What Do Homosexuality, Women in the Church & Home, Fornication, Divorce & Remarriage, Emergent & Hell All Have In Common?

There are some things in life which are not important until they are essential. One of these things is insurance. Another is a parachute. Another is a life raft. In ministry, one of these things is knowing where you stand on a hot-button topic. I am convinced that the time to form an opinion is NOT half-way through a ministry posting, when a hot-button topic suddenly surfaces and threatens to wound hearts, destroy relationships, squelch spiritual life and tear the ministry asunder. This is absolutely not the time to be caught flat-footed, with no research and completely oblivious to the nuances and complexities on a certain topic. When you formulate an opinion before entering a ministry posting, one has leisure to study it fully and come to one's beliefs in an honest and unbiased manner. In the heat of the moment, however, one has neither leisure nor objectivity. Most importantly, the decision becomes a deeply personal event: now you are not just making up your mind, but potentially condemning the actions of vulnerable, hurting peoples. This is the stuff of church-splits and scandal.

Essential and Non-Essential Theology: Who Decides Which Is Which?

There is a distinction which everyone makes, which is absolutely essential to theology and the Christian life, but nobody (that I know of) has any really good way to draw the line. How do you know which doctrines are essential, and which aren't? Who makes this call, and on what grounds? Let's talk about it...