Posted by: St. Mark Lutheran Church | September 26, 2012

Fundamental, non-fundamental — how much is enough

“Jesus loves me, this I know: and this is all I want to know.”

Someone, somewhere, took the classic opening lines of the Christian hymn, “Jesus Loves Me This I Know,” revised them, and turned them into a witty aphorism. The point of the statement becomes a declaration similar to Paul’s in 1 Corinthians, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). The underlying idea is that the Christian says, “I know about Jesus, my Savior, and what He has done for me. As long as I know that, I know what I need to know, and that’s everything I need or want to know.” The above quoted words are, in a sense, a confession of faith.

Is this pithy paraphrase of the classic Christian hymn a valid statement? Should this be a motto that is endorsed from pulpits and in classrooms? Or is there a danger in making this an official statement of principle? Does it put in danger the proclamation of the whole counsel of God, belittle other doctrines of Scripture, and risk reducing the message of Scripture? While it is true that Jesus is the only source of our salvation, the Rock in whom man trusts, the Christian cannot ignore the rest of Scripture. For, as Paul wrote, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful” (2 Tim. 3:16). And Jesus commanded that the apostles teach “them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20a).

There is no debate that the center of our faith is Jesus Christ. For Luke writes in Acts that there is no other name under heaven that can save a person (Acts 4:12). John tells us that God sent Jesus into the world for the express purpose of saving us from our sins (John 3:16). All of the Old Testament is a preparation and foreshadowing of the coming of Christ, the Messiah who would crush the devil’s head (Gen. 3:15), who would take the government of the world upon his shoulders (Isaiah 9:6). The foundation of our faith, according to Paul, “is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11), and no one can add anything to that.

However, there are those who would say that that is where things end. Christians are all one in Christ and that is enough. There is no need to quibble and argue over the other doctrines of Scripture that have nothing to do with the foundation of faith, that is, the fundamentals.

Want to read more?  Go here to read the whole essay on fundamental and non-fundamental doctrines.

You can find this essay, “The Distinction between fundamental and non-fundamental articles of doctrine” at the “Theological Papers” page on the website.

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