When a non-essential doctrine becomes an essential doctrine

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.

Doctrine defined: Doctrine is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the essence of teachings in a given branch of knowledge or belief system.

Lately I’ve been rolling around the “non-essentials” vs. the “essentials”; something that I get on one level but it has always continued to disturb me. So, it surfaces occasionally, like now, and that these terms are being used as a sort of “Christianized” politically correct form of tolerance in the mishandling of Scripture. Let’s not divide over the non-essential, no matter how badly one abuses the scriptures…….but what I’m seeing is, that leaves the non-essentials wide open to be mutilated and twisted.


I agree that we should not part ways with other believers over topics in scripture that are considered non-essential. I also understand that there is no hard list of what is or isn’t “non” or “essential”; as that seems to vary depending on who is making the list. Regardless of how long or short your personal list is, hopefully, we can all agree to disagree on somethings at least. However there has always been something that never sat right with me concerning these non/essential lists. It was never really the topics that were listed or not listed that disturbed me. I could never quite put my finger on what it was, until now. While we all realize that we are a work in progress and that things we first “believed” to be true in scriptures many times is not what we know to be true today; we grow, mature and develop. Notice, we change: not the Word. The Word changes us, not the other way around. So when does a non-essential become and essential in scripture? When someone, wrest’s the scriptures on one of their pet topics/issues, leaders who teach correct interpretation and Biblical study, with correct hermeneutics, scriptures in context/content. Yet these same leaders go off the reservation when it comes to their pet topic, laying aside all the fundamental study tools.

They are without excuse; and are intentional in their mishandling of the scriptures. They refuse to apply the principles, they, themselves teach because those principles would show their blatant error. So now, instead of the Word changing them, they change the Word. For those who follow these ministries and continue tolook the other way excusing the abuse of scriptures by their favored minister; convincing themselves that it’s a non-essential topic so therefore one can dismiss it, as not divisive, have sold out and settled for man’s opinions over truth. It seems to be if it’s considered an “non-essential” that one can mangle the scriptures and still be consider a sound teacher….really? What some may fail to realize is that when it comes to intentional scriptural abuse, the topic may indeed be a non-essential but the abuse of scriptures to make it absolute truth is what  actually violates an essential doctrine in and of itself. By changing the Word of God. How many times does the Bible warn us to beware, mark and avoid those who do?

2 Peter 3: 16-17 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also, the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

Now the warning to us: verse 17: “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing you know these things before, beware lest you also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.” The word “wrest” says it all, the definition is: To twist, to torture, put to the rack; to pervert, of one who wrests or tortures language in a false sense.

Also let’s look at the word “wicked” in verse 17 translation is: lawless, by implication criminal. One who breaks through the restraint of  law and gratifies his lusts.  So they literally break the laws and guidelines set to sound Biblical interpretation. Two examples; are John MacArthur and Jacob Prasch. I use these two as I have listened to both men bring a sound teachings on exegesis and hermeneutics; so I know that they understand fulling not to eisegesis, nor to insert opinions or assumptions but to take scripture at face value. I’m sure in today’s apostasy, there is no short supply of leadership that teach the same and yet set it aside for their pet doctrines.

I have also listened to  some of their teachings that  may fit under the categories of “non-essential” their abuse of the scriptures to make the topics fact and truth is criminal and it becomes essential that we understand this and stop looking the other way….we will be held accountable just like they will. John MacArthur in his Strange Fire conference message “ “ references the widow in the “widow’s mite” story that we are all familiar with. I found his newest “teaching” on the widow where he suggests, assumes, infers and tells us what Jesus actually thought of the widow…..all of which scripture does not mention at all. Not only that he goes onto create a “charismania” type of leadership out of the scribes,  and the chief priests in Mark 12:39-44, which is rather bizarre in itself; He mocks those who teach the standard teaching of the widow’s mite scripture messages on giving and ridicules and them. So here’s the rub. First of all he immediately does eisegeses, he assumes he knows what Jesus is thinking concerning the widow and he turns the entire content into a “charismania” where the widow is trying to buy her way into God’s graces. Add to all of this the fact that I found yet another teaching of John’s from several years ago where he teaches the very same message of “giving” using the same scriptures on the widow’s mite. Where God and Jesus thought she was wonderful and not deceived…..really? So, which teaching is the truth? There is never any repentance, any acknowledgement from MacArthur or those who look the other way and continue to follow such awful error and support it. The same is true with Jacob Prasch and his pet doctrine on women in leadership and head covering of women.

He admits freely that one can exegesis correctly the scriptures in 1 Corinthians 11 yet he, willingly spiritualizes parts of it, leaves out many verses and cuts and pastes the rest to fit his version of what the scriptures say on women being in leadership and under male authority i.e. head covering. One has to  wonder how many interpretations the Word can have with men like these? To say it can be correctly interpreted in context/exegesis  and then teach it another is disturbing to a very high degree. How they have no conscience or fear of what they have done to the scriptures is beyond me.  I can only post the links and encourage all to take the time to really listen and study with open Bible.

So when ones see leadership like this, who pervert the scriptures so horribly on what many consider to be non-essential topics, one has to wonder about the “essentials” they teach. By their very mishandling of the scriptures they are in error and violating the  doctrine of rightly dividing the Word of God.  The very fact that they do this to the scripture is, in and of itself ESSENTIAL!  They won’t hesitate to do this to the entire Word…..  verse 16 “which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” Yes they continue to preach and teach their opinions as truth on other subjects as well.

I have yet to see anyone in the pulpit or ministry ever correct their teachings, nor will they hold them to the hermeneutic standards that they themselves teach. Perhaps they believe they have wiggle room to teach and preach in error their opinions and lay it all at the feet of “non-essential”. So it’s not about dividing over non essentials that they refuse to engage in debate over. These non-essentials are looking more and more like truth is relevant

“We must not wrongly conclude that men’s failure to interpret Scripture accurately proves God did not clearly reveal Himself and His message to men in the Bible. Neither is it true that the meaning of Scripture is so obscure it is virtually impossible to discern.78 There is one correct interpretation of Scripture, and the rest is often the result of Scripture twisting, whether intentional or not.

Levels of Error

Not all errors are alike. Some errors are more dangerous and even more culpable than others. Some errors stem from ignorance. We simply do not know the Scriptures well enough. It may be that we speculate where we should simply acknowledge our ignorance (see Deuteronomy 29:29) and study the Word to determine the truth. Some errors are errors of personal opinion or belief. For example, Christians may differ over the interpretation of a particular passage, especially a problematic passage. Everyone cannot be right. Perhaps no one is right. So long as we identify our interpretation as our opinion, I do not think we are in trouble. But when we teach our opinion as absolute truth, we are venturing into dangerous waters.”









7 thoughts on “When a non-essential doctrine becomes an essential doctrine

  1. JP often quotes the “little leaven” scripture… Galatians 5:9; 1 Corinthians 5:6. This is precisely how false teachers/doctrines enter the church. Pray for wisdom please Ian… Prasch’s “potato salad” contains as arsenic.

  2. Your potato salad theory is again a bad example of bad teaching and is unbiblical, in fact it is the polar opposite of what the Scripture teaches, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.”

  3. btw, I still have great respect for and would salute Moriel Ministries with Jacob Prasch, Sandy Simpson, and Tim Wirth. Just look at their recent video expose on “The Holy Ghost” movie. I agreed with about 90% of it. Yet, just because I didn’t agree with the potato salad, didn’t compel me to throw out the whole smorgasbord. (I trust you can stomach one of my upgraded cliches). Moriel Ministries is too invaluable to the Body of Christ to totally regurgitate. I pray you guys make nice with the same.

  4. Mike,

    Any woman can preach the gospel, even as we are all called to be evangelists where we are planted, and some even beyond that point. Some women may be called to be an Evangelist with a capital “E”. From my understanding Jacob would not be in support of women pastors. But whether Jew or Greek, free or slave, pink, yellow, or green, as human beings saved by Yeshua’s grace — we are all called to preach. Allot more could be stated, but that is “putting it in a capsule”. (Sorry, I know you don’t like non-Biblical cliches).


  5. It really is disgusting that these men are abusing the remnant church. It is up to individual believers to walk away from such teachers. God bless.

  6. So well said, Mike, thank you! The degree that Jacob Prasch goes to in order to diminish women,and make women appear to be intrinsically malapropos, inept, and a second class creature, tells me he has a deep and ugly place in his heart concerning them. Everyone that claims salvation in Christ has the same opportunity to bare their souls before Him and be examined so to be corrected; we all should be experiencing those moments with Him, and then thank Him that we are being refined and made into His image.
    However, when intentional twisting of the scripture is done to conform to our deep need to elevate ourselves, as in the case of Jacob Prasch’s need to be especially superior to women, it has become a sick poison that infects the body of Christ, and damages relationships between men and women.
    Treena, good point. You are so right concerning John MacArthur, as his Calvinistic doctrines have perverted a great deal of what he says and writes about. The contempt for women JMac has expressed in many different ways comes straight from John Calvin, who was absorbed by the Gnostic teachings of Augustine. History shows that quite clearly if one takes the time to investigate.
    Blessings to you all.

  7. A very insightful post Mike. I am extrremely uncomfortable with those who teach their own non- essential opinions as doctrines. As you say, the mishandling of scripture is a major issue. For every degree a pilot flies off course, he apparently ends up missing his target by 92 feet per mile. John MacArthur has become completely irresponsible-he is as bad as those he criticises. He refuses to correct his teaching that you can take the mark of the beast and be saved! Jacob Prasch is another case in point with his defective intra-trib theory and his teaching on women. The very fact that these men refuse to accept correction indicates that they are in rebellion to God!

    All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness.. 2 Timothy 3:16

    Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid. (Proverbs 12:1)

    See also Jeremiah 5:3; Zephaniah 3:2 etc.

    God bless you.

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