What caught my interest was his discussion of how we each need to wrestle with a hierarchy of doctrine. We've discussed that issue here in the past (among other places), but Wallace's approach seems innovative and helpful to me. He asks four questions:
- What doctrines are essential for the life of the church?
- What doctrines are important for the health of the church?
- What doctrines are distinctives that are necessary for the practice of the local church?
- What doctrines belong to the speculative realm or should never divide the church?
One can easily see how this approach to one’s credo can be helpful when it comes to baptism, spiritual gifts, communion, gray areas in the Christian life, eschatological positions, etc. The list is endless. But at bottom, we should recognize that doctrines need to be differentiated. If one is so inclined to break fellowship with others, valid reasons need to be given. For my take on things, fellowship cannot occur unless the core doctrines are affirmed by both parties. For my money, I cannot have genuine fellowship with someone who denies the deity of Christ or his bodily resurrection, because I do not believe that such a person is a Christian. These are not the only issues, but they are absolutely category one beliefs.