Straining at Gnats while Swallowing Camels

If you’re pardon me, I am going to do a little bit of offloading of my mind about an alarming tendency I’ve noticed from time to time, if for no other reason than to clear the air and relieve my conscience.

Perhaps the most nefarious religious group in the New Testament was Pharisaism. They opposed Jesus. They ran a powerful religious group that needlessly burdened others. They were judgmental. And many of them were outright unregenerate. It’s no wonder then that Jesus often rebuked them, and you and I can learn many lessons from His stern messages to and about such a group. Not only is this wise, it’s commanded, as Jesus directly ordered His disciples to beware the leaven (teaching, attitude) of the Pharisees (Luke 12:1).

One of the traits of the Pharisees that Jesus warned about was straining at gnats and swallowing camels? What does that mean? Well, to put it in my words, it means majoring in the minors but ignoring huge, glaring problems. In recent years I’ve noticed a tendency among our people to do this. What do I mean? Well, forgive me in advance and have a seat.

Over the last few years, I’ve noticed a tolerance in PB message groups and on social media for certain characters who deny the Eternal Sonship of Christ. Please understand this is no hyperbole when I say this is one of the most crucial doctrines to Christianity. Denial of Christ’s Eternal Sonship is heresy. All who deny this are to be marked and avoided. They are to be anathematized. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. This isn’t me being mean, it’s simply the fact of the matter, cut and dry.

Why is this issue so important? It’s simple: The Divinity/Deity of Christ is at stake, as is the doctrine of the Trinity. Take away Christ’s Eternal Sonship and we have a mutable God. We have a God who changed from some unknown relational state to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Further, Christ’s Divinity as a theological doctrine is largely derived from His right and true claim to be the Son of God. Being God’s Son, He is of the same substance and essence as His Father. This is why the language of Father/Son is used. Just as I am of the same essence and nature of my father, so is Jesus of the same substance and essence of His Father. When Jesus made this claim, unbelieving Jews often attempted to murder Him because they understood (rightly) that this was a claim of Divinity. See John 5 and John 10 for two examples.

Their issue, referring to modern detractors, seems to be over Christ being “begotten.” With some of them, it’s a matter of ignorance. They have neither studied the historic controversies over this nor do they comprehend the actual doctrine when it’s articulated. With others, they understand, reject it, and scoff. Orthodox theology affirms that Jesus is eternally begotten of the Father, as the Father’s only begotten Son. Why? Because since Jesus is of the same essence and substance of the Father, and the Father is eternal – even from Everlasting to Everlasting, God – so is Jesus eternal, from Everlasting to Everlasting, God. And so as God’s eternal Son, Jesus has existed for all of Eternity as the only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. Hence the term, “eternally begotten.” And, since the Son is verily God just as the Father is verily God, and none is greater than God, the Son is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father. Related, the Spirit proceeds forth from the Father and the Son. You can find all these doctrines clearly expressed in the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds.

Back to my complaint. In recent years, gossip chains of preacher sharks have donned their pontiff hats and literally driven the names of decent men into the ground for minor disagreements. I’m not talking about men who divide churches…I’m talking about decent men. When my brother and I wrote about the historic acceptance and universal agreement among Baptists until recent Fundamentalism influence of a Friday crucifixion, you would have thought we joined a cult the way some preachers gossiped and shunned us, both publicly and privately. And this sort of phenomenon has happened often and over a variety of smaller points. I’ve seen good men threatened and shunned for inviting someone on the sharks’ “boo list” into the pulpit. I seen names dragged through the mud for not becoming defacto “hollow loggers” in opposition to Reformed Lordship Salvation (an idea I’ve written against many times). I’ve even seen good brethren slandered over their opinion of the Covid pandemic or rejection of certain political figures!

But over this issue, silence. Throughout this week, that issue has been debated once again on social media. So where are you, preacher sharks? With other issues, gossip chains are like “the shot heard round the world” coupled with a Warp Drive. But no one is aghast at this? This is one of the single most dangerous threats the church has experienced since the time of Christ. It is the doctrine of the Arians. It cannot be tolerated, and yet it is. Why? Honestly, we’ve become so angry at what we perceive as “Reformed doctrine” because of a controversy that was literally two decades ago, that (and listen to me) we’re willing to tolerate absolute heresy from someone if they share our disagreement with Lordship salvation and Absolutism. I’ve seen it. Over and over. It’s a crying shame. This is exactly what it means to strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.

Which is worse? Which is more dangerous? If you think an extreme view on the P in TULIP ranks up there with a denial of the eternal nature of our Lord Jesus Christ someone has bewitched you. Look, search this website’s archives. I’ve taken issues with many doctrines I consider erroneous or extreme. But this is one of the most dangerous heresies to have ever existed. There are a GREAT number of things we can agree to disagree on and still remain friends and in fellowship with each other. This isn’t one. Our preachers need to be better trained on this subject. We need to be better educated in church history, including the Gnostic and Arian controversies. We need to know how to simply articulate these doctrines. And if there be men among us who deny the eternal Sonship of our Lord, their mouths need to be stopped. Harsh? No more harsh than the New Testament in multiple places.

Forgive if you must but this is something I needed to get off my chest. Having done so, we’ll go back to regularly scheduled programming (which for me this week involved defending the Eternal Sonship of Christ).

One Comment Add yours

  1. Vaughn Winslett says:

    Thank you.

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