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Secondary Separation- Part 1

November 8, 2011

While separation itself is a very controversial (in some circles) and unpopular idea, there is an aspect of separation as practiced by Fundamentalists that is even more controversial. This aspect has been popularly, and I think somewhat inaccurately, called secondary separation. Many that accept the necessity of separating from apostasy and many sinful behaviors, strongly oppose this “secondary” form of separation.

Secondary separation is removing oneself from ministries or individuals who fail to separate from apostasy. By way of example, this is the reason fundamentalist churches have traditionally not fellowshipped with churches within the Southern Baptist Convention. Though there are many Christian brethren within the SBC, and though there are some men within the SBC who have contributed greatly to the strength of the church in America, they remain aligned via the convention with men and ministries who are apostate (i.e. Rick Warren). This lack of separation from apostasy causes the fundamentalist to view a member of an apostate convention as a disobedient brother.  The connection with apostasy hinders fellowship between believers who might otherwise be in agreement.

The reasons for this are connected directly to the integrity of the gospel and the purity of the body of Christ. The same reasons we separate from doctrinal and behavioral error are the same reasons we separate from those who do not separate. The refusal to separate from those in serious doctrinal error gives credibility to those in such error. A lack of separation helps to blur the lines between truth and error, leaving many confused as to what exactly the church of Christ believes. This confusion hinders the proclamation of the gospel.

Separating from doctrinal error also serves to point out to the one in error that the church of Christ considers their beliefs as serious sin of which they need to repent. Without that kind of separation, the one in sin is allowed to continue on as if their sin is unimportant. Ultimately, this allows doctrinal deviancy to spread throughout the church, impacting and weakening large segments of the body of Christ. Most significantly, the absence of separation from gospel impacting doctrinal error undermines the gospel. A preacher can preach a solid, Biblical gospel message and yet by his associations send the message that a false gospel is just as good as the truth. A church can consistently communicate the clear, unvarnished, unchanged gospel, and yet by its associations and fellowship also communicate that a different gospel is acceptable. This must not be! We must not, by our teaching or ties, do anything that leads to confusion regarding the gospel.

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