When Should Doctrine Divide?

Gavin Ortlund | August 14, 2017


For various reasons I’ve been thinking about how Christians should relate to each other around secondary doctrines. What partnerships and alliances are appropriate among Christians of different denominations, networks, or tribes? What kind of feelings and practices should characterize our attitude to those in the body of Christ with whom we have significant theological disagreements? What does it look like to handle—with integrity and transparency—personal differences of conviction that may arise with your church, boss, or institution?

These kinds of questions have been a significant part of my own denominational and theological journey over the last decade, and it is a practical issue that will always be with us. So I thought it might be helpful to share two convictions that have been brewing in me while I’ve struggled my way through it all.

At the broadest level I see two opposite dangers: doctrinal minimalism and doctrinal separatism.

Danger #1: Doctrinal Minimalism

The overall trajectory of our culture seems to tend toward doctrinal minimalism and doctrinal indifferentism (especially in my generation). Four hundred years ago if you took a different view on baptism, you may have gotten drowned. Today we rightly recoil at that response, but we often go to the opposite extreme and…


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