Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How Should We Handle Interpretation Differences on Secondary Doctrines?

This was a page that the professor handed out for the second to last class of Intro to Biblical Interpretation. I thought it would be a good page to also show you and include as part of the blog rules, because it illustrates doctrines that are essential or non-essential, and how we should respond to differing views on secondary doctrines. Brackets are mine, and Bible verse were removed, leaving only their references to save room, please look them up on your own.

    "In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, and in all things charity [grace]" - Augustine

Some examples of secondary doctrinal issues:

    ~ Eschatology [How/when Christ will return]  ~ Ecclesiology [How the church should be run
    ~ Baptism                                                       ~ Interpretation of the Creation Account
    ~ Spiritual Gifts                                               ~ Divorce and Remarriage
    ~ Women in Leadership                                  ~ Calvinism and Arminianism

Some recommendations of what we should do

    1.  Study the Various Views with an Open Mind, Changing our View if the Biblical Evidence is Convincing (Emphasis Added)
         (2 Tim. 2:15)
         (1 Cor. 13:9-12)

    2.  Study the Various Views as Expressed by those who Hold them, not just those with opposing views that criticize them.

    3.  Develop our own Convictions, yet hold them with humility
         (Rom. 14:5)
         (Eph. 4:2)

    4.  Treat Those who Hold Other Views with Dignity and Respect
         (Matt. 7:12)

    5.  Make Every Effort to Preserve the Unity of the Spirit Through the Bond of Peace, Established by the Lord Jesus.
         (Eph. 4:3)
         (John 17:22-23)

Some recommendations of what we should not do.

    1.  Be Uninformed, or Lazy/Apathetic
    2.  Be Dogmatic; Closed Minded toward other views [on secondary doctrines]
    3.  Misrepresent the views of others, in an attempt to win an argument
    4.  Make secondary issues the litmus test of salvation or evangelical orthodoxy [if you don't believe in infant baptism, or that the world was created in 6, 24 hour days, then I don't think you are a true Christian.]

This really spoke to me during the class, and I really thought "this is how I want the people on my blog to behave," so I thought I would pass it on to you. Let us be salt and light to the world, not have the world drag us down with useless bickering and divisions in the Church due to petty issues.


  1. Hi Joe. I just had your blog recommended to me today, and I've taken a bit of time to look around. I'm looking forward to reading more.

    I like your post on how we would handle differences on secondary doctrines--and I think the recommendations you site are excellent. So many times (and it seems perhaps especially on-line) people are more interested in arrogantly winning an argument than in winning a brother. While secondary things are secondary, they DO matter, and we *should* wrestle with them--together.

    I want to challenge you on one thing that you listed as a secondary doctrinal issue--Calvinism and Arminianism. That is NOT a secondary issue, because it cuts right to the heart of the Gospel. It's not a footnote that can be stuck in the back of a theology textbook, and then ignored as Calvinists and Arminians work happily side by side--those are interpretations that affect almost ALL of Scripture.

    That said, I am Reformed in my understanding of the Word, and I HAVE worked happily, side by side with Arminian brothers--but neither of us have 'stuffed' what we believe, and there is frequent wrestling. (Hopefully with the issue, and not with each other!)

    ANYway, my main point is to challenge you in your thinking on that, and to suggest that the Calvinist/Arminian matter is not a secondary issue.

  2. Welcome to the blog!

    Thank you for your input on the Calvinism-Arminianism issue. I will look further into that, but this was part of a paper given to us in a Intro to Biblical Interp. Class that I took through our church in Hawai'i. I copied it onto the blog because I thought it hit the secondary doctrine issue right on the head, and that was part of it. I will do my research on those two beliefs and will re-evaluate the position on the paper.

    That being said, I hope you find the blog interesting and informational, and I look forward to more comments from you.

  3. Hey Joe, Gideon here. I think Vickie put it quite well; though admittedly I could do a bit more research on both stances, she is right in saying it is not a secondary issue. By the way, how would I go about becoming a member? Thanks, keep up the good work!

  4. Found your blog today and wanted to say I appreciate your thoughts. Keep it up. Hope to be able to read more in the future.


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