What is “Essential” Doctrine?

Given my history with and around Independent Baptist (IB), this article posed an interesting question. As any IB Survivor knows, “essential” doctrine is anything your pastor says is essential. How many IB churches have “KJV Only” written into their church doctrinal statements? (Answer: too many.) How many IB churches insist that “doctrinal purity” demands they separate from other Christian brothers and sisters who hold to a strict biblical theology yet do not support many of the lifestyle standards (i.e. legalism) demanded by IB churches? (Answer: too many.)

Writer Paul Lamey offers some insight into what is considered “essential” doctrine. Lamey quotes Mark Dever’s simple test:

A Fourfold Test for Doctrine

  1. How clear is it in Scripture?
  2. How clear do others think it is in Scripture? (Especially those that you respect as teachers of God’s word).
  3. How near is it to the Gospel? (Or how near are its implications to the gospel itself?).
  4. What would the affects be doctrinally and practically if we allowed disagreement in this area?

To read the expanded article, click here.

Leave a Comment