birdsoftheair.blogspot ). Stan is one of those who have asked me to no longer comment there so I haven't, but he has posted a series in which he goes through what he considers to be Christian essential beliefs.
He begins with the notion that "saved by grace through faith in Jesus" is a line that distinguishes Christianity from other religions. So far, very good. From there, he listed some fairly typical (I guess) notions of Christian doctrines. In his words...
What doctrines did I list as essential? In what I consider a somewhat logical order:
1. The Inerrancy of Scripture
2. The Sinfulness of Man
3. The Atonement
4. The Trinity
5. The Resurrection of Christ
Stan added the caveat...
Now, I, again, need to make it clear. When I say "essential to Christianity", I do not mean that in order to become a Christian you need to believe all these things.
I am not saying that a person who does not have a clear understanding and agreement with, for instance, the mystery of the Trinity cannot be saved. These are not essential for salvation. They are essential for Christianity. They form the primary substance of Christianity. Without them, you have something that is not Christianity.
And I respond by thinking, "hmmm." I'm not sure if I agree. Oh, I believe in most of his essentials - although not the way that Stan wants me to believe (he has decided that I'm not a Christian because I don't believe correctly on some things - that is EVIDENCE of why I'm not a Christian, but it's not what makes me not a Christian, according to Stan). Of course, I don't believe in what he is calling "biblical inerrancy."
I'm no theologian, but I reckon my essentials would look more like this...
UPDATED: Dan's list of Christian essentials IF I WERE TO DO A LIST...
1. The Sin problem of humanity
2. The Love of God for this world and God's desire to save humanity
3. The Grace of God, by which we are saved
4. The Lordship of Jesus
5. The Fellowship/Community of Believers
The advantage to this set of beliefs (as opposed to Stan's) is that they are exceptionally directly biblical. That is, these aren't implied (like he thinks inerrancy is or like we both think the Trinity is, or as his version of Atonement is). My take on them comes pretty directly from Jesus' teachings.
Clearly, we have a sin problem (although Stan and I may look at that differently - more on that in another post). But then, from what I see in the Bible, there is a HUGE emphasis on the love of God for this fallen world. God wishes that we'd ALL be saved, this is what the Bible tells us God wants and this desire springs from God's love for us.
And so we are offered salvation by God's grace. This is what saves us, God's grace through faith in Jesus, as Stan agrees. What I found especially missing in Stan's list (and he apparently thinks it is implied) is any mention of the Lordship of Jesus. That is, we know Jesus' teachings and agree with God that our way is wrong, that Jesus' way is right, we repent of trying to go our sinful way and, by God's grace, live a life walking in the steps of Jesus, our Lord.
Stan may think it's implied, but I think it's important enough to note right up front. After all, someone could believe in Stan's essentials and not be saved at all.
I also think the communion of saints is an important essential, the love of the church for one another and the world.
Again, I'm no theologian, am I off on a wrong trail or does that sound solid? To me, my list is much more "Jesusy" than Stan's. These are teachings that come straight from Jesus the Christ.
Stan's list sounds vaguely more Pauline (well, except for the inerrancy stuff, which Paul doesn't talk about that I see, or the Trinity stuff, but the rest of it...)