As has become the norm now, all conversations about separation come with long discussions about where to draw the line, what is worthy of separation. I’m going to write more about this in my next post, but for now, you often hear that only certain doctrinal issues are worth separation. This is not a biblical concept and at best it will throw a speed bump on the runaway ramp. I’m saying that it is an embarrassing half measure at best.
A new, very popular idea within evangelicalism and fundamentalism is essential or first order doctrine, that matches up with the older idea of the fundamentals of the faith, that provided a basis for the movement of fundamentalism. The essentials, first order doctrines, and the fundamentals all relate to teaching about the practice of ecclesiastical separation (if you want a biblical understanding of the doctrine, get our book, A Pure Church, here or here).
If you read here regularly, you know I've written about the above a lot. I'm writing on it again, because I've seen three different presentations on separation in the last few weeks to a month, and this has reared its ugly head again in three places that are at least on my radar. I also want to make reference to a fourth place that says something significant and positive that seemed to avoid comment almost anywhere. I explained in the previous article why I believe we suddenly see treatments of separation from unusual sources. First, let me tell you what I saw and read and make brief comments on each of those. Not necessarily in this order, first I saw a youtube video from James White's Dividing Line program, where he was defending his "catholicity" with Charismatic Michael Brown, a prominent defender of the Charismatic movement and continuationism. In other words, while many conservative evangelicals are taking separation from the mothballs, James White doubles down against it.
As is so often the case with White, really normal for him, he does not defend his position from scripture. He mocks his critics (appeal to ridicule) and uses multiple logical fallacies as a means of defense. You will not get a biblical defense, only one based on his own authority, his own opinion (appeal to his own authority), Another is argument by personal incredulity, where Jame White just can't imagine something to be true, so it must be false. He concludes that whatever point disagrees with him can't work in the elevated world of apologetics in which he travels. If a questionable person supports even one of his opponent's positions, he will present that like they are in this together, which is an association fallacy. This and more is obviously good enough for most of his audience, which shows the sad state of affairs even in conservative evangelicalism. He gives no biblical defense again, however, for the "small 'c' catholicity" he advocates.
The Grace to You blog at its website has been doing a series on separation, including Separation, Purity, and Thanksgiving, Fundamental Doctrines Cannot Be Denied, The Fundamentals Personified, Getting the Gospel Right Is Fundamental, The Ancient Fundamentalists, Is the Apostles' Creed All I Need to Believe?, The Decline of Fundamentalism, The Rise of Fundamentalism, Is Fundamentalism Really a Dirty Word?, Separation, Purity, and Halloween, Separation and Purity, and The Gospel in a Hostile World. Grace to You went from zero to one hundred in a few seconds, going from saying about nothing on separation and then suddenly piling on. Where was the doctrine before this? Why does it suddenly appear? It seems obvious that GTY is dusting off separation for usage, knowing that it might "need" it now. It's always been in the Bible. It didn't just appear this year, but GTY seems to know it must get up to speed or it will look like it is performing this biblical task willy-nilly without warning.
Number three linked at Sharper-Iron, but it was an article about separation, which linked to a now famous, 2005 go-to piece by Al Mohler, and a conversation ensued there on the subject. You would find a lot to digest and very typical of the give and take on separation today among evangelicals and fundamentalists with few exceptions.
The last of these was very surprising. It's something I've written on quite a few times, but I had not seen myself, and it came from Mark Minnick the last day of August this year. No one would have known, I don't think, that it was on separation, by reading the title, which was "Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)" -- kind of innocuous. However, Minnick is writing about separation. Read it. Minnick is arguing that churches, believers, are commanded to separate over a number of different issues, broader than just the fundamentals, and also for disobeying the command to separation.
As you read Minnick, who is enmeshed at BJU, how does one explain this (click on link)?
Enough for now. I'll perhaps come back to write on some of these later.