Once in 8th grade, I got busted by a teacher for using a word in a term paper she thought I could not possibly have understood or defined. This was not the first time I was challenged as to the authenticity of my academic work. At the age of 13, my teacher thought I was guilty of plagiarism at the worst, or at best I was guilty of trying to impress her with my expansive vocabulary. When quizzed on the meaning of “charisma,” I was close, but my teacher was unconvinced. A rewrite was in order.
For a long time I have employed certain categories without knowing what they meant when speaking of certain doctrines, beliefs and issues that swirl in, out and around the Church. This was not intentional, but easy. Like using a word I did not fully grasp, I have classified doctrines, beliefs and topics as “A,” “B” or “C: issues, without offering any kind of definition to my classification. The intent was to describe the significance, weight and importance of these matters in contrast with each other in an easy and understandable matrix. Yet, I have done this without ever defining what these container should hold.
Recently, I sat down and began to hammer out what I think gets thrown in each bucket.
A Issues: Doctrines which, if incorrect, would exclude someone from of the Kingdom of God.
- The existence of God
- Jesus as Messiah/Christ
- The authority of Scripture
- The historicity of the Scripture
- The physical resurrection of Jesus
- The historicity of Jesus
- The existence of sin
- Humanities need for forgiveness
- The love of God
- The unity and diversity of the Godhead (Trinity)
- The sovereignty of God
- Unmerited grace
- The habitation of the Spirit of God in the believer
B Issues: Doctrines and beliefs that characterize someone within the wider spectrum of the Christian faith based on how Scripture(s) is interpreted.
- Church structure, governance or polity
- Women in church leadership
- Homosexuality or homoerotic behavior
- The use of alcohol or marijuana (if in CO or WA)
- Creation and Evolution
- End times (eschatology)
C Issues: Topics that are a matter of style, tradition or preference, lacking moral implication and authority of Scripture.
- Use of Church Calendar
- Style and form of worship
- Church music
- Meeting time
- Use of liturgy
- Marriage and celibacy
There are several other doctrines, beliefs and topics I am struggling to classify, so this list is incomplete. Also, these definitions and what is placed under them are based on my understanding of Scripture, theology and the wider landscape of the church.