Question: “What are foundational doctrines?”
Foundational doctrines of the Christian faith are plain and simple explanations of what we believe. But, sometimes this may be difficult to pin point exactly what they may be because there are so many different ‘faith groups’ out there whose ideas vary widely. For instance, I am a Southern Baptist and we have a clearly defined statement of faith entitled “The Baptist Faith and Message” which is derived from the Word of God. However, there are a few doctrines which are seen as ‘common denominators’ and are found among every group. Among them there seems to be 5, and perhaps, 6 basic doctrines that all major Christian faith groups hold to. I have added a 6th which is God’s Word. The 6 are: The Scriptures, the Trinity, the deity and humanity of Christ, the bodily resurrection, Man is sinful, and salvation by grace through faith.
- The Scriptures: It is entirely inerrant and sufficient for all Christian life. The authority of Scripture is a foundational necessity because without it none of the other truths could be affirmed. All doctrines are defined from of the authority of the Word of God. “You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:14-16 NASB..
- The God of the Bible is a triune God, one God in three Persons. I would think that one of most widely used texts to demonstrate this is from Matthew 28:19-20, “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always , even to the end of the age.”
Paul gives us insight into the fact of the triune God, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14.
And again he writes in Colossians 2:8-10, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete , and He is the head over all rule and authority; See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells.”
From the Gospel of Luke we find this statement, “The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. “For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:30-37.
- The Deity of Christ and His humanity. One must believe not only that Jesus is the Son of and that He was crucified, buried and arose on the 3rd day. One must believe that Jesus is the Messiah. 1 John 2:22-24 says, “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 23Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.” John does not mix words there. The Apostle also writes in 1 John 4:2-3, “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.” Later in 2 John 1:7 we find these words, “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.” Jesus seems to hint at the necessity of that in John 8:23-24, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. 24 “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”
God’s Word contains harsh words for anyone who denies Christ as the Messiah. “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.” 1 John 2:23-24.
- The bodily resurrection of Christ. “Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:12-13.
And Paul writes in Romans 10: 8-9, “But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
- Man is sinful. Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Frankly, the issue of salvation is that you get forgiven because you’ve sinned. If you say you haven’t sinned and man has no sin 1 John 1:8-10 has this to say, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” Yes, lost folks are sinners and those who have been born-again are saints. Just a thought.
- Salvation is by grace through faith just as Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8-10, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Everyone must believe in the grace of Christ in order to be born-again. Romans 11:6 tells us concerning this grace, “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace. “This is the response to Him that we are to have, believe in Him whom He has sent,” Jesus tells us in John 6:47-51, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”
I hope this helps. As has been stated, there are many more doctrines which are important, but these may be what one may refer to as being foundational a ndis the basis of your question. No doubt there may be a few more that can be added to these 6, but the list could be quite lengthy.