____ 1. Inerrancy in the Bible.
____ 2. Greet each other with a holy kiss.
____ 3. Salvation in Christ alone.
____ 4. Do not go to court to settle issues between Christians.
____ 5. Eternal security.
____ 6. Do not eat meat used in pagan ceremonies.
____ 7. A polygamist cannot be an elder or pastor in the congregation.
____ 8. Women should be veiled when praying or speaking.
____ 9. Muslim believers cannot remain in the mosque.
____ 10. Wash feet at the Lord’s Supper (Eucharist).
____ 11. Lay on hands for ordination.
____ 12. Tobacco is forbidden for Christians.
____ 13. Sing without musical accompaniment.
____ 14. Forbid initiation rituals such as female circumcision.
____ 15. Abstain from eating blood.
____ 16. Abstain from fornication.
____ 17. Forbid teaching from the Koran or other holy books.
____ 18. Share the Lord’s Supper (Eucharist) together.
____ 19. Use only real wine and unleavened bread for your Eucharist.
____ 20. Anoint with oil for healing.
____ 21. Women are not to teach men.
____ 22. Women are not to wear braided hair, gold, or pearls.
____ 23. Men are not to have long hair.
____ 24. Do not drink wine at all.
____ 25. Slavery is permissible if you treat slaves well.
____ 26. Remain single.
____ 27. Seek the gift of tongues.
____ 28. Seek the gift of healing.
____ 29. Lift your hands when you pray.
____ 30. People who don’t work, don’t eat.
____ 31. Have a private “devotional time” every day.
____ 32. Say Amen at the end of prayers.
____ 33. Appoint elders and deacons in every congregation.
____ 34. Elect the leaders.
____ 35. Confess sins one to another.
____ 36. Confess sins privately to God.
____ 37. Give at least ten percent of your income/goods/crops to God.
____ 38. Construct a building for worship.
____ 39. Confess Christ publicly by means of baptism.
____ 40. Be baptized by immersion.
____ 41. Be baptized as an adult.
____ 42. Be baptized as an infant.
____ 43. Do not be a polygamist.
____ 44. Do not divorce your spouse for any reason.
____ 45. Do not divorce your spouse except for adultery.
I found this a very difficult exercise, particulary because I didn't quite feel clear on what the two categories were. What does essential mean anyway? Essential to go to heaven? Essential for pleasing God? If I were starting a church in another culture, which would I choose as "essential" for people I would partner with in that ministry? What if the culture were a crazy tribal setting- cannibalism and all? Of course, if you don't agree with the tenets of Christianity, this exercise either becomes nearly impossible or is fairly meaningless.
One note of interest: In our discussion, many people said it was essential to "abstain from fornication" because of the commands of the Bible, BUT no one used that same argument as reason to insist that "women are not to teach men." In their defense, I think they were trying to discern what Biblical commands seemed specific to that culture and which were for all time. But how do we know? How do we decide?
Tim and I both marked "Salvation in Christ alone" as essential and didn't mark any others. To some of my blog-readers, I'm sure that sounds blasphemous- either that we would consider that essential, or to others, that we wouldn't consider others essential. Again, I think your definition of "essential" is fairly important here. I decided mine was "something I would be willing to die for." I probably wouldn't die to defend the principle that men have to have short hair.
I'd love to hear your thoughts. Post a comment or shoot me an email! Let me know what you think is essential and why I am either closed-minded or a heretic!