“Things I’ll Die For, Things I’ll Fight For, and Things I’ll Fuss About.” That was the title of a sermon I once heard. That may sound humorous, but these kinds of distinctions need to be made for the Christian community. Failure to make such divisions can lead to arrogant certainty where it’s not warranted or a spirit of relativity where everything is left to one’s preferences.
Theological triage is the fancy way of talking about these categories. Like the tiers of importance in a medical triage, there are tiers of importance concerning Christian doctrine. If someone comes into the E.R. with a heart attack it’s natural for them to receive quicker and fuller treatment than someone who has come in for a butterfly stitch on their index finger. The person with the cut on their figure needs to be attended to, but it is not a first-tier issue like a heart attack. Likewise, in Christianity, the ability to place issues in their proper tier will keep us in line with Scripture, effective in our mission, and kind to our neighbor. What follows is a brief description of what I believe to be 1st, 2nd, and 3rd tier issues (things I’ll die for, things I’ll fight for, and things I’ll fuss about).
First Tier (Things I’ll Die For)
A. These are issues fundamental to my being (In Christ).
B. Ask the question, what do true Christians affirm?
God - The God of the Bible is the one true and living God manifested to us in three persons; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our God is eternal and imminent, he is all powerful, all knowing and all present. He is supremely joyful and glorious and alone deserves our entire worship.
Jesus Christ - He is full deity and full humanity in one person. In his life and death, he is the fulfillment of God’s requirements and makes atonement for those who believe. In his resurrection he is the justifier of those who believe and the inaugurator of the coming new creation.
Humanity - Distinct from the rest of creation, human beings have intrinsic value because they are created in God’s image. Yet, we are fallen sinful people who are without hope in this world aside from God’s intervention. We are responsible for our own sins, incapable of saving ourselves but through God’s Spirit and the gift of faith we can respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our salvation is by grace alone, in Christ alone through faith alone.
Scripture - It is the unique revelation of God in that it is the written voice of God. Scripture comes from God, through human authors guided by God. It is without error and always leads people correctly. We affirm that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant and infallible Word of God. It is the preeminent authority for the life and practice of every believer.
Tip: I am not saying that one needs to have a full grasp on each of these doctrines in order to be saved. Rather, a true believer, when given proper instruction concerning these issues will never deny them, but will come to embrace them.
Conclusion: I’ve given what I believe to be a biblically accurate description of some first-tier issues. Surely my descriptions could be refined, but I want you to focus on learning for yourself what the Bible teaches about these primary doctrines. As you study the Word of God you will learn to reject false teaching and grow to embrace true teaching in these all-important areas of the Christian faith.