So. It’s my week for clichés apparently. My apologies if you have a strong gag reflex. But it seems to fit in this case. Sort of…
As I mentioned yesterday, I want to share the “Non-Negotiables” that I have been referring to over the past week or so. These are my foundational beliefs upon which all others must stand. If I am considering an argument or position, it gets put through this filter. This, of course, is a simplified version of each of these positions, and there is nuance that I do not get into here. But for my own internal processing, the statements outlined below represent the general direction of my thought process as I move through this process. This is the “leg” upon which I stand so to speak. Corny, I know. But it works for me.
I find myself at a major turning point. There are many important issues that I need to think through and consider. Race, gender, politics. Many people can walk through life and not think or worry about these things. But, try as I might, I am not wired that way. These things are important to me, and I believe that is how God wired me.
My challenge has been that I’ve not taken care to maintain my foundational beliefs. This has caused me to drift, waffle, and otherwise fold in many areas. If I am to carefully and consistently assess all the voices and consider all the positions, I need to clarify my foundations.
That is what this document is for.
What this document is not: This is not the exhaustive final word on everything I believe. These are foundational beliefs that help me navigate through all the peripheral issues that pop up in my purview. These are my non-negotiables. Once the non-negotiables are established, I can work through the peripherals with better clarity and peace. If I’m standing on a firm foundation, the unanswered questions are easier to bare and easier to work through.
There would be some that would disagree with my non-negotiables, either wanting to add to them or subtract from them. I’ve tried to be as basic as possible, using the traditional categories of systematic theology as my guide. This is the important part: a subject being listed in the “peripheral” category does not in any way imply that it is not an important element of consistently walking out my faith. What it does mean is that it is not necessary for me to believe a certain thing about that issue in order to be reconciled to God. In other words, it’s not a salvation issue. What I believe about God, about myself and about Jesus are salvation issues. What I believe about race is not necessarily a salvation issue; however, my new position as a child of God should inform and change my understanding of race and see racial history and racism in different ways.
Oh, so complicated. Which is why the foundation is needed.
So, without further adieu, let’s get started…
Definition of terms
I alluded to them in the Introduction, but I just want to state clearly at the outset what I mean by the two main categories I will be working with here.
Non-negotiables, or NNs, are those beliefs that form my core convictions, my worldview if you will. These are things that I will go to mat for, the hills upon which I’m willing to die.
Peripherals, or PLs, are the “non-essential” beliefs that are informed by the NN’s but are not core to my worldview. In other words, if I discover information that is strongly persuasive, I am open to changing my mind on these things. I am willing to be proven wrong in these areas, as long as it is done graciously and respectfully. Likewise, if I find that my “side” is determined to be the most persuasive I wish to be gracious and respectful in return. Other items that fall into this category are things that I don’t feel I have enough information about to make a full determination. I have a feeling that as I go through this process, I will find that this list is the longest.
The Non-Negotiables (NNs)
This list is not going to be super lengthy. Which is exactly as it should be.
The Bible is the inerrant, infallible word of God. It is truthful in all that it teaches. All that is fleshed out beyond this point is based on this Word. The bible has both divine and human origin. God used human authors to write the Scripture. The doctrine of Inspiration explains how the human authors wrote as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
God is the Creator, the Source of life, and the Sustainer of life. He has always existed, is perfectly holy and just, and all-powerful. He exists outside of space and time; He omnipresent and omnipotent. He is all-wise.
God is one essence that exists in Three Persons. This is called the mystery of the Trinity. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are three distinct Persons that eternally exist in one essence we refer to as the Godhead.
Jesus is God incarnate, the Second Person of the Godhead. He is both fully God and fully Man. He was born of the Virgin Mary, lived a perfect, sinless life, and died on the cross. He rose again and was ascended to heaven. Through his death, burial, resurrection we have been made whole and have been reconciled to God. He is the Messiah, the one the OT foreshadowed. All of God’s promises find their answer of “Yes” in Him.
The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Godhead and is fully God along with the Father and the Son. Christ dwells in believers through the Holy Spirit. He quickens our hearts to understand and believe the message of salvation. He convicts us of sin as we work out our salvation (see Sanctification). He illumines our hearts and enables us to understand the Scriptures.
Humanity was created in the image of God as male and female. This is a matter of creation and biology. We were created to fellowship and commune with our Creator. God commanded us to exercise dominion and care for His creation on His behalf.
Sin and death entered the world because of the disobedience of the man and the woman to a direct command from God to not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The serpent (Satan), enticed the woman to eat of the fruit, and she then gave some to her husband and he ate also. For their disobedience, God banished them from the Garden, and death has reigned since that time.
Salvation only comes through Jesus Christ. There is no other way to be reconciled with God. Salvation comes through grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. We add nothing to our salvation; we can only receive it from the hand of God. even the faith that is the instrument through which we believe comes from God.
Sanctification is the process through which we become more like Jesus. This is a lifelong process that will not be complete until we meet Jesus face to face.
Jesus is coming back to consummate His Kingdom. All believers will be with Him in the new heavens and new earth forever.
The church is the household of God, all believers past, present, and future. We are united through the blood of Christ into one new body that consists of people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. The sacraments of the church are The Lord’s Supper and Baptism.
The Great Commission is the task of all believers to share the Gospel with all those they encounter, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teaching the Truth.
So, there you have it. These are my NNs. I’ll leave it here for now. Until later, grace and peace…