Doctrines that divide evangelicals...

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RWD

Puritan Board Sophomore
Beginning in June I’m planning to lead / facilitate a twelve week SS class on doctrines that divide evangelicals. Below are some seed thoughts. (1.5 hour classes.)

Baptism (mode and subjects); Free Will and Divine Foreknowledge; Covenant Theology vs Dispensationalism; Israel and the Church; spiritual presence vs real absence; Regulative Principle; Charismata; Christian liberty (wine / strong drink); women in the church.

Please offer any suggestions, warnings, insights....

Thanks!
 

Clark-Tillian

Puritan Board Freshman
Beginning in June I’m planning to lead / facilitate a twelve week SS class on doctrines that divide evangelicals. Below are some seed thoughts. (1.5 hour classes.)

Baptism (mode and subjects); Free Will and Divine Foreknowledge; Covenant Theology vs Dispensationalism; Israel and the Church; spiritual presence vs real absence; Regulative Principle; Charismata; Christian liberty (wine / strong drink); women in the church.

Please offer any suggestions, warnings, insights....

Thanks!
You could simplify your life but just grabbing the Larger Catechism and going from there. You'll find some questions that divide us as brothers in the PCA. And if your class is in June, then what better time frame to highlight the divisions in our beloved communion? I'm almost dreaded this GA.
 

RWD

Puritan Board Sophomore
Would a class on doctrines that unite Christians be more edifying?
That’s a great reminder to lay a catholic foundation. However, if we consider that edification pertains to instruction, isn’t it essential to address error? Ephesians 4:11-14
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
Depending on the definition of "evangelical", unfortunately, almost any doctrine could be divisive. Given what "evangelical" includes today can it be said that there is agreement on Scripture or Trinity?
 

Taylor Sexton

Puritan Board Junior
A few initial thoughts:

1) Could you do something with biblical law and modern culture? Of course, this may be a smaller discussion within covenant theology vs. Dispensationalism.

2) Could you do something with the 2nd and/or 4th commandments? Again, this could be discussed under covenant theology due to its begging the question of continuity and discontinuity as it relates to the law.

3) For additional issues, it might be a good idea to peruse the topics discussed in those "point and counterpoint" type books, or those famous "X Views on Y" books that I think Zondervan does or did.
 

smalltown_puritan

Puritan Board Freshman
In addition to the points already raised:

1) Classical Theism, particularly issues surrounding the doctrine of impassibility

2) The use of the Creeds and Confessions and Catechisms (as most evangelicals are unfamiliar with them generally)

3) Issues of Ministry Philosophy (e.g. Ordinary means of grace v. programmes; family-integration; every-member-ministry)
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
If I had to do it all over again I would start with the Larger Catechism. I love it more than I love systematic theology because it challenged my heart to know God.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Interesting. I offered that to the commission but I took it off for my PB post. I wanted to see if anyone here thought it was viable. I plan to include it.
If you are going to concern yourself with this then you are going to need to read the views concerning millennialism. My first exposure was a four views book by Clouse from Indiana University.
 

RWD

Puritan Board Sophomore
A few initial thoughts:

1) Could you do something with biblical law and modern culture? Of course, this may be a smaller discussion within covenant theology vs. Dispensationalism.

2) Could you do something with the 2nd and/or 4th commandments? Again, this could be discussed under covenant theology due to its begging the question of continuity and discontinuity as it relates to the law.

3) For additional issues, it might be a good idea to peruse the topics discussed in those "point and counterpoint" type books, or those famous "X Views on Y" books that I think Zondervan does or did.
When teaching through WCF I put forth that we’re down to 7 commandments. 2-4 aren’t observed by much of the church. I also believe that simplicity pertains to the 3rd since God is His attributes. So, when it comes to exclaiming an attribute in vain... “Hxxx Smokes” etc., we need to rethink such things.
 

RWD

Puritan Board Sophomore
If I had to do it all over again I would start with the Larger Catechism. I love it more than I love systematic theology because it challenged my heart to know God.
We are developing a four year ST track to begin in the fall. Also, I incorporate LC in the Confession classes.
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
Here is a divisive issue: What is the mission of the church? Are we to usher in the Kingdom of God with tireless social activism or by proclaiming the gospel and calling all men to repentance and faith?
 

Wretched Man

Puritan Board Freshman
Softball leagues. I say that somewhat tongue in cheek, yet to many this is what they really care about...

The other week I was speaking with someone at my church about our incoming pastor and she expressed her anxiousness to discover his views on various things and what he’d be open to. When I asked for an example, she replied in a various serious tone, “softball team”.
 

RobertPGH1981

Puritan Board Sophomore
I like the idea one commenter made above about starting with what we have in common. With that said, I don't believe anybody mentioned spiritual gifts ceasing or not (eg. Speaking in Tongues). The Sabbath is also something you could consider.
 

chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
Depending on the definition of "evangelical", unfortunately, almost any doctrine could be divisive. Given what "evangelical" includes today can it be said that there is agreement on Scripture or Trinity?
Add "what is an evangelical?" to the list of what divides evangelicals. :)
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
I'm becoming increasingly convinced that the key issue dividing the evangelical world here in America is not any particular doctrine but rather the question of whether or not doctrine should matter that much in the first place. In many evangelical communities, if you were to offer the view that God is sovereign in salvation you would not be opposed by Arminians but rather by people telling you not to make such a big deal of the issue because it interferes with their feel-good experience of church.

It's hard to put a finger on the doctrinal error behind this, because it eschews doctrine. The Babylon Bee, of all things, may have best labelled this phenomenon a few years ago when it described it as the doctrine of "Sola Feels:" the Christian experience and how it makes you feel is paramount. Increasingly, believers must choose between churches that are committed to the Five Solas and those that live loosely by Sola Feels.

My son is a student at a sizeable evangelical university. He would happily put up with a campus culture where fellow students disagreed with him on baptism, God's sovereignty in election, Reformed distinctives, etc. But he is frustrated because, instead, he mostly gets responses like, "Dude, you should get over that and come with us to XYZ church. The music is awesome there!"
 

Taylor Sexton

Puritan Board Junior
I'm becoming increasingly convinced that the key issue dividing the evangelical world here in America is not any particular doctrine but rather the question of whether or not doctrine should matter that much in the first place. In many evangelical communities, if you were to offer the view that God is sovereign in salvation you would not be opposed by Arminians but rather by people telling you not to make such a big deal of the issue because it interferes with their feel-good experience of church.

It's hard to put a finger on the doctrinal error behind this, because it eschews doctrine. The Babylon Bee, of all things, may have best labelled this phenomenon a few years ago when it described it as the doctrine of "Sola Feels:" the Christian experience and how it makes you feel is paramount. Increasingly, believers must choose between churches that are committed to the Five Solas and those that live loosely by Sola Feels.

My son is a student at a sizeable evangelical university. He would happily put up with a campus culture where fellow students disagreed with him on baptism, God's sovereignty in election, Reformed distinctives, etc. But he is frustrated because, instead, he mostly gets responses like, "Dude, you should get over that and come with us to XYZ church. The music is awesome there!"
This is a very good observation. I am currently in the process of writing an article for my church's journal on this very subject: the importance of creeds and confessions.
 

Howard the Reformer

Puritan Board Freshman
The list(s) that divide evangelicals is long and extensive. Unfortunately many spend too much time on what divides us rather than what unites Christians. The basics, grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, in my opinion, should be the starting point in any theological discussion. Most doctrines flow from that simple yet profound statement. When we truly understand what that means then the rest of Biblical beliefs can be examined.
 

Taylor Sexton

Puritan Board Junior
I don't mean to speak for my brother @RWD here, but I am sure he is well aware of the importance of teaching folks what unite Christians rather than divide them. But the concern of the OP is not "Where do I start?" but "This is where I am starting; help me find more topics."

Besides, while I appreciate the sentiment that we ought to focus much on what unites Christians, there must be a place for polemics in our teaching, must there not? After all, whether we like it or not, evangelicals are divided over a number of issues, some of which are dangerous. What kind of elder would Ron be if he did not explore those issues with his people in order to better equip them not to fall prey to them?
 

RWD

Puritan Board Sophomore
The list(s) that divide evangelicals is long and extensive. Unfortunately many spend too much time on what divides us rather than what unites Christians. The basics, grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, in my opinion, should be the starting point in any theological discussion. Most doctrines flow from that simple yet profound statement. When we truly understand what that means then the rest of Biblical beliefs can be examined.

Oh if it were only that easy! What you cite as consensus doctrine is, I believe, doctrine over which evangelicals actually disagree.

Your post suggests to me that you think evangelicals actually agree upon grace alone. If so, then how might we begin to explain the profound differences Calvinists have with Arminians and Molinists on divine foreknowledge as it relates to free will?

I would submit that the evangelical divide over whether grace is irresistible and whether faith is man’s contribution to salvation (as opposed to an effectual gift that flows from a monergistic work of regeneration) largely stems from the division evangelicals have over Total Depravity.

Most doctrines flow from that simple yet profound statement.
Even if there were evangelical-agreement on grace alone, which Calvinism denies, you seem to suggest that divisions over “most doctrines flow from that simple yet profound statement” (regarding the three solas you mentioned). I’m curious which doctrines you have in mind. How, for instance, do charismatic gifts, mode of baptism, last things, regulative principle, Israel and the church etc. flow from those three Calvinistic solas?
 

RWD

Puritan Board Sophomore
I don't mean to speak for my brother @RWD here, but I am sure he is well aware of the importance of teaching folks what unite Christians rather than divide them. But the concern of the OP is not "Where do I start?" but "This is where I am starting; help me find more topics."

Besides, while I appreciate the sentiment that we ought to focus much on what unites Christians, there must be a place for polemics in our teaching, must there not? After all, whether we like it or not, evangelicals are divided over a number of issues, some of which are dangerous. What kind of elder would Ron be if he did not explore those issues with his people in order to better equip them not to fall prey to them?
Thanks, Taylor. That represents my quandary well. Perhaps I might start with Trinity and God but even there we have sharp disagreement among evangelicals. Impassibility, Simplicity, Eternal Generation (and of course Filioque as it relates to non-evangelical Orthodox). Even the person of Christ is disputed by William Lane Craig with respect to a human mind (and perhaps other evangelicals have followed him in that.)

My concern is, how do we gain a heightened realization and sensitivity to the fact that most evangelicals have departed from Biblical teaching as encapsulated by the Reformed confessions? With greater understanding, sheep might be able to offer their Christian families and friends a better way. That’s the point of the class, for which I’m seeking ideas and advice.
 
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