Essential and Non-Essential Doctrines of the Christian Faith

The Bible itself reveals those doctrines that are essential to the Christian faith. They are 1) the Deity of Christ, 2) Salvation by Grace, 3) Resurrection of Christ, 4) the gospel, and 5) monotheism. These are the doctrines the Bible says are necessary. Though there are many other important doctrines, these five are the ones that are declared by Scripture to be essential.”
(Theologian Matt Slick, “Essential Doctrines of Christianity”, CARM website)

THE ESSENTIALS
The Essential Doctrines of the Christian Faith are as follows:

  1. The Deity of Jesus Christ.
  2. Salvation by grace.
  3. The resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  4. The gospel of Jesus Christ, and
  5. Monotheism.

THE NON-ESSENTIALS
A sampling of the non-Essentials is as follows:

  • Eschatology (how and when the end times will unfold, the rapture, the millenium, the role of Israel today, etc.)
  • Earth Age (young v. old earth creationism, etc.)
    Bible translation preferences (King James v. modern translations, word-for-word v. thought-for-thought, etc.)
  • Ecclesiology (church government models, the roles of clergy and laity, are Apostles and Prophets for today, etc.)
  • Soteriological Systems (Arminianism v. Calvinism, etc.)
  • Demonology (can a Christian have a demon or not, teachings on various kinds of spiritual warfare, etc.)
  • Sacrament practices (wine v. grape juice, leavened v. unleavened bread, who can administer, etc.)
  • Modes of baptism (sprinkling v. full immersion, infant baptism, etc.)
  • Worship styles (liturgical v. contemporary, hymns v. choruses, choirs, drums v. organs, etc.)
  • The gifts of the Holy Spirit (tongues v. no tongues, cessationism v. continuationism, etc.)
  • Worship observances (Sabbatarianism v. Sunday worship, observance of special holy days, tithing, etc.)
  • Food and drink (consumption of alcohol v. abstinence, kosher v. non-kosher food, etc.)
  • Various do’s and don’ts (tobacco consumption, playing cards, dancing, makeup, “acceptable” dress, movies, etc.)
  • Etc., etc., etc. This is far from an exhaustive or comprehensive list of Christian non-essentials – it seems endless at times!

SOME RESOURCES
For further clarification on the Essentials and Non-Essentials of the Christian faith we recommend the following resources:

Matt Slick, “Essential Doctrines of Christianity”, CARM website:
http://carm.org/essential-doctrines-of-christianity

While Mr. Slick’s article is an excellent short vernacular primer, C. Michael Patton’s “Essentials and Non-Essentials in a Nutshell” article is the better resource for those seeking a fuller, more nuanced understanding of the subject: http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2011/06/essentials-and-non-essentials-in-a-nutshell/

For those who find Mr. Slick’s outline format a bit too cryptic and Mr. Patton’s article too long should consider this short but insightful “What are the essentials of the Christian faith?” article on the “Got Questions?” website instead:
http://www.gotquestions.org/essentials-Christian-faith.html

“A Bruised Reed” by R.C. Sproul
http://www.ligonier.org/learn/conferences/orlando_2002_national_conference/a-bruised-reed-3167/
This sermon offers a biblical perspective on finding that oh so elusive balance between truth, love, integrity, and tolerance. Christian brothers and sisters you I both appeal to you and challenge you to listen to this amazing sermon. Here’s the description from the Ligonier website:

“We don’t have to look beyond our own churches to see Christians fighting amongst themselves over all kinds of issues. What is the proper way to respond to Christian brothers and sisters when we are in disagreement with them? Should we treat everyone in the church the same? In this message entitled ‘A Bruised Reed,’ Dr. Sproul teaches us about the judgement of charity as we seek to maintain peace and unity within the church.”

In essentials, unity; In non-essentials, liberty; In all things, charity.”
(17th century Theologian Rupertus Meldenius)