Confusing fundamentals and distinctives

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To follow on a little from Carl's post (and I don't know Jason Stellman at all) one of the dangers for all of us is confusing the fundamentals with the distinctives. So, for example, in England there are about 15 tiny little Presbyterian churches. The danger is, because we feel we are a minority and we think (no, we know!!!) we have a Biblical understanding of church government and sacraments this becomes the thing that we bang on about the most. We make a distinctive which we feel is biblical and right, into a fundamental. It's theology by reaction and so ministers are often given the charge at their inductions to 'keep the main thing the main thing'. My question is how do you keep the lesser but important in their proper place, without relegating them to the 'this is the stuff evangelicals disagree over so we don't talk about it and never preach about it'?

Surely part of the answer is in systematic and biblical exposition which confronts us with God's agenda not ours. A ministry which deals with whole books of the Bible and the apostolic priorities become ours.

I wonder whether when you have a closed shop eldership, where nobody from the congregation is considered to come on and you've been the same elders for a number of years, you can begin to perpetuate the myth that we are the holders of all wisdom and truth. Fresh blood in eldership/leadership is essential. Our churches are to be training churches which see men from the congregation raised up for eldership.

Finally, we must check our hearts about what gets us excited. I remember Don Carson saying something like, 'it's not what I teach my students that they will remember it's what I get excited about'. That certainly is true in ministers if what thrills our hearts is not the fundamentals of the gospel and Jesus Christ that will be seen and copied by our congregations.
Posted June 7, 2012 @ 9:45 AM by Paul Levy

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