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The cardinal doctrines of Protestants

Listings of cardinal doctrines by various
para-church organizations & by the
Roman Catholic Church

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Listings of cardinal doctrines by various Christian para-church organizations:

bulletThe Christian Research Institute lists:
  1. The authority of Scripture.
  2. The Trinity
  3. Man is a physical and spiritual being adversely affected by sin.
  4. Christ is fully God and fully man who was sent to save humanity.
  5. The church is God's ordained institution headed by Christ.

bulletLiving by the Word differentiates between:
bulletFive "Essential Christian Doctrines" which one must believe in order to be saved
  1. The deity of Jesus Christ.
  2. Jesus' bodily resurrection from the dead.
  3. The Trinity.
  4. Christ's vicarious atonement for man's sin.
  5. Salvation by grace alone through faith alone.

bullet"Cardinal Christian Doctrines" which may not be required for salvation, but which are extremely important:
  1. The Virgin Birth
  2. Inerrancy of Scripture
  3. The second coming of Christ 1

bulletLamb & Lion Ministries lists five "Cardinal Doctrines of the Christian Faith:"
  1. The Bible is the divinely inspired inerrant Word of God.
  2. The Virgin Birth.
  3. Jesus' bodily resurrection.
  4. Salvation is a "free gift of God's grace" obtained by trusting Jesus as Lord and Savior.
  5. The deity of Jesus Christ. 2

bulletThe Congregational HolinessChurch lists as the "cardinal Christian doctrines" that they hold in common with most other Christian denominations:
  1. The Trinity.
  2. The inspiration of the Scriptures.
  3. The Virgin Birth.
  4. Jesus' bodily resurrection.
  5. The second coming of Christ.

They also hold a key belief that is generally restricted to Charismatic and Pentecostal denominations: the "Baptism of the Holy Ghost with the initial evidence of speaking in other tongues..." 3

bulletChristian Apologetics & Research Ministry (CARM) lists four beliefs of Christianity which were declared "by scripture to be essential:"
  1. The deity of Christ. including belief in the Trinity, monotheism, and Jesus as both God and man.
  2. Salvation by grace.
  3. Jesus' bodily resurrection.
  4. The Gospels' teaching that "Jesus is God in flesh, who died for sins, rose from the dead, and freely gives the gift of eternal life to those who believe." 4

bulletThe Moorings has a study in Bible doctrine which lists basic Christian doctrines as:
  1. Inerrancy of the Bible.
  2. The Incarnation.
  3. Jesus is both God and man.
  4. The personhood and deity of the Holy Spirit.
  5. The Trinity.
  6. Heaven. 5

bulletOnline Christian Discipleship School has a Bible study on "Basic Doctrine of Christianity." They list:
  1. The Trinity.
  2. The inspiration of the Bible.
  3. God created humans in his image and deserves our love and obedience.
  4. Sin entered the world through Adam.
  5. The atonement.
  6. The resurrection.
  7. Salvation through trusting Jesus.
  8. Spirit possession of believers by Jesus. 6

Cardinal beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church:

Marty Rothwell, an author on a Roman Catholic site "Christ's Faithful People," suggests that prior to the Protestant Reformation in the early 16th century, all Christians were expected to believe in many key doctrines.

Some of these are still shared by most Protestants:

  1. "God the Son is of the same substance and nature as God the Father."
  2. The Trinity.
  3. Jesus is fully God and fully human.

However, there are also beliefs not shared by most Protestants, or not shared to the same extent:

  1. The Body and Blood of Christ are present in the Eucharist.
  2. The Apostolic Succession.
  3. Beliefs are grounded in both the Bible and church tradition.
  4. The Holy Spirit guides the Church away from error.
  5. The effects of baptism.
  6. Believers are saved by Grace and faith.
  7. Salvation can achieved and later lost. (Modern-day Protestants are divided on this topic)
  8. Baptism of infants.
  9. The Deuterocanonical books / Apocrypha form an integral part of the Bible.
  10. Clergy are restricted to males.
  11. The Pope is the head of the Christian church.
  12. Canonization and veneration of saints.
  13. Effectiveness of the prayers of deceased saints.
  14. Confession of sins to a priest.
  15. Penance is needed after sinning.
  16. Purgatory as the destination of many persons after death.
  17. Prayers for the dead are effective.
  18. Seven sacraments of: Baptism, Confirmation, Confession, Communion, Marriage, Holy Orders, and Extreme Unction.
  19. Veneration of the Virgin Mary.
  20. Liturgical worship.
  21. Images are useful aids to worship. 7

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "What We Believe," Living by the Word, undated, at:
  2. "Cardinal Doctrines of the Christian Faith," Lamb & Lion Ministries, at:
  3. "Welcome," Congregational Holiness Church, at:
  4. "Essential Doctrines of Christianity," CARM, at:
  5. "Studies in Bible Doctrine," The Moorings, at:
  6. "Basic Christian Doctrine," Online Christian Disciple School, at:
  7. Marty Rothwell, "Catholics Protestants and History," Christ's Faithful People,

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Copyright 2006 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2006-MAR-10
Latest update: 2011-JAN-19
Author: B.A. Robinson

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