Theological Hierarchy

So lets define our terms:

Primary– issues that are worth calling someone a heretic over

Secondary– issues that are worth leaving a church/denomination over

Tertiary– issues that are not worth labeling heretical or leaving a church over

Certain secondary beliefs are right and wrong, such as there not being a Scriptural basis for infant baptism, but there’s a certain threshold of legitimate debate and confusion that does not necessarily deny the primary beliefs in Scripture. There are debates and conversations to be had about the ability to lose salvation or the continuation of certain spiritual gifts that have a right answer that should not, on their own, be elevated as proxies to determine someone’s stance on Scripture. But because secondary issues are important, it is necessary for Christians to have a church that aligns with their belief on secondary issues. In this I also create a clear threshold that separates the secondary from the tertiary.

 

PRIMARY:

  • Trinity
  • Hypostatic Union
  • Christ’s Physical Resurrection
  • Christ’s Second-Coming
  • Scripture
    • Authority
    • Inerrancy
    • Clarity
    • Sufficiency
  • The Virgin Birth
  • Substitutionary Atonement
  • Salvation by Grace Alone through Faith Alone
  • Original Sin
  • Christian life of repentance

SECONDARY

  • Calvinism/Arminianism
    • Ability to lose salvation
    • Limit on atonement
    • Extent of free will
  • Cessationism/Continuationism/Charismaticism
  • Believer’s/Infant Baptism
  • Immersion
  • Women in Ministry
  • Church organization
  • Pietism/Pacifism/Lesser Magistrates

TERTIARY

  • Church polity
  • Earth-Age
  • Eschatology (pre/a/post-millennialism, etc.)
  • Bible translations
  • Church music
  • Church decorations
  • Church dress code