Minnick heads his article with 2 Thessalonians 3:14 -- you can read it from the link above. It really isn't hard to understand, so why is it hard to understand? It's not understanding, but love and courage and fear, and all the motivation we need to please God by obeying His Word. Evangelicals and fundamentalists, it seems, would rather conform the passage to their practice, for purposes of keeping together the coalitions. The coalition should be bowing to scripture as authority, but that isn't the nature of coalitions, none that I know of.
It doesn't say, non-essentials, but "our word by this epistle," which includes what almost any and many fundamentalists would say are non-essentials. Minnick says that this is obviously "by extension any of [Paul's] teaching anywhere." Minnick writes:
Fundamentalists hold that the command of 3:14 is to be applied to any believer who persists in any disobedience to what Scripture clearly demands of all Christians.
I have never heard that written by a fundamentalist anywhere, so if that is what fundamentalists hold, it was news to me. Do they believe this? I say, "Come on, they don't say this, and they for sure don't practice it." Minnick goes on the prove his point textually and contextually.
In addition, Minnick says that in his epistle Paul commands separation. This is simple really. Anyone with a basic understanding of literature gets this. Minnick writes:
The command to separate from disobedient brethren is part of the tradition Paul was handing over to his readers.
Minnick says that this shouldn't be called "secondary separation" because it's just obeying Paul's epistle to the Thessalonian church. When you don't separate, you are disobedient, and disobedience merits separation. This is easy, but people play dumb with it so they can be disobedient. God won't be fooled by people playing dumb, just like parents aren't when their toddlers participate in such an act. They don't get away with it, and no one should get away with it.
Minnick diminishes his essay in the last paragraph with the teaching that there are doctrines that are primary to the faith. He uses the typical proof texts of evangelicals. Why do I think this isn't good? One, it isn't taught in the passages he references. I've talked a lot about that in the past here, dealing with each of them. This is a new doctrine to make room for not separating, which could probably be number two. Three, the Bible teaches the opposite in numbers of different ways, which I've dealt with here. Four, when someone won't practice the Bible, perhaps using secondary doctrine as an excuse, he's exemplifying a lack of righteousness, which is what the gospel produces. His conduct does not reveal the gospel's effects in his life, and the New Testament all over connects that to salvation.
With everything else being written above, let's take this to a test. Does Minnick himself fellowship with churches that do not practice the tradition of his church? Minnick says that Paul teaches head coverings? Does he separate over that? To end my last post, I mentioned the fellowship of Steve Pettit, president of BJU, at the preaching conference he's going to preach at with the evangelical Presbyterians and others he will preach with. Does Minnick fellowship with Pettit? There is way more than that, but that's just one example that could be taken for a test.
Don't get me wrong. I'm thankful for Minnick's article. I have not read this teaching by anyone else in his orbit of fundamentalism -- none. What he is writing is unique. Will he practice it? It can be done, but it would cost some, probably much, for him to do that.