I’m feeling a little overwhelmed that everything I seem to be reading at the moment; books, articles, blogs, all seem to be honing in on the one thing. Truth, discernment and God’s purposes. I’m going to link some of them together here and add a bit of a comment to tie them in.

I made some comments the other day about the Anglican church’s slide down the liberal slope. Others have noticed, because when I read the gender blog this morning, David Kotter had an article on the stand JI Packer (and other ministers with him) has taken which results in him losing his ministry position in the Anglican church.

I know what I believe but it must be confusing to many, many people. All of this talk of liberalism and division can leave us wondering – how do you actually discern between the issues that matter and the issues which are less important?

A quote from Packer (from the blog post) is worth noting: [Primary issues are] of prime importance, on which it is vital that all Christians agree. There are secondary matters, on which honest Bible students disagree and it is possible to say on those things, or many of those things, these are secondary matters and disagreement on them is permissible.

I was pleasantly surprised this morning when I came across an article by Albert Mohler entitled Theological Triage. In it he pinpoints the problem we face: “strategizing which Christian doctrines and theological issues are to be given highest priority in terms of our contemporary context.” In other words, what is important, and what is more important in the emergency room of the Christian church? He indicates three levels of discernment:

First-level theological issues would include those doctrines most central and essential to the Christian faith. Included among these most crucial doctrines would be doctrines such as the Trinity, the full deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, justification by faith, and the authority of Scripture…These first-order doctrines represent the most fundamental truths of the Christian faith, and a denial of these doctrines represents nothing less than an eventual denial of Christianity itself.

Second-order doctrines [are] distinguished…by the fact that believing Christians may disagree on the[m], though this disagreement will create significant boundaries between believers. When Christians organize themselves into congregations and denominational forms, these boundaries become evident. He uses baptism as an example and says, we recognize each other as believing Christians, but recognize that disagreement on issues of this importance will prevent fellowship within the same congregation or denomination.

Finally he says: Third-order issues are doctrines over which Christians may disagree and remain in close fellowship, even within local congregations. Mohler mentions debates over eschatology in this category, I would also put personal conviction issues like healthy food, dating and courtship, church music, home education, women working out of the home – all the things we should passionately discuss as a means of lovingly sharpening one another but should never allow to divide us.

So, a structure of theological triage does not imply that Christians may take any biblical truth with less than full seriousness. We are charged to embrace and to teach the comprehensive truthfulness of the Christian faith as revealed in the Holy Scriptures. There are no insignificant doctrines revealed in the Bible, but there is an essential foundation of truth that undergirds the entire system of biblical truth. Albert Mohler’s full article here.

For reference you might find this page of articles on the 9Marks website helpful.

Finally, in my personal reading I have been challenged to be serious, sober, prayerful and joyous; to pray for our ministers and to mean what I say. I was going to add some quotes from books but I’ll have to another time as I’ve been on here too long already.