The Three Tiers of Christian Belief

Christian orthodoxy covers an enormous variety of topics that touch upon all aspects of life.  From science and philosophy to politics and ethics, Christianity has something to say about everything, but what is essential in order to call oneself a true believer in Christ?  No two churches are alike, and different beliefs and practices have led to the scores of denominations that we see today.  Which issues are worth dividing ourselves over, and which issues are trivial?  The authors of this site have divided the issues into three categories of importance:

  1. Primary: In order for a person to even be able to call him or herself a Christian, they must believe in the existence of an omnipotent Creator God, the sinful and fallen nature of every human being, and the graceful gift of forgiveness extended from God to humanity through the divine sacrifice of God’s son, Jesus Christ, who then died as a sacrifice for the sins of man and ascended from the grave and to heaven.
  2. Secondary: These are beliefs that are not necessary for a person to qualify as a Christian but are issues that the church, regardless of denominational belief, should stand united on as they are the result of clear indication of truth from Scripture. These secondary beliefs can run from theological issues to matters of culture.  Examples are issues such as same-sex marriage, the exclusivity of truth found in Christianity and in no other religion or faith, the value and equality of all human life, and many others.
  3. Tertiary: These are beliefs that are not clearly indicated by Scripture and are more open to interpretation as they were not essential to the purpose of God’s Word. The church is free to discuss and disagree on these issues as they are not important enough to stand united upon so long as belief regarding these tertiary issues does not affect our other two tiers.   Examples include proper method of baptism, the age of the earth, predestination, and many others.
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