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Are we keeping the main thing the main thing?

(Photo: Unsplash/Aaron Burden)

What is more important? Being an evangelical, conservative, and/or fundamentalist Christian? Or just being a Christian? I believe it is more important to just be a Christian.

Why does this matter? Because evangelical, conservative, and/or fundamentalist Christians often spend more time defending their boundary markers than the boundary markers of Christianity simpliciter (aka mere Christianity).

For example, there is more attention given to biblical inerrancy than to biblical inspiration. There is more attention given to young (or old) earth creationism than to the doctrine of creation. There is more attention given to the penal substitution theory of atonement than to the doctrine of atonement. There is more attention given to the battle against gay marriage than to the institution of marriage. There is more attention given to the prohibition of physician-assisted suicide than to an understanding of what it means to live and die well. There is more attention given to the status of Israel as a current geopolitical entity than to the status of Israel as God’s people in salvation history. There is more attention given to the eternal conscious torment theory of hell than to the observation that people even now are embarked on perpetual cycles of alienation and self-destruction.

I am reminded, at this point, of one of Stephen Covey’s famous habits of highly effective people: The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

Is it any wonder why evangelicals have often failed to be effective? The secondary debates are important and well worth discussing, but they are not the main thing.

Dr. Randal Rauser is Professor of Historical Theology at Taylor Seminary in Edmonton, Alberta, where he has taught since 2003. He blogs at and lectures widely on issues of theology, Christian worldview, and apologetics. Randal is the author of many books including his latest, What's So Confusing About Grace?

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