Saturday, June 25, 2011

Christian Unity and Boundaries in Christian Fellowship, Part 2

Fundamentalist” is a much abused word these days. It doesn't really have any fixed or certain meaning, except to identify some religious group or belief system of which some one disapproves. However, unlike “Christian”, the term Fundamentalist did not start as an outsiders' mocking term or epithet. “Fundamentalist” was coined a little over a century ago by persons of that persuasion to describe what they stood. The term came from a series of 12 booklets titled “The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth”. “Fundamentalist” referred to the fact that they viewed certain Christian teachings as non-negotiable fundamentals. While Wikipedia's article on “Fundamentalism”,, embraces the equivocation of the meaning of the term, it identifies the fundamentals as:

  • The inspiration of the Bible by the Holy Spirit and the inerrancy of Scripture as a result of this.

  • The virgin birth of Christ.

  • The belief that Christ's death was the atonement for sin.

  • The bodily resurrection of Christ.

  • The historical reality of Christ's miracles.,, identifies the fundamentals as:

  • The virgin birth of Christ

  • Jesus' deity and substitutionary atonement for sin

  • Christ's bodily resurrection

  • His literal second coming

  • The authority and inerrancy of the Bible

One fundamental both lists have in common points to scripture as the authority for Christians. So it's reasonable to ask, does scripture speak of things that are fundamental or essential to the Christian faith? In a previous post about this topic,, I pointed to two scriptures as identifying certain essentials.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6, ESV)

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6, ESV)

The latter verse is probably quite familiar to most Christian believers. Two others come to mind, which are relevant to this consideration.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, ESV)

Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. (Hebrews 6:1-2, ESV)

Those verses from 2 Timothy are also probably quite familiar to most Christian believers, but the Hebrews 6 passage possibly much less so. And in answer to the question I asked above, these verses do point to certain essentials or foundational (fundamental) Christian teachings. These passages will be the starting points for further posts on this topic (though I may add other passages that might come to mind, of course).

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