In my short piece on Faultlines in Evangelicalism, I mentioned post-modernism’s distrust of ‘certaintist’ positions. This contrasts with evangelicals’ perceived desire to be certain about everything. I was interested to see John Stott in his book Evangelical Truth make a plea for evangelicals to distinguish carefully between essentials of the faith which cannot be compromised and those matters of secondary importance – adiaphora – in which there is a sincere disagreement amongst evangelicals as to what Scriptures teaches. Stott suggests the following as a partial list of secondary matters.
- Baptism: should we baptise only adult believers or thier infants as well? and by immersion or affusion?
- The Lord’s Supper: how should we define our sharing in the body and blood of Christ, 1 Cor 10:16?
- Church government: should it be episcopal, presbyterian or congregationalist?
- Worship: is there a place for liturgy, or should all public prayer be extempore? Can we combine the formal and the informal?
- Charismata: are any not available today? and of those which are, which are the most important?
- Women: which ministries are open to them and which are closed? What does masculine ‘headship’ mean, and how does it apply today?
- Ecumenism: what degree of involvement with non-evangelical churches is appropriate?
- Old Testament prophecy: how are we to understand its fulfilment?
- Sanctification: what degree of holiness is possible for the people of God on earth?
- The state: what should be the relations between church and state?
- Mission: are ‘mission’ and ‘evangelism’ synonymous? What is the place of the quest for social justice?
- Eschatology: how do we understand the tribulation, the rapture, the millenium, the parousia and our final destinies?
Evangelical Truth, 142f
See also this post by Michael Pahl.