I purchased a book today which just absolutely fascinates me. It's called,
"What's the Least I can Believe and Still be a Christian?"
It's written by Martin Thielen, senior pastor of Lebanon First United Methodist Church in Lebanon, Tennessee. In the first part of his book, Thielen lists "Ten things Christians DON'T Need to Believe".
Since I haven't read the book, I'm not going to offer a critique, I'm just going to give you his list for your pondering pleasure!
Here are the ten things, according to Thielen, Christians don't need to believe (taken straight from the book's Table of Contents)...
1. God Causes Cancer, Car Wrecks, and Other Catastrophes
Although God can and does bring good results out of tragedy, God does not cause tragic events to occur.
2. Good Christians Don't Doubt
Doubt is not the enemy of faith but part of authentic Christianity.
3. True Christians Can't Believe in Evolution
Science and faith are fully compatible, and theistic evolution is a perfectly acceptable Christian belief.
4. Women Can't Be Preachers and Must Submit to Men
Women are fully equal with men in marriage, in church, and in society.
5. God Cares about Saving Souls but Not about Saving Trees
God cares about personal salvation and social justice, and so should God's church.
6. Bad People Will Be "Left Behind" and Then Fry in Hell
Left-behind rapture theology is neither a biblical nor a historical Christian belief and should be left behind by mainline and moderate evangelical Christians.
7. Jews Won't Make It to Heaven
The ultimate destiny of non-Christians is in God's hands, and God can be trusted to do what's right.
8. Everything in the Bible Should be Taken Literally
Although we must always take the Bible seriously, we don't always have to take it literally.
9. God Loves Straight People but Not Gay People
All persons, including homosexual persons, are welcome in God's church. Beyond that, however, mainline and moderate churches are not of one mind on this issue. For now, "welcoming but not affirming" best describes most mainline churches, and the discussion goes on.
10. It's OK for Christians to Be Judgemental and Obnoxious
True Christians leave judgment to God.
As you think about this list, and perhaps formulate your own, remember that just because you believe something, doesn't automatically mean it is absolutely essential to Christian theology. Just because something is true, it isn't automatically granted "core Christianity" status.
What makes (or doesn't make) someone a "Christian" by definition?
Part two of this series will take a look at the ten things, according to Thielen, Christians DO need to believe.