Protestants: What Are Your Core Beliefs?

In dialoguing with non-Catholic Christians, I’ve been told that as long as Christians agree on the “essentials” of the Faith, disagreeing on the “non-essential” doctrines is permissible.

Other words sometimes used are “core” beliefs or “foundational” or “basic” principles.

So…what are your core beliefs as you understand and interpret Scripture?

Is there any where in Scripture that tells us what is an essential doctrine?

Born & raised Protestant evangelical, I’d never heard of the Nicene creed until I was an adult, but it nicely encapsulates what I’d describe as my “core” beliefs, the sine qua non of Christianity. (And even if I were more firmly Protestant than I still, tenuously, am, I’d agree that God’s Church is “catholic” whether or not it’s Catholic, much as a man can be a democrat without being a Democrat.)

Do you subscribe to Sola Scriptura, Le Cracquere?

From Philedephia Yearly Meeting…"Quakers have traditionally been wary of credal statements as limiting our understanding of God. PYM have avoided prescribed declarations of faith and statements of essiential truth as hindrances to communication with the Divine.

The rejection of creeds does not imply the absence of doctrine or statements of belief. From the earliest times of our society, individual Friends, as well a small group of Friends and Friends’ Meetings, have issued written statements of their beliefs to the world. Among the doctrines finding wide acceptance by Friends are a universal saving light and continuing revelation."

“Friends find their esential unity in their profound and exhilarating belief in the pervasive Presence of God and in the continuing responsibility of each person and worshiping group to seek the leading of the Spirit in all things. Obedience to the leading of the Spirit rather than any written statement of belief or conduct is the obligation of their faith.”

So if a Quaker sincerely believes he’s obeying the prompting of the Holy Spirit and believes that he, for example, must have his son baptized, your church would sanction this?

What about a more radical belief such as believing that ths Holy Spirit is telling him to leave his wife for another woman? What would your church say about this?

Not sure. I think that a lot of doctrines–the Trinity, for example–can be logically/philosophically inferred from the scriptures, even when they’re not explicit. Anyone who so much as forms an opinion about a Bible passage or derives a train of thought from it isn’t practicing sola scriptura in its most radical sense. And I’m no student of Hebrew, Aramaic, or Hellenistic Greek, so in the most literal sense, I’ve NEVER read the Bible, and I’m in deep trouble if I rise or fall by sola scriptura! So I think the uncompromising “Bible Christians” are maybe fooling themselves a bit there.

Nonetheless, there’s a point where extrapolating things from Scripture becomes so tenuous that you’re like a man whose nailed a plank to a building and walked out on it, then nailed a plank onto the end of the first one, and walked out on IT, then a third plank, then a fourth … Eventually, the structure won’t hold, and you’ve left the original, anchoring structure too far behind to bear you up. There are certain Catholic doctrines that seem that way.

So I guess I don’t strictly subscribe to sola scriptura, but rejecting it too cavalierly doesn’t seem smart, either.

While Friends do not practice outward sacraments and rituals, as we collectively feel they hinder our spiritual development…if a Friend chose to have his child baptized, the Meeting would not be against it and some Meetings even make provision with other faith communities for such consderations and accomodations.

Your second question removes the understanding of community from Friends belief. Our lives and how we live are to be in harmony with the collective witness of the Meeting and our Testimonies of the worth of persons. When we enter into marriage we take seriously our words spoken in a Meeting for Worship for Marriage “In the Presence of God and these our friends I take thee__ to be my husband/wife/partner, promising with divine assistance to be unto thee a loving and faithful husband/wife/partner so long as we both shall live.”

Since our Witness to Truth tells us our word must be kept as the People of God, and to break our word to our chosen spouse and do violence to the relationship we have sought to form, it would not seem that a man being led to commit adultery was the leading of the Spirit.

Interesting. It sounds now as though you do indeed have some doctrines, Publisher!

And, it sounds as if you’re saying that *“Obedience to the leading of the Spirit rather than any written statement of belief or conduct is the obligation of their faith” *does not take primacy. Rather, there are some doctrines which supercede one’s obedience to the Spirit, yes?

The Witness and Testimonies of the Meeting are a good place to start. They are corporate guidings of where God would lead His People and how He would have them behave. While Friends may not “draw the line in the sand” when it comes to a stated belief in the Trinity…or Atonement…or Heaven and Hell…Friends typically do have a set understanding of how we are to live as the People of God and how we are to treat others as we “walk gently upon the Earth”.

So I would say…“Yes, there are some things more important than doctrinal statements and creeds…people are more important and how we treat others and our relationships to them have precedence over the confession of creeds and dogmas. This is our first obedience to the Spirit. To recongnize and answer “that of God” in all people.”

This is quite an interesting discussion to me, Publisher. Your post brings up so many questions!

-I’m confused as to where the Quakers “draw the line” in their profession of faith and submission to the Spirit.

-Who is it that gets to “decide” what is obedience to the Spirit, and what contradicts the Spirit?

-if a Quaker decided that defending his country by joining the military was God’s will for him, what would be the Friends’ response?

Each Friend must make the choice for himself…and if it runs counter to the Meeting the individual Friend bears the responsibility for his or her decisions and how they relate to the Meeting’s counsel. Friends seek to gain insight from the counsel of those who have made this Journey before us, through the witness of scripture, spritual writings and discussion with others…but first and foremost a life of prayer and meditation in seeking the will of the Light in our lives.

The Friends Peace Testimony states…“All bloody principles and practices we do utterly deny, with all outward wars, and strife, and fightings with outward weapons, for any end, or under any pretence whatsoever, and this is our testimony to the whole world. That spirit of Christ by which we are guided is not changeable, so as once to command us from a thing as evil and again to move unto it; and we do certainly know, and so testify to the world, that the spirit of Christ, which leads us into all Truth, will never move us to fight any war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the kingdom of Christ, nor for the kingdoms of this world.”

In times past Friends as a whole had to decide how to treat those Friends that decided they must fight and participate in war. The discussion on what to do with these Friends and what role they had in the corporate life of the Meeting was discussed for…decades…if not generations. At one time these Friends who went to war were “read out of Meeting”…(excommunicated). But in keeping with our testimony of the worth of persons and individual conscience, in most Meetings that has changed. While the Friend is strongly counseled against bearing arms and commiting violence the primacy of conscience is also part of the Quaker way. Now days most Meetings do not formally “excommunicate” these Friends, but continue to “hold them in the Light” and be there to help repair the damage done to their spirits IF these Friends choose to return to Meeting.

What we have found in the Meeting I attend…those Friends who chose to join the military…tend to join a faith community that doesn’t stress a Peace Testimony. Some have returned after military service and requested to be put ‘under the care of the Meeting’ once again.

The Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds.

But how do you, as a Bible Christian, determine that those are your core beliefs, if it’s not stated in Scripture? That is, there are no verses in Scripture that say, “these are essential to the faith, and these are non-essential doctrines.”

Ack! I knew you’d ask. Look, I really would rather not see this thread diverted into a series of microarguments about individual Catholic teachings–they get covered pretty adequately in their own threads–but since you’ve asked, I’d include a few of the Marian and social doctrines that Protestants commonly bring up. The scriptural bases that the Church offers often seem like tortured post facto justifications, rather than natural origins for the doctrines.

Why, thanks–I might just see you on your side of the Tiber yet! But need to straighten out the various questions & misgivings first; wish me luck.

Ok. I really don’t want to get into that here either. Maybe I’ll see you on another thread, however, that discusses these doctrines!

Why, thanks–I might just see you on your side of the Tiber yet! But need to straighten out the various questions & misgivings first; wish me luck.

I’ll do that and one-up it…I’ll offer up a Chaplet of Divine Mercy for you today, Le Cracquere. And on Friday, I’ll offer up a fast for you (just from chocolate, but it will indeed be a sacrifice! :D) Your search for Truth is pleasing to God–of that I am certain!

God bless you, PRMerger–and don’t think I don’t know the sacrifice you’re making! [eyeing my chocolate stash nervously and covetously]

As a Lutheran, I would start with Scripture as the foundation of our faith. This does not mean that Scripture is the only statement of what we believe – we accept and confess the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds as expressions of our Trinitarian faith. We also hold to the Lutheran confessions, as found in the Book of Concord, as further true expositions of scripture.

I don’t know what you mean by Bible Christian (what the heck is a Bible Christian?), but Anglicans/Methodists see scripture thru the lenses of tradition, reason, and experience. The Creeds certainly come to us through tradition - which is a valid and essential source of our faith.

I’m not sure where you’re coming from. :confused:

What Pastor Gary said. I think Lutherans can also add the early councils.

Jon

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