Volume XVI, NUMBER II (November, 2005)
Is it “Just a Difference in Application” or is it Adultery?
By David M. Bonner
During the recent Smith-Haile debates on marriage-divorce-remarriage (MDR), Haile agreed to the conclusion that if Smith is right, then Haile’s position approves of adultery.
In contrast to Haile’s candidness, several who believe like him are saying, “We all believe the same thing in principle, we just differ in application.” That concept can be used as liberally as one wishes.
Those in denominations have been making this argument for years. They assert that we all believe in Jesus, but any differences after that are just in the application.
The institutional folks say we can all agree in principle on general benevolence. They think our difference is just in the application of whether individual Christians or churches have a responsibility in this regard.
And have you considered our differences with the Muslims? A Muslim friend of mine seriously told me once, “You know David, you are a Muslim.” I responded, “No, I am a Christian.” He then explained, “There are only two things you must do to be a Muslim. You must believe in God and be a nice person.” He said, “David you are a very nice person and I know you believe in God. So, you see, you are a Muslim.”
To my friend’s way of thinking, all of us who can agree in principle to believe in God and to be nice people should agree to be called Muslims, since our only differences would be “in the application!”
And now, some of the very ones who seemingly have made a career of preaching against abusing Romans 14 to fellowship those in error on MDR – have now gone off into error on MDR themselves and are using Romans 14 to plead for fellowship. According to them we “agree in principle, but differ in application.”
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 states, “…Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, …shall inherit the kingdom of God.” Any doctrine that results in adultery cannot be run through Romans 14. And no one who loves truth would say they agree with such a doctrine in principle. In the words of the Apostle Paul, “God forbid.”