Separation

Now, About Those Differences, Part Twenty Two

NickImageThe entire “Now About Those Differences” series is available here.

The Disobedient Brother

Fundamentalism is predicated upon the notion that the gospel is essential to Christian fellowship. The fundamentals are fundamental precisely because of their relationship to the gospel. Outside the gospel, no Christian fellowship is possible. Christian fellowship should never be pretended with those who profess Christianity but deny the gospel (apostates). The gospel forms the boundary of Christian fellowship.

In addition to a boundary, Christian fellowship has a center. The center is “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). The center includes the fullness of all that God wishes His people to know and to do. This “whole counsel of God” is also known as “the faith.”

Fellowship (koinonia) is properly defined as something that is held in common. Whenever Christians disagree about some aspect of the faith (the whole counsel of God), they do not hold that area in common. By definition, their Christian fellowship is truncated or limited.

God wants His people to know and to believe all that He has revealed. God wants His people to obey all that He has commanded. Any failure to believe all that God has revealed, and any neglect to obey all that God has commanded, is sin. It is disobedience.

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An Open Letter from Dr. Matt Olson of Northland International University

Dear Friends in Ministry,

Thank you for your demonstration of true friendship over these past few months. So many of you have called, emailed, and written me. Yes, God has been doing great things. Yet, when He does, the pot gets stirred. Conflict often follows.

What God has been doing among us…

I thought it would be helpful for me to share a few thoughts concerning recent events at Northland as well as our process of thought. My prayer each day is that God would give us grace to work through our present opportunities and challenges in ways that fulfill His purposes for us and that please Him most. Never has there been a more exciting day to prepare this next generation for Great Commission living or to advance kingdom causes!

January 2008: I began praying for God to do “greater things” here at Northland. It seemed to me that the church as a whole had grown cold with the works of men and was crying out for the works of God to be manifest. I prayed to that end:

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Now, About Those Differences, Part Twenty One

NickImageThe entire “Now About Those Differences” series is available here.

How Important Is Separation?

Fundamentalists are sometimes wryly accused of making separation into a fundamental of the faith. Certainly, fundamentalists do emphasize separation. In fact, separation is the differentia that distinguishes fundamentalists from others in the genus of evangelicalism.

Most fundamentalists, however, would probably deny that separation is itself a fundamental. By definition, a fundamental is essential to the gospel. To deny a fundamental is to deny the gospel and to surrender any legitimate recognition as a Christian. Few among even the most extreme fundamentalists would level the charge of apostasy at other evangelicals who are less separatistic.

Nevertheless, we must not underestimate the importance of separatism. John’s second epistle addresses the matter directly. In verse 7, John mentions that many deceivers have gone into the world. These individuals deny a fundamental doctrine, i.e., the incarnation. Because of their denial, they are deceivers and antichrists.

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Preserving the Truth: An Interview with Mike Harding about the January Conference

A Fresh Look at Biblical Separation

Q: My impression is that the Preserving the Truth conference is a brand new event. Am I right about that?

A: Yes!

Q: Where did the idea for a “Preserving the Truth” conference come from and why that particular emphasis?

A: The idea for this conference originated with myself and a group of pastors that I have worked with over the years. We are concerned that the next generation of young ministers appreciate the principles and applications of biblical separatism without falling prey to the doctrinal error that exists in some quarters of fundamentalism and evangelicalism. Every other year Dr. Doran has an excellent missions conference for young people entitled SGI (Students for Global Impact) which we strongly support. We thought this conference could provide a complementary emphasis for our college students, singles, and ministerial students during the off years.

Q: There are already lots of conferences going on. What’s different about this one (in addition to differences you may have already mentioned)?

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Confused about Catholicism, Part 2

(This series on evangelical confusion about Roman Catholicism originally appeared as one article in JMT, Fall, 2008. Read Part 1).

Areas of agreement

Another area in which honesty is needed and which is sometimes a stumbling block for evangelistic outreach to Roman Catholics is the fact that Catholics and evangelicals really do agree on quite a few theological points. So here a review of some of the most important agreements will be given before the areas of disagreement are brought forward.1

First, Roman Catholics and evangelicals agree on the nature of God. At the most basic level, both view God in the sense of classical theism. What is meant by classical theism is that there is one Creator God2 who is personal, transcendent, and immanent. Note the following declaration from the Vatican I council (1869-70) which is still official church dogma:

The holy, Catholic, apostolic Roman Church believes and professes that there is one true and living God, the Creator and Lord of heaven and earth. He is almighty, eternal, beyond measure, incomprehensible, and infinite in intellect, will and in every perfection. Since he is one unique spiritual substance, entirely simple and unchangeable, he must be declared really and essentially distinct from the world, perfectly happy in himself and by his very nature, and inexpressibly exalted over all things that exist or can be conceived other than himself.3

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Confused about Catholicism, Part 1

Editor’s note: this article first appeared in the Journal of Ministry & Theology, Fall 2008. Some of the content and footnotes are a bit dated now, but the state of confusion in evangelicalism has changed little and the article still speaks well to the issue today in 2010.

Part 1: the issue explored

One of the greatest shocks in the history of the Evangelical Theological Society occurred in May 2007 when the president of the organization, the respected Francis Beckwith, resigned his position and membership because he had become a Roman Catholic.1 Beckwith, currently Associate Professor of Philosophy and Church-Studies at Baylor University (traditionally a Baptist school), had left the Catholic church when he was fourteen years old and was now returning to his roots after many years in evangelical churches.

The official response from the ETS Executive Committee was cordial, thanking Beckwith for his past work for the society, but highlighting the necessity of a parting of the ways largely because “we wholeheartedly affirm the distinctive contribution and convictional necessity of the work of the Evangelical Theological Society on the basis of the ‘Bible alone and the Bible in its entirety’ as ‘the Word of God written and…inerrant.’”2 The response goes on to highlight that this distinction involves the use of a different Bible, the Catholic Bible which “posits a larger canon of Scripture than that recognized by evangelical Protestants.” Beckwith apparently affirmed that he could sign the ETS statement since it does not enumerate the particular books of its Bible (although its tradition does), but he decided not to pursue continuance with the society because it would have produced a major debate that could possibly hurt the organization.3

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Fighting the Bantam Roosters: Baptist Fundamentalism Still Grapples with Its Colorful Heritage

Ninety years ago we gave ourselves a name: Fundamentalists.

“We suggest that those who still cling to the great fundamentals and who mean to do battle royal for the great fundamentals shall be called ‘Fundamentalists,’” wrote Curtis Lee Laws in the July 1, 1920 issue of the Watchman-Examiner, a Baptist newspaper with loose ties to the Northern Baptist Convention.

And 90 years later, we still discuss the implications of the Fundamentalist label. Back then, the issues seemed crystal clear: either you believed the Bible was true, or you didn’t. Simple to articulate and easy to defend, the idea of Fundamentalism was expressed as core doctrinal beliefs. Lines were drawn. Positions were staked. Ink was spilt, often.

But language is elastic, meaning is elusive, and sometimes words just wear out.

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