by John D. Morris, Ph.D.
"And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient." (2 Timothy 2:24)
One of the plagues of modern-day Christendom is that many take up side issues and deem them all-important--a point of separation between them and other Christians. Health foods, dress codes, and church constitutions are not unimportant, but Christians can hold different opinions and still be walking with God. Note the scriptural admonitions: "Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace |i.e., primary issues|; not with meats |i.e., fringe issues|, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein" (Hebrews 13:9); "foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes" (2 Timothy 2:23).
On the other hand, there are many scriptural commands to hold "fast the faithful word" (Titus 1:9); to "keep that which is committed to thy trust" (1 Timothy 6:20). Many of these points of "sound doctrine" (Titus 1:9) are absolutely essential, such as the deity of Christ, the authority of Scripture, salvation by grace, the resurrection of Christ, and many others clearly and specifically taught in Scripture. Perhaps the rule might be, if it's an essential doctrine, teach and defend it at all costs; if it's a secondary doctrine, teach it in "meekness" and love (2 Timothy 2:25). But if it's a fringe issue, avoid strife over it, allowing brothers to exercise their freedom.
Is creationism a fringe issue? No! Few doctrines are so clearly taught in Scripture. Is it crucial to salvation? No! But it is essential to adequately understand the great primary doctrines for it is foundational to them all. Furthermore, it is the subject of origins which the enemy has identified as a major battleground, vowing to destroy Christianity over this issue. Here we must stand, if we are to guard our faith. JDM
This article was originally published December, 2010. "Fringe Issues", Institute for Creation Research, https://www.icr.org/article/5740/ (accessed March 21, 2023).