Robert wrote: I think we agree that the idea some hold that all are lost that have not perfect knowledge and perfect practice of all N.T. teachings is absurd.
James replies: Yes, if we had to have perfect knowledge of the law and keep God’s will perfectly, then we would surely fail, and that nullifies God’s will (II Pet 3:9), His grace, and the security of the believer. With the teaching on II Jn 9 currently favored among the brethren, you cannot have any assurance of heaven (cp. II Pet 2:11, II Tim 4:18).
I also believe it is true that it is sinful to go beyond what is written (I Cor 4:6, I Pet 4:11). I just do not believe that II Jn 9 teaches that. If you take the position on II Jn 9 that it means the teaching from Christ, then you are logically forced into the perfectionist thinking. That thinking does not harmonize with other scriptures that permit Christian growth (II Pet 3:18, Php 3:12-16, Heb 5:12-14, I Jn 1:7). Taking the meaning to be “teaching from Christ”, there is no provision in II Jn 9 for introducing grace or allowing for the imperfection of babes in Christ. To paraphrase it, II Jn 9 teaches that whosoever knowingly or ignorantly disobeys is without God and therefore without His help and therefore going to hell. It is just a flat statement of condemnation of the sinner for all sin if you take the meaning to be the teaching from Christ. There is no logical middle ground.
II Jn 9 was a scathing rebuke by the apostle directed toward those arrogant disregarders of God’s word who were subverting the very basis of Christianity, i.e., the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. These men were teaching that Christ had no flesh. If Christ had no flesh, He could not die. If He did not die, then He offered no blood for cleansing sin and no sacrifice for sin. Therefore all men are still under the curse and destined for gehenna. It was a hideous doctrine, and John rightly taught that men who denied the sacrificial death of Christ, did not have God. Anyone who denied God’s sacrifice of His Son denied God’s love for man (Jn 3:16) and rejected the means of man’s redemption (Acts 20:7). The Gnostic teaching is a denial of Christianity. That is why John flatly stated that those men did not have God and we are not to bid them Godspeed. They are destroyers of others and self-condemned by rejecting the sacrifice of Christ. The teaching has nothing to do with a blanket condemnation of sin. You cannot get a blanket condemnation of sin out of II Jn 9 without creating hopeless contradictions between II Jn 9 and other scriptures.
Robert, this statement will be particularly meaningful to you, but I believe that the brethren’s view of II Jn 9 is one of two drivers for the current witch hunt in MDR. Because men differ on MDR, one of them cannot be right, and therefore, according to popular view of II Jn 9, the one who is wrong does not have God and is therefore lost and going to hell. Of course the other reason is not to company with one who is called a brother who is a fornicator, but II Jn 9 is a strong motivator for the brethren’s hostile attitude toward all who differ from them on MDR.