It has been fashionable for quite some time (forever?) to parrot the teachings of others with little to no regard for the instruction of Scripture. One recent craze has been to designate the "importance" of specific doctrines into three categories: primary, secondary, and tertiary. A "primary" doctrine is said to be one that must be believed for salvation to be present. Sounds good, right? Let's dig a little deeper and see just how right this set up is and what the Scriptures have to say. Many well respected and highly sought after men teach this system, mostly in the 'reformed' denomination, but none have to date given a comprehensive listing of which doctrine belongs with which designation. John MacArthur is one of these and has said that a list should be comprised, but when questioned further, JM was unable to give those doctrines that should be included in the 'primary' section. Perhaps he doesn't have the time for a mundane exercise and chooses rather to defer it someone else of lesser stature in the "church." Others have attempted such a listing, and have failed to the point of heresy. Matt Slick of CARM is one of these: https://carm.org/doctrine-grid. His 'system' is almost as complex as it is convoluted. One major doctrine---repentance---is totally absent and another, that Christ is the only way to salvation receives a "secondary" connotation. If the fact that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father is a "secondary" doctrine and by definition, not essential to salvation does not that leave the door open for "thieves and robbers" of John 10:1-10 to steal the way to the Father? "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6. How deceitful can one man get to piously state that this Scripture is of "secondary" or "non-essential" importance when the salvation of a soul is at stack. What other "way" is there to the Father, Mr. Slick? This is bad enough, heretical enough, to dismiss ALL of Mr. Slick's teachings, but there's more.
In Slick's "primary non-essential" section we find the doctrines of the "carnal Christian" hard at work to negate the requirement of holiness for those who will see the Lord (Heb. 12:14). His "disclaimer" is the 'out' the fake "Christians" love to read. "I can practice my favorite sin if I say I'm sorry some day in the future." Or maybe "I can still be friends with my 'brothers' who are adulterers or homosexuals" and by doing so ignore 1 Cor. 5:10-13. In his rush to excuse sexual sins, one must wonder why murder was not included in this list also. This type of teaching, being able to obey the Scriptures one likes and ignore the pesky ones has invaded Christendom centuries ago and is more alive and well today than it ever was. It is a great evil that is perpetrated on believers by the charlatans and hirelings of our day. Then Mr. Slick proceeds to tell us that the inerrancy of the Scriptures is also of the "primary non-essential" variety. Again, any question can be raised as to the authenticity, the very power of the Word of God. This is another of the fashionable doctrines of those that call themselves "Christian" but are not. To them, one can call into question the words of God all day long, but how dare anyone question the words of those who bring doubt upon the Word of God. But Mr. Slick is not done yet.
In the "secondary non-essentials" section we find more double minded thinking and more instability (James 1:8). Predestination, election, limited atonement, and free will can all peacefully coexist together in unity. It doesn't matter what you believe, pick one, change tomorrow, so what? Never mind that free will in the salvation of one's soul is non-existent, never mind that Christ was the Elect of God, that He was foreordained to the suffering of the cross (Rev. 13:8), that we were predestined to the adoption as sons, and on and on. If Matt Slick has a problem with election and predestination, etc. then Matt Slick has a problem with Christ, who is all of these and more. This problem with Christ, that Matt Slick has, has been plainly seen in his own words. He goes further to say that the post-mill, a-mill, pre-trib., and preterist's beliefs can also exist peacefully side by side---this is also not allowed by the Word of God, nor the Spirit of God, but pick one, it's ok with Matt Slick. Even more, baptism of infants (for salvation) is now ok whereas the previous category listed baptism as not essential to salvation. So which is it, Matt, just what is it that you are teaching?
Finally, his "Christian heresies" section is further evidence of a lack of the basics of Scripture. Here, he opens the door wide for a "Christian" to believe whatever he likes, to go with the Scriptures he likes and to freely ignore the ones he doesn't like. He is very bold to state that "These do not contradict the essentials but do contradict non-essential teachings." So a "Christian" can be a universalist and not be in conflict with the fact that Christ's death was exclusively for the elect and no one else (Oh, I forgot, the Arminian heresy is just as "valid" as is election----right!). Of the hundreds of verses than speak directly to this fact, here are four to ponder: Acts 13:48, John 15:16, and John 1:13, Eph. 1:4. Then we have "Christians are to be healthy and wealthy by the fact of being Christians." Maybe we should cut Slick some slack here since he failed to mention the verse about one hating his own life and if one does not hate his own life then he cannot be a disciple of the Lord (Luke 14:26). Now we know why this verse was left out of the "essentials" list---Matt doesn't like it!
Having contacted Mr. Slick a few months ago with these concerns and questions, the response was the basis "non-responsive" response, i.e., no questions answered and the same old tired statement that he would stand by what he wrote--------I'm shocked. For those thinking that this is a valid and useful exercise engaged in by Slick and others there are a few questions to consider:
What Scriptural authority is given for this "list" to be compiled?
If it is so essential to Biblical understanding, why has the "list" not appeared long ago?
Of the many Gospel truths that have been left out (two were mentioned above), how many more are to be excluded and seen as not just "non-essential" but rather non-existent?
Who will be the brazen one to instruct the Holy Spirit as to which doctrine belongs in which category and which are to excluded? [This is exactly what the proponents of this heretical nonsense are doing.]
Who appointed who as arbiter in this matter?
The very premise of this "list" is blasphemous to the Father because it places His Sovereignty in the control of humans. It is blasphemous to the Son to say that there is another way to God except (and above) the Way provided by the Father. It is blasphemous to the Word as Scripture is altered, ignored, and rendered void by the manipulations of men. It is blasphemous to the Holy Spirit---the Author of the Word---as men seek to instruct Him as to what is to be believed and what we reject because we just don't like what He said. A man cannot be in his right mind to defend this heretical nonsense on any level.
"Afresh, precious, precious Jesus, I resign this body to You, for doing or suffering, for living or dying. Will You accept it? Will You use me for Your glory more than heretofore, that You may have some little return for all the benefits You have done to me? Oh, do grant this request; my heart longs for it, my spirit pleads for it; and "if You will, You can." You know the hot temptation of which I am the subject. Bring Your glory out of it, and keep me from the evil, and it shall be well." - Ruth Bryan