I may not always be right, but I am rarely in doubt 🙂 What I preach is not a matter of my personal interpretation or opinion of scripture, but is in fact the truth. At least that is the way that preaching is supposed to be. I have posted before concerning the prevailing thought that our preaching is, at it’s very best, our own interpretation of the Bible. The deeper tragedy of that thought is that it isn’t coming from people outside of Christianity, but it is coming from people inside of Christianity.
I have read other pastor’s blogs, articles, and opinions, and the common philosophy that they want to fall back on is the issue of “tertiary, or secondary” matters of doctrine. While there is such a thing as “unresolved, or incomplete knowledge” in some issues of scripture, the labels “tertiary” and “secondary” have been used in places that they do not belong, and abused to the point of watering down all truth, and creating uncertainty about certain things.
I am not in the Southern Baptist Convention, I am a Missionary Baptist in fellowship with the American Baptist Association. (Not American Baptist Convention) I do however keep up with the goings on in the SBC in the same way that I keep up with what is going on in Congress, and the White House.
Tuesday morning, June 15th, I was listening to the SBC convention online when Dr. Daniel Akin was giving his seminary report about Southern Seminary. Upon completion of the report, and prior to the vote to accept it, Dr. Akin was asked by a messenger from Alabama about why a non-baptist, beer drinking, foul mouthed, liberal of a preacher was allowed to speak at Southern Seminary.
While I like Dr. Akin and believe him to be a scholar of a man, and in fact many things that I have heard him preach, he preaches what he ought to. His response to the question was very disconcerting to me. He respectfully said, (paraphrase) “We at Southern want to expose our students to a wide range of views, and we believe that we can learn even from those we disagree with.”
Now before I get into that I will say that there are a great many people that will agree with that philosophy. My thoughts are not necessarily aimed at Dr. Akin, as much as they are at that way of thinking.
First let me say this. “Foul mouth, beer drinking, liberals” are not matters of disagreement, they are matters of truth and error, right and wrong. There is absolutely nothing of any value to be learned from Carnal Minded Theology. The world, the flesh, and the liberal mindset, are not “tertiary” or even “secondary” foes, they are outright wrongs, masquerading in the realm of religion as Christianity lite. Some have the idea that these approaches make lost people more comfortable among saved people. The reality is that these approaches make saved people live more like lost people. I don’t remember if was Adrian Rogers, or Vance Havner that said it, but it is absolutely the truth, “It is never right to do wrong, and it is never wrong to do right.”
. . . and before I move on, who ever said that lost people need to be comfortable in church. Church services are not for the lost they are for the Lord! We are to win people Monday through Saturday, and worship Jesus on Sunday. When a lost man is in our congregation it is my fervent prayer that the Lord meets him square with pew-squirming conviction of his sin, and clear revelation of his desperate need for the Savior.
Second. – What exactly are “tertiary” and “secondary” issues? What some people are calling “tertiary” issues are still issues of truth and error, and not matters of opinion or interpretation. Is Baptism a “secondary issue”? What about how the Holy Spirit functions today? Is that a secondary matter? Or how about what constitutes a true blue, through and through New Testament church? Is that a matter of opinion?
The fact is that facts are facts. Truth is, and all else isn’t.
Here is one of the greatest threats and oldest tools of Satan. He has in the minds of many taken “Truth” and transformed it into “Opinion.” He has undermind the authority of doctrine by lowering into the humanity of opinion; and the end goal is pretty simple. As long as doctrinal, biblical truth is nothing more than opinion, then all opinions should be viewed as valid and equal.
If there is no “certainty” about what constitutes the New Testament church, then it would be unacceptable to say that any church was in reality not a church.
If there is no “certainty” about who has the authority to baptize, then we must concede that everyone’s baptism may be valid.
If there is no “certainty” about how the Holy Spirit functions, then everything that moves men to burp, bounce, or bark, must not be spoken against.
If there is no “certainty” about anything, then no one has the right to say that anything is wrong.
That being said the end result is that “we”:
1 – recognize as churches, organizations that in reality the Lord does not recognize as churches
2 – validate baptisms that the Lord in fact does not validate
3 – follow spirits that the Lord has nothing to do with
4 – never can “separate” and move from worldliness to holiness, because identifying holiness is like nailing jello to the wall.
Now as I said at the beginning, I will readily admit that there are areas of “incomplete knowledge” and it is in those areas that we cannot be dogmatic about. There are texts of scripture, and subjects of scripture that seem to be at this point beyond the grip of clear certainty, and in those areas we must give room for intelligent brethren to explore, discuss and debate these issues.
The problem is, “The nature and identity of the church” “Baptism,” “The Function of the Holy Spirit”, “Beer Drinking, Foul Mouthed Liberalism,” “Salvation,” “Inerrancy of Scripture” and a few others, are not in those areas of incomplete knowledge! They are not issues of differences of opinions. They are not in that area in which someone in “disagreement” may still be right. It is very clear that in these issues one can be on the right side, or the wrong side.
Again, I may not always be right, but I am rarely in doubt 🙂 When we temper everything we preach with an “in my opinion” we are undermining the credibility, and ultimate authority of the Word of God. No preacher is beyond making theological mistakes. That is not what this article is about. This article is intended to say that our doctrine is not opinion, it is truth, and we must not compromise that in any way; because our doctrine is not our own, but rather the doctrine that has been given us by our God, as well as the ability to discern it with the highest degree of certainty.
Not undermining the authority of doctrine by passing off error as mere disagreement, would certainly be a change worth making.