A Christian creedal statement proposes to be a synopsis of the essential truths of the Bible. The idea of essential and non-essential portions of the Bible is truly intriguing. If some parts of the scriptures contain and convey a message which must be understood and properly embraced, then by implication other parts contain information which is merely supplemental to the essential truth. The brevity of the various creeds as compared with the length of the entire Bible would indicate that most of the scriptures could easily have been deleted with no loss in terms of man’s salvation. By necessity the scriptures which address those truths which must be embraced for salvation are inspired in a more significant way than other non-essential scriptures because surely those verses which are required for obtaining God’s eternal blessing supersede those which merely convey historical fact or present homilies on daily living. One could easily conclude that essential verses are truly inspired and non-essential ones are only maybe so. Subdividing the Bible in this way, creating very important scriptures and only slightly important ones, in effect, destroys the entire idea of an inspired and unified message in the Bible. This categorization opens the door for stressing certain portions of scripture at the expense of other portions and diverts attention from the overall picture of the Bible.
No one can deny that Christian doctrine, as typically taught, involves the use of very little of the Bible content. The average preacher could teach for a year and never use more than a small percentage of all the Bible verses. Some so called expository preachers may object to this contention, claiming that they deal with passages in a verse by verse fashion, but even these “expositors” rarely deal with each verse equally and seldom “expose” all passages alike.
The idea of essential scripture verses as opposed to non-essential ones is the basis for the prevalent practice of grabbing isolated verses here and there to support a doctrinal position. Those who defend their positions thusly imply that the cited verses are the relevant ones and all others must support their contention and therefore need not be addressed. One can readily see that this whole concept of essential and non-essential truth leads to a totally subjective interpretation of the Bible. By necessity one man’s essential is another’s “non”. There would be little effective difference if one concluded that the non-essential scriptures were not inspired at all. Ignoring a passage by labeling it non-essential effectively nullifies that passage, rendering it, if not uninspired, at least uninspiring.
The generally accepted evangelical notion that the Gospel can be effectively presented to the listener in a 20-30 minute “sermonette” in effect then denies the importance and therefore the inspiration of most of the Bible. If all that one need know about the Bible can thus be summarized, what real eternally significant purpose does the rest of the book serve?