No one will ever find a fellowship where everyone agrees on the non- essentials doctrinally, meaning those things unessential for salvation. There are some foundational/core beliefs that any local fellowship would need to agree upon, obviously. Things such as the nature of the scriptures, the nature of Christ, the character of God and a few others. But there are many things, called lesser doctrines, for the above mentioned reason, about which they would have to agree to disagree agreeably to maintain real fellowship. Is that even possible? How do you live together in church life with those lesser differences of beliefs since we all know some churches and people make issues over any difference?
I love finding people who do it. I'm posting some information I've discovered about a Church that has, I believe, produced a great example of how to do it. I've deleted any chance of identifying the Church so there will be no bias because of denomination or lack thereof.
I'll begin by showing you what they call their "Policy On Controversial Issues." It simply states......
"The people who make up__________ Church have various theological perspectives and diverse backgrounds. As ________ (our Senior Pastor) says, “We agree on enough to get the job done.” That's our policy. We do not exclude anyone on the basis of a different view on baptism, gifts of the spirit, predestination vs. freewill, or any other matter of honest theological disagreement among members of the Church. The people of___________Church are not connected because we all dot our i's and cross our t's the same theologically, but because we align ourselves with a common vision and mission as Jesus’ disciples in the city of________."
[Paul speaking]...Neat huh!! The question is, how do they pull this off? I've decided to post only one of several statements they have adopted about controversial issues that can often divide friendships if not congregations. It is a statement about the differing views of marriage generally called complementarianism and egalitarianism. Their policy says.......
"What are the appropriate roles of husband and wife in a Christian marriage? We affirm that biblical paradigm of a God-centered, agape-oriented covenant marriage relationship. We also recognize the disagreement among evangelical Christians regarding the nature of gender roles within marriage. Some believe the Bible teaches a timeless principle of male headship, where headship is defined as the model of servant-leadership exemplified by Jesus Christ. Others believe that the idea of male headship expressed in Scripture is a culturally-conditioned teaching, and that the ideal model of marriage is that of mutual submission and leadership by gifting, within an egalitarian relationship. We believe that, when guided by the principles of agape-love and servant-leadership, either model of gender roles in marriage can serve to foster God-glorifying covenant-marriages."
"To that end, we offer the following biblical challenge and encouragement."
(1) "To those couples who follow the model of male headship: Husbands strive to avoid both self-centered control and worldly authoritarianism, and seek to exemplify the self-sacrificial servant-leadership demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ toward his bride, the church. Wives, strive to avoid both selfish independence or passive apathy in the marriage, and seek to exemplify the active, passionate submission that characterizes the church's love for its eternal groom, Jesus Christ."
(2) "To those couples who follow the egalitarian model: Strive to avoid a marriage characterized by indecision, and seek to lead and/or follow in the various areas of your marriage as God has gifted each of you. In all things, exemplify a heart-attitude of submission toward each other, after the pattern of self-sacrificial servanthood demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ toward our heavenly Father."
[Paul again] Well what do you know!!. Here are some Christians who have banded together in fellowship around a person, the Lord Jesus, and the sharing of His message, instead of a set of rules or set positions on every imaginable difference of opinion theologically. Maybe koinonia IS possible in the twenty-first century Church made up of people who differ some even theologically. Just maybe! I hope so!