Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Secondary, Tertiary, or Essential? (part two)

A little over a week ago, I started a short series on core-versus-tertiary-doctrine issue. I referenced Phil Johnson. This is not a position exclusive to evangelicals (new-evangelicals) like Phil. Here is part two, continuing right where part one left off.

The Parent-Child Principle

The middle of the ten commandments, "Honor thy father and mother," mirrors the believer's relationship to God. Colossians 3:1 commands children to obey their parents for this is "right." Children don't obey just the "essential" commands. They obey everything. Obeying everything is right. Not obeying everything is wrong. The human parent to a child is less great than the Divine parent (God) to his children. He does not deserve lesser obedience. Making some of God's will primary and other secondary is another way to justify obedience. We don't let our children get away with it, as we shouldn't, so neither should we do this to God.

The No Diminish-No Add Principle

God warns of the most serious possible punishment for adding to or taking away from what He said to do. Revelation 22:18, 19 says, "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." This is a common admonishment in Scripture (Deut. 4:2; Deuteronomy 12:32, "What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it."; Jer. 26:2). This principle contradicts the secondary-tertiary doctrine view, which certainly diminishes certain teachings in the Bible.

The Mirror-Illustration Principle

James 1:23-25 compares the Bible to a mirror. When someone looks into the mirror and sees something askew, he will correct himself in accordance with the mirror. He will realign the slightest error. With Scripture as a mirror, the hearer of the Word will change the most "tertiary" problem to obey God.

The Dead Uzzah Principle

When David commanded the ark of the covenant back to Jerusalem, he treated the means of carrying the ark as secondary. His servant Uzzah, obeying the charge for this task (2 Samuel 6:3-8), reached out and touched the ark to keep it from falling on the ground. God struck him immediately dead. What David thought non-essential, God saw as essential. Nadab and Abihu violated this principle when they considered the recipe for incense in the holy place to be tertiary (Lev. 10). God killed them. Saul hedged on the secondary doctrines (killing Agag, waiting for Samuel to offer the sacrifice, allowing animals to live) and lost his throne. Samson cut his hair and touched a dead carcass. Ananias and Sapphira kept back part of an offering. David numbered the people. If not all of these instances, then at least some of them parallel with today's secondary teachings or practices. The message from God is that He takes very seriously everything that He said.


Jeff Voegtlin said...

So I'm playing "devil's advocate." I don't even know if I should write this, but I'm trying to interact with what you're writing. In the example of David, God didn't strike David dead, and he's the one that had the ark put on the cart. Wasn't that disobedience too? I'm having a hard time grasping what you're saying here. I understand there are problems with the 1st, 2nd, 3rd levels of importance, but even in this example, it seems to be there. If it is there, saying it is not there doesn't solve the problems.

Baptist Crusader said...

are you referring to Phil Johnson as a "(new evangelical)"? I don't think he's a neo, just a classic evangelical. He wouldn't want to be referred to as a neo either.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I know you're playing 'devil's advocate,' but I'll argue with you nonetheless. Punishment occurred for Uzzah. Just because someone doesn't get it, doesn't mean that it isn't serious. Sometimes people are getting punished and they don't know it; for example, Rom. 1 when someone is punished by being turned over to his own lust.


I know he doesn't call himself a new-evangelical, but I can't call him a classic evangelical, so I used the parenthesis, indicating what he calls himself and what I think of him as. I believed evangelicals practiced separation on cultural issues. Look at Spurgeon; he did. The classic evangelicals would never put up with a lot of what Phil does.

Ed Bob said...

The Parent-Child Principle

We don't let our children get away with it, as we shouldn't, so neither should we do this to God. I agree I believe that the child should be SPANKED and we should also if we don’t obey.