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Separation is not Secondary

October 20, 2011

Separation.  If you just said “Amen!”, then you might be a fundamentalist.  If you cringed in fear at the sight of the word, you might be an evangelical.  Separation is the key difference between fundamentalists and evangelicals. The vast majority of those identified as evangelicals are soundly orthodox in their theology- that is, they uphold key Biblical truths regarding God, the Bible, Christ and Salvation.  On these great doctrinal truths, evangelicals and fundamentalists have much in common.  The great difference between the two groups is in the matter of separation.

Separation is a Biblical command.  It is a command for individuals and it is a command for churches.  The commands for separation cover separation from individuals and ideologies. The Bible commands we separate from false teachers, perverters of gospel and believers living in unrepentant sin.  God’s Word commands we separate from sin, worldliness and fleshliness. These commands are not secondary commands or incidental comments in the New Testament.  These commands are integral to protecting the holiness and testimony of believers and the church.  In considering separation within fundamentalism, these articles will primarily address church separation rather than individual separation.  Church separation is the refusal of a church to recognize any church, denomination, organization or individual as obedient brethren. This kind of declaration, whether explicitly stated or tacitly understood, is immensely unpopular in American Christianity today.  The pressure to welcome unquestioningly all those who claim the name of Christ is almost overwhelming. However, the fundamentalist position is clear. Scriptures commands us to separate, no matter how unpopular or maligned that action may be.  We must separate from those who walk in sinful deviation from the Word.

Sinful deviation is a topic for future articles, but we must be very careful to practice separation only in the case of sin.  Whether the sinful error be doctrinal or behavioral, it must be Biblically definable as sin to lead us to separate from a fellow Christian. The abuse of separation, separating over matters of conscience or preference, has weakened the practice of Biblical separation.  Fundamentalism must practice a robust Biblical separation that clearly defines based on Biblical precept and principle the reasons for its separation.  Fundamentalism must practice a consistent Biblical separation that separates from sinful error within and without self professed fundamentalism.  To state this another way, separation must be based on deviant doctrine or behavior, regardless of whether one claims to be fundamentalist, evangelical or something else entirely.  Otherwise, we must be ready to fellowship with professing Christians as our brothers in Christ, regardless of the name they claim for themselves.  A willfulness in sin, and only that, should cause us to separate ourselves from other believers.  When we have the right commitment to fellowship, then we can practice the right kind of separation, a separation that will serve to strengthen the body of Christ rather than splinter it.

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