Theology is a complicated subject. There are so many nuances’. To be sure, there is also simplicity, but this writing is meant to gives some principles on how to approach those nuances’. Better yet, how to interact with fellow believers when theology is at odds.
I think it is important to define some parameters. What are the non-negotiable points? What are the main things? It is important to identify these doctrines from scripture and I will list just a few so there is an idea. Doctrines like the divinity of Christ, the atonement, salvation by grace through faith, the providence of God, the inspiration of scripture, are just a few.
Now of the list I mentioned above, let me take, for instance, salvation by grace through faith. There are nuances’ within this statement. Salvation by grace through faith has many different angles. For instance, grace that saves is it irresistible? Is faith a gift of that grace? What does that faith look like? Is that faith expressed by works? What type of works? Baptism? Can faith be lost? Can one fall from grace? What does falling from grace look like?
Each questions I mentioned above represents various denominations and theological thought. From Presbyterian, to Pentecostal, to Baptist, to Methodist, to Church of Christ. I consider all my brothers. How can I say that? Because they all confirm salvation is by grace through faith. How they see and confirm this doctrine varies.
In having a relationship with those of various denominations what are some guidelines?
Grace, favor and kindness in all interactions. Respect, hospitality and attention in disagreements. An offended brother is hard won back and will likely approach the next interaction with unfavorable expectations. Many Facebook interactions display an evident lack of grace toward those of different persuasions.
There should be understanding of a brother’s position. I really mean listen, understand and research their perspective against scripture. It is a sin to misrepresent a person’s position. It is called a straw man argument. That is to willfully misrepresent a person’s position then attack that misrepresentation (strawman). There are surprising things to learn from another perspective. Iron sharpens iron.
Open mindedness is essential. Behavior is shaped by beliefs and beliefs are informed by scripture. Scripture study is essential and complex. Having an open mind while approaching scripture is of upmost importance. There are times that denominational beliefs, scriptural ignorance, and willful blindness will are barriers to orthodoxy.
In conclusion, the aim of the believer is to be as faith to scripture as possible in our doctrine. It is complicated. When scripture is a plumb line or cornerstone each layer of doctrine become more refined. God uses brothers of different perspective to assist in refining beliefs. They drive one to study scripture. The dross can be thrown out, but the good kept.