There are subjects in the Bible that are “weightier.” It seems that there are indeed primary and secondary issues.
It is important for us to keep the primary in the primary spot and the secondary in the secondary spot. Many church splits are over secondary issues, stuff that wouldn’t be an issue if people were esteeming others better than themselves.
But alas, you can’t really expect the church to do that, can you?!
The problem with defining a secondary issue and a primary issue is in just that–defining. What is a primary issue for me may be a secondary issue for you. The Bible can be of some help here.
The Bible warns about certain beliefs that if you hold them you are heading toward condemnation:
1 Corinthians 16:22—not loving the Lord your God
Galatians 1:8-9—preaching any other Gospel, let him be accursed
1 John 4:2-3—denying that Christ is God in the flesh
The Bible also puts extreme importance on a proper understanding of the Gospel, 1 Corinthians 15:1-5 in particular.
Primary issues then are things relating to the Gospel–who Christ is, justification, bodily death and resurrection of Christ, the fact that you are a guilty sinner in need of salvation, and so on.
However, many people think their other issue is primary in the Gospel. So, even here secondary issues might appear primary. What about baptism? In my mind water baptism is a secondary issue. But for others, water baptism is an integral part of how they think the Gospel works.
I also think Communion, The Lord’s Supper, is a secondary issue. For me it’s something that flows out of a proper primary view of the Gospel. For others, Communion is how you get grace, it’s how the Gospel becomes real.
People can argue about any issue, and there are always people who are willing to die on any hill that arises on the horizon.
Patience and grace should mark our existence together. The Gospel is worth fighting for. If someone maintains that Jesus is not God in the flesh, that’s a problem. If someone maintains that Jesus didn’t cry as a baby, secondary issue, let it go.
The Holy Spirit dwells in all believers and in the corporate fellowship of believers. Christ is the head of the Body. Let them do their work. Give each other time and patience to work it out. Unity does not come by eliminating doctrines; unity comes by mercy and patience.
Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.