Third tier issues don’t rise to the level of salvation or even church membership, but they are worth discussing and working through. By fuss, I mean discuss and perhaps disagree with others, but in a loving manner. We should be careful not to elevate a third-tier concept to second or first tier status as this create needless conflict and division. Sadly, this does happen among believers who have not learned to think in the tier system presented in this series of posts. See my earlier posts on first tier issues and on second tier issues.
Here are some third-tier doctrines to discuss, but not divide over:
The consumption of alcohol- The Bible is clear that drunkenness is sin, of that we can all agree. However, good believers come to different conclusions as to whether the Bible condemns all consumption of alcohol. There are those who see liberty and believe it is fine in moderation if it does not control them or become a stumbling block to others. Others believe Christians should totally abstain from alcohol all together. Still, some believers make some provisions for its use and advocate for a wisdom view with caution.
Eschatology- The Bible clearly teaches the bodily return of the Lord Jesus Christ, of this we can all agree. Yet, there is a cottage industry for theories as to end-time events. Some believers are convinced the Bible teaches a two-part return of Christ, a pre-tribulation rapture of the church and a post tribulation return of Christ to earth. Other believers see the Scripture teaching only one return of Christ for the one people of God at the end of days. This category of eschatology, or end times, is one that gets elevated to a second-tier issue by some churches. We should always be learning and challenging each other’s thoughts on this topic but never to the point of division. (Note: A balanced resource for further study of this topic can be found in Dr. Wayne Grudem’s book Systematic Theology. In 2009, Dr. Grudem completed a series of Sunday School class lectures on this book, and audio of the four lectures on chapters 54 and 55 regarding eschatology can be found here. The book itself can be found here.)
Bible translations- The Bible as originally written by the biblical authors is divinely inspired by God, on this all Christians can agree. There are good translations and bad translations of Scripture, but they are just that, translations. In so much as a translation is faithfully representing the original language and intent of the biblical author it is a reliable. There’s nothing wrong with having a favorite version and even debating which is best but it’s not an issue divide over.
Tip: Ask the question: in what areas can I disagree with other believers and still be in the faith and fellowship?
“In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity”