In Essentials Unity
By Hank Hanegraaff
The mission of the Christian Research Institute from 1960 to the present is encompassed in a single word: EQUIP. In the words of St. Paul, our organization is committed to equip “God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ might be built up” and strengthened (Eph. 4:12). Today, CRI’s Internet site (www.equip.org) further reflects our commitment to this mission. The word EQUIP serves as an acronym to define our goals and objectives.
In Essentials Unity- EThe “E” in EQUIP represents the word essentials. CRI is committed to the maxim: “In essentials unity, in nonessentials liberty, and in all things charity.” Our goal is to make people so familiar with the essentials of the Christian faith that when a counterfeit looms on the horizon, they will recognize it instantaneously. There must be unity around the essentials, since essential Christian doctrine forms the line of demarcation between the kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of the cults. Today, as perhaps never before, this line is not just being blurred by false teachings, but it is being obliterated. The tide in evangelicalism is turning from unity around the essentials to unity despite the essentials. Movements within the culture — cults as well as the church — are compromising, confusing, and contradicting essential Christian doctrine.
It is precisely because these essentials have been redefined that millions have a completely distorted view of what it means to be a Christian. As a case in point, the “Faith” movement may use Christian terminology when it comes to the essentials, but the meaning it pours into the words is decidedly unbiblical. Faith is redefined as a force, God is reduced to a being who has faith, and the gospel of grace has been relegated to a gospel of greed.
Although Faith teachers have trivialized the importance of essential Christian doctrine, it remains the key to effective Christian living. First, “essential Christian doctrine” provides the framework through which we properly relate to God in prayer, accurately understand the Bible, and actively involve ourselves in vital church membership. Furthermore, it is the means by which we ably defend our faith. Finally, it is the basis for how we live our lives. As Paul instructed Timothy, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Tim. 4:16).
In Essentials Unity- QThe “Q” in the acronym EQUIP represents the word questions. In addition to focusing on essentials, CRI answers people’s questions regarding cults, culture, and Christianity. As we move further into what has been described as a post-Christian culture, it is increasingly important to equip Christians to answer questions regarding what they believe, why they believe, and whom they believe. The apostle Peter urges us, “Always be prepared to give an answer [apologia] to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Pet. 3:15, emphasis added).
To begin with, answering questions involves pre-evangelism. The vast majority of people in today’s culture think that Christianity is a blind leap into the dark, rather than faith founded on fact. Thus, questions become opportunities to use well-reasoned answers as springboards for presenting the good news of the gospel. Answering questions should never be viewed as merely a means to demonstrate mental acumen, but as an opportunity to humbly present the truth claims of Christ…
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