There are certain beliefs in Christianity that cannot be rejected and there are other doctrines that we can agree to disagree with. This blog addresses the Seven Irreducible minimum of the Christian faith. They are non-negotiable and essential to the Christian faith. This doesn’t mean that you have to believe these doctrines first in order to be saved. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ is the truth of Christianity that must be believed to be saved (#4 & #5).
These are biblical truths that if denied or rejected will make any church a cult. Please note that some of the languages that are used here are based on the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith. Reformed articles are also linked for further reading.
Here are the seven Christian doctrines and their implications once denied.
1. The Authority of Scriptures
Affirmation: The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience (1689 1.1). The supreme judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Scripture delivered by the Spirit, into which Scripture so delivered, our faith is finally resolved (1689 1.10).
Scripture References: 2 Tim. 3:15–17; Is. 8:20; Luke 16:29,31; Eph. 2:20, 2 Peter 1:19-21, Matt. 22:29, 31, 32; Eph. 2:20; Acts 28:23
Denial: There is no other infallible authority on earth under Christ given to the church to govern the life and practice of God’s people. To deny the infallible and ultimate authority of the Scriptures is to make God’s revelation subject to man’s authority.
Related Blog/s: The Presupposition of the Gospel & The Authority of the Bible
2. Creation and Providence
Affirmation: God in His sovereign and free will created everything in the universe, visible and invisible in the span of six days. God, by His power and with constant care uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures and things (1689 5.1).
Scripture References: John 1:2–3; Heb. 1:2; Job 26:13, Rom. 1:20, Col. 1:16; Gen. 1:31, Ps. 135:6, Matt. 10:29–31
Denial: The belief that God created through cosmic, geographical, and biological evolution is to mishandle the literal meaning of the text in Genesis. God didn’t leave His creation to live and continue on their own. To deny biblical creation is to give up God and the gospel. To cite Dr. William Van Doodewaard, The teaching of God’s Word is at stake here. God’s character is at stake. The gospel of Jesus Christ is at stake. Accepting an Adam with evolutionary origins immediately impacts what it means to be human, created by God in His image. (The Quest for the Historical Adam)
Related Blog/s: Six Literal Days, What’s at Stake? The Gospel Is at Stake, 175 and Counting: What’s at Stake in the Beginning
3. The Trinity – One God, THREE PERSONS
Affirmation: This is the biblical doctrine on the Triune God. There is only One True God. This true God exists in three distinct persons—One Being and Three Persons. They are equal in power and majesty. In this divine and infinite Being, there are three subsistences, the Father, the Word or Son, and the Holy Spirit, of one substance, power, and eternity, each having the whole divine essence, yet the essence undivided (1689 1.3).
Scripture References: 1 John 5:20, De 6:4, 2 Cor 13;14, I Cor. 8:6, John 1:14,18, John 15:26; Matt. 28:19
Denial: There is no subordination in the eternal being of the three persons. We do not worship a unitarian (one person) but Trinitarian God. To deny the deity of any of the person of the Godhead is to worship an idol. To deny the Trinity is to lose one’s soul.
Related Blog/s: The Son’s Deity, The Triune God: Preliminary Confessions, The Triune God: Doctrinal Foundations
4. The Person and work of Christ (Christ is the God-man)
Affirmation: The Son of God, the second person in the Holy Trinity, being very and eternal God, took upon Himself man’s nature, yet without sin. He is fully and truly God, and fully and truly man, yet one Christ, the only mediator between God and man (1689 8.1). His redemptive work alone satisfies the justice and wrath of God against all sinners who humbly come to Him in repentance and faith. Christ alone provides the perfect righteousness and blameless sacrifice that sinners need to be right with God.
Scripture References: Rom. 9:5; 1 Tim. 2:5, John 1:14, Phil 2:5, Rom 3:21-26, Acts 4:12, John 14:6
Denial: The Redeemer does not share His mediatorial work with anyone. To do so is to rob Him of His exclusive work in accomplishing redemption.
Related Blog/s: Solus Christus, The Deity of Christ
5. Justification by faith – Salvation by grace through faith apart from good works
Affirmation: The means by which a sinner takes hold of the sufficiency of Christ’s righteousness and sacrifice to the saving of his soul is faith. Faith thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness is the alone instrument of justification (1689 11.2). Salvation is by grace through faith in Christ alone apart from works.
Scripture References: Eph. 2:8-9, Rom. 3:24, 8:30, Rom. 4:5–8, Eph. 1:7, Gal.5:6, James 2:17,22,26, Rom. 3:28
Denial: None can be saved by their own good works (Isaiah 64:6). Our good works do not have any contribution to our justification. To deny that a sinner is justified by faith in Christ alone is to diminish the value and worth of Christ’s atoning work.
Related Blog/s: True Saving Faith, Counterfeit Faith
6. The necessity of holiness
Affirmation: They who are united to Christ, effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, are also further sanctified, really and personally (1689 13.1). Holiness in the life of justified believers is indispensable, without it no man will see the Lord. The life of the believers is marked with holiness wrought by the Spirit.
Scripture References: Heb. 12:14, Acts 20:32; Rom. 6:5–6, John 17:17
Denial: There is no such thing as carnal Christians. Holiness is not optional. To deny the necessity of holiness is to deny that God is holy and to reject the applicatory work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the redeemed.
Related Blog/s: The Foundation of Sanctification, The Means of Sanctification
7. The Second coming of christ
Affirmation: This is biblical eschatology. God has appointed a day wherein he will judge the world in righteousness, by Jesus Christ (1689 32.1). God will separate the sheep and the goat. The former will go into everlasting life, and receive that fulness of joy and glory with everlasting rewards, in the presence of the Lord. The latter shall be cast aside into everlasting torments, and punished with everlasting destruction (1689 32.2).
Scripture References: Isaiah 66:24, Daniel 12:2-3, Acts 17:31; John 5:22–27, Matt. 25:21,34; 2 Tim. 4:8, Matt. 25:46; Mark 9:48; 2 Thess. 1:7–10, Romans 2:6-8
Denial: Those who say that Christ will not return do not understand the certainty of Christ’s second coming and make Christ a liar who said, “Surely I am coming soon” (Rev 22:20). Those who say that the punishment of the wicked is not eternal, based upon God’s overruling love do not understand the gravity of sin against the Holy and Loving God. The second coming of Christ is not invisible and secret but visible and public; it will usher the new heavens and the new earth (1Th 4:13 -18).
Related Blog/s: Basics of the Reformed Faith: The Second Coming
To know more about what we believe as Reformed Baptists, visit: The Five Points of Reformed Baptist
SOLI DEO GLORIA!