According to Bible study author, speaker and blogger Michelle Lesley, there are “essential”, “primary”, or “first tier” doctrines a person must hold in order to become a Christian and/or be considered a Christian. So, what are these doctrines? One example she gives is that you must believe you’re a sinner. And if you don’t believe you’re a sinner? You’re not saved. Period.
Michelle also delves into what the Church considers “secondary issues” a.k.a. non-essentials. As you can see by the title, she believes the Bible teaches that women should not preach. Moreover, she has confidence that women should not serve as pastors, teach men Scripture in the church, and exercise authority over men in the church.
Now listen to Michelle Lesley explain all the reasons for believing that her’s is the biblical view. She writes:
When it comes to Christianity, are the specifics of what people believe important?
I think most of us would answer a resounding “yes” to that question. Of course, the various concepts we believe are important. You can’t just believe anything you like and still be a Christian. There are certain things you must believe in order to become a Christian at all, and there are certain things you will come to believe because you are a genuinely regenerated Christian. But what are those things, and how do we know which is which?
Maybe you’ve heard the terms “essential doctrines” or “primary, secondary, and tertiary theological issues” or “first, second, and third tier levels of doctrine”? For years, theologians have been attempting to organize beliefs of the Christian faith – all drawn from the Bible, naturally – into nice neat categories in order to make things a little simpler. As someone who thrives on organization and categories, I’m grateful for their efforts. But if you begin to study this categorization of beliefs, you’ll find that we haven’t reached an across the board consensus yet.
Generally speaking, “essential”, “primary”, or “first tier” doctrines are those which you, biblically, have to believe in order to become a Christian and/or be considered a Christian. For example:
✢ Sin is a thing, and I am a sinner.
✢ God exists and is the supreme authority of the universe.
✢ Jesus was God in human flesh.
✢ Jesus rose bodily from the grave.
See how this works? If you don’t believe you’re a sinner, you’re not saved. If you don’t believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ, you’re not saved. Here’s how our friend, Pastor Gabe, briefly outlines essential doctrines:
(Gabe later tweaked the acrostic a little and added an “S”, which I think is helpful.)
The vast majority of brand new Christians have only the most basic understanding of most of these tenets at the moment of salvation. But it’s not an issue of fully understanding – or else we’d all have to be theologians in order to get saved – it’s an issue of believing. Someone who is genuinely regenerated may not completely understand how the Trinity works (honestly, no one does), but when she’s introduced to the biblical idea of the Trinity, she believes it, learns more about it, and does not reject it.