The Particulars of Romans 14
Introduction: Some believe that Romans 14 is the answer to all the physical division that we have had and shall have in the body of Christ. "Romans 14 shows us how to have unity even amid doctrinal difference and deviation," they say. Some are using Romans 14 in such a way as to present a contradiction (cp. Romans 14: 1, 15: 1-3; I Jn. 1: 7, 2 Jn. 9-11, I Cor. 1: 10). Consider the particulars (Rom. 14: 2; 5; 21). The mentioned faith is subjective faith and not faith objectively viewed or "the faith" (Rom. 14: 22, 23, cp. Jude 3). Let us now focus on the nature of the particulars of Romans 14 (we shall also borrow from similar texts, I Corinthians 8 and 10).
I. Any particulars today that can even be considered as similar to those of Romans 14 must meet the following criteria.
1. The particular is a personal opinion as opposed to expressed mandatory doctrine taught in scripture (Rom. 14: 1, 3, cp. 2 Jn. 9).
2. The matter must be acceptable to God either way, present or absent (Rom 14:3)
3. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and
the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him (Rom.
14: 3, cp. 2 Jn. 9-11, Rom. 16: 17, 18). .
4. The particular can be done "for the Lord" (Rom 14: 6).
5. We are not made necessarily spiritually better or worse before God for the belief/practice (cp. I Cor. 8: 8).
6. It is in the realm of liberty (1 Cor 8: 9, we are allowed to eat "flesh," krea, vs. 13, cp. Rom. 14: 2).
7. It is a lawful thing (cp.1 Cor 10: 23).
8. It can be done (or refrained from) to the glory of God (cp.1 Cor 10: 31).
II. Any particular that does not meet the description of the particulars of Romans 14 cannot be arbitrarily inserted into the climate being discussed.
A. The observance of context and the harmony of related teaching found in the remote context must be considered as part of any responsible exegesis and hermeneutic process.
B. The view based on Romans 14 that damnable error may be fellowship and that those teaching such error must be tolerated is part of the "new hermeneutic."
III. The Bible is explicit as to how unity and fellowship are experienced.
A. Unity is based on two or more believing and practicing the doctrine of Christ (Eph. 4: 1-6, I Cor. 1: 10, 2 Jn. 9-11).
B. Any doctrinal or moral deviation from the teaching of Christ calls for rebuke and the possible severance of fellowship (cp. Gal. 2: 11-14).
Conclusion: The too often view encountered that Romans 14 shows us how to have unity in the presence of pernicious error is nothing but a false doctrine. Not only is it false teaching, but it rather than effecting unity actually creates a climate of division for all who know and love the truth (cp. I Tim. 1: 3). (Preachers: for additional study of Romans 14, click on, "Romans 14, an Overview" and "An Exchange on Romans 14.")