Peter Masters: Secondary Separation - When to Stand Apart

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Peter Masters: Secondary Separation - When to Stand Apart

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I liked this article,

Although I'm unsure of the exact distinction between "primary" and "secondary" separation, I agree that there are two types...separation from the world and its ways, and separation from those that profess Christ but walk disorderly. Perhaps that is the distinction and if so, then I agree with the concepts. Also, I thought Peter Masters explained things very well and was quite detailed in his article..

 

Dave.

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Well said . . .

Right now there are some preachers who possess fine presentational skills and winning personalities, and say they want to see souls saved, but who have mistakenly attached to the Gospel the menace of heavy rock, rap and other sin-stained methods. It is wrong to say that their belief in the Gospel, and their desire to win souls, is all that should concern us.

And this:

Secondary separation means standing apart even from Bible believers when they do things that maim and harm the Gospel and the churches.

As we have mentioned already, we stand apart with discretion. If a minister or church is employing contemporary material only to a small extent, we would far rather appeal and persuade, than break fellowship.

If, however, the drums are in with the full manifestation of worldliness, we cannot work together. James 4.4 hangs over the situation – ‘Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.’ 2 Thessalonians 3.14-15 must be honoured – ‘And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.’ Certainly we admonish the erring worker as a brother, but the key words remain – ‘have no company with him’.

TylerR is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Divernon, Illinois. 

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Excellent article.  I have

Excellent article.  I have been to Peter Master's church.  It is a strong evangelistic work for God in the midst of an entirely secular England.  He is an encouragement.  I encourage all my fellow pastors to read this article.

Pastor Mike Harding

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Problems

I don't think that the problem is an inability to articulate a case for secondary separation.  There's a plethora of materials articulating separation and the Scriptural basis for it.

Where I think the real problems lie - at least as I've seen it talked about here on SI - is where and when it's necessary.  Not all believers see and act on issues in the same way.  If you don't believe me, re-read some of those NIU/music threads from April or May(ish).  Or even the Mohler/BYU thread from a week or so ago.

The other problem that I see is that (again), terms are thrown out and used without definition or even basic agreement. Masters does this in the very first sentence:

Separation, secondary separation, the view of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones, contemporary worship, worldliness and cultural accommodation are the topics of this article.

So until we can agree on what we mean by those things - or until Dr. Masters defines the terms as he sees them - I am not really sure what more there is to say about these things.  Otherwise, this thread will just become another long argument about things that can't be defined or understood without discussion of the underlying principles.

Dr. Masters, Dr. Doran, Mike Harding (Dr. Harding?), Matt Olson, Tim Jordan, and I (to pull random names out of a hat) would probably have very, very different opinions as to what 'contemporary worship', 'worldliness' and 'cultural accomodations' are.  That's why I find discussions on this topic (as they take place online) so immensely frustrating and counter-productive.  We probably agree in part on some of the definitions, which makes it even more confusing than it already is.

Just for starters - 'contemporary worship' literally means 'worship occurring at the same time' or 'of about the same age'.  So it's a misnomer to even attack 'contemporary worship' because we're ALL participating in 'contemporary worship'.  But it's those tricky underlying concepts and unspoken assumptions that get in the way, even without our knowing.

 

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"It is not because the culture is always changing...but because we are always in need of being re-oriented to the Word that stands over us...that the church can never stand still." - M. Horton

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Jay, Words can have more than

Jay,

Words can have more than a single accepted meaning. Just think of the word "world." Contemporary worship certainly is accepted to mean something more than worship happening at the same time. I think you are parsing a little too close to the vest here and undermining your broader (and better in my view) point.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

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Jay,   I think Peter Masters

Jay,

 

I think Peter Masters referenced rock and hip hop worship, immodest apparel on the platform.  Basically, he is talking about those who imitate MTV styled entertainment for worship---otherwise known as barbarians being entertained by vulgarians.

Pastor Mike Harding

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Mike Harding wrote: Jay, I

Mike Harding wrote:

Jay,

I think Peter Masters referenced rock and hip hop worship, immodest apparel on the platform.  Basically, he is talking about those who imitate MTV styled entertainment for worship---otherwise known as barbarians being entertained by vulgarians.

Mike,

Just to prove my point - what do you mean by "immodest apparel"?

Fundamentalists and Evangelicals have been trying to define that concept for years with little success (that I've seen).  And I can say that without going all post-modernist "there is no such thing as objective truth". Smile

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"It is not because the culture is always changing...but because we are always in need of being re-oriented to the Word that stands over us...that the church can never stand still." - M. Horton

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Jay

That is the beauty of the autonomous local church. Each congregation gets to decide these matters on their own! Praise the Lord we are not beholden to denominational decrees! We all have our own orbits, after all . . .

I don't believe there needs to be a standardized, Body of Christ-wide definition of worldliness and compromise. As you mention, no one would agree anyway. Each church decides for itself, in accordance with Scripture and their own conscience. Each Pastor will be judged for his own service as a leader, and each individual Christian will have to account for his own activities as well. I don't have to worry about XYZ Baptist down the road; I just have to worry about my church and myself. 

TylerR is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Divernon, Illinois. 

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Lost me on the music thing

TylerR wrote:

 I don't have to worry about XYZ Baptist down the road; I just have to worry about my church and myself. 

 

But Tyler, if I understand you properly,  isn't the problem of secondary separation that you may, at some time, want to do something with the neighbor church down the road?  If a gal on their worship team wears slacks, or they once had Shai Lynne sing/rap there, and that is considered unseemly by your congregation, you must separate according to what the article seems to be suggesting.   You have a duty not to pray with them or do outreach with them, based on a fairly arbitrary standard of cultural worldliness.  Is it really so good to be so insular?

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Modesty and Postmodernity

Jay, 

Sentiment is anterior to reason. Sometimes we may not be able to "clearly define" an issue, but we know what is bad when we observe it. 

For instance - I may not be able to offer a clear set of rules concerning modesty (living in Minneapolis - is modesty the lady ringing up my groceries at Sam's Club wearing a full burqa, my wife wearing a dress to church, or the street walker wearing a heavy jacket because it is cold), but I definitely know immodesty when I see it. I am observing an object - and therefore my observation is objective. When I see a beautiful object, it is not because I feel beautiful about it - it is that the object is beautiful and has an effect on me. However, due to original sin, our ability to recognize and appreciate beauty is diminished - and we often feel and proclaim the ugly as sublime, or worse, we fail to triage between more and less beautiful, and more and less ugly. 

Let us apply the above statement to the church. Is it possible that some clothing is immodest and should be avoided by Christians? I may not be able to define it, but I know it when I see it. Is it possible that some music is inappropriate for worship? Or that some music is even inappropriate for Christians at all? Certainly the possibility is there (note that I say possibility and not reality). Is it possible that we, through the decline of our culture (see the documentary link below) are worse prepared than previous generations to point out the beautiful vs. the less beautiful - and that this cultural decline has reached our churches? I would think so. 

My conclusion: Postmodern aesthetic relativism is not the answer. Tradition is - but that is a topic for another conversation at another time.

 

http://documentaryaddict.com/Why+Beauty+Matters-542-documentary.html

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Maybe you missed my point

Sentiment is anterior to reason. Sometimes we may not be able to "clearly define" an issue, but we know what is bad when we observe it.

...Let us apply the above statement to the church. Is it possible that some clothing is immodest and should be avoided by Christians? I may not be able to define it, but I know it when I see it. Is it possible that some music is inappropriate for worship? Or that some music is even inappropriate for Christians at all?

...My conclusion: Postmodern aesthetic relativism is not the answer. Tradition is - but that is a topic for another conversation at another time.

CA,

No, postmodern relativism is not the answer.  I said that in my post on the 7th.

My point - and my only point - was that it does little good to get online and talk about concepts like "contemporary worship", "worldliness", "cultural accomodation", or "immodest apparel" without explaining what he means by those terms.   I'm sure that women in my office wear things that would offend the sensibilities of some on this discussion board, and while I don't like it, I don't think you can argue it's "immodest".

As for tradition being the answer, I would disagree with you there.  Traditions have their place, but they can become rote and meaningless straightjackets if they are the source of answers (see just about any argument Jesus had with the religious leaders of his day).  Furthermore, Believers are encouraged repeatedly in the NT to weigh things for themselves and decide what is good or not good by that standard; the only traditions that Paul encourages the believers to retain is the teaching that he handed down to them.   I have a quote in my sig by Michael Horton that discusses that - the only standard of truth that we must obey is the Word, and we must continually be recalibrating our lives by that compass.  As a result, it is incumbent on each generation of believers to use that Word to weight whatever concept is being discussed.  But until we can agree on what we're defining, what good does it to say it is 'bad'?  Otherwise, we all agree that 'worldliness' is bad - but we're all going to wind up practicing that differently and online discussions of those terms are going to turn into chaotic messes (unless your audience already agrees with you, in which case I think you can argue that writing about it may not serve any real purpose).  The Amish are against worldliness too - would you agree with their definition?  Or the Puritans - do you really want to live your life by their standard of it?

We need to be diligent to do the heavy spadework of defining these things objectively from Scripture before we can just jump to the fun part of preaching against them and declaring them to be 'wrong'.

Furthermore - I think that a BIG part of the problem that Fundamentalism has is that they continually sought solace in their 'traditions', and then the young fundamentalists woke up and realized that the traditions didn't make sense anymore, so they left.  Why avoid the movie theater when you can get the movie streamed directly to your computer? 

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"It is not because the culture is always changing...but because we are always in need of being re-oriented to the Word that stands over us...that the church can never stand still." - M. Horton

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Wayne

Sorry if I gave the impression I want to be completely insular. That is not what I meant! My point was aimed at Jay's assertion that what to separate over is ultimately subjective. I disagree with him, issues of separation flow directly from Scripture; however, we must honestly admit good men do not see eye to eye on everything. Each church operates in it's own orbit of like-minded churches, fellowships, etc. All I can do, all any of us can do, is follow Biblical principles and commandments in the most honest way we can within our own spheres.

I don't have to reach consensus with every Christian in the world on what is "worldly" and what isn't. I never would anyway. I don't need to find that consensus. Each church should be autonomous, and can make it's own decisions in that regard. Each church will naturally gravitate towards other like-minded churches for fellowship, etc.

So, I'm not trying to be insular, but at the same time, I'm not terribly interested in reaching a diverse consensus. It would be nice, but it is meaningless to me.

I know I'm not explaining myself too well; I'm moving and taking a break from carrying boxes outside to a moving truck. Don't have too much time to elaborate. I'll get back later to add some more.

 

 

TylerR is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Divernon, Illinois. 

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Confused

My point was aimed at Jay's assertion that what to separate over is ultimately subjective. I disagree with him, issues of separation flow directly from Scripture; however, we must honestly admit good men do not see eye to eye on everything. Each church operates in it's own orbit of like-minded churches, fellowships, etc. All I can do, all any of us can do, is follow Biblical principles and commandments in the most honest way we can within our own spheres.

I'm not sure where the disagreement lies, Tyler, but maybe we can discuss that further when you finish moving boxes.

Again, I think the issue is that you're equating the terms I used ("immodest", "worldliness", "contemporary worship", and "cultural accomodation" with Scripture.  I'm pushing for more clarity in definitions before I can say that agree or disagree with Dr. Masters' article.

As another, less inflammatory, example - some would decry the use of PowerPoint and projectors in church services as "cultural accommodation" and sin.  I wouldn't go that far, because I see the merit in projecting the hymn lyrics and sermon notes for the congregation, and I can't say that it's sin because I don't see any Biblical principle that would say to use projectors or PowerPoint is sin.

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"It is not because the culture is always changing...but because we are always in need of being re-oriented to the Word that stands over us...that the church can never stand still." - M. Horton

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Jay

I won't be able to contribute too much more to this thread. I'm sitting in a now empty house that I have to clean!

I understand that you're seeking clarity of definitions, and I agree wholeheartedly that each man has to do the "heavy spadework" to come to appropriate conclusions. The issue, I believe, is that so often these matters come down to interpretation of broad Biblical principles, not clear commands of Scripture.

When there is no "thus saith the Lord," then we have to tread very carefully when using the term "separation." This is a negative term, used in the context of disobedience to Scripture. If we're dealing in the realm of implementation of principles, rather than explicit commands, we may choose not to fellowship, but I doubt we can call another man "Scripturally disobedient." Masters' article was short, therefore necessarily broad-brush. His point is sound - we sometimes must separate from disobedient brethren. The specifics of each situation are different, but the basic point stands.

The abstract nature of implementing broad Biblical principles means we will never all see eye to eye. This is why I despair of trying to reach consensus on definitions. I suspect if you do a search here on SI for "music," "dress standards," or any other flash-point issues, you'll see threads that go on, and on, and on . . . . They'll continue to go on long after I'm dead. So, I resolve to just speak my peace in my little corner of the world, and charitably explain myself to these who ask my opinion.

For Peter Masters, I suspect that he sees "worldliness" in much the same way I do. I do think he shows his age by bemoaning "rock music;" I think Miley Cyrus' antics are a much more relevant musical complaint in these modern times . . . ! I am very "old school" in music, dress, deportment and in worship in general. My metric for these matters is the holiness of God and the reverence and honor due to Him. If we consider how "prepared" the OT priest had to be to approach God, then today, as individual "priests" before God, we ought to approach Him with similar reverence and sobriety in corporate and personal worship. That is my two cents, and why I basically agree with his article.

Got to go vacuum! I'll check back later . . .

QUICK NOTE:

I just read another SI article which discusses alcohol. Larry asked Jim, specifically, if a Christian is Scripturally disobedient if he drinks. This is precisely what I'm talking about! I agree with Jim's response there and respond "no," but I strenuously suggest a Christian never drink. The overwhelming preponderance of Scripture suggests abstinence, but I can't get around John 2 myself. I may choose to not fellowship with a Christian who drinks (it depends), but I would stop short of calling him Scripturally disobedient and in sin. So, no so-called "secondary separation" there.

This is usually the point where Greg Linscott will pop in and ask something insightful, like whether my church covenant prohibits alcoholic drinking . . .  

 

TylerR is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Divernon, Illinois.