That which is essential is that which is fundamentally necessary and indispensable. Cereal boxes talk about essential vitamins and minerals. These are things the FDA says are necessary and indispensable for our physical well being. There are other things that are essential as well, such as a drivers license for legal driving, flour in a recipe for pancakes, or a car seat for a new born. Essentials are things that must be.
The charge has been leveled against us “that the Church of Christ is the one and only church in human history that is 100% correct on everything, and everyone single other person, every single other church that has ever existed, is wrong and hellbound.” Such an assertion is misrepresentative and misleading concerning what many churches of Christ truly believe.
Consider first of all that there has never been any mere mortal in human history that has been 100% correct on everything. We can all say with absolute certitude, “I am correct about some things,” however, we would be wrong to say, “I am correct about everything” because some things are beyond our knowledge and hence our ability to be either correct or incorrect. The assertion that the “Church of Christ is 100% correct on everything” is exaggerative and factually incorrect.
On what, then, must we be correct? There are things that are essential and there are things that are optional. In things that God has made essential, we must be right and cannot be wrong. In things that God has made optional, we are allowed to be either right or wrong. So the question becomes: what things has God made essential? This is where the discussion ought to begin. If God tells us something is essential, then it is my obligation to get it right. How does God tell us? He does that in His word, the Bible (2 Timothy 3:15-17). How can I know that what God says is essential? The Scriptures will tell us of its essentiality. A good example is Acts 17:30, “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.” Repentance is something that is essential. Therefore, we must be correct on that point; we don’t have the prerogative to be wrong.
Second, the churches of Christ today don’t claim to be the only church in human history that is correct. The church that the apostles established in the New Testament was correct. Other churches that have existed throughout the ages have been correct also. So, what is the “beef” that the churches of Christ today have with other churches? It is that many are incorrect in matters that God has made essential. In that regard, failure to be correct is to place one’s soul in jeopardy and because we love our fellow man and want him to be saved, we feel the obligation to warn him regarding his error.
Yes, there are some things on which we must be right! God has told us what is essential and what is optional in His word. Let us read it, study it, learn from it, and know it so that we can be right where we must be right and so that others may know wherein they must be right as well.