Sep 4, 2023: Essential vs. Secondary

Robert E. Webber

You need to make a distinction between what is central to the faith, what is first order, and what is second order. What is first order is common to all Christians; what is second order defines a particular Christian subculture. . . . First-order convictions of the spiritual life include the experience of union, the belonging to the church, Christ’s body, living the Christian ethic, and affirming beliefs commonly held by all Christians. Second-order convictions distinguish Christians from one another and include insistence on such things as having a particular experience, belong to a particular denomination, following a set of rules, or believing in a specific system of thought. . . . Second-order convictions . . . distance us from the source of our spirituality in God’s story of Jesus.

-Robert Webber, The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2006), 97-99.

About the author

Alumni Director, Practicum Professor, and DWS graduate.