Non-Separatist Separatists


Posted by Matt Postiff April 11, 2011 on Matt Postiff's Blog under Separation 

I've recently run into some examples of an odd situation. The basic form of it is that there is someone or some group who articulates or at least clearly practices a non-separatist position (NS). The NS then initiates some act of separation from someone who articulates a belief and practice of separation (S). Maybe it is just me, but something strikes me as very inconsistent in the NS's behavior.

Example 1: Church attender says, "You believe in separation and we do not. We have to leave." The church (S) was content to allow the church attender to keep attending (though not to join membership) in hopes that the attender would learn the Scriptural position that requires separation from unbelief, compromise with unbelief, errant brothers, and the world.

Example 2: Great Homeschool Conventions recently kicked Ken Ham out of upcoming conventions because he called out Peter Enns and other evolutionists on their views that conflict with the clear teaching of Scripture. The goal of AiG was to warn homeschoolers from the bad influence of evolutionism, and so they teach accordingly. The Convention group is not separatist by any stretch of the imagination—it includes secular and Jewish groups, among others, in its ranks, but it decried AiG's "unChristian" behavior. See Kicked Out of Two Homeschool Conferences for more details.

Example 3: In a way, it seems to me that the New Evangelicalism did a similar thing. The movement was clearly NS. It repudiated separatism from the start because it was disgusted with fundamentalist separatism (S). And though it had no resultant ability to separate from doctrinally unorthodox younger evangelicals that came into its midst, it did put a good bit of distance between itself and fundamentalism. It started schools (like Fuller) and organs (like Christianity Today). It re-entered academic, theological dialogue and social action that were not in accord with the S's. The new evangelicals might not call this separation, but it sure looks a lot like it to me.

May I make a couple of applications? Let us be careful that we do not exercise separation in an inconsistent fashion. Don't separate over small things while at the same time avoiding separating over bigger things! And don't claim you are a non-separatist if you are separating over separatism or other things you don't like. In such a case, you are a separatist, just for different reasons than the people you are separating from.

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