Separatism

The Position, Attitudes, and Objectives of Biblical Separation (Part 4)

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The Biblical Attitudes

The second major point that I present to you is the matter of the attitudes that we must manifest. The first is that of devotion to God and to His Word. You and I can support this doctrine of separation upon a wrong philosophy. That is to say, we can be marked by a wrong attitude. You know after you have committed yourself to something, you do not want to back down because you lose face! There may be people who do not have any more reason to stand for some of the things for which they stand (on either side of this issue) except that they do not want to lose face. They have committed themselves to a certain position and so they will fight until they have no more strength with which to fight, rather than say, “I was wrong.” God spare us from that sort of foolishness. If you and I are not contending for this position because it is God’s truth, and for God’s honor, then let us abandon the thing. If our attitude is not right, then let us correct our attitude, because there are people on the wrong side of this issue who want us to abandon the truth because our attitude is wrong! That is a foolish solution! We must maintain the position which we have outlined, but with it we must maintain, by the grace of God, a right attitude.

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The Position, Attitudes, and Objectives of Biblical Separation (Part 3)

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The Biblical Teaching on Separation

There are three major points which the Bible teaches on the subject of separation. First, the position that we must hold. Second, the attitudes that we must maintain. Third, the objectives that we must seek.

The Biblical Position

The position that we hold is set forth in three subdivisions.

First, separation is an eternal and unchanging principle of God.

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The Position, Attitudes, and Objectives of Biblical Separation (Part 2)

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Reasons for the Conflict

This doctrine of separation is a crucial one, and it is a Biblical one. If it is neglected both in its preaching and in its implementation, I know of no way that we can preserve the purity and the power of our churches. As surely as we fail to implement it, we join hands with those that are contrary to the will of God and to His Word. The unity is destroyed, and the purity is destroyed, and without them the power of the Spirit of God is forfeited. He can move in fullness and power only when there is purity and a surrender to His will.

This doctrine of separation is a battlefield today, and it is that because of several reasons. I point out three primary reasons for the conflict and confusion.

The Problem of Extremism

First, I am convinced that there are many people who are fighting over Biblical separation from the world on one hand and apostasy on the other, because of the extremism on the part of some people that are connected with it. And when I say that, I am talking about both sides of the controversy. I deny and repudiate the charge that extremism marks and characterizes our separatist movement. I candidly admit that some, and probably all of us, have from time to time gone to excess in areas where we ought not, but I am just as positive that those that oppose the great Biblical doctrine of separation have gone to extremes in major ways. There are extremes in two basic areas.

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The Position, Attitudes, and Objectives of Biblical Separation (Part 1)

By Paul Jackson (1903-1969): keynote address delivered at the 1958 GARBC Conference.

The Bible teaches clearly that every believer should be separated from all sin, including unbelief and apostasy. We shall seek to prove this statement with the Word of God, and to show that we must also have proper attitudes and objectives in the practice of Biblical separation.

Unfortunately there are many Baptists and other sincere Christian believers who do not share the convictions presented in this article. However, it is not written in a controversial fashion, but is designed to deal fairly and constructively with a great issue that faces all of us today. You and I who hold this truth live in an atmosphere charged with opposition. Much of this opposition springs out of misinformation or prejudice. We are in such a situation, whether or not we like it, and I trust we are convinced that we occupy a Biblical position. We urge your closest, most thoughtful attention!

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Aphorisms for Thinking about Separation: Setting the Stage

Some time ago I had a long talk and walk with an older, godly, academic separatist about the history of separatism. By separatist, I mean someone who separates not only from apostasy but also separates from those who do not separate from apostasy. (I am being vague on the timing and details as the conversation was a friendly courtesy to me.)

About an hour or so into our talk, I played my rhetorical trump card—the original word for Pharisee means separatist. It cut him deep. And for first time we moved from theory to life. I looked into the eyes of a godly, thoughtful man and recognized the truth of what he next said with tears welling up in his eyes, “I am not trying to be a Pharisee; I am just trying to serve Jesus.”

I backpedalled a bit and tried to draw out the sting of my words. We recovered the emotional balance of the conversation and moved on. Yet the Holy Spirit has used the conversation and the moment of deeply hurting a servant of my Lord as a helpful reminder to speak and write carefully on this issue.

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Look Who's Separating Now

By Norm Olson. Republished with permission from Baptist Bulletin Jan/Feb 2012. All rights reserved.

In an ecumenical age when Christians are expected to shed their differences in order to achieve whatever man-made unions can be mustered, Bible-believing fundamentalists are often castigated for emphasizing pure doctrine. We’re seen as negative, obstructionist, bigoted. “Separation” becomes a dirty word, an old-fashioned idea from another era.

But in recent days a most interesting phenomenon has been taking place—people in mainline denominations are separating in droves! Three groups in particular have been in the news: the Episcopal Church USA, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Presbyterian Church USA. These groups, rather than experiencing the unity they are so adamant about, are witnessing a proliferation of new denominations or associations composed of dissatisfied members. Why are these people leaving and forming these new groups? Are certain Biblical teachings nonnegotiable after all?

Before taking a look at each of these three representative groups, one should note that the mass exodus of people from these denominations is actually not new and has been occurring for many years, particularly since the late 1950s. I spent the first 11 years of my life in an ELCA church, and I remember vividly the events surrounding my parents’ seeing ominous clouds on the horizon in the group even in the late ’50s. As born-again believers, they felt the need to leave for doctrinal reasons, as did a number of other families and individuals. The exodus continued. Between 1988 and 2008, the ELCA lost 737 congregations and 654,161 members. Some congregations lost up to 50 percent of their members. Denominations lost millions of dollars in annual giving.

Today the issue of homosexuality has become the last straw, finally grabbing the attention of church members in the fracturing groups. More than a social issue, the religious acceptance of homosexuality reveals the long-term denominational drift regarding the authority of Scripture in all matters of faith and practice.

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