Thomas Brooks: false teachers and majoring on the minors

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Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
I mentioned this extract in an earlier thread; it is definitely one worth revisiting. One of the great dangers we face is obsessive purity-spiralling concerning relatively minor subjects to the neglect of weightier matters. It is no wonder that, in some cases, these purists have apostatised from the Reformed religion and joined Rome or Eastern Orthodoxy. Their unhealthy fixation on certain hobby-horses ought to have been a warning sign as to where they were headed. Anyway, here is the extract from Thomas Brooks on the subject:

The fourth character. False teachers easily pass over the great and weighty things both of law and gospel, and stand most upon those things that are of the least moment and concernment to the souls of men. 1 Tim. i. 5-7, ‘Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned; from which some having swerved, have turned aside unto vain jangling, desiring to be teachers of the law, and understand neither what they say nor whereof they affirm.’ Mat. xxiii. 2, 3, ‘Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint, and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith; these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.’

False teachers are nice in the lesser things of the law, and as negligent in the greater. 1 Tim. vi. 3-5, ‘If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strife of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.’ If such teachers are not hypocrites in grain, I know nothing, Rom. ii. 22. The earth groans to bear them, and hell is fitted for them, Mat. xxiv. 32.

For the reference, see Thomas Brooks: false teachers and majoring on the minors.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
What are some modern examples of this that stand out, particularly w.r.t. apostasy later?

The Federal Vision would be one example. Most people who went down this route were obsessed with things like a "biblical" view of economics, law, politics, education, child-rearing, and so forth. Now, I am not saying that the Bible has nothing to say on these issues, but, all too often, there was a tendency to read things into scripture and consequently add to God's moral law. They became so fixated with establishing the "right" view of absolutely everything, including things that scripture leaves as matters of prudence, that they lost sight of the gospel.

Other examples include certain Neo-Covenanter types (sometimes Cameronians, sometimes others) who are on a "Quest for the Historical Church of Scotland." Given the abject futility of having to do four PhDs in ecclesiastical history before deciding where to go to church, and seeing that no branch of Protestantism, let alone Scottish Presbyterianism, can provide them with the kind of certainty that they want as to which denomination is the right one, they gave up and went to either Rome of Eastern Orthodoxy. As I said elsewhere, to worship church history is to cease to be a Protestant. The fact that these people were worshipping those who were arguably most opposed to Popery does not matter; their worship of them was still idolatrous and led them into the idolatries of either Rome or the East.

We encounter perhaps more mundane examples in everyday life, wherein someone finds a small fault at a church they are attending and uses it as an excuse either to sit at home or to endlessly flit around from one place to the next. Belfast is particularly notorious for such church-crawlers. Such purism is usually just a cloak for sin and backsliding in their life; I am not saying that everyone who does that eventually apostatizes, but they are leaving themselves in grave spiritual danger.
 
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NaphtaliPress

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"Quest for the Historical Church of Scotland."
In our circles and certainly my past thirty-five years, this has been the danger I've seen and I see it going on real time on social media. Folks who day before yesterday didn't know what happened in 1646 press folks, who certainly do know and have since before they were born, that they need to this or believe that because strict 1646 is their new bright and shiny object. It may be perfectly good in itself, but it is made an idol. Thus the Lord would be just to relegate such traditions to the dust bin for reforming anew without enshrining a new bronze serpent.
 
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