"Separation is being exercised outside of fundamentalism. This is a good thing."

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Alex Guggenheim's picture

A quote from the My Two Cents article:

On the other hand, men who don’t wear a fundamentalist label are exercising biblical separation, both from false teaching and from brothers who tolerate it

To borrow a phrase this seems to be an applause for the "shedding of diapers". Personally and theologically, for those directly involved, while doing the right thing in terms of making some elementary distinctions (for those that did that), have a ways to go.

JD Miller's picture

I have contended for quite some time that many conservative evangelicals are separatists, some just do not want to admit it. I recently met with a General Conf. Baptist pastor in our area (Piper type). He was curious about my separatism. I began the conversation by telling him that we were both separatists, but that we just drew the line on separation in different places. It was almost like a light bulb came on in his head as I said that. Instead of repudiating separation like evangelicals often do (I do not intend an offensive stereotype) we were able to have a very good discussion about separation and he shared his heart about how he has gone back and forth himself about where to draw the line. I think part of the reason that some evangelical non-fundamentalists react so strongly against separation is because of how some fundamentalists have framed the discussion.
I pointed out how some fundamentalists have ended up shunning non-fundamentalist evangelical pastors who do not draw the line exactly where they draw it rather than simply separating on certain levels. For example, on the extreme end of fundamentalism, a fundamentalist pastor would not have even wanted to sit in the General Conf. Pastor's office having such a discussion. In fact, he would be looked at as an enemy to be avoided. I pointed out that that was obviously not me, but at the same time there would have to be a certain amount of separation between us as far as ministry cooperation. There are some things we could cooperate on very easily. For example we could get together and pray with one another which we did that day, but I would not be comfortable inviting him as a guest speaker at our church because of some differences in beliefs even beyond the area of separation.
What it amounts to is levels of separation as not to confuse the message, rather than total separation (shunning). Does that mean that there is no one that I would totally separate from. Of course not. In fact there were people both of us would want to totally separate from. It was interesting that when I brought up the fact that I had left the Evangelical Free Church primarily over the lack of separation surrounding the Promise Keepers meetings of 2 decades ago, he agreed that they were not separated enough. That actually surprised me, but also enlightened me that fundamentalists are not the only ones concerned about separation.

Jay's picture

3. “Gospel” matters more than “Coalition.” It’s unclear to me if the Gospel Coalition sees this, or at least acts on it consistently.

I was relieved to see McDonald withdraw from The Gospel Coalition. Whether he quit or was “fired” is unclear. Probably a bit of each. But “unclear” is the perfect word to describe the official TGC statements on the matter, crafted by D. A. Carson and Tim Keller. Both this statement from a couple months ago and this statement from last week work so hard at being gracious to ER participants that they leave readers like me wondering where TGC really stands. Did they draw a line in the sand? Did McDonald? What if he hadn’t resigned? Does TGC think his inclusion of Jakes was biblically wrong, or just a differing opinion? Was there any censure, or just an amicable exit? And what about the other TGC Council Members (Mark Driscoll and Crawford Loritts) who participated in ER2? Back-room solutions to front-page problems are insufficient. I would love to see TGC leaders speak with greater clarity, as some TGC members have. Connect the dots for the thousands of people that are watching. Show leadership regarding what will continue to be a watershed issue for this generation—not just ER2, but the principles it brings back to the limelight.

I was so happy to see the above quote - I personally feel like TGC is trying to whitewash or avoid the question entirely, and I'm hoping that they will eventually face the music. Frank Turk summed up how I feel at http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2012/01/after-circus-parade.html TeamPyro :

2. The Gospel Coalition's response to MacDonald's resignation is par for the course for an organization that, frankly, values unity above the means to achieve unity (which is: sharpening each other with the truth). The dodge that they are a "center-bounded" organization also needs to be checked for its shelf-life date as this kerfuffle demonstrates exactly what it means to be "center-bounded" -- you can hang out with us as long as you don't embarrass us, and when you do embarrass us, you just have to excuse yourself and we'll smile and wave. If what happened yesterday was that Bishop Jakes exonerated himself from the charges of, as they say, bloggers, then credible people should embrace his clarifications (they certainly weren't any kind of recanting), and we happen to know of a group who are qualified to do just that. If Jakes' chat with Mark Driscoll does not finally clear things up, then what's the best way for the council of TGC to handle Mark Driscoll's (non-resigned council member) endorsement of Jakes' orthodoxy? I don't have any suggestions, but I think ignoring it is the way old-school Fundamentalists acted when their leaders did stupid things, and we know that TGC is not a group of Fundies, right?

Personally, I don't care who "is" and who "isn't" one of "us" (whatever that means anymore). I'm just hoping that TGC will realize this is a big deal and will defend the truth with grace by ousting people who would have close friendships with the theologically heterodox. So far, I haven't been impressed.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells