“Major on the majors” is good, but incomplete, advice. If you’ve got a dispute or a decision to make, deal with the important things first. That seems uncontroversial to me.

The question, however, is what constitutes “major”. Specifically, what constitutes “major” in regard to Christian beliefs?

The church has a long history of writing creeds and confessions regarding all sorts of doctrinal issues. In the earliest period, the church dealt with heresies regarding the core doctrines of the Christian faith like the two natures of Christ, the Trinity, and the work of Christ. Not all disputes within the church have amounted to heresy; there are disagreements among brethren. However, on core doctrinal issues, on issues of very clear moral teaching (e.g. the wickedness of abominable sins), the church has used written statements to demarcate themselves from the outside world.

The fact that the church has dealt with different issues over time doesn’t imply that the earlier issues lost importance. They just weren’t up for real debate anymore. Doctrinal statements are like defenses erected against aberrant theology.

What issues does the church face today? Carl Trueman’s recent article in First Things does a great job articulating exactly that:

The older generation who matured in the shadow of the Battle for the Bible assumed that it would be Christian doctrine—belief in the Incarnation, the Resurrection, the miracles—that would be the fault line within the churches and the reason why the outside world would repudiate Christianity. That generation thus lived in a world where such things played no role in actual membership in wider society. They might make Christians look foolish, but they did not make us look evil. And in that world Christians could compensate for their perceived foolishness by combining Christian orthodoxy with a certain cultural savvy and sophistication.

But those days are over and that leadership is ill-equipped for what is now happening. Being mocked for believing in miracles is much easier to handle than being hated as a bigot. And it is now obvious the Christian position on the key issues of membership in society today—those of sexual identity, gender, abortion—cannot but implicate one in public debates and will merit the title of bigot.

Being literate and urbane, being able to mix a good martini Vesper—such things simply will not compensate for the rejection of whatever identity, act, or right progressive society next decides is non-negotiable. And we now need church leaders and thinkers who understand this and are prepared for the social consequences.

If the leaders will not lead with the truth, why should the people take a stand on the truth?

Orthodox Protestants in America can now have clarity on the way forward and the choices that lie before them. The elites are accommodating, as I predicted they would be. And new leadership is now needed, one that understands the exile nature of the church, the inevitable opposition of the world, and the importance of opposing the abolition of man at every turn.

The real battle today is over the moral and cultural issues like marriage and gender. No one is walking into churches to debate the Trinity or the dual natures of Christ. There’s no price to pay for holding to either of those doctrines, but if you don’t use the right pronouns you can lose your job.

Christians indeed should “major on the majors”. But those majors today aren’t the core doctrines. Those are behind the front lines, and it’s the front lines where the fighting happens. There’s a temptation among third-way types to try and retreat from the front to the easy and comfortable home territory. It’s not hard to predict what will happen to those who do. Just take a look at the mainline protestant churches.