In the essentials – Unity
In the non-essentials – Liberty
In all things – Charity
Essentials encompass things like Scripture being the final authority, the reality of Jesus, the resurrection, Heaven and Hell, etc
Non-essentials include whether or not women should be leaders in ministry, speaking in tongues or other sign gifts, frequency of communion, etc
And many if not most opinions would fall under the “all things” category even if they violate the previous two.
While I may not be able to unite with someone who doesn’t believe that Jesus is the resurrected Savior of the world, I can still show charity to them. The difficulty comes when people try to make their opinion into an essential belief, meaning if you don’t agree with them, you are either dumb, wrong or worse, you are against them. Now I am sure there are bunches of people who would challenge the idea that religious belief of any kind is just an opinion anyway. (It’s not my intent to discuss that now, except to say that my religious beliefs, my theology, is based first upon verifiable facts, not simply blind faith and those facts help FORM my opinions/beliefs.)
It’s no secret that I have political opinions like everyone else. I do not support many of the things President Obama is trying to do and that opinion has been informed by my theology. My theology also tells me to pray, including for those in authority, and Obama certainly qualifies so I pray for him even though I can’t support him. I think illegal immigration is illegal (messy problem, sure, but in the end it’s still illegal). My theology has informed my opinions about gay marriage and abortion too (surprise, I cannot support either). I didn’t like the healthcare bill.
Some may think that the problem is my opinion. They think I’m wrong. I’m willing to discuss it, to debate it and to take a long hard look at the issues. But what I’m not willing to do is to work off of the assumption that I must not care about Jesus or the Gospel or people in tough and difficult circumstances when I hold the opinions and positions that I do. To the contrary, I care greatly about people and greatly about Jesus and the Gospel (why else would I agree to be a pastor? – seriously?) So here’s my question….do you believe me? Is it actually possible to have your opinions FORMED by your theology and beliefs, and come to different conclusions? I’ll write a little more on that tomorrow.