Preference is about
personal choice regarding a non-moral issue. Issues of preference are not addressed in Scripture. Examples of preference: carpet color, worship style and type of dress (suits vs. sandals).
Biblical convictions are beliefs, based on Scripture, but open to interpretation. Scripture is not definitive on issues of conviction but does offer some guidance and teaching. Examples include modes of baptism (sprinkle vs. immersion) and the millenial return of Jesus Christ.
Non-negotiables are those beliefs that are clearly addressed by Scripture.They are not open to interpretation and do not vary by culture or context. Non-negotiables are timeless truths. They are absolutes that apply to everyone. Examples include God’s creation of the universe out of nothing, the virgin birth of Jesus and that salvation comes by grace, through faith, in Christ Jesus alone.
Questions to help with determining preferences, convictions and non-negotiables:
What does Scripture say?
Is it silent, debatable or absolutely clear
What level of personal freedom do I have with this issue?
Complete, open to interpretation, none
Complete, pragmatic, none
What would be the danger of wrongly categorizing an issue?
Might offend a weaker brother, promote divisiveness by elevating a preference or conviction to non-negotiable status
In His creativity, God has made us each unique. That uniqueness makes our world a rich, vibrant and exciting place. However, this uniqueness can sometimes lead to disharmony and disagreement. Unfortunately, the church is not exempt from this tension. Therefore, it is helpful to understand the difference between preferences, convictions and non-negotiables. As we consider these categories, it is vital that we act as Jesus did, leading with grace followed by Truth. To help us with that, below are some definitions.