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Separation: Everybody's Doin' It

Posted by Matt Postiff May 2, 2011 on Matt Postiff's Blog under Separation 

I've been interested to watch the debate on fundamentalism, conservative evangelicalism, and separation unfold over the past months. I have some thoughts on the subject that I hope will help us stay on the Biblical track that I would like to develop over some upcoming posts. Actually, I already have three posts on the subject that you can read elsewhere in this blog.

You will have to forgive me for my somewhat lax use of the term separation. I will use the term generically for now, understanding that there are different gradations of separation depending on the case. There is the "put out" kind; the "come out" kind; the "stop having fellowship" kind, and the "don't start having fellowship" kind, among others. But even though there are different species of separation, I will, at least initially, be speaking about separation as a genus, the broader category that includes all the species as sub-types.

The point of this post is this: basically everyone is doing some kind of separation. As I pointed out in the "Non-Separatist Separtists" post, even those known as new evangelicals (who repudiate the doctrine of separation) exercised separation from their fundamentalist brethren. Others lamented how attacks on inerrancy came into the movement and how those holding errant views should have no right to the evangelical label. This is an attempt to exercise some kind of separation. Other examples:

  1. A parent tells his child to stay away from certain types of friends, or the playground bully.
  2. Dads and moms restrict their children or themselves from watching certain kinds of television programs because of sinful content.
  3. A church puts out an unrepentant adulterer from its membership.
  4. A church decides to avoid any partnership with ecumenical organizations or para-church ministries that do not share its beliefs.
  5. A man decides to cut off a dating relationship because the woman is an unbeliever.
  6. A businessman realizes he cannot continue in the close business association with an unbelieving partner.
  7. A husband decides to take his family out of a church because of a perceived shortcoming in the ministry, and to move to a different church.
  8. A Baptist never darkens the door of a Presbyterian church.
  9. A pastor leads his church to direct missions funding to some missionaries or mission funds and not others.
  10. People choose to attend or join one local church and reject others because of doctrinal differences such as mode of baptism, cessationism, continuationism, views on social issues, type of music, personal dress standards, and any number of other factors. My thought here is limited to those factors that are considered issues of right or wrong by the person. Other factors come into play (size of the church or youth group, for instance) that are not matters of right and wrong, at least as I see it, but are rather just preferences.

If it is the case that "everybody's doin' it," what we need to do is think about how consistent we are and how faithful we are to God and the Scripture.

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