Matt Slick. Non-damnable heresies: No big deal?

With regard to the gifts of the Spirit such as tongues, prophecy, and miracles, you should take very seriously your position on whether you are a cessationist or a continuist of these gifts, says Jason Mullet (minute 33 ff), a cessationist. He continues: “If I am wrong as a cessationist, then I would be saying that true gifts from the Spirit of God have ceased. I would be saying to those who genuinely have the gift of prophesying, of miracles and the gift of tongues, that this was not from God. I would be at best quenching the Spirit, at worst, blaspheming the Spirit.”

Now to Matt Slick (his real name). I love almost all of his apologetics. Slick says that after deep study of the scriptures, he is a continuationist. As we see above, Jason Mullet gives good reasons to assert that  to be wrong about continuationism-cessationism is a serious matter: at worst blasphemy. Yet for Matt Slick, it’s “no big deal,” for him it isn’t  a primary part of the Gospel.

 I don ‘t think Slick would consider wrong beliefs about the gifts a heresy. He distinguishes between damnable and non-damnable heresy. His example of the former is the rejection of the incarnation ( the Word made flesh); his example of the latter is the rejection of hell. 

Consider the five points of Calvinism. Slick like moi, is “Reformed” (“calvinist”): a five -point-Calvinist. Here are the five points in logical order:

  1. Total Depravity (comprising radical corruption, total inability and original sin).
  2. Unconditional Election: God chooses those to be saved based on his wisdom and will, not on how good we are or our will. So, salvation“depends not on human will or exertion,but on God, who has mercy (Romans 9:16).
  3. Limited Atonement (also known as Particular Atonement): Christ shed his blood (paid the price) only for those the Father gave Him: “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I shall lose none of all those He has given Me, but raise them up at the last day” (John 6:39).
  4. Irresistible Grace: a dead person when raised to life, cannot resist the pull  and say I wanna stay dead.” I once saved a wanna-be suicide from death (in Tel Aviv, drug overdose). Later, he tried again; he did it.) When it comes to Christ raising you, you are no longer the same person, you’re a new creation, filled with joy. Irresistible joy (not same as “happy”).
  5. Perseverance of the Saints (Once Saved Always Saved).

The sovereignty of God shimmers through all the five points – as well as through the whole Bible: God ordains everything: Isaiah 46 – 8 “Remember this, and be assured; Recall it to mind, you transgressors. 9 “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’.

Slick says that “it’s no big deal” to disbelieve in the above five points because, he says, it’s not an essential of the “Gospel.” He bases his view, firstly, on what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,”

Secondly, the second person of the trinity (“indeed”) took on flesh: “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins” (John 8:24).

And thirdly, justifcation (salvation) by faith alone (without works). “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law” (Romans 3:28).Good works are the fruit of faith. This is what James means when he says “As you can see, a man is justified by his deeds and not by faith alone” (James 2:24). There is no contradiction between Paul and James, by implication no contradition between God and Himself, who inspired ( or better “expired” breathed out) the scriptures; every word of it. Slick’s favourite example of why he thinks the five points are “no big deal” is that when he married his wife, he never asked her whether she was “reformed.” He says he only found out (if I remember his words well) ten years later.

How do I see these two topics of the cessation-continuation of the gifts and Reformed theology (God’s sovereignty so well described in the five points): I agree with Matt that your belief in the gifts of tongues, prophecy and miracles is not essential (Mullett gives good reason to mull over this one again) but I disagree that the five points are non-essential. Now, if the five points are essential to the Gospel, to reject them or any of them would, it seems, be heresy. A damnable heresy? I’m not sure.

I love Matt Slick. No big deal?


 

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