According to research by Christian social researcher George Barna, Christians are ignorant of God's revealed word in the Bible. Illiteracy of the bible basics and what the bible is all about remains a major problem within most churches in America. When it comes to church doctrine the situation is even worse. Yet, the Bible reminds us of the importance to know church doctrine and to relay it on to the next generation as Paul did with Timothy. Many people have died in the process of deriving doctrines and creeds for the church. We need to learn to value their worth since too often we do not realize the part they played in our freedoms today.
One of the major objections to studying doctrine is the potential it can have for causing division within a church. When it comes to unity what criteria should Christians use to determine what an essential belief is? Unfortunately, division characterizes much of the Christian body today. One group seems all too eager to disassociate with or even eliminate others that do not agree 100% with what their own beliefs are. What is God's will with regard to determining the essentials of the faith in contrast to those issues that are only of secondary importance?
We believe the Bible has to be the final authority to determine what the essentials of the faith should be. For Christians to go beyond what the Bible reveals as essential beliefs leads to division and too often hatred of those Christians who may not agree completely with everything they hold to be essential beliefs.
The following video by Frank Hannegraf deals with this issue and he offers some of the Biblical solutions to deriving the essentials of the faith. While we may not all agree on the essentials, we need to ask ourselves whether a point of disagreement should be considered an essential issue or one of secondary importance. One way of determining this is to seek God's help in deciding what an essential or non-essential issue is from what we read in the Bible. We can then ask God if this is such an important belief that it warrants our division from the body of Christians we are in.