3 Hills To Discover Essential Beliefs
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3 Hills To Discover Essential Beliefs

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St. Augustine once said, "In the essentials, we have unity. In the non-essentials, we have liberty. In all things, we have charity."

This sounds amazing and is a good starting point. This idea alone can help many Christians figure out what is worth dividing over. Here is the underlying problem I have been finding with this statement... what is considered essential? There are so many things people are passionate about. If you don't believe me, ask someone a question about politics, sports, or religion. I can almost guarantee you everyone you meet has a passionate opinion about at least one of those topics. Therefore, the issue is not whether or not we should have opinions. The issue is how to categorize our different opinions so we can live together with people who are different than us. While I go further into this in the video below, I would recommend starting by categorizing your opinions into three distinct categories. I like to think of them as hills. Not sure why... but it works for me.

This will take time and will be in constant need of tweaking. Here is a brief description of each category:

1- Hills I am willing to "die on."

These are the topics and ideas you are willing to die for. The best way to decide what goes on this hill is to think through the following scenario. Let's say someone comes up to you and points a gun in your face. They say, "I will shoot you unless you denounce (blank)." Insert all your opinions and beliefs into that blank. If it fits, it goes into this category. Honestly, this category should be the smallest category of the three. If you are willing to die over every opinion you have, you might be taking yourself and your life too seriously.

Here are a few examples:

  • God is real, all-powerful, and interested in all of us.
  • Jesus is the Son of God and the only way to Heaven.
  • The Bible is the inspired Word of God and our guide to knowing God's will for our lives.
  • Innocent human life is sacred and worth defending.
  • Truth is objective and unchangeable.

What does this mean for relationships?

If someone doesn't line up in this category, we will likely have worldview issues and disagree consistently. I won't trust this person to understand my world or my values so there will be major boundaries in our relationship. We will likely never be close friends.

2- Hills I am willing to "debate over."

This category is for a large spectrum of values. This is a category for all those ideas that, if the gunman threatened your life, you would have to think about for a minute. Ultimately, you were willing to let them go but you didn't want to. That's one side of the spectrum. The other side can be values you enjoy talking about and feel passionate about. You just don't mind if your friends disagree. This will likely be the largest hill in your life. Once again, these are issues and values you are passionate about and would love to debate over. You are just not willing to take a bullet to get your point across.

Here are a few examples:

  • Soteriology- Different opinions on who can and cannot be saved. (Calvinism, Arminianism)
  • Women in ministry.
  • Spiritual gifts are for today.
  • Gun control.
  • LGBT rights.
  • Capital punishment.

What does this mean for relationships?

This should not be something you are willing to end friendships over as long as everyone realizes it is okay to disagree. These topics be fun to disagree over, because you can slowly sharpen your beliefs. You may have find out you were wrong and grow into thinking something else. So, these conversations can strengthen friendships over time. A word of caution- don't forget what hill these topics are on. You can be so passionate that you start treating them like hills to die on. Remember, you are not willing to take a bullet for them so don't be willing to kill a friendship over them.

3- Hills I "don't care" about.

This one is my favorite hill. I love dumping many, many ideas onto this hill and having fun with them. This hill is reserved for topics that the gunman would not even ask you about. Some people may place these topics higher, but not you. You're world is complicated enough without caring too deeply about these topics. This allows you to listen to other voices, have conversations, and leave without having to make any decisions.

Here are a few examples:

  • Eschatology- Study of the end times.
  • Will your pet be in Heaven.
  • Dinosaurs- when and how they existed.
  • Creation narratives- 7 literal days, 7 epochs of time.
  • What version of the Bible should we read?
  • Sports.
  • Movies.
  • Most music.
  • Politics.

What does this mean for relationships?

Hopefully, these topics are conversations that bring joy and good times with those around you. When you cannot agree on anything else, you can have fun with these topics. These topics are also a good way to tell if the new person you are talking with is a good fit for a sincere friendship. See what topics they can place in this category. It is okay if they put some of these topics into the "debate" category. However, if they rise to the level of "die for," it'll be better in the long run to move on.


We live in a world full of opinions and social media has caused everyone's opinion to have an equal opportunity to be heard. This has become a double edged sword because we can sometimes struggle to know which issues are worthy of our time and attention. If everything is important, nothing is important So, hopefully the 3 hills will help bring you more peace and help you feel more comfortable in your friendships. We don't have to agree on everything, just the essentials.

Video Link:https://youtu.be/_lGgcsyx5v4