Thinking Out Loud

March 13, 2018

8 Things in Christianity Which are Not Dealbreakers

…It is my argument that often – far too often – conservative Christians become identified with issues that, while important, do not make or break our faith. This creates extremely volatile situations (from a human perspective) as believers’ faith ends up having a foundation which consists of one of these non-foundational issues. When and if these issues are significantly challenged, our faith becomes unstable. I have seen too many people who walk away from the faith due to their trust in some non-essential issue coming unglued. That is why I write this post…

C. Michael Patton

Five years ago, Michael Patton presented a list of Eight Things that Do NOT Make or Break Christianity. I tried to find a link at their current site, Credo House, but was unsuccessful. I believe it’s important to review a list like this from time to time; even to have the courage to say, “I’m an agnostic on that particular issue.”

Non Deal-breakers

  1. Young Earth Creationism
  2. The authorship of the Pastoral Epistles
  3. The inerrancy of scriptures
  4. Whether the flood covered the entire earth
  5. The character witness of Christians
  6. The inspiration of Scripture
  7. The unity of Christianity
  8. The theory of evolution

Ultimately, it’s the death and resurrection of Jesus that matters. It’s a better place to begin, and if the conversation has gone down one of the above rabbit holes, it’s the best place to return.

Did anything miss the list?Remember, we’re talking about issues within the realm of the Bible or the realm of doctrine. If you think so, leave a comment or email or send a direct message on Twitter.


  1. Can you expand a little on what you mean by “character witness of Christians”? I think I get what you mean, but want to make sure.
    Also, as one who struggled when I was a younger person with my Christian faith and belief in evolution and questioning of inerrancy of Scripture, thank you for naming those.

    Comment by jdp3227 — March 13, 2018 @ 10:06 am

    • I didn’t write the article, but I think what he’s saying here is that Christian faith is not dependent on the success of others in living the Christian life according to the ideals Jesus gave us. The best analogy I can come up with is this: You’re in a marathon and suddenly the guy beside you collapses. Then the guy on the other side twists is ankle and lands in a ditch. Assuming people are around to help, you keep running. The nature of your running hasn’t changed, the goal (finish line) hasn’t changed. You keep going. (Not entirely original since Paul uses the analogy of a race as well.) You run to win the prize regardless of what everybody else around is doing. Yes, they all claimed to be marathon runners, but obviously there were weaknesses or problems which have sidelined them (for now). But you keep going.

      Looking at it from a positive side, he may be saying that character in and of itself is not grounds for faith. So someone may have a glowing testimony, but their testimony isn’t a basis for belief. There are non-Christians who have great character and great personal stories, but that doesn’t make them a Christian.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — March 13, 2018 @ 11:03 am

  2. I would add to the list: Praying to the saints, and ones belief about Mary being or not being a perpetual virgin.

    Comment by Jim — March 13, 2018 @ 10:58 am

  3. 2 and 6 are deal breakers. If Paul didn’t write Ephesians, the letter lies, because it says on non uncertain terms that he did.

    If Scripture isn’t inspired we have no message from God.

    Comment by johnkw47 — March 17, 2018 @ 2:46 pm

    • I think the issue with #2 is the totality of the Pastoral Epistles. A stronger case can be made for some.
      With #6, no one is arguing with “All scripture is inspired by God;” but was it plenary inspiration, verbal inspiration, etc.?

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — March 17, 2018 @ 8:46 pm

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