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Elder advises deciding which beliefs are 'core'
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Elder advises deciding which beliefs are 'core'
By Dixon Cartwright

TYLER, Texas--A visiting elder from Indiana challenged congregations in Tyler and Big Sandy during a recent Sabbath visit to recognize and deal with their core beliefs.

Elder Jeff Osborn of Terre Haute, Ind., said Aug. 13 that "qualifying" one's core beliefs can help Christians build unity rather than cause division in their ministries, congregations and personal relationships.

Mr. Osborn is pastor of the Church of God Terre Haute. He flew to East Texas in mid-August to speak on a Sabbath morning before the headquarters congregation of the Church of God International, pastored by Charles Groce, as well as afternoon services at the Church of God Big Sandy, pastored by Dave Havir.

Mr. Osborn delivered sermons to both groups on the same day, emphasizing relationships and "love" in contrast to doctrines, specifically doctrinal differences.

He said that, in view of the contentious relationships and nonrelationships of many Church of God members, a critical look at the relative importance of doctrine is appropriate.

In Big Sandy, after both Sabbath services, Mr. Osborn also gave an informal presentation in the form of an interactive Bible study that he titled "Tube of Toothpaste."

His comments about toothpaste referred to mannerisms and habits of a husband that grate on the nerves of his wife, and vice versa.


A classic example is the various ways people squeeze toothpaste out of a tube. If you see someone doing it incorrectly, you might grow irritated, even agitated.

Yet the subject of toothpaste-tube squeezing is trivial. Who cares how somebody forces tooth cleaner out of a tube?

So, said Mr. Osborn, are many of the differences of tradition and belief that pit one Church of God Christian against another.

Further, some traditions and beliefs that are considered "core" should not really be considered central to the faith.

What are properly a Christian's core beliefs?

"Read the red parts" of the Bible, Jesus' words as highlighted in some editions of the Scriptures, Mr. Osborn said.

"The focal point of all Christian beliefs should be the teachings of Jesus Christ."

Two weeks after Mr. Osborn's visit, another traveling Church of God elder, Jim O'Brien of Liberty Township, Ohio, also visited East Texas, speaking before the same two congregations. (See the report of Mr. OBrien's visit.)

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