Four Aspects of Our Beliefs #5 – Think Global
A Facebook friend recently posted a montage with the caption: “Christians. We’re not all the same.”
When we think of historic or global Christianity, we see a lot of diversity.
At the same time, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).
The paradigm that has helped me account for the diversity of beliefs within Christianity is understanding four aspects of our beliefs.
• Absolutes = Essential and unchanging truths upon which we must all agree.
• Distinctives = Expressions of our unique calling, identity, and DNA which forms us denominationally.
• Convictions = Differing interpretations upon which we agree to disagree for maintaining the unity of the Spirit.
• Preferences = Personal applications of biblical principles of which we follow individually.
The next time you’re engaged in a theological (perhaps heated) discussion, step back, and ask yourself, “Is this a biblical absolute, a church-wide distinctive, a strongly held conviction, or a personal preference?”
Differentiating between these four aspects takes the edge off judging one another, because we more often pass judgment in the areas of convictions and preferences – areas that are potentially “disputable matters” to begin with (Romans 14:1). On these each “should be fully convinced in their own mind” (Romans 14:5).
Further, we can learn from those who interpret the Bible differently. It takes a measure of humility to “have equal concern for each other” and admit that maybe we don’t know it all (1 Corinthians 12:25).
Of course, inside the walls of our church, we can teach and practice the full menu of what we believe. We focus on our unique calling and identity under God.
But outside the walls of the church, we focus on the absolutes and avoid promoting beliefs that would divide and distract us from accomplishing our primary purpose to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” and “make disciples of all nations” (Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:19).
We think global. And we love God with all our mind in all areas of our beliefs.
~ Pastor Dave