I often here the comment…

Well… That is a nonessential…
Which bodes the questions…

One, how do we know what is a nonessential, and two… if it is Truth, isn’t it essential to believe it? You cannot deny one part of Gods truth by saying “it is a nonessential” yet still say you believe in him. We cannot separate the two. Denying something as truth is equivalently to saying i chose to beleive what i want to beleive, even though it is truth, sense it is nonessential, it doesn’t matter if I believe it.

God wants all or nothing. He does not want you just to believe a little, and ignore the rest. No where does God say in any scripture that a truth of his is unimportant.

How can one say you follow truth, yet also say that something is a nonessential truth?

In Christ

Yes, one wonders why God would fill up so many pages of scripture with inspired unessentials.

I do think of some truths as non-essential. This doesn’t mean they are less true than “more important” truths, but that they are not essential to salvation or the Christian life. An example that pops into my head is the answer to the question, “What is the ‘proper’ mode of baptism?” To which my answer would be, “Trinitarian baptism. Any other issues surrounding baptism are non-essential.”

Okay, I need to edit: I do believe in infant baptism, in case anyone was wondering. I was referring to MODES of baptism.

Interesting, because some groups insist that baptism that is not full-immersion is not valid. So here is a disagreement about the essentials on the very first subject brought up.

That might have been a premature POP! Cuz’ modes and methods are not matters of truth, are they? So it would be subject to judgment calls/preference/custom/etc. whether to do Trinitarian Baptism by full-immersion or water-washing-over-the-candidate.

Are you still thinking of other examples of “non-essential” truths?

:whacky: :wink:

If a person either actively dis-believes or is simply ignorant of the law of gravity, they will experience it’s effects nonetheless. This is of no real consequence as long as they avoid cliffs, roofs, the tops of very tall shubbery etc. :smiley:

The key is that any one truth’s essentialness (if you will) is in direct proportion to the possible result of not believing it.

The larger implications I will leave to other greater minds. (Which ain’t a stretch.) :smiley:


On the first page or so of Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis says one of the first things people disagree over is what constitutes an essential. But I’ll stick with my example. After all, just because some people think the mode of baptism is essential doesn’t make it so. If it were, why does the CC accept any trinitarian baptism as valid for converts?

Other examples of non-essential truths: Anything to do with what Heaven will be like. Anything to do with eschatology except for basics: Death, Judgment, Resurrection, Eternity. The questions surrounding worship styles (music choices, amount of liturgy used, the level and type of congregational involvement, etc.). Whether or not salvation through Christ might extend in the world beyond the number of those who are actively professing Christians. (I think it does; others disagree; it won’t affect our salvation.) The wide variety of other questions involving Christian attitudes toward money and prosperity; war and national conflicts; capital punishment and other legal issues; welfare aid to the poor; and so on. All of these will certainly affect one’s life, but Christians can legitimately disagree on them without affecting their salvation or their relationship to the CC.

An example of a non-essential truth may be that Anna and Joachim were Mary’s parents – but we certainly don’t need to believe this in order to be saved.

I think a good philosophical foundation we need to establish first is whether Truth is Absolute or Relative. Then we should ask whether Truth is one or many, whether Truth is also convertible to another concept (i.e. beauty, wisdom, goodness, power) and what forms of Truth are Absolute, and which are Relative. Applying this to a theological context, one could ask which Truths are Absolute and Final, which are relative or not yet settled, and whether truths can be established in some sort of analytical structure or heirarchy.

I like St. Augustine’s way of putting it:

In essentials unity. In non-essentials liberty. In all things charity.

I’m guessing the saint considered essentials as those beliefs that are necessary to be a Christian. I’m assuming non-essentials are those beliefs about which we should debate but never divide over. We might disagree passionately and then after the discussion go out for a pizza together. If i believe differently than you do about such a nonessential, you might be right in saying i’m wrong, but you should not say i’m not a Christian.

I think the Bible is vague or ambiguous about certain doctrines by design. It makes discussing them fascinating. Thoughtful and respectful disagreements keeps the Christian faith from becoming boring, as i am always discovering something new.

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