Saturday, April 14, 2007

Secondary, Tertiary, or Essential?

Phil Johnson, primary editor for John MacArthur and executive director of Grace to You, wrote over at the comment section of his blog, Pyromaniacs:

The fundamentalist movement was eventually ruined by anti-intellectualism, overweening separatism, and a contentious attitude over secondary and tertiary issues that caused many fundamentalists to forget what the truly essential doctrinal issues of Christianity are. But the original idea of fundamentalism was a really good idea, and we could use a healthy revival of it today.
I answered this comment by saying:
I noticed your use of the bold and italic for "movement," differentiating a fundamentalist by dictionary definition from the movement. By definition a fundamentalist strictly adheres to a standard. You understand that separation is a doctrine in Scripture, difficult to parse with a platonic view of the church, however.

I don't see the "secondary doctrine" teaching in Scripture---it seems to be invented, read into (eisegesis) passages, coming out of an evangelical desire for "unity" (an unscriptural sort). The emergents have broadened the unity to a state of discomfort for evangelicals like yourself, taking your "secondary doctrine" teaching to its logical conclusion. The verses supporting personal separation from the world are taken from deep in the vault, dusted off, and now put into use, only not in an "overweening" way (i.e. according to superior intellect) in your case based on your own opinion.
Phil replied:

Kent, well, since that discussion would de-rail the actual subject of this thread, let's postpone it. But I'll tell you what: I will make a post on that topic soon, just for you.

If I'm going to do that, however, you're going to need to bring your A-game.

Of course, anyone and everyone would need his A-game for Phil and by his own admission. However, Scripture is enough for me, so let's explore that together. Hopefully the Bible counts as the A-game. Does the Bible teach a "secondary doctrine" position?


Read these verses. Seriously. Read them all (not just the important ones). These aren't even all, but they will give a more than ample representation of God's will.

Old Testament

Exodus 15:26, "And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee."

Exodus 24:3, "And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do."

Leviticus 19:37, "Therefore shall ye observe all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: I am the LORD."

Leviticus 20:22, "Ye shall therefore keep all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: that the land, whither I bring you to dwell therein, spue you not out."

Leviticus 26:16, 17, "And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant: I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it."

Deuteronomy 5:31, "But as for thee, stand thou here by me, and I will speak unto thee all the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which thou shalt teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess it."

Deuteronomy 6:2, "That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son's son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged."

Deuteronomy 11:32 And ye shall observe to do all the statutes and judgments which I set before you this day.

Deuteronomy 12:32, "What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it."

Deuteronomy 17:19, "And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them."

Deuteronomy 28:15. "But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee."

Deuteronomy 29:29, "The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law."

Deuteronomy 30:8, "And thou shalt return and obey the voice of the LORD, and do all his commandments which I command thee this day."

Deuteronomy 31:5, "And the LORD shall give them up before your face, that ye may do unto them according unto all the commandments which I have commanded you."

Deuteronomy 31:12, "Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law:"

Joshua 22:5, "But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the LORD charged you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul."

1 Kings 8:58, "That he may incline our hearts unto him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments, which he commanded our fathers."

1 Kings 9:4, "And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments."

1 Kings 11:38, "And it shall be, if thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee, and wilt walk in my ways, and do that is right in my sight, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did; that I will be with thee, and build thee a sure house, as I built for David, and will give Israel unto thee."

2 Kings 17:13, "Yet the LORD testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets."

2 Chronicles 7:17, "And as for thee, if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, and do according to all that I have commanded thee, and shalt observe my statutes and my judgments."

Ezra 7:23, "Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done for the house of the God of heaven: for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons?"

Nehemiah 10:29, "They clave to their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse, and into an oath, to walk in God's law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord, and his judgments and his statutes."

Psalm 119:6, "Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments."

Ezekiel 18:21, "But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die."

New Testament

Matthew 4:4, "But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."

Matthew 28:20, "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."

Luke 1:6, "And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless."

Galatians 3:10, "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them."

Do you get the very clear sense, as I, that God wants us to do everything He said, that due respect of Him means that we do every, single thing that He said? You can see this is what Scripture plainly teaches. We don't have to strain to see this. We don't have to piece fragments of verses together to get it. This is God's will for us from His Word.


One Offense Enough to Condemn
James 2:10, For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."
If one offense is enough to condemn someone, then every command, statute, and precept of God is essential. God is displeased with one sin. It took one sin to remove Adam and Eve from the garden.
2 Peter 2:4, "For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment."
"Sinned" is aorist tense, point action. The angels who fell sinned but once. One sin and they were lost forever. God is interested in perfect obedience. We are saved by the perfect obedience of Christ.
(to be continued)


Jeff Voegtlin said...

You're going to have a hard time getting Phil to admit that he is not following God completely.

He thinks he is obeying God to the full extent of the Bible.

You think you are obeying God to the full extent of the Bible.

You have differences between you. He thinks you are wrong; you think he is wrong.

I guess I don't see Phil disagreeing with all those verses. It will come down to the application of them. He will say you apply them to areas that the Bible doesn't clearly address (therefore they are secondary or tertiary). You will say that they clearly apply to those areas.

I'm skeptical that any forward motion will be made.

Kent Brandenburg said...

First, Dr. Jeff, I'm not done yet. I have at least three more points. I'm using Phil as the human interest part of this, but this is something I believe should be demolished. You'll see why.

Second, this secondary doctrine thing is brand new, just like the "we can't interpret" part of emerging churches. Phil is "I can't apply," and they are "I can't interpret." You'll see more about this too.

Third, he does misinterpret the "secondary doctrine" passages.

Fourth, I don't write thinking I'll always get forward movement. I write too because it is my responsibility to warn.

Kent Brandenburg said...

I would add a fifth above. Other people are reading this that do need to have answers for these kinds of presentations or doctrines. Phil's view I believe is the alternative, but sometimes that is the only view they've received. They'll see something different here.

Unknown said...

Good stuff. I always disliked the "in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity" bit. I never could figure out who gets to decide what is essential. I figured if God took the time to put it in the book, it must be essential for something.

David Rudd said...

do you believe that Phil is living in sin?

Kent Brandenburg said...

David, I have never personally met Phil. I have only read what he writes at Pyro and in one brief email exchange. I thought it was possible that Phil would listen to arguments on this, but I mainly am writing it as an expose/warning/informational for others. Phil isn't a reader. I thought I might need to get my A game together too.:) I do think that some of what he teaches is wrong and that might be a sin. Thanks.

DaCatster said...

As a person that has had many personal expeiences with Phil and his doctrine via internet and forum contacts. I pretty much agree with Pastor B conclusion of Phil and his doctrine, that it is pretty misleading, unscriptual, and dangerous to other readers. That is why I rarely read the pyro blog.

I am just thankful the Holy Spirit, even in my backslidin state 5-6 years ago, kept me from believing this man's hogwash.