The idea of "triage" seems to have made quite a "splash" in the Baptist blogosphere. Some interesting insights have been contributed by:
Wade Burleson: A Theological Triage Test
Tim Rogers: Triage and the SBC
Eddie Beal: Theological Triage or Which Hill Will You Die On
Wade’s Triage Test got me thinking about a Personal Conviction Survey my wife and I were given about 17 years ago as we were then preparing to be missionaries with the interdenominational Bible Christian Union (since merged with TEAM) in Spain. On this survey, there are 92 different issues listed, and for each issue the opportunity to check ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the following two statements:
A. I could have personal fellowship with a Christian who believes or practices the following…
B. I could work officially together (on a church-planting team) with a Christian who believes or practices the following…
1. A woman who wears makeup.
2. A woman who wears jewelry.
3. A man who wears an earring.
4. A person who dances and goes to modern dances.
5. A person who does not engage in modern dance, but does square dance.
6. A person who goes to ballets and encourages his/her children to take ballet lessons.
7. A person who belongs to a church which is a member of the World Council of Churches.
8. A person who believes that the World Council of Churches is a good organization.
9. A person who believes that the earth could be millions of years old.
10. A person who believes that the earth could not be more than 10,000 years old.
11. A person who believes that a Christian can lose his/her salvation.
12. A person who believes in theistic evolution.
13. A person who drinks alcoholic beverages in moderation.
14. A person who believes it is wrong to ever drink alcoholic beverages.
15. A person who does not believe in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ.
16. A person who seeks/practices the "spectacular" gifts of the Spirit (tongues, interpretations, prophecy, etc.)
17. A person who believes that the "spectacular" gifts of the Spirit are not (and cannot be) available today.
18. A person who believes it is wrong for a local church to have a pastor (believing, rather, in leadership through a plurality of elders).
19. A person who believes that a local church must have a pastor.
20. A person who believes in baptismal regeneration.
21. A person who does not believe in the total depravity of man.
22. A person who believes that there may be some way of salvation apart from faith in Christ, especially for those people who have never heard the Christian gospel.
23. A man whose hair covers his ears, partially or entirely.
24. A man who wears his hair so long it could be (and sometimes is) tied in a pony tail.
25. A person who practices artificial birth control.
26. A person who defends abortion on demand.
27. A person who is against abortion for any reason at all.
28. A person who does not believe in the second coming of Jesus Christ.
29. A person who does not believe in the reality of Hell.
30. A person who believes in purgatory.
31. A person who does not believe in the eternal punishment of the lost, but believes in the annihilation of the lost.
32. A person who believes that the rapture must take place before the tribulation.
33. A person who believes that the rapture cannot take place until after the tribulation.
34. A person who says it doesn't matter that much when the rapture takes place in relation to the tribulation.
35. A person who believes that there may be errors in the Bible, even in the original writings.
36. A woman who believes it is right for her to publicly participate in a worship service (give testimony, pray out loud, announce a hymn, give a prayer request, read Scripture, etc.)
37. A person who thinks it is wrong for a woman to publicly participate in a worship service.
38. A woman who thinks it is acceptable for a woman to teach God's Word to men.
39. A person who believes that salvation is by grace through faith, plus works.
40. A person who believes that all infant baptism is valid, including infant baptism practiced by the Roman Catholic Church and liberal Protestant churches.
41. A person who accepts infant baptism as practiced by Protestant evangelicals (e.g., evangelical Presbyterians).
42. A person who accepts believers' baptism by immersion only.
43. A person who feels that all modes of baptism are valid, provided the person being baptized is a believer.
44. A person who believes that the communion service must be held every Sunday.
45. A person who believes that only baptized believers should be admitted to (and partake of) the communion service.
46. A person who does not believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.
47. A person who believes in "soul sleep."
48. A person who believes that the King James version is the only legitimate translation of God's Word.
49. A person who believes that dispensational hermeneutics is the only way to properly interpret the Bible.
50. A person who believes that covenant theology is the only acceptable theological system.
51. A person who does not believe in the Trinity.
52. A person who believes that all babies who die in infancy (before they know the difference between right and wrong) will be saved.
53. A person who believes that it is acceptable for a genuine believer to remain within the Roman Catholic Church.
54. A person who believes that it is acceptable for a genuine believer to remain within a liberal Protestant church (denomination).
55. A person who believes that physical healing is included in the atonement.
56. A person who uses playing cards (the traditional deck used commonly in gambling).
57. A person who plays card games of any kind (Uno, Rook, Mille Borne, etc.)
58. A person who believes that footwashing is a New Testament ordinance of the church.
59. A person who listens to/plays "hard rock" Christian music.
60. A person who lets his/her children play/listen to "hard rock" Christian music.
61. A person who does not believe in the existence of Satan.
62. A person who "lifts up holy hands" during a time of public praise/prayer.
63. A person who believes in the actual presence of Christ in the communion elements.
64. A person who believes it is acceptable to clap during singing in a worship service.
65. A person who believes that individual communion cups are the only proper way to administer communion.
66. A person who believes that it is not necessary or important to be closely associated with a local church.
67. A woman who wears slacks in public.
68. A person who believes that women can and should be ordained as pastors/elders.
69. A person who believes that a divorced Christian should be allowed to hold a position of spiritual leadership.
70. A person who believes that a divorced Christian should never be allowed to hold a position of spiritual leadership.
71. A person who goes to movie theaters.
72. A person who believes in the immaculate conception of Mary.
73. A person who believes that guitars or drums can be used in a public worship service.
74. A person who promotes Billy Graham and actively participates in his campaigns.
75. A person who believes it is wrong to have a musical instrument in a public worship service.
76. A person who believes that inter-racial marriage (e.g., black/white) is acceptable.
77. A person who is inter-racially married.
78. A person who believes that all people in the world worship that same God even though they call Him by different names.
79. A person who believes in the necessity of a "second work of grace" subsequent to conversion.
80. A person who believes that the "baptism of the Holy Spirit" is subsequent to conversion, not simultaneous with conversion.
81. A person who is homosexual.
82. A person who feels that Christians should be allowed to be homosexual.
83. A person who is a "conscientious objector" (e.g., against the bearing of arms in war or serving in the armed forces).
84. A person who believes that Saturday (the sabbath) should still be the day of worship for the Christian.
85. A person who believes that Christians today are not bound to the tithe principle (e.g., at least one-tenth of our income should be given to the Lord).
86. A person who smokes.
87. A person who thinks it is all right for Christians to smoke.
88. An amillenialist.
89. A person who believes that black people are under the "curse of Cain" or the "curse of Ham."
90. A person who believes that believing Jews should be gathered into Messianic congregations, not local Christian churches.
91. A person who is volitionally dependent on drugs (prescription or non-prescription).
92. A person who believes that women must cover their heads in a public worship service.
I am not asking you to send me your "score" on this survey. It is interesting to me, however, that the majority of those who responded to Wade’s Triage Test, said they scored either a perfect "30" or close to it (indicating a relative degree of openness regarding what is necessary to be a "fully cooperating Southern Baptist"). This is no doubt skewed by the amount of people interested in interacting with Wade on this who happen to also be generally sympathetic to his own views on these issues.
I would be willing to bet, however, that if we were to compare the responses of all of the same people responding to Wade’s Test to their responses on this survey, there would not be quite the same degree of agreement. Yes, there are certain points on which I would hope we would all agree, like, for instance not "fellowshipping" with someone "who does not believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ." But, when it gets down to the nitty-gritty of something like working on a church planting team with someone else, reality is, not everyone can work with everyone else.
Some would point out that this is precisely why we need denominational structures, confessions of faith, etc. And to a certain degree, I would agree with them. However, in a group as broad as the SBC, although we may spell out our views on some of these things, we are never going to reach 100% agreement on every one of these issues.
In recent years, we have collectively identified "liberalism" (I know, I know, we’re back to the question of labels here, but bear with me) as a problem. As a result, we have "drawn a line in the sand" regarding certain questions. In my opinion, that line has to be drawn somewhere or another. At the same time, I believe there are people with whom I would have a hard time working on the same church planting team, but with whom, at the same time, I can perfectly well fellowship, and even with whom I have no problem joining together cooperatively within the same denominational mission structure.
Ironically, in my experience with both interdenominational and SBC missions, I have found many times there are people outside of the SBC who would be more compatible church planting team members than some within the IMB. Does that necessarily mean that either I or those "non-compatible IMBers" are in the wrong organization? I don’t think so.
What it does mean is we need to look reality squarely in the eye, think objectively about all of this, and look for the most pragmatic and, at the same time, Christ-honoring solutions possible.
And one more thing. Let’s try to be extra careful to not eliminate from "fellowship" any of those whom Jesus Himself invites to the table.