Friday, April 30, 2010

Your Friday Phil

The guys over at Pyro continued their posting of the offense of Calvinism from last week so this week I will continue that same line.  However, your weekly Friday Phil will actually be a "Taste of Turk" (hey I try).  Turk, aka Centuri0n, operates "A Flame of Fire" site that is worth an afternoon's perusing.  Anyway Phil will be back next week with his concluding thoughts.  See you then.

So spring fever has apparently sprung amongst those who find Calvinism offensive -- Phil gave his perspective on the topic on Friday (bringing out the usual suspects and their kin to fuss against such a thing), and over atEvangel Anthony Sacramone (they will obviously let anyone contribute over there) shook a fist at the "weird or noxious ideas" that "a God this horrible just happens to explain why the world looks the way it does" (meaning: Calvinism is bad).

And it all comes down to one thing, really: election results.

Now, by that I don't mean, "the tally of all the votes so we can finally end the discussion by democratic consensus." By that I mean thinking about what it means to say that God saves men.

Listen: the argument over election is not over anything else. It is only over how intentional God was and is and shall be to save anybody. The Calvinist and the non-calvinists of all stripe all believe that man needs to be saved. The Calvinist and the non-calvinists of all stripe believe that Jesus is the Savior of men. These are not the questions. It is also not the question of whether or not God intends to save men: both the Calvinist and the non-calvinists believe that God wants to save men.

The question is only this: are those who are saved saved specifically and intentionally by God because it was His plan all along to save them personally by drawing them into the assembly of all believers, or does the phrase "whosoever will" guide our understanding theological so as to understand that the divine will is not in fact determinative for who specifically will be saved, but is rather an open invitation through which God will have a very pleasant surprise at the end of all things to find that many men have in fact taken him up on the offer?

"That's not very fair, cent," comes the sincere and irenic non-calvinist. "We believe that God has foreknowledge of whosoever will, so it's not a 'surprise' to him at all. God knows who will and will not come to faith, and that's how the elect are numbered, for example, in the Lamb's book of life."

Let me be honest: I admit that my formula there is not very fair and I agree that the non-calvinist formulas for defining God's foreknowledge leaves God unsurprised by what seems to us to be "the future". But it troubles me deeply to see the non-calvinist argue as if they themselves don't believe their own explanations -- and therefore I make my unfair arguments to cause them to retreat to their foundations in the hope of showing them their biblically-fatal flaws.

I'm not mean or stupid: I just want people to be honest with themselves.

Here's what I think -- I think that what we want as Christians is to show people that God can be understood and somehow inserted into the world we think we live in. We think that bringing people to God is like bringing people to meet a friend of ours whom they ought to know and like because we have so much in common -- or maybe they are just interesting folk. The problem is that God is not like anyone, and when we compare us to him, we are the pale imitation. We are the ones who come up lacking.

So when we say things like, "well, God sort of 'remembers the future' -- he doesn't cause it, but he 'knows' it because he can 'see' it, sort of like Sonny & Cher ..." we are making God like us. But here's what God says about His relationship to the future:
Remember the former things of old:
for I am God, and there is none else;
I am God, and there is none like me,
declaring the end from the beginning,
and from ancient times the things
that are not yet done,
saying, My counsel shall stand,
and I will do all my pleasure:
Calling a ravenous bird from the east,
the man that executeth my counsel
from a far country:
yea, I have spoken it,
I will also bring it to pass;
I have purposed it, I will also do it.

Hearken unto me, ye stouthearted,
that are far from righteousness:

I bring near my righteousness;
it shall not be far off,
and my salvation shall not tarry:
and I will place salvation in Zion
for Israel my glory.
[Is 46:9-13, KJV]
There are a lot of things that you can say about that passage, I guess, but there are a few couple of things you have to admit about it:

[1] This is a passage where God speaks explicitly about two things at least: the inevitability of salvation, and the basis of the inevitability of salvation. Zion is going to receive salvation and righteousness -- and it's not because God can see how it comes together. It is because He is God, and there is none like him, and he declares the end of things from the beginning. This has to put to rest any talk of God passively knowing the future -- somehow taking it in. God doesn't get awareness of the future: He declares it -- that is, what he says, goes.

[2] God is not merely declaring the ends, but also the means. That part about the ravenous bird and the foreign agent -- that's saying that not only will God say, "here's what I'm going to do," but also, "this is how I am going to do it." This may be poetic language, but if it is, then as a metaphor is it using the lesser example to point to the greater reality -- and that if the metaphor is, "I will use either a bird or a man as I please," the reality is that God will use all thingsas he pleases, and He does please.

So when we start talking about election results -- that is, the consequences of God's choice to save -- we should be certain that we are somehow connecting to what God actually says about the consequences of His choice to save. He will certainly save "whosoever will" repent and believe -- from our human perspective, which is notprescriptive of the future but is in fact consequential to the passage of time. But God's relationship to the future is not like ours, and we shouldn't try to make it like ours -- because let's face it: we would screw up the future if it was up to us, and we have hope that the future is in fact not screwed up but eschatologically perfect.

And with that big theology word to satisfy the watchbloggers, I leave the discussion open. Play nice.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Providence and Sovereignty

This past Sunday I was given a slip of paper with the question: “In the next few months, what will be coming up in the life of you or your family?” Most of us would not hesitate to jump right in and expound on our plans for the future. But a question like this should be answered with hesitancy and give us pause to reflect on the God whom we serve and our perception of how He operates in our lives.

First and foremost, God is absolutely sovereign and within His sovereignty is His providence. Sovereignty is the free exercise of God’s will and authority over all things. Providence is God’s active, continual involvement in guiding all people, events, and circumstances, whether good or evil, toward their divinely appointed ends. Following are three scriptures that are personal favorites of mine and that I have had to make application of many times:

Prov 16:9- A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.

Prov 19:21- There are many plans in a man’s heart, Nevertheless the Lord’s counsel; that will stand

James 5:14-15- whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”

There is absolutely nothing wrong with planning. There is wisdom in planning. I myself am the chief of all planners. And my plans have been thwarted many times. We should not be surprised, or even discouraged, when our Sovereign God, in His providential care for us, comes in and “interferes” in our lives for our own good and for His good will and purposes. When our plans do not come to fruition, many times because of trials and tribulation, we should not get upset but be thankful to God that He providentially cares for us enough to intervene and direct our steps.

Calvin gives great advice concerning the providence of God:

Gratitude of mind for the favorable outcome of things, patience in adversity and also incredible freedom from worry about the future all necessarily follow upon this knowledge. Therefore, whatever shall happen prosperously and according to the desire of his heart, God’s servant will attribute wholly to God, whether he feels God’s beneficence through the ministry of men, or has been helped by inanimate creatures. For thus he will reason in his mind: surely it is the Lord who has inclined their hearts to me, who has so bound them to me that they should become the instruments of his kindness.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hypostatic Union

Within the nature of Christ one must address the nature of the relationship between Jesus the man and Christ "the" God.  This brings us to a term not often heard call the Hypostatic Union which being defined is:

Hypostatic (adj), from hypostasis (n) meaning the essence or reality of something.  Therefore hypostatic describes the type of union which exists between Christ Jesus’ deity and His humanity at its very core.  It is not accurate to describe this in a plural sense i.e. Christ and Jesus occupying one body rather it is a perfect union between the attributes of His deity and His humanity so that the “two” are one in essence, and yet they remain two in nature. 

The orthodox view is that though the incarnation of Christ, the two natures (human and divine), were inseparably united in such a way that there was no mixture or loss of their separate identity and without loss or transfer of any property of attribute of one nature to the other. Which basically states that Christ was/is 100% God and 100% human without the nature of one mixing with the other.  

So that Jesus in stating (John 17:5), “O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”  appears to be requesting His divine nature restored to its previous place of infinite glory.  Be careful though since Jesus is not using the word restored in the most usual sense.  “Restored” is the past tense of “restore” meaning “to give something back.”  Yet He is using it in the sense of “to return to a previous condition.”  It is believed that he is speaking of a return to position not a return of possession; as the writer of Hebrews states “who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” (Heb 1:3).

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Foundational Principles - Christ and Jesus

Within a proper understanding of Christology one must come to terms with the difference between the eternity of the Son and the pre-existence of the Son.  That is one speaks of His work prior to His birth while the other speaks of His work throughout eternity, both past and future.  The eternity of the Son is associated with His eternal position in the Godhead from eternity past to eternity future.  Jesus, praying to the Father asks that the redeemed be able to see Him in the Glory that He had “before” the foundation of the world (John 17:24).  Paul speaks of His eternality in His choosing us before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4).  Peter tells us that the Lamb of God (the Son, Jesus) was foreordained before the foundation of the world to shed His blood for the redeemed (1 Peter 1:20).  Each of these present both past and future aspects of His work as it relates to man in that the pre-existence of the Son refers to His pre-incarnate ministry before His birth in Bethlehem.  This would be His work in the Old Testament.  This of course offers evidence to His eternity.

So then how is Jesus eternal? 

Strictly speaking, Jesus’ eternality began with His birth whereby Paul writes quoting the Psalms in Heb 2:7-9  that Jesus was made a “little lower than the angles”  and is now seated at the “right hand of God” (Col 3:1).  (cf. Matt 26:64; Acts 7:55; Rom 8:34; Peter 3:22 et al.)  Upon this occasion deity became flesh and dwelt among us Jn 1:14.  His being fully God and fully man in no wise diminishes one another.  Although His glory and other attributes were voluntarily veiled (in flesh), He was nonetheless God!

It is therefore not correct to speak of Jesus before His incarnation.  Again strictly speaking the work of Jesus began in Bethlehem when the Word clothed Himself in flesh (Jn 1:14).  This denotes a particular facet of His eternal work for the redemption of man whereby God (the Father) made a covenant with His Son in eternity past.  That is before the foundation of the world God (including the Son) foreordained that Christ would die for the ungodly.  This was to display the importance from eternity past, even before Adam sinned, the redemption of man to His glory.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Salvation from the Penalty of Sin

Here is your weekly dose from the dearly departed... A.W. Pink from his work A Fourfold Salvation in part 1 we saw Salvation from the Pleasure of Sin, we now look at part 2 Salvation from the Penalty of Sin

This follows upon our regeneration which is evidenced by evangelical repentance and unfeigned faith. Every soul that truly puts his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ is then and there saved from the penalty—the guilt, the wages, the punishment—of sin. When the apostle said to the penitent jailor, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved," he signified that all his sins would be remitted by God; just as when the Lord said to the poor woman, "thy faith hath saved thee: go in peace" (Luke 7:50). He meant that all her sins were now forgiven her, for forgiveness has to do with the criminality and punishment of sin. To the same effect when we read "by grace are ye saved through faith" (Eph. 2:8), it is to be understood the Lord has actually "delivered us from the wrath to come" (1 Thess. 1:10).
This aspect of our salvation is to be contemplated from two separate viewpoints: the Divine and the human. The Divine side of it is found in the mediatorial office and work of Christ, who as the Sponsor and Surety of His people met the requirements of the law on their behalf, working out for them a perfect righteousness and enduring Himself the curse and condemnation which are due them, consummated at the Cross. It was there that He was "wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities" (Isa. 53:5). It was there that He, judicially, "his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree" (1 Pet. 2:24). It was there that He was "smitten of God and afflicted" while He was making atonement for the offenses of His people. Because Christ suffered in my stead, I go free; because He died, I live; because He was forsaken of God, I am reconciled to Him. This is the great marvel of grace, which will evoke ceaseless praise from the redeemed throughout eternity.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Your Friday Phil

One of my favorite Preachers has come to be Phil Johnson over at GTY.  I think it's his direct style and reliance upon God's word which most appeals to me.  Phil on Monday posted this over at the Pyromaniacs which I found typical in my own evolution into a proper understanding of God and His relationship to the salvation of man, so I thought I would repost it here for your consideration.

The following excerpt is from a message I gave to a group of college students about five years ago. I'm posting this excerpt to encourage you to listen to the entire message, titled, "The Story of Calvinism," which you can download (or stream) from HERE.

     have not always been a Calvinist. As a matter of fact, I was raised in the context of a liberal Methodist church, so long before I ever became a Christian, my mind was poisoned with a blend of liberalism and Wesleyan theology. And after I became a Christian, it was several years before I finally came to the point where I could affirm the biblical doctrine of election without trying to explain away clear statements of Scripture likeEphesians 1:4 (which says that God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world). Or Romans 9:15-16, where God says, "'I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.' So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy."

I resisted those ideas for years. I knew the word election is biblical, but I had a friend who explained it this way: "God votedfor you the devil voted against you. You cast the deciding vote."

That made perfect sense to me.

Very early in my Christian experience, I went to a small church in the town where I attended college, and my Sunday-school teacher there was decidedly anti-Calvinistic. Almost every week, he would warn us against the dangers of putting too much stress on the sovereignty of God. Almost every week he would work into his lesson the idea that human free-will is sovereign, and the choice is ultimately left entirely up to each sinner to decide what to do with Christ. That seemed reasonable to me. It reinforced what I was inclined to believe anyway.

But at the same time, in my own study of the Scriptures and my reading of church history, I kept running into biblical statements and doctrinal issues that posed a severe challenge to that sort of free-will theology.

Then one Sunday while this guy was taking prayer requests, a girl in the class raised her hand and asked, "Should we really be praying for our lost relatives? It seems like it's a wasted effort to pray to God for their salvation if He can't do any more than he has already done to save them."

And I vividly remember the look on the face of this Sunday School teacher. This was clearly a question that had never occurred to him. So he thought about it for a moment, and you could see the wheels in his head turning while he tried to think of a good reason to pray for the salvation of the lost. And finally, he said, "Well, yeah, I guess you're right." And from that Sunday on, he never accepted any more prayer requests for people's lost loved ones.

That didn't seem quite right to me, even as a dyed-in-the-wool Arminian. I had just done a Bible study in Romans 10:1, where Paul says, "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved." Not only that, I began to wonder why we should pray about anything in the realm of human relationships if God never intrudes on the sanctity of human free will. You know: Why should I pray for God to move my English teacher to look favorably on my work when she graded my paper if she is ultimately sovereign over her own heart? Those were questions I couldn't answer.

And the more I studied the Bible, the more it seemed to challenge my ideas about free will and the sovereignty of God. One by one over a period of more than 10 years, the doctrines of election, and God's sovereignty, and the total depravity of sinners became more and more clear to me from Scripture.

It was a sermon series by John MacArthur on the doctrine of election from Ephesians 2 that finally turned me into a full-fledged Calvinist, and that was at least 15 years after I first came to the Lord.

So I know what it is like to be baffled by these truths and to resist what seems like a dangerous tendency to go overboard with the doctrine of God's sovereignty. I've been there, and I feel your pain.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Coverings of fig leaves

In a recent discussion the question was asked “Was it really necessary for God to provide animal skins to Adam and Eve.” While it would not be accurate to describe the choice of covering i.e. animal skins, as secondary, it would nevertheless be helpful to note that the primary instruction is that the only adequate and acceptable covering must come from God. It was thereby His choice to provide a covering which required the “shedding of blood” for without it there is no covering (Heb 9:22). It must therefore be understood to be a foreshadowing of the provision of a sin covering for all who would believe which was in the mind of God prior to the sin of Adam cf. Rev 13:8. This also foreshadowed the Temple sacrifice to come.

“Ok. but why were the fig leaves inadequate?” they rebutted.

First see above.

Second the fig leaves represent man’s effort’s to provide his own covering. And while this may represent Adam’s best effort at doing so nonetheless it was a covering of decay, of filthy rags (Isa 64:6) and would not be permanent nor permitted.

“But that was then…what about now” they asked meaning “What are some inadequate coverings today?” All covering not supplied by God is of necessity from self-effort. This self-effort takes on many forms such as church attendance, giving to worthy charities, or even hope that good deeds are more plentiful than the bad. The broad road (Mt7:13) is not labeled hell but heaven and many find it, in all sincerity granted; but it is still the wrong road (Mt 7:21) which is why Jesus commanded to “enter by the narrow gate” for only that gate leads to life.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Joseph and the Providence of God Gen 50:20

Within the sovereignty of God which carries the idea of independent autonomy lies the concept of God’s providence which sees God as providing continual care over His creation. Merrill Unger states of God’s providence: “That God could create the world and then forsake it is inconceivable in view of the perfection of God. Accordingly, in the power and wisdom and goodness of the Creator declared in the Scriptures, we have the pledge of constant divine care over all parts of His creation (The New Unger's Bible Dictionary). So it comes as no surprise that Joseph would claim in Gen 50:20 “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…”

To understand this concept properly we must look at the word “meant” translated ‘chashab’ which carries the idea of something that is interwoven. Now it would be a mistake to see God’s intent as being interwoven with that of man’s so that they struggle against each other to a particular outcome. Rather it is better viewed as the interweaving of “human events” by God the master weaver to obtain the outcome fitting to His purpose. This means the events of Joseph’s life, his family, all of Egypt, as well as the famine were woven as a tapestry for the expressed purpose of furthering God’s purposes on earth or “to preserve many people alive.” It is this preserving interweaving that is expressed by Isaiah in Isa 45:7 where he declares that it is God who causes “well-being” as well as “creating calamity.”

It would further be an error to take this concept too far concluding as the fatalist that all of life is predetermined so that man plays only a puppet roll. For the exercise of man’s will and their culpability is clearly demonstrated throughout the scripture. For instance Lot looked of his own will to “well watered plan of Jordan” (Gen 13:10), and it was Abraham who told Pharaoh and Abeimelech that Sarah was his sister (Gen 12:13; 20:2). In contrast to evil intent we also see Abram giving freely of his own will a tithe to Melchizedek (Gen 14:20). But we should not think these things happened outside the expressed desire or providence of an all mighty God who holds the hearts of men in His hand, turning them any way He chooses (Prov 21:1) which is clearly seen in Ex 14:8 where it is God who “hardens” Pharaoh’s heart; “for in Him we live and move and exist…” (Acts 17:28).

So that ultimately there is only one will, that being God’s and how He works His sovereign will and still allows for the free will of man is a mystery He has not chosen to reveal.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I must admit Lot has always been a source of discomfort for me. Just how does the last OT commentary of/on the life of a righteous man contain incest? I suggest that the whole of Christendom owe a great deal to the Apostle Peter for without his testimony (2 Peter 2:7) one would be hard pressed to see Lot as being righteous. What is interesting though is Lot was oppressed by his circumstances. The AV translates ‘kataponeo’ as “vexed” however the force of the word is lost in today’s understanding. The force of the word is oppression and ‘kataponeo’ as a passive, present tense, verb, means he was continually being oppressed (or dominated) by the citizens of Sodom i.e. the “sensual conduct of unprincipled men.” This may explain his son’s in law’s response who thought him to be “jesting.” 

So one may have a hard time understanding how Lot came to this predicament. For that understanding one must go back many years to Gen 13 where, as a result of strife between Abram and Lot they decided to part company with Abram giving Lot first choice.  The actions of Lot in verse 10 bear striking similarity to Eve in chapter 3 in that they both “lifted their eyes” both saw it as a “delight to the eye and good for food,” and they both “departed.” Now it should be inserted here that the well watered plan of the Jordan was not in itself bad, but what Lot displays here is lust or covetousness thereby leading him to base his decision with the wrong motive. And so begins that unnoticed downward spiral that ultimately ends in a cave of drunken incest (Gen 19) with Lot as the progenitor of the Moabites and the Ammonites who would be a source of oppression to the children of Israel many years to come.

So back to our question of the righteousness of Lot, we can only conclude that God is merciful to whom He chooses (Ex 33:19; Rom 9:15) and thank Him for it.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Salvation From the Pleasure of Sin

Here is your weekly dose from the dearly departed... A.W. Pink from his work A Fourfold Salvation part 1 Salvation from the Pleasure of Sin

It is here that God begins His actual application of salvation unto His elect. God saves us from the pleasure or love of sin before He delivers us from the penalty or punishment of sin. Necessarily so, for it would be neither an act of holiness nor of righteousness were He to grant full pardon to one who was still a rebel against Him, loving that which He hates. God is a God of order throughout, and nothing ever more evidences the perfections of His works than the orderliness of them. And how does God save His people from the pleasure of sin? The answer is, By imparting to them a nature which hates evil and loves holiness. This takes place when they are born again, so that actual salvation begins with regeneration. Of course it does: where else could it commence? Fallen man can never perceive his desperate need of salvation nor come to Christ for it, till he has been renewed by the Holy Spirit.

"He hath made everything beautiful in his time" (Eccl. 3:11), and much of the beauty of God’s spiritual handiwork is lost upon us unless we duly observe their "time." Has not the Spirit Himself emphasized this in the express enumeration He has given us in "For whom he did foreknow, he did also predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified" (Rom. 8:29-30). Verse 29 announces the Divine foreordination; verse 30 states the manner of its actualization. It seems passing strange that with this Divinely defined method before them, so many preachers begin with our justification, instead of with that effectual call (from death unto life, our regeneration) which precedes it. Surely it is most obvious that regeneration must first take place in order to lay a foundation for our justification. Justification is by faith (Acts 13:39; Rom. 5:1; Gal. 3:8), and the sinner must be Divinely quickened before he is capable of believing savingly.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Foundational Principles

In discussing foundational principles one must eventually consider the creation account as presented in Genesis. At its core is the reliability of God and whether or not He says what He means. In general there are four main theories of creation:
The Literal Day Theory – is really self explanatory and really should not need any commentary. It takes the scriptural account at its word and exegetically requires less mental gymnastics to arrive at its conclusions i.e. God accomplished His creation in 6 literal 24 hr days (yôm(s)) as He states. It also allows the reader to use a usual and customary understanding of the text and is supported by reference in Ex 20:11 in which God makes a declarative statement regarding creation.
The Day-Age Theory – holds that yôm is used metaphorically with each day representing a geological age. This theory gives deference to the scientific community by discounting God’s creative fiat of speaking creation into existence fully mature so that things were capable of seed production rather than God having planted seeds which would have required the normal process of growth we know today.
The Literal-Day-with-Gaps Theory – holds that the Genesis’ account of the creation days are indeed literal 24 hr days but do not occur in succession. This theory allows for gaps between each day of an indeterminate duration to presumably account for the apparent large age of the earth.
The Revelatory Day Theory – holds that creation was revealed to man in six days and is therefore “pictorial” of the actual creative process. Advocates believe that God revealed His past creative account in visions much as He revealed future judgment in visions.

Some would ask “Does it really matter to hold to one particular view and should that view be the literal day theory over the others” to which one can only answer “Yes it matters…very much actually. And yes the literal day theory is the correct view to hold.” And here is why.A proper view of the creation week, particularly God’s use of the word yôm, provides the foundation to many other passages. In every instance where yôm is modified by a definite or cardinal number a literal 24 hour period is in view.

We hear God declaring His model of man’s work as being 6 days of work and one day of rest based upon His creative week in Ex 20:11. We also see this in Johna 1:17 where yôm is modified by the definite article 3 and along with leeylowt, indicates 3 literal light periods and 3 literal dark periods to total 3-24 hr days. We also see this concept carried into the NT in Mt 12:40 where Christ, in conveying the truth of his impending death, points to Jonah as the example; there heeméras and núktas are modified by the definite number 3.

So we see that the foundational principle of exactly what did God mean when He stated that at the end of the evening and morning were a day matters a great deal and will affect how we view other areas of Scripture as well.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Almost right

Spurgeon once stated "Discernment is not simply a matter of telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather it is the difference between right and almost right."  This quote nicely presents the greatest problem facing our churches today.  Many are content being able to tell the difference in doctrinal error so long as the error is in one of the major areas of Scripture.  Yet they most often will not realize that all areas of truth get at the very foundation of who God is, for all truth is God's truth.  This implies that for discernment to be properly exercised we must not only be concerned with the major but also the minor (as we perceive it) for any attack on the truth is an attack upon God.