We arrive at today. Now two teachings are OK. In a sense, that's a superior idea in today's Christianity, the more than one position doctrine. It gives God this faux largesse that He doesn't even give Himself. It isn't big, but still it is the new big, like bald is the new hair. The reason for the new several possible belief doctrine has not been finding it in the Bible. This didn't come about through study. It doesn't jump out at you from any text. And it is in reality a denial of several historic and biblical teachings.
The main reasons for the several doctrines position are completely pragmatic: a coalition and significance. That's what I hear when I'm reading a defense of it. You can't keep a big enough group around if you take one position and, therefore, you'll be insignificant. Significance requires the numbers of a large coalition. You can't draw enough people with one doctrine, so you open it up to the extent that you can cobble together the crowd that will bring you suitable attention. "You must be doing something right if so many people think so."
There we go. That's what this is all about.
The Anecdotal Hypotheticals Buttressing Major-Minor Dogma
Advocates commonly argue with what I'll call anecdotal hypotheticals. They are nothing from which anyone should derive doctrine or practice. To understand what God wants, we should look at what God did say, the black part of a page of Scripture. The popular thing is to go with the white part on this, the stuff between the lines. The theological category is speculative theology. But we don't get authority from nor are we sanctified by opinion.
The coment section of part one of this series provided enough examples of these. One.
He argues as if there are no discernible way to differentiate doctrines in levels of importance. He wants to equate Pre-Trib vs Mid -Trib with the same degree of importance as the Deity of Christ.
I don't attempt to equate degrees of importance to particular doctrines. Certain doctrines are more foundational than others, but this does not prove anything relative to ranking doctrines for the purposes of separation or fellowship. Two.
Am I really minimizing what I really have conviction about if I don't push for full compliance to my personal conviction? If I fellowship with a pastor who believes Romans 6;1 is talking about water baptism and I believe its talking about spiritual baptism, would that negate my creditability as to what I believe the text is saying?
The Bible either teaches it or it doesn't. If the Bible teaches it, then we want "compliance," fellowship, unity, on that truth. There isn't such a thing really as a "personal conviction" in the Bible. We shouldn't expect people to believe the same as us on non-scriptural positions. Three.
Does the view that the sons of God are demonic angels in Genesis 6 constitute doctrine? Can two members of [a church] come to different interpretations? If so they surely are not speaking "the same thing" under your truncated definitions. If you want to interpret all the passages on separation this way then you must be consistent the whole way! You cannot cherry pick the doctrine of baptism as worth separating over and then reject separation of the doctrine of Angelology!
There is only one interpretation. The Genesis 6 passage teaches one thing, even if it doesn't inform us of any particular, unique belief about angels. But this is argument by hypothetical or by possible exception (gotcha!). We should be looking to find what the Bible says about unity, fellowship, and separation over doctrine, not garnering our doctrine from whether we think it is possible to be consistent. We should think it is possible by the grace of God to believe what God told us. Of course people won't be consistent, but the inconsistency doesn't become the new doctrine or position. All that does is provide an excuse for believing how you want in almost every doctrine except for what you deem personally the very few major doctrines or one major doctrine. We then become the standard of faith and practice, not God. It is a recipe for going your own way, rebelling against the truth. Four.
If Aquila and Priscilla had separated from Apollos the early church would have been without one of it's most influential men. He only knew the Baptism of John at the time. I think there's gotta be a balance somehow.
This is a straw man. Every genuine believer is growing. Apollos was willing to change when he heard or saw the truth. If he wasn't willing, that wouldn't have been tolerable for Aquila and Priscilla. If darkness is all doctrinal or practical error, we are are not to accept that, but rather reprove it (Eph 5:11).
How We Got Here
The several acceptable doctrines position starts by noticing that professing Christians believe in many different ways and give Bible passages many different explanations. So people are going to do that. We've seen that they do. Now how do we react to that?
The wrong reaction was the following. Since people have so many different beliefs in so many different areas, that must mean that the Bible is difficult to understand. Scripture doesn't teach that, but that must be what it means anyway. And other professing Christians don't like hearing they're wrong. That bit of criticism is hard to take. And they think it is unloving. And how can we all get along if we aren't willing to ignore a certain number of differences. What will we do?
Something was figured out to deal with the contradictions and conflicts. Rank doctrines! Certain ones will be minor and certain ones major. The degree of unity you have will be based upon the number of doctrines you will be willing to shift over to the minor category. Minor ones do not affect unity or fellowship. That's the rule. Only major doctrines could affect fellowship, and even then, probably not. Now all we've got to do is find that in the Bible and we'll be all set. So a brand new doctrine of majors and minors and unity is born. We now can get bigger and, therefore, more significant. We can be big enough to matter.
But alas, the minor doctrine category expanded exponentially, and the major doctrine column shrunk down to just one. The gospel. Several new coalitions formed around agreement on only that one doctrine, deemphasizing and devaluing and reducing all other doctrine but the one to near meaninglessness.
The doctrine chosen as irreducible also happens to be the one of ultimate importance to man's future well-being. Without the gospel, men would be condemned and damned. So men have got to keep that one intact for their own good. They don't want going to hell. But all the other ones that are more vital for the glory of God are deemed disposable, so much doctrinal debris.
Is this how we see God work in Scripture? No. All the doctrines still matter to God. He wasn't making suggestions. And He said He was being clear. His Word is plain and understandable. And nowhere does the Bible base unity on purposeful discount of certain teachings.
The Minor Doctrines
In no particular order, I want to consider some of the teachings our church believes and practices that are called minor doctrines and especially why I believe they are called minor doctrines today. To start, as I have been writing, ranking doctrines allows for big coalitions and craved significance. That's the biggest reasons for doing it. On an individual level, however, many of these so-called minor doctrines are unpopular. The ones that are marginalized the most are those that are not popular in the world. This, of course, does go back to size and significance, but some of these clash with the world system more than others.
The young fundamentalists in the survey of Jeremy Sweatt said:
It sometimes seems like some fundamentalists have a judgmental edge towards anyone who is not just like them in their eschatology, ecclesiology, dress standards, music philosophy and practice, etc.
Most of that type of comment is ambiguous. It means almost nothing. What is a "judgmental edge"? What they mean is that they want fundamentalists to accept them or tolerate them if they believe differently, to act like differences in doctrine and practice don't matter much. "Not just like them" are loaded words, as if the point is to have everyone a clone of you or me personally. Almost all of this is straw-man type material. I've never met anyone like who they are describing or are arguing against.
One of these minors mentioned are "dress standards." I agree that no one should separate over a non-scriptural dress standard. Is there any point that dress standards become serious? Maybe these young fundamentalists would say that nudity is serious. But why? Why are dress standards not as important as the gospel or the deity of Christ? Should it matter to anyone if the whole church was a church of nudists? Are dress standards found in the Bible? Of course they are. And that's what I'm going to talk about first. Dress standards become a minor, not because they don't matter to God, but because they were important to become a minor for the purposes of size and significance for evangelicals and now fundamentalists.