Note: As we go through the series on doctrinal perspectives, I will constantly be referring back to the chart I posted in the opening article. It is a chart that I made over the course of a year concerning the three types of doctrine. Remember that it is man-made, nowhere near infallible, and arguable in a few (a few, not many) areas. As we start in Primary Doctrine, the conservatives among us will be pleased. As we move into "Doubtful Things," more liberal believers will probably enjoy what I say more. However, I hope that all of us will learn and grow in our relationship with Christ.
Primary doctrine, as Mark Driscoll describes it, has to do with national borders, not state borders. Since I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel or anything here, I'll just let him describe it:
In the church, there are certain beliefs that are national borders and others that are state borders. The Bible is God’s Word. There is one God in three persons. Jesus is God’s Son. Jesus lived without sin, died on the cross in our place, and rose as our Savior. The Bible is the Word of God. Those are national borders.
Then, there are state boundaries: Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Assemblies of God, Four Square, Reformed, Arminian, etc. State borders. We should get along across the state borders, but we must protect national borders.
So, if somebody teaches heresy, crosses a national boarder, while claiming to be a Christian, we say, “No, we don’t tolerate that.”
(Read the full article here)
Instead of using denominations to define "state borders," I will be talking about specific aspects of theology and secondary doctrine. Anyway, you get the point.
Primary doctrine concerns issues on which Scripture is absolutely clear. These issues, unless purposefully construed into meaning something different, are straight-forward in the Bible. They are areas of doctrine that the Church has upheld for centuries, nearly millennia. The specific doctrines I'm speaking of won't be listed until the next post, but this is the idea of what they are.
The most obvious forms of primary doctrine are the aspects which relate to salvation. As Christians, we understand that there is only one form of salvation and it is found in Christ (John 14:6, Acts 16:31). Inevitably, this separates us from the rest of the world. These are hills that we have to be willing to die on. These issues are worth splitting a church over. These doctrines are what caused Paul to urge Christians to be disconnected from unbelievers. He said:
Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?
2 Corinthians 6:14
It is because of primary doctrine that Paul said to Timothy "Fight the good fight of faith..." (1 Tim 6:12). It is why he urged Titus to "...speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine," (Titus 2:1). Jesus' clear teachings, the primary doctrines He promoted while on earth, fueled His declaration in Luke 10:16 saying, "...he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me." The weight of the truths found in primary doctrine have eternal effects.
The "first column" doctrines (as seen on my chart) are also known as closed-hand doctrines. This means that we hold onto these truths with a closed hand-- no one can remove these principles from our core belief system. If anyone disagrees with these truths, that person becomes a heretic and the Bible instructs us (as we saw in 2 Corinthians 6) to not have fellowship with those people.
These are not people who are in a different Bible-believing church, but these are people in a mosque or a synagogue or a temple. Perhaps they are in another church with a giant Cross on it, but inside they are full of heresy. Jesus dealt with these same kinds of people (Matt 23:27).
The principle behind primary doctrine is to hold fast to what God holds fast to and be willing to be divisive over these issues. None of us like contention; however, it is important that we realize that standing up for these truths which God has given us actually honors Him and brings glory to His name. God isn't looking for a group of push-overs. As Paul said in his second letter to Timothy:
...preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.
2 Timothy 4:2-4
The key passage for closed-hand, national border, primary doctrine is Hebrews 2:3-4 which says
...how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.
God has established His truth which was then confirmed by the apostles to the first believers. Now we have His holy Word that teaches, guides, and directs us in our experience and navigation of truth.
Next time, I will talk about specific areas of primary doctrine which are broken down into three parts: salvation, dogma, and practical reflection. Until then, God bless and know that Jesus Christ loves you!