I began this series of posts by sharing a portion of a letter written by a conservative Reformed minister who told a friend that he had left the Christian faith by joining the Orthodox Church. I believe that this response is not only preposterous but it is fostered by the sin of pride and reflects a divisive spirit that is condemned by the Scripture itself.
I noted that John Calvin distinguishes between essential and non-essential matters of faith. This distinction has been made by teachers and theologians since the early church. Calvin is simply following the long tradition of the faith in making such a point. He says, “A difference of opinion should in nowise be the basis of schism among Christians.” He says, in The Institutes (IV.1.12) that the characteristic core doctrines that are essential are these: “God is one; Christ is God and the Son of God; our salvation rests on God’s mercy and the like.” He adds, in his commentary on 1 Corinthians, “