Four Aspects of Our Beliefs #3 – Convictions
All Christian everywhere agree that God created everything. They differ, however in how God created.
Some Christians believe that God created everything in six 24-hour days. Others say that God created everything in six time periods. Some Christians look at Genesis 1-2 and see scientific statements. Others examine Genesis 1-2 and see literary patterns.
That God created is primary, an absolute. How God created is secondary, a conviction.
Convictions are strongly held beliefs based on one’s understanding of Scripture. Convictions are formed by looking at several passages of Scripture and drawing conclusions.
We might say, “From these Scripture verses we conclude such and such.” They are interpretations, explanations, or applications of Scripture.
On these Christians can and do differ. Convictions are less central to primary, cardinal, essential truths.
Convictions can include differing views on modes of baptism, the ministry and gifts of the Holy Spirit, Calvinism versus Arminianism, the roles of women in church leadership, the role of the church in political arenas, and end times issues like the tribulation and the millennium.
People are convinced and persuaded that their particular view on a particular topic is the more correct and biblical view.
As you can guess, convictions are usually the areas of the most heated debate. Sometimes Christians even use the same Scripture verses in coming to opposite conclusions. In fact, if someone says that there is only one correct interpretation, they usually mean theirs.
How much better to say that these “disputable matters” are lesser areas of belief and practice in which we agree to disagree (Romans 14:1). Maintaining the unity of the Spirit is more important than fighting over secondary issues (Ephesians 4:3). We major on the majors, and minor on the minors.
Holding convictions is necessary and good. We are faithful to work out and live out certain conclusions based on our own understanding of Scripture.
Yet we also accept a level of humility. We acknowledge that no single believer or church or denomination has a corner on the Holy Spirit or the truth of God’s Word.
Regarding convictions we give our Christian brothers and sisters latitude. We allow each the freedom to “be fully convinced in their own mind” (Romans 14:5).
What Rupertus Meldenius said 500 years ago is still good advice today: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”
~ Pastor Dave