I must confess that I am co-opting the title and building off a fine blog by Nathan Finn entitled, Is Baptism a Secondary Doctrine. (http://t.co/3o5grYalcI) In his blog, Finn described Southern Seminary President Albert Mohler’s method of theological triage. Finn wrote,
According to Mohler, primary or first-order doctrines are those that are essential to the faith–you cannot reject these beliefs and still be Christian in the biblical sense of the term. . . . Secondary or second-order doctrines are those that generate disagreement among authentic Christians and typically result in an inability to be a part of the same denomination or often even the same congregation. . . . Tertiary or third-order doctrines are those doctrines that engender disagreement, but do not normally prevent two Christians from being part of the same church or group of churches.
While different people might organize the categories differently, Mohler’s triage approach is useful. I have heard my own Southwestern Seminary President Paige Patterson speak of the importance of understanding and sorting our doctrines and of how we should relate to those who believe differently from us.
However, I wonder if our doctrine of marriage is facing a triage test. Where, for example, in this order of doctrines does it fit? Should our triage of marriage doctrine change now that those called Christians accept so great a deformity of the Biblical and historical doctrine?
Tertiary? Could a Christian who holds to a Biblical view of marriage worship side by side with someone who accepts and advocates marriage of homosexuals and lesbians?
Secondary? Or can Christians with such divergent views simply say, “Well, you and I must move in different congregations and denominations, but we can still call one another, Brother and Sister in the Lord?
Primary? Or has the distortion to the doctrine of marriage been so great that accepting the novel, twisted version of the doctrine can be considered a sign that a person or a congregation or a denomination is no longer truly and Biblically Christian?
Dr. Mohler’s own April 1 blog, Bracketing Morality — The Marginalization of Moral Argument in the Same-Sex Marriage Debate, notes that “the moral dimension has virtually disappeared from the cultural conversation.” This is true, as Dr. Mohler cogently observes, even among defenders of historic marriage.
If a church or an individual has lost moral judgment so severely as to endorse homosexual marriage, can the presence of the Holy Spirit who leads us into all truth be detected and can that church or individual be considered a part of the body of Christ? As Dr. Mohler concluded, “Without moral judgment there is no truth, and without truth there is no moral judgment.”
Without truth, there is no Jesus. (http://bg4.me/ruZwe3) Without Jesus, . . .
Is marriage a secondary doctrine?