Saturday, June 09, 2007

Theological triage -- good or bad idea?

Below you will find excerpts from A Call for Theological Triage and Christian Maturity by Albert Mohler. Click on the link to read the entire article on his blog. I would like to get my readers' feedback on Mohler's Theological Triage. Is it a good idea or a bad one? Or perhaps one you view with indifference?

"A discipline of theological triage would require Christians to determine a scale of theological urgency that would correspond to the medical world's framework for medical priority. With this in mind, I would suggest three different levels of theological urgency, each corresponding to a set of issues and theological priorities found in current doctrinal debates.

"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...

"The set of second-order doctrines is distinguished from the first-order set by the fact that believing Christians may disagree on the second-order issues, though this disagreement will create significant boundaries between believers. When Christians organize themselves into congregations and denominational forms, these boundaries become evident.

"Second-order issues would include the meaning and mode of baptism...

"Third-order issues are doctrines over which Christians may disagree and remain in close fellowship, even within local congregations. I would put most of the debates over eschatology, for example, in this category. Christians who affirm the bodily, historical, and victorious return of the Lord Jesus Christ may differ over timetable and sequence without rupturing the fellowship of the church...

"We must sort the issues with a trained mind and a humble heart, in order to protect what the Apostle Paul called the 'treasure' that has been entrusted to us."


Anonymous said...

In my response to the question on baptism and the Lord's Supper, I already suggestion a form of triage submitted by Al Mohler.

I have seen good churches divide over the simplest of things, often personal rather than doctrinal, but claiming a doctrinal difference.

I have greater difficulty aligning something like Pentecostalism with basic and fundamental theology, and hence the Christian Church. They are so far out in left field. We can enjoy fellowship in Christ alone, but then the divide is so wide we have nothing in common. This is where I would have some difficulty in the tri-part triage suggested by Mohler.

The older I get, the more I close ranks theologically, and yet, paradoxically, the more I am open to fellowship with other believers on Christ alone. I have become more tolerant of different viewpoints, including dispensationalism, which I once deemed to be cultic.

The triage concept is worth consideration.



J. Guy Muse said...

I have found the "triage" concept helpful in determining what things we should draw the line on in being able to cooperate with other believers. Sadly, we tend to fuss and argue (divide) over the 2nd and 3rd degree issues. Most of these issues have been debated for centuries and are not likely to be resolved any time soon. They are matters that Godly people down through the ages have disagreed upon, but should not stand in the way of our being united in Christ.

So, yes, Al's "Theological Triage" is a helpful good instrument.

R. L. Vaughn said...

I think most people have some kind of concept like that of Mohler, though they may express it in different terms and may differ on details. Today's post (6-10) and one for tomorrow will go along with the theme of this post.

Very few people think we have to agree on everything in order to have fellowship. Some people think we have to agree on very little and others think we must agree on quite a lot. But even folks in those differing camps have the concept, don't they?