn't?"

    Does the Bible tell us, or are men simply stating their opinions as fact? Something I've noticed about the denominational world and what passes for "unity" in it, is the tendency to avoid doctrinal subjects about which there is desagreement. Not on these boards, so much, for anything and everything seems to be fair game here, but in the real world, where political correctness has so infected religion that nobody dares to tell anyone they're wrong, since the only perceived wrong position is the one that says "This is right".

    So who makes the decision concerning what essential/non-essential, or obligatory/optional? Who on earth is qualified for such a thing, and what is the consequence for disobeying him/her?

    In Christ,

    bmerr
     
  2. Tom Butler

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    Soteriology: Essential for unity.

    Eschatology: Not essential for unity.

    The ordinances: Essential. Closely related to soteriology.

    Wine or grape juice: Not essential.

    Ecclesiology: Very important, not critically essential.

    The deity of Christ: Essential.

    The Trinity: Essential

    The resurrection: Essential

    Goatees and shaven heads: Not essential.


    Anybody else want to take a shot at it?
     
  3. billwald

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    Bottom line essentials for the first 1800 years were baptism and the ecumenical creeds.

    Can Baptists who reject the ecumenical creeds honestly call themselves "Christian?" Back before names could be copywritten, the creeds were the only way to restrict membership.
     
  4. Darron Steele

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    [Accidental double post -- see next one.]
     
    #4 Darron Steele, May 17, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: May 17, 2007
  5. Darron Steele

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    There are only two essential Christian doctrines, as I see it:
    1) Jesus Christ is Lord;
    2) Salvation is only possible through Christ providing for us.
    These are the two doctrines that must be believed to make one a Christian -- therefore, they are the only essential doctrines.

    Proper Christian belief would develop from believing those two doctrines.

    Now, as far as "important" doctrines, every doctrine of Scripture is important. In Scripture, as the KJV translates is, the term "doctrine" always refers to something that affects life away from worship assembly.

    Christians all agree on our obligation to serve Jesus Christ; we would not be Christians otherwise. The doctrine that Jesus Christ is Lord is the only doctrine essential for Christian unity. That alone ought to motivate us to put our "Sunday morning" and "Sunday afternoon" and "Saturday meeting" disagreements aside for the Lord's work.

    Most, however, I believe, will not agree -- and do not want to.
     
    #5 Darron Steele, May 17, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: May 17, 2007
  6. bmerr

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    To All,

    bmerr here. But my question to you all is, "Who decides which doctrines are essential, and which are not?"

    For example, Darron said that "There are only two essential doctrines, as I see it."

    Who is Darron Steele to make that call? No offence to Darron, we've spoken on here before, and he seems like a nice, intelligent guy who is pretty well versed in the Scriptures. But is Darron qualified to sort through all of the doctrines of the NT and pull out the two he pulled and say, "These are the only two essential doctrines of Christianity"? I just can't bet eternity on that.

    So who decides?

    In Christ,

    bmerr
     
  7. Darron Steele

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    Bmerr: "as I see it" means from what I read in Scripture. I do not decide.

    You knew that.

    Creative misrepresentation is a common Church of Christ debating tactic. I forgot how creative some of you folks are, so an attempt to be humbly concede fallibility and respect others got misused.

    Most Churches of Christ consider their congregational distinctives that have no natural relevance to life away from assembled worship to be "doctrine." Scripture does not authorize this. In Scripture, "doctrine" always has some relevance away from life away from assembled worship.

    However, it looks like you you have disregarded a Scripture doctrine -- the one about not lying. If you are so concerned about eternity, you ought to read Revelation 22:15 about "every one that loveth and maketh a lie" (ASV).
     
    #7 Darron Steele, May 17, 2007
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  8. rbell

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    Um...God?

    Yes, I know...overly simplistic. But much of our arguments on here are over non-essentials anyway.

    Bmerr said earlier:
    I always get tickled when Church of Christ folk refer to everyone but themselves as "denominational."
     
  9. Salty

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    Who decides? Very simply - when someone comes up with a different opinion / interpretation.

    eg Baptism in the NT all baptism was by immersion. Then one day someone decided it was okay to sprinkle - now we have to specify what baptism means.

    Basically its the same with every doctrine.
     
  10. Agnus_Dei

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    bmerr presents us with a very serious question and one that needs to be addressed. I’m going to naturally present a very unpopular thought, but it’s one that needs to be included, when we talk about who decides which doctrines are essential and which aren’t.

    With the thousands of competing Protestant denominations, which is basically a market place of competing fractions; I’ve often wondered what makes the Baptist view of essential doctrines any more or less essential than let’s say the Methodists view.

    Let’s say I gather in a room a pastor from a Baptist, Methodist, Church of Christ, Lutheran, SDA, and a Presbyterian who all represents Protestantism and a Catholic Priest. I ask a simple question: “I want to know the truth concerning the necessity of water baptism and what its significance is in salvation.” This is by all accounts an essential doctrine.

    Who can answer for Protestantism?

    Well, none of the representatives, b/c no one denomination has any more or less authority over the other.

    Next the Catholic priest steps up and answers the question, b/c he recognizes an authority outside the bible, therefore his view isn’t neutralized by other’s opinion of the bible.

    bmerr asks a very serious question, one that needs to be addressed. And the answers thus far are lacking.
    -
     
  11. BobRyan

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    "Popularity" decides it today just as it did in the days of Christ when the Jews decided it was not "popular" to accept Jesus as the true Messiah.

    Of course that it also how the Jews went on to persecute the Christians and also how the Catholics decided it was right to persecute the protestants.

    Answer me this - what happened to the salvation status of those Jews living at the time of Christ - the moment Christ died and was raised? Were they instantly lost??
     
  12. Darron Steele

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    How about this question: what makes you so certain that I should follow the Catholic bishop instead of the Orthodox bishop? Both groups appeal to the same extrabiblical evidence for their positions. To me, neither has a legimate claim to the claims they make.

    I am going to repeat my assertion that I find no instance in Scripture of KJV "doctrine" referring to any matter with no relevance in regular life. I find no authority in Scripture for calling matters relevant only to assembled worship "doctrine."

    Any Christian follows Jesus Christ, and the direction of their faith is Him. Too often, the foci of Christians' faiths and church-related are our church congregations and religious clubs masquerading as church congregations -- rather than directly on Christ.

    In Scripture, the term "Christian" was a rename of "disciples," per Acts 11:26. In the International Children's Bible, instead of "disciples," that Greek is translated simply "followers."

    All doctrines of Scripture are important, but I posit that the only "essential" doctrines are those doctrines that make Christians into Christians. They are having the correct basic understandings of Who Christ is to follow Him faithfully.
     
    #12 Darron Steele, May 18, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: May 18, 2007
  13. Agnus_Dei

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    You still haven’t answered my initial question; one I feel needs to be seriously addressed.

    But to your question. The Eastern Church lacks the final court of appeal in controversies of faith and morals. In the first millennium the Church employed the Ecumenical Council to serve as this final authority, but for the past 13 centuries Orthodoxy has been unable to convene such a council.

    To elaborate a little; as Orthodoxy begins to seriously engage the world view and values of modernity and post modernity, the need for a final tribunal will become more evident in my opinion. Consider contraception; it used to be the case that all Orthodox theologians would denounce most, if not all forms of contraception. Now, my research has shown that for the past 20 years I’ve seen a growing diversity on this issue.

    Once I decided to leave the fundamental Baptist Church, I was by all accounts headed for Orthodoxy. Yet today, I find myself becoming what I truly never seriously considered…Catholic.
    -
     
  14. Amy.G

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    In this age of grace and the priesthood of the believer, it seems God has allowed us to define our own individual doctrines according to faith in Christ with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He is our High Priest and we offer spiritual sacrifices through Jesus Christ.
    It seems like confusion with all the different denoms, but God knows the wheat from the tares and the truth is available to all. It's just that some have their own agenda (false doctrines) and some desire the truth.

    Just a thought. :)
     
  15. Darron Steele

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    Actually, I did answer your version of the question. You missed it because you would not put the Bible meaning to the Bible term "doctrine."
    Hence, these congregational distinctives which you and Bmerr call "doctrine" cannot be Scripturally called doctrine. Only teachings affecting life in AND OUT of worship assembly can be Scripturally deemed "doctrine."

    As for Bmerr's question, Scripture decides. It is really simple: those doctrines about Christ Himself that make us followers of Him are the essential doctrines. If they are believed, the person is a Christian and is headed to Heaven -- if they are rejected, the person is an unbeliever and has a different eternity.

    As for unity, Scripture nowhere teaches that Christian unity depends on congregations agreeing on their mutually separate meetings. The doctrine that Jesus Christ is Lord and is to be served ought to be enough to motivate us to put our "Sunday disagreements" and "Saturday disagreements" aside. To too many Christians, the fact that someone `dares' to disagree with them is more important than our common task to serve Christ. We need to reverse this, and make our common Christ more important.

    I could talk about 1 Timothy 6:3-4, Titus 3:8-9, and Ephesians 4:2-3 but I doubt anyone would accept that the verses apply to all of us -- not just those who `disagree with our group.'
     
  16. bmerr

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    Darron,

    bmerr here. I did not lie, Darron, nor did I engage in "creative misrepresentation", whatever that is. Please pardon the offence.

    I pointed out the phrase, "as I see it" to emphasize the standard most people use to determine truth, even from the Bible.

    Can one narrow down the teaching of the NT to a few "essential doctrines" with Biblical authority, or do we determine a thing is improtant or not based on whether or not we're in compliance with what the Bible says about it?

    For example, if church A baptizes by immersion, but will fellowship with those who practice baptism by sprinkling, they have made the mode of baptism a "non-essential" without regard for what the NT teaches about it. Other examples could be used as well.

    Do you see what I'm getting at? So much of the division in the religious world is caused by people deciding for themselves which things are important and which are not. If church A decides the mode of baptism is a "non-essential", but church B holds that baptism must be by immersion to be in concert with the NT teaching and practice, then a break in fellowship is the result. A new denomination, or division, is born.

    Didn't mean to ruffle your feathers, Darron.

    In Christ,

    bmerr
     
  17. Darron Steele

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    Bmerr: you and I would get nowhere with arguing over what you tried to do. I see it done all the time to others by people in some parts of the Churches of Christ, and it has been done to me by others as well. If the person is put on the defensive, you folks dig in; if the person sees that the `misunderstanding' was deliberate, the Church of Christ person goes `oops -- I didn't mean to.'

    I am used to these tactics, and here, I get a fair opportunity to challenge such misrepresentations. My "feathers" were not "ruffled." I simply used it to show the worst part of the Churches of Christ: their approved unethics.

    Now, you and I are at a major impasse. You assume, without Scriptural merit, that disagreement = division. It does not. The New Testament church spoke Greek, and different words were used for "division" and "difference in thought." It is a non-biblical belief that difference in thought means division. It is contra-Scriptural to believe that Christian unity depends on everyone agreeing `enough' with any of us.

    You are also failing to distinguish between essential and important doctrines. Essential doctrines are those doctrines absolutely necessary to make an individual a follower of Christ. Important doctrines are doctrines about how to follow Jesus Christ correctly.
    Actually, much of the division in the church is caused by divisive people dividing from those with whom they disagree.
    Actually, Church A is putting their common Christ above the disagreement.
    Again, the assumption you have made is that disagreement means division. The two are different things.

    Galatians 5:19-21 has an interesting list about fleshly inclinations. Galatians 5:19-21 has a list of “works of the flesh” (ASV) = “wrong things the sinful self does” (ICB) that starts with “fornication” (ASV), includes διχοστασια, and ends with “drunkenness|, orgies” (ASV|TNIV). The Greek word means "standing apart"* which means a conscious effort to put oneself in a separation from others. Our churches often like to preach against fornication, and drunkenness, and they are right to do so -- but they want to encourage the divisive behavior. To divisive Christians, that passage refers to `everyone else' who do not agree with them.

    Divisive people are unable to think of, or bear, the thought of serving alongside those with whom they disagree. Hence, when others 'fail' to agree with them, they view this as forcing them to divide. Hence, they indulge their fleshly carnal inclination to divide -- and blame the others for their own sin.

    Divisive Christians often lack humility. They believe that unity in the Lord's church depends upon how much everybody else agrees with them. In other words, they believe that they dictate the terms for unity in Christ's church. They are not fully aware of Whose church it really is. As far as they are concerned, failure to agree with them justifies them their own engagement in divisive activity.

    Another problem we have in the church is people who think they are `God's little helpers.' Never mind that God does not need nor authorize `little helpers' -- they have to `punish' those out of conformity and make sure their disapproval is made known. In other words, they want to sit in judgment on His servants in violation of Romans 14:4 -- and sin with the sanction.

    The reasons for division in the church are indulgence in our carnal natures to be divisive. It is that simple.
     
    #17 Darron Steele, May 18, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: May 18, 2007
  18. Tom Butler

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    Ultimately, the decision on what is essential to felllowship and unity is the individual. He will align himself with other individuals of like mind, and a congregation is born. Congregations will align themselves with other congregations of like mind, and denominations are born.

    Within denominations and within congregations there will be those who differ not so much on what is essential, but what is non-essential.

    I suspect that bmerr will tell you that even within the Churches of Christ there is not unanimity, particularly about what are the non-essentials.

    It'll differ from church to church, by whatever name they call themselves.

    The problem is, all of them will appeal to scripture for their positions.
     
  19. Darron Steele

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    I have to disagree with this. I believe that Christ settled this.

    Paul wrote about God the Father at Ephesians 1:5a “having foreordained us unto adoption as |his own children| through Jesus Christ” (ASV|ICB|ASV). All Christians are adopted by God because of Jesus Christ.

    In describing Jesus Christ, Hebrews 2:10b-11 says “So God made perfect the One who leads people to salvation. He made Jesus a perfect Savior through Jesus’ suffering. Jesus, who makes people holy, and those who are made holy are from the same family. So he is not ashamed to call them his |brethren” (ICB|ASV).

    I do not see any of us as being in a position to reject those whom Christ has accepted.

    Right, but are denominations necessarily divisions? Could they simply be congregation types? I believe they can be -- and should be.
    Right. Not all Churches of Christ consider all Churches to be legitimate Churches of Christ.

    Many of those who have added a ban against musical instruments will not acknowledge those who have not. Many of those who share one cup for the Lord's Supper do not consider those who use multiple cups to be Churches of Christ. There are Churches of Christ that insist that the Lord's Supper must be taken on the second floor; those that have only one floor or use the first floor are rejected. Churches of Christ that accept the possibility that non-Church of Christ Christians do exist are often not acknowledged. There are other shunnings.
    Lest this get twisted, may I suggest a rewording of what I suspect you meant: `The problem is, all will appeal to Scripture for the basis of their beliefs, yet none will totally agree.'
     
  20. BobRyan

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    In that case the Baptist and the SDA will agree. AND the RCC historians will ALSO agree with them that what they state is in fact what was actually practiced by the first century Christian Church!!

    quotes available upon request "as usual".

    Correction - next the Anglican, Eastern Orthodox Catholic, Coptic and Roman Catholic (and a host of others) stand and give their own "fractured Catholic view" that includes "Bible plus evolving man-made tradition" answer.

    But to see the point "more clearly" start with the question "What is the REAL spiritual authority of the Roman Catholic Pope?"
    OR "What is the problem with praying to the dead"??
    OR "What was the right of the RCC to condemn what it called heretics in the dark ages"??

    And your "point is "???

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
    #20 BobRyan, May 19, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: May 19, 2007

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