I have dedicated several posts to discussing the fact that in understanding and acting on an issue, often more than one biblical principles is involved. It is important to consider all of the biblical perspectives on an issue and decide which one takes precedence in the particular circumstances at hand.
The Single Issue Syndrome
Failure to consider the full breadth of scriptural teaching on an issue can create problems. It is easy to get stuck on a single biblical principle, or only see one, and as a result take a lopsided position. In fact, a large segment of the mistakes made by churches and individual Christians across the centuries and at this present day stem from this failure to consider the full scope of factors related to an issue. Let me mention just a few.
I have good friends who embrace reformed theology. They are godly people who love the Lord. However, my personal perspectives is that this approach to theology advocates some erroneous positions.
One reason I love these people is their zeal for the glory of God. During this era in which the church seems to be largely human focused, I find fellowship with these God-centered people very refreshing.
Nonetheless, though must give the glory of God its rightful place in our understanding of Scripture and Christian life, it does not comprise the only issue. And when we make it the only issue we get into trouble. For example, the teaching of irresistible grace, the view that human response is not in any way involved in people being saved, a position I view to be erroneous, is motivated by the concern that God will not get all the glory if salvation requires some sort of response by the individual. Among other problems with this position I believe is the truth that God desires people who are responsive to His truth and to the ministry of the Holy Spirit in their hearts.
This overemphasis on one issue reveals an important point. Reformed theologians have selected a glorious concept to overemphasize. How can you emphasize the glory of God too much? But that is the trap. Because some issues are so magnanimous, it is easy to overemphasize them, and it is difficult to criticize anyone who does. In fact, most theological mistakes entail people advocating too much of a good thing.
Chain of Command
Some time ago a very gifted evangelical communicator popularized the idea that as believers we must identify and submit to our chain of command. He especially made the application to children and even young adults submitting to the guidance of parents and wives to their husbands. He taught that even if the parent or husband directed a child or wife to do something unbiblical, they should be responsive to that direction, with the confidence that somehow God would work it all out.
While submission to authority is certainly a valid and important biblical principle, viewing it as an absolute creates confusion and error. Peter and John informed the Jewish leaders that they would obey God rather than the unbiblical direction of these leaders. We should be responsive to authority to the extent that their direction is not counter to the Word of God. Chain of command must not be the only consideration.
Making Grace and Absolute
A large segment of contemporary evangelicals make an absolute out of grace, viewing it as the only consideration in dealing with the issues of the Christian life. This is another one of those “too good to have too much of” issues. How can we ever have too much grace?
The answer, of course, is when we advocate more grace than the Bible prescribes. For example, some contemporary evangelicals teach that God’s grace covers the sinful behavior of a believer to the extent that it does not in any way affect how relationship with Him. However, Scripture speaks of God’s heavy chastening hand on believers who are living in sin. For example, in 1Co 11:30 we find the Apostle Paul issuing this warning regarding people in the church taking a casual attitude toward the Lord’s Table: “For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.” Sleep in this passage refers to physical death.
Tip of the Iceberg
These examples represent just a few of the many issues in which God’s people can get themselves in trouble by becoming locked into one teaching of Scripture while failing to consider the full counsel of God.
We can only apply the full counsel of God if we have a good working knowledge of all of the Word of God. The danger of making big mistakes when we lack comprehensive scriptural knowledge should motivate us to study the Word thoroughly and carefully.