CONVICTIONS, are just that. Doctrines that hold not only a cognitive weight on us, but an emotional weight as well. While not ABSOLUTES of our faith, CONVICTIONS are doctrines we hold so close to our hearts, that we separate fellowship over disagreeing upon them. We do this because it is these doctrines that lead the Church to Biblical faithfulness or not, as far as we see it.
What are some examples of CONVICTIONS? I’ll mention three of them.
-One’s view of the Bible: I believe the Bible to be the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God. It is this Word that holds, secures, and sustains the Church throughout all time.
-One’s view of salvation: I believe that salvation is the work of God from beginning to end, and that it must be so because I would not have chosen to follow Jesus if God had not elected me and given me a new heart first. It is not in my nature, as a sinner, to choose what is not sin. So if I find myself choosing what is not sin – JESUS – I must conclude that God has changed my heart, giving me a desire for a new taste, one for Him. I am reformed in my theology, and do believe that reformed theology is the best description of the gospel to be invented by man.
-One’s view of baptism: I believe infant baptism to be the proper way of bringing up our children in the Church. I do think that we see infant baptism taking place in both the Old and New Testaments. I don’t think it saves the infant, it just welcomes them into the visible community of the Church (not the invisible).
Now above is just 3 examples of convictions Christian’s can hold or not. I begin each statement above saying “I believe” and that I said convictions determine if we remain Biblically faithful “as far as we see it?” I said this because after study, prayer, and much thought I’ve come to arrive at the conclusion that the above convictions are Biblically faithful and that other options I could have believed are not. Now someone may ask after reading this: “Does this mean that those who disagree with you are not Christian?” By no means! One becomes a Christian by putting faith in Jesus, not by holding certain UNabsolute convictions.
But, though this remains true time and time again, I would never work for or be a member of a church who disagreed with me on these issues. I could not because I wouldn’t agree with what they’re teaching. So, I separate for the sake of truth, but still count those who disagree with me as Christians (misguided as they may be in their theology). You ought to do the same thing.
Now I should note that this is why we’ve got different denominations in our Church. Because other people have studied, prayed, and thought hard about these things and ended up at different conclusions than I did. If there were no sin in the world or in us, we’d have not denominations because we’d all be of the same mind. BUT, sin affects our minds as well as our hearts, thus we find differences of opinion, and we’ll continue to find this until Jesus comes back, and He puts sin away forever.
Other doctrines that would fall into this same category are: substitutionary atonement, the Lord’s Supper, the nature of the church, and church government.