There are basic core beliefs essential to Protestent Christianity:
- There is, always was, and forever will be, only one Creator God. He is holy, good, loving, just, and infinite (eternal, omnipotent, and omniscient). God has revealed Himself to us as a triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- God created everything – time, physics, all the matter and energy in the universe, the earth, and all life – from nothing.
- The scriptures (Old Testament and New Testament) are God breathed and the only source of Truth.
- Jesus is God become man – fully eternal Creator God and fully man. He was born of a virgin, lived a perfect life, and, in obedience to the Father, was crucified and rose from the grave to conquer death and sin.
- Everyone is broken, willfully seeks his own way, and fails before God. God has every right to seek justice against those who have sinned against Him, but He redeems some by grace through faith in Christ.
- Salvation is of the Lord, offered only to belivers by the sovereign grace of God, through faith in Christ alone, not by any merit or works of the believer. Salvation is now-but-not-yet. Believers are fully justified before God, are being sanctified while living in fallen bodies, and will be fully sanctified in the eternal life with God.
- the catholic (universal) church consists of all believers from all ages, nations, races, and denominations who have been redeemed by the grace of God.
Adding to, or subtracting from, these basic orthodox beliefs is dangerous. Cults typically deny the Deity of Christ, add requirements to the grace of salvation, doubt scripture or add some additional revelation or new truth, or claim to be the exclusive true chruch. Run.
There is another set of beliefs that while I believe them to be true, they fall into the area of opinion, sometimes called second degree doctrines. After considerable amount of study I have found the Reformed tradition’s understanding of the scriptures is the closest humanly possible to what Scripture teaches. If another Christian agrees with me on the essentials, I will not count disagreement in the areas of opinion against them.