The Big Idea: Non-core issues in the church that are elevated to core issues bring strife and hamper our spiritual passion. The Three Circles are helpful categories to obey Christ in Mark 7.
Key question: How do we guard against leaving the word of God for the traditions of men?
The Three Circles are not neat and tidy. Keep the main thing the main thing: the gospel.
I. Core the root beliefs on what it means to be saved
Evangelical Protestants: those who hold to the inerrancy of Scripture and think they ought to be engaging the culture and other cultures with the gospel.
The demarcation line of Protestantism compared to Catholicism
· Sola Fide faith alone
· Sola Grace grace alone
· Sola Scriptura scripture alone
· Sola Christos by Christ alone
· Sola deo Gloria for the glory of God alone
This is what is preached from the pulpit.
II. Distinctives differentiate between denominations
a. Polity (i.e. congregational, elder led, etc.)
b. Salvation (is it monergism or synergism?)
c. Sacraments or ordinances (i.e.
d. Holy Spirit (what is his role today and how does he work?)
e. Biblical Theology (what is the relationship between the OT and NT?)
It is not necessary to hold to the Distinctives to fellowship together or become a member. Leadership must subscribe to these. In the PCA it is all that is written in the Westminster Confession of Faith.
a. Parenting skills
b. Education (public schools, private schools or home schools, classical model, etc.)
c. Entertainment (TV in your home, movies, cable, internet, etc.) How do you make entertainment choices
d. Responsible use of alcohol or tobacco
e. Eschatology the church has always agreed that Christ is coming soon, bodily, in power and judgment, and no one knows when he is coming;
f. Politics (republican or democratic, etc.)
Conclusion: May we live in love to one another to build up one anothers faith, being careful not to kill our own spiritual passion and that of our brothers by elevating Distinctives or Negotiables to Core.