In a recent post titled Essentials of Christianity, Roger Olson, while agreeing with Emil Brunner’s “that the doctrine of the Trinity is a defensive formula and therefore very important but not part of the kerygma,” says that belief in the Trinity is not necessary to be a Christian.
I believe it and hope all Christians will believe it, but it is so easy to be confused about it that I’m not certain one must believe it to be a Christian. bold added
And this is seen in Professor Olson’s consideration of Oneness Pentecostals:
I have come to believe, for example, that many Oneness Pentecostals are simply confused; they just don’t “get” the doctrine of the Trinity. Of course, there are others who understand it fully and go out of their way to reject it. read more…
So if I’m understanding Roger Olson correctly, because: 1. An understanding of the Trinity often leads to confusion, then it’s not necessary to be a Christian. This then raises the question, So only easily understood doctrines of the Scripture are essential in being a Christian? But who decides what doctrines are easily understood or not?
And 2. though “a defensive formula and therefore very important,” but because it’s not part of the kerygma, belief in it is not necessary to be a Christian. But I’m compelled to ask, What are those “teachings that we must continue in”? And Luke talks about devotion to the “apostles’ doctrines”? Are these somehow perfunctory? Perhaps I’ve misunderstood the good professor here.
Perhaps along with Professor Olson, we need to rethink what we consider the “essentials of Christianity,” and not be so quick to say, “Here’s a long list of doctrines and anyone who doesn’t believe them isn’t a Christian.”