Agree to Disagree

People are asking me to explain myself when I say “agree to disagree”.

I used to take one verse, cherry pick it, turn it into a club and beat the piss out of someone for not seeing what I see in the verse.  You know.. the correct way of interpreting it and then using it as a rule to leave by.

Well, those days are long gone.  I have learned that I am allergic to all that type of bullshit out there with denominations breaking up for stupid reasons.

Well, let me try to explain my stance and how I see things, which in itself is debatable and not “THE” way of seeing things… (insert diabolical laugh here)

In a nut shell, “theological” issues can be broken down into three different levels, or “tiers”.  So, I see three tiers of doctrine.  Let’s call them…

Tier 1 – Primary Realism

Tier 2 – Subsequent Realism

Tier 3 – Remaining Realism

In the primary realism tier, this stage is the one I would define as “doctrine” that is absolutely essential for one to be recognized as part of the Body of Christ.  These beliefs are essential to be defined as a Christian.  One who has a ticket to the Great Banquet.  This stage has a very limited list.  It consists of… Christ died.  Christ rose.  Christ just IS.  He is the magnet that holds everything in the universe together.

How he rose, how he died, how he was born, and many of the other doctrines bring us to the tier 2, or what I call subsequent realism.

The second tier “doctrines” are key in bringing the Body of Christ together in gatherings (but I feel do not define who Christ actually IS or what “Christianity” is about.  This level is a tad more complex to explain.  This level is the doctrinal level that slices apart the Body in many, many ways.  But this is the main level where I feel Christians should have respectful disagreements over the differences.  This level includes items that are talked about in scripture.  Such things as tithing, church structure, modes of baptism, or even the meaning of baptism.

Let’s look at an example about baptism?  The bible speaks of baptism in many ways.  So, Baptists, for example, do not have to try and “save” their Presbyterian brothers and sisters or tell them they are not “true” or “real” Christians just because they believe in infant baptism.  Again, we should have respectful disagreements over these differences as Christians.  

The third tier, or the remaining “doctrines” are topics that are up for discussion, but in no way should threaten the fellowship among the gatherers.  To me this is areas of old earth/young earth, or eschatology views, or areas of Calvinism versus Arminianism.  

They way I see this final level would be like Christ himself showing up on Facebook and saying you have 2 choices, hit “like” if you favor Calvinism or hit “like” if you favor Arminianism.  After everyone picks what they “like” they all gather together.  I can see Christ showing up and saying “all the Calvinists stand over here”, and “all the Arminians stand over there”.  Then with Christ standing in the middle of the two groups getting ready to launch the verdict of who is correct, I think Christ would point to both groups at the same time and say “You are both right”.   

In other words.  The answer is standing in the middle.  No matter where you fall on the spectrum.. Christ is the answer.

(Of course, I might be wrong too on my theory of the three tiers, it is all up for discussion, and in realism no one really knows the truth except Christ who IS truth)

This is what I mean when I say we all need to “agree to disagree” on all these issues and put Christ as the Head of the Body.

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9 thoughts on “Agree to Disagree

  1. Great post! I like these tiers. It reminds me of the quote that’s attributed to Augustine (although, I think it’s unclear where it came from): In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, love. It’s crazy how much stuff get’s lumped in the “essentials” category. As you pointed out, it’s really a short list, and it all hinges on Christ – who he is and what he’s done. It’s at this level that we determine cults and heresies. Your tiers are making me picture a diagram of a circle. Tier 1 as the core – the center. Then tier 2 as an outer circle, tier 3 an outer outer circle. If you strip the outer circles away, the core remains. If you take away the core, then we’re talking about entirely different planets! What’s interesting about the core is that it calls us to love out into the outer circles. So even if we’re disagreeing out there, we better be loving! Otherwise we’re not living out of the core.

    Thanks man! Once again you write my thoughts! 🙂

    1. Thanks Shon! The church I attended had a very similar saying like the one you mentioned, and it was that slogan that got me thinking about these different “tiers” over the years.

      The thing is, I feel this slogan is misused and extremely dangerous.

      The huge danger, which is inherent in the slogan, is that it immediately divides all doctrines into just TWO categories: essentials, and non-essentials. So if a group slaps say baptism into an essential.. then they have no other choice but to make it essential if they want to be part of the Body of Christ. To me this is crap and it divides.

      It is in the very slogan that is spouted out in pulpits everywhere as an essential in itself.

      Swanny

      1. I’m going to have to agree to disagree with you here Swanny. ha ha! But technically speaking, if you have a category called “essentials” then there can only be one other category – “non-essentials.” There’s no such thing as a mid-essential. You can break the non-essentials up into as many tiers as you want, but they still all belong in the non-essential category. Otherwise they would be essentials. But non-essentials can be broken into levels of importance, which is what you’ve done with the tiers. I think the Augustinian quote is amazing and beautiful. But you’re absolutely right, it’s misused! And as you said, it’s misused because non-essentials have been put into the essentials category, thereby causing division. So we need to be clear on what the core is, what is actually essential, and not get so hung up on the tiers of non-essentials. Unfortunately, in the church, we tend to disagree on what is indeed essential.

      2. Shon – The quote from the church I attended was something along the lines of “where the bible speaks we speak, where the bible is silent, we are silent”

        So, if the bible speaks about baptism (which of course it does.. in many different ways), people are taught from the pulpit to speak where the Bible speaks. So if the church makes the quote itself essential, and then the church itself defines “baptism” as an “essential”… that is what divides the Body. Putting a whole bunch of shit where shit does not belong.

        I like my quote better … “Christ is essential, everything else is non-essential”

        Later…

  2. Swanny,
    I like this article and your discussion with Shon.
    I have a similar article called “Primary and Secondary” at my web site. The value of the Secondary depends entirely on the Primary. Without the Primary, the Secondary has no value.

    1. Nelson, Thanks for posting. I will take a look at what you wrote on the subject, but yes the primary is a must for the secondary to have any meaning.

      Take Care.

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