As believers study Scripture theological positions become nuanced, changed, or replaced with better or sometimes worse biblical conclusions. Every theological system has weaknesses. As students study the Bible, systems become nuanced as knowledge of His Word matures.
For example, Dispensationalism and Amillennialism changed over the last hundred years as proponents face challenges, issues, and study Scripture. In the course of refining and defining theology sometimes a student argues an unorthodox conclusion. The proponent of said position might have a valid critique of the orthodox position. It forces students to either defend or reexamine Scripture. Sometimes the new teaching seems to handle the text well but does not fit into a systematic theology. To complicate matters sometimes the new position blurs the line between conservative and liberal theology.
When an uncommon conclusion, yet one that seems faithful to the text, is reached, a common objection is heard, “He has opened the door to the slippery slope.” The fear is his followers will take the position further away from orthodoxy.
No pastor wants to lead people into false doctrine. But should pastors worry biblical teaching, especially one that blurs the line a little but is faithful to the text, will open the door to the slope? For example, if we grant God can change His mind, are we relinquishing the providence of God? If we say, “Christ died for all the world,” then are we opening the door to universalism? Do we need to worry, teaching through a specific text will drive people to bad theology?
Is it fair to worry about the slippery slope? Is worrying about the potential “danger” to a theological nuance something pastors should consider? Is this concern placing fear on the wrong object? Believers are told to fear the Lord. Does God say fear the results? The real question should be, “Will God preserve His children to the end and keep them orthodox?”
Will a Christian, who has the Holy Spirit, really depart from Scripture and go into error? “The Gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved if you hold fast to the word I preached to you — unless you believed in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:1-2). Paul presents two important truths to salvation. First, “are you being saved” teaches a habitual, ongoing perseverance regarding a believer’s life. The believer is habitually being saved by God. I was saved, I am being saved, I will be saved — all three are true. Second, “if you hold fast to the word I preached.” A believer will continually cling to the truth of the gospel.
Therefore if a person hears a doctrinal nuance and then begins to blow it out of proportion and two years later is denying the Gospel, then we learn one truth: the person believed in vain and was never really saved. The believer will accept the nuance and accept it even if he or she does not understand how it fits into theology.
Should pastors trust the Holy Spirit? Does not the Holy Spirit teach people and affirm truth? God preserves His children. He teaches them. He opens a person’s mind to understand Him. God gives the Holy Spirit to believers. This is a New Covenant blessing (Ezekiel 36:27).
“Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.” (1 Cor. 2:12-13). The Holy Spirit teaches believers His truths. He interprets them and helps believers understand the truths. He allows believers to understand and know truth.
God teaches and preserves believers. He who begins a good work in a person, He will bring the believer to completion (Phil 1:6). Believers are completed. In order to grow and be conformed into His image believers have to agree with the truth. God will preserve believers.
God is in the business of bringing believers from dead in transgressions to glory. What is the pastor’s role? The pastor preaches God’s Word accurately. He preaches the meaning of the text (1 Cor. 2:13) and he speaks to please God (1 Thess 2:4). Pastors preach the Word in and out of season (2 Tim. 4:2). God preserves them. Therefore, let pastors preach the meaning of the text and trust the Lord will keep believers off the slippery slope!