I like “make or break” discussions because they reveal what is considered to be deep and enduring. So I liked to see that C. Michael Patton set out eight issues that are not make or break issues. I have clipped the discussion so you can go to the site to read the whole discussion.
Here is a list of what I believe to be eight issues that do not make or break our faith:
1. Young Earth Creationism
… The problem comes when those who hold to this view teach that to deny a literal six-day creation is to deny the Gospel (or close to it). There is simply no sustainable reason to believe that one’s interpretation about the early chapters of Genesis determines his or her status before God.
2. The authorship of the Pastoral Epistles
3. The inerrancy of Scripture
Christianity is based on the historicity of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, not whether or not its chroniclers messed up on a detail or two. All biographers and writers of history err, but this does not mean that we discount their value or discredit their entire testimony. The classic illustration of this is the sinking of the Titanic. When we look to the historical records, we find that the eyewitnesses who survived that night were divided as to how the Titanic went down. Half said it broke in two and went down, while the other half said it went down intact. Someone is wrong. However, no historian would say that the Titanic must not have gone down at all simply because there is a discrepancy in the details.
4. Whether the flood covered entire earth
5. The character witness of Christians
I have spoken about this before, but it is important to realize that Christianity is not dependent on the character witness of its followers….
6. The inspiration of Scripture
This is connected to inerrancy, but takes it a step further just for the sake of getting me in hotter water! My statement is this: the Bible does not have to be inspired for Christianity to be true. Before you jump all over me, think of it this way: Did God have to give us the Bible in order to be God? Of course not. If he never gave us any written testimony of himself, he would still be God. There was nothing that obligated God to this form of revelation (or any form at all!). Christ could have come and lived a perfect life, gained representation, died on the cross, rose from the grave, and never had it recorded in the Scriptures. How would we know about the Gospel? I don’t know. Maybe angels, maybe word of mouth, maybe direct revelation, or maybe not at all. The point is that God did not have to inspire any books in order for him to be who he is and do what he did. The Bible does not make Christianity true; the Bible simply records true Christianity through inspired words and thoughts.7. The unity of Christianity
8. The theory of evolution
Unfortunately, many Christians believe that the theory of evolution is somehow an anti-Christian theory invented by Satan to destroy Christianity. Many believe that if evolution is true, Christianity is not. This is not true….
I hope you understand the spirit of this post. In the end, my argument is that our focus should be on the person and work of Christ. In essence, if the resurrection of Christ happened, Christianity is true. If it did not, Christianity is not true. This is why I call myself a “resurrection apologist.” When I am defending my faith to myself and others, ninety-nine percent of the time, this is where I camp. It is not that these other issues are not important or worthy of debate and discussion. It is not as if these other issues don’t have implications. However, none of them make or break our faith. Therefore, we should adjust our thinking and our witness accordingly.
I am comforted to know that I am not really saying something too original here. Paul seems to whistle the same tune.