Is every area of doctrine important? Or are there areas of doctrine that matter more than others?
Yes, every area is important, but not every area of doctrine is of equal importance. Some issues are “closed-hand” issues and some are “open-hand” issues. Closed-hand issues we hold tightly; these are essential and non-negotiable). But open-hand issues are areas of doctrine where we can lovingly agree to disagree with other believers.
In other words, there are doctrines that need to divide us and there are those doctrines that need not divide us. The key is to know what to hold in which hand. Tragically, some people make open-handed things into closed handed things, which causes unneeded division among believers.
In this episode, Kenny explains the difference between closed-hand issues and open-hand issues, and outlines for us how we out to approach debates and disagreements within Christianity.
Closed-hand issues include the deity of Jesus, the Trinity, the inspiration of Scripture, the sinfulness of humans and our need to be rescued, the atoning death of Jesus and His physical resurrection, and a few other areas of doctrine. Overall, this list is short.
Other issues concerning God’s foreknowledge, baptism, worship style, the precise understanding of the doctrine of election, eschatology, the atonement of Jesus, the spiritual gifts, our understanding of hell, how prayer works, Bible translation preferences, women in ministry, age of the Earth, and dozens of other areas of doctrine. These are things that should be held in humility in the open hand. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have convictions or strong opinions on those secondary issues, but there is no reason that Christians need to divide over these kind of issues.