A starving child doesn’t care if you are pre-, post- or amillenial.
The widow isn’t really all that interested in congregational or Presbyterian forms of church government.
The fatherless child isn’t going to reject food because the one offering it is an Arminian.
The Christian in a third world country without a Bible is not going to refuse one because it isn’t the right version.
The lost person down the street doesn’t need to hear about your denomination or how great your church is or what a wonderful preacher your pastor is, they need to hear about Jesus.
I agree with Arthur: this should go without saying, it needs to be said.
But, I think there’s a bigger problem. It’s not just that the church has become distracted by these arguments (and others), many in the church feel they are doing “the work of God” when they defend their position on this arguments. In fact, there are many (so-called) “ministries” who exist simply to defend their particular belief in one of these (or similar) areas of theology.
Like Arthur says in his post, these items may be important, but (to me) they are way down on the list of importance. We are never told to spend all (or most, or some) of our time and energy and resources debating and arguing these things. And, we certainly never find these types of debates and arguments called “ministry”… that is, service.
So, we get distracted by these kinds of arguments (eschatology, soteriology, and, yes, even ecclesiology) and we call our distractions “ministry.” Meanwhile, real ministry (serving other people) never gets done… or rarely gets done. But we think we’re doing good things… all the while we’re distracted from the things that God has called us to do.
The foundation of this problem is that we’ve been distracted by rightness. There’s a misconception that our goal is being right and that we should always point out where (we think) other people are wrong. Of course, this is normally true when it comes to the gospel, but (especially since the Reformation) Christians have begun to separate over, demand allegiance to, and defend all kinds of teachings and doctrines that are not related to the gospel.
We think that if we demand “rightness” then we are leading people to the truth, that is, to Jesus. But, this is often not the case. In fact, the debates and arguments that Arthur mentions are generally not related to the truth of Jesus Christ nor to salvation by grace through faith. But, we still demand that others accept what we say is “right.”
What’s the answer? Focus on the gospel. Yes, hold convictions on those other doctrines, hold them tightly if you choose, but let them distract you from the good news of Jesus Christ. That is, don’t let them distract you from fellowshiping with those who hold to the good news of Jesus Christ (but perhaps are “wrong” concerning your favorite doctrines), and don’t let them distract you from proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ… and please don’t proclaim accepting your favorite doctrines (that aren’t the gospel) to those who are unbelievers.