“Non-Essential” Foundations

R. L. Whiteside

Every denomination has some doctrines peculiar to itself. These peculiar doctrines are the basis for its existence; upon them it was founded. Without these peculiar doctrines it would have had no excuse, no foundation, for its existence.

Till recent years every denomination tried earnestly and persistently to justify its existence by a constant effort to prove the truthfulness of its doctrines. Both preachers and laymen believed their doctrines, and wanted everybody else to believe them. Their doctrines were preached and debated publicly and privately. If you knew to what church a person belonged, you knew what he believed.

But all that sort of thing is changed now. You cannot tell from the label what is on the inside. With few exceptions, the denominations make no decided effort to promulgate their doctrines. As a result, their members know very little about the doctrines of their church. When a church ceases to emphasize the doctrines upon which it was founded, it surrenders all the excuse it might have had for an existence.

We are gravely told that we all agree on the essentials, differing only on the nonessentials. But different churches are built not on points of agreement, but on points of disagreement—on doctrines concerning which they differ. It amounts to this: Different denominations are built on doctrines that they confess are nonessentials.

I raise this question: How can you build an essential church upon a nonessential foundation? If these doctrines about which they differ are nonessential, then a church that is built to propagate these doctrines has a nonessential mission—a nonessential church, built on a nonessential foundation, with a nonessential mission. (From The Northpoint Lighthouse, Vol. 8, No. 4, Jan. 22, 2012, Northpoint church of Christ, Denton, Texas, Ed. Dub McClish)

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