The Christian Attack on God's Word
by Dr. Ken Matto
1) I once heard Dr. David A. Seamands say on a radio broadcast that women preachers are fine and those who oppose women preachers use an obscure verse in 1 Corinthians 14 to make their case.
2) A member of a group who denies the existence of Satan and angels told me that belief in them is not essential for salvation.
3) When I authored an article decrying the common practice of distributing the New Testament minus the Old Testament, I was told by a brother that this should not even be an issue. The Bible teaches that we are not to take away from God's Word. Failure to give the OT with the NT constitutes a "taking away" of God's Word.
What is Peripheralism?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines periphery as: The external surface or boundary of a body; the outward bounds of something as distinguished from its internal regions or center; an area lying beyond the strict limits of a thing. Therefore, something designated peripheral would mean something which is far from center. For example, let us take the great city of Chicago, Illinois. The neighborhoods of Cicero, Oak Park, or Elmwood Park could be considered peripheral sections of Chicago because they are on the western outskirts of the city.


Therefore, I would define the term "Peripheralism" as something which is in opposition rather than apposition to centrality. Peripheral is the antonym of centrality. Let us apply this principle to the Scriptures. We can say there are definitely cardinal or central doctrines in the Christian faith which separate us from the cults and false churches, such as: Doctrine of Christ, Doctrine of God, Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, Doctrine of Salvation, et al. There are definitely other doctrines which are essential to the foundational beliefs of Christianity but we would say the above 4 represent central doctrine. Are we then to view these cardinal doctrines as having more significance than the other teachings of Scripture?


Based upon the three statements which I opened this study with, we see clearly that there is a dichotomy existing in Christianity which is at the mercy of every Christian. That dichotomy being "central versus peripheral" teachings of Scripture. Does such a thing exist in Scripture? If there is, then who or what determines the dividing line between the major and the minor teachings of Scripture? Are the red letter editions of the Bible correct? Are the teachings of Christ more important than the teachings of Habakkuk?
Peripheralism is Erroneous
(2 Tim 3:16 KJV) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:


There is not one Scripture in the Bible which teaches that any one particular part of Scripture is more important than another portion. The above verse is a familiar one and relates to us that all Scripture is given by God. God does not have a tier system in which some Scriptures are more important than another.


(Exo 4:28 KJV) And Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD who had sent him, and all the signs which he had commanded him.




(Exo 4:30 KJV) And Aaron spake all the words which the LORD had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people.
(Exo 24:4 KJV) And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel.
(Deu 17:19 KJV) And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:
(Deu 29:29 KJV) The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.
(Jer 30:2 KJV) Thus speaketh the LORD God of Israel, saying, Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book.


If you notice the pattern in all these verses is on all the words in Scripture, and not what we choose. Simply stated, just because we do not understand a verse to its fullest or that we do not understand why God commands something is no justification for us to relegate that verse, command, or principle to a secondary importance status. God has given us His word according to what we needed and just because He sets certain parameters, prohibits things, permits things, or does things in the opposite manner in which we think He should work does not make any portion of Scripture less important than another. We have no delegated authority to stand in judgment, disregard, or re-interpret God's Word to fit into a self-created mindset.
Why Peripheralism Exists
There are several reasons why peripheralism exists and we need to look at them so we may be on guard that we do not find ourselves engaged in the wrong art of peripheralism.
1) We pick and choose what we want to believe
(Jer 11:8 KJV) Yet they obeyed not, nor inclined their ear, but walked every one in the imagination of their evil heart: therefore I will bring upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do; but they did them not.


God has commanded that we are obedient to the entire Bible, even the parts that we do not understand. If we are not, then those parts which we have neglected or deemed peripheral, will be required of us. Remember what happened to Judah and Israel for being disobedient.
2) We allow contemporary thinking to dictate our beliefs
(1 Sam 8:1-5 KJV) And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel. {2} Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beersheba. {3} And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment. {4} Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, {5} And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.


Here we see that Israel wanted a king to rule over them just as all the nations which surrounded them. They were not happy with God to be their king, they wanted a man to rule over them. It is the same in contemporary times, where we will not have the Bible to be our guide, but we will have man to be our guide. When the church lays aside the Bible and allows contemporary world beliefs to be the guide, then we are being like the world around us. Go into any modern church and you will see massive worldliness surrounding you. Go into a church where they still follow the Bible, you will see a reverence in that congregation rather than people gabbing and deciding to walk into the sanctuary 10 minutes after the service starts. You can see the worldly church in the guidelines of the Church Growth Movement which teaches that you need to give the people what they want to get them in. What good is getting them in and all you are going to do is preach them further into hell? The modern church has a mistaken notion that lowering themselves to the world's standards will draw the people in. They don't realize that many in the world are looking for something more to fill their void and they are not going to find it in a worldly church. They need to go to a true bible believing church which does not emulate the world but one that is antithetical to the world. Worldly theology will always deem some part of the Bible as peripheral. Did you ever hear of a New Testament Church which does not teach the Old Testament?
3) We base our Biblical beliefs on feelings
(Luke 4:4 KJV) And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.


(Rom 4:3 KJV) For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
The Bishop of a denomination which endorses women preachers told me that those who oppose women preachers are just prejudice. This is a feeling based interpretation because God commands women to remain silent in the congregation. We must never interpret the Scriptures according to "how we think or feel God should act." The question in Romans 4:3 is extremely apropos for our times. If a person is going to interpret the Scriptures, then they must know what the Scripture says. Their conclusion must be in harmony with what the rest of Scripture teaches on the subject being researched. A feeling oriented approach to Scripture will always yield the important as peripheral. Social churches focus on feeding the hungry and social injustices but neglect salvation.
4) We do not view God as the Sovereign of this Universe
Man in his rebellion toward God seems to have forgotten who God is. Man does not sit in judgment of God's Word and determine what is pertinent for today's belief system, Christian or otherwise. The Christian church of today seems to have forgotten who bought them, who owns them, and who sustains them. It is a shame that so many self-appointed intellectuals believe they have enough knowledge to make tier determinations concerning Scripture. God wrote the Bible, and whether we agree or understand it, it stands as the inerrant, written word of Almighty God. If you think that you have more knowledge than God, then answer the 64 questions God asked Job.
There is no such thing as a tier system in Scripture. God has placed everything in the Word of God for a specific reason. There is no such thing as a peripheral issue or doctrine. In John 3, Jesus spoke to Nicodemus about being born again. He mentions it twice, once in verse 3 and once in verse 7. Since it is only mentioned twice in this chapter, does that make being born again a peripheral doctrine? Absolutely not! There are two basic reasons Christians set up a tier system of Scripture and that is ignorance of who God is and ignorance who God isn't!


God is the Sovereign of this universe and God is not a human author giving us a Bible which demands judgment and critique. Setting up a tier system in Scripture is nothing more than following the principles of textual criticism and that is, if you can't explain it, diminish it! There are many Christians walking around in Biblical ignorance simply because they have diminished certain parts of Scripture. The Bible, from cover to cover, is God's revealed Word to us and not one letter is to be diminished. Woe unto those who sit in judgment of God's Word today because on judgment day, the Word may sit in judgment of them, and they shall be found wanting. Everything which God has written in the Bible is important and let no one tell you any different, because they have no biblical grounds for their system.