October 19, 2017

Axioms of Separation–Chapter 3 (Part 2)

The late Dr. John Ashbrook, long–time pastor of Bible Community Church in Mentor, Ohio, wrote a little book calledAxioms of Separation. The current publisher has kindly given us permission to serialize the book here on Proclaim & Defend.

(Links to previous articles in the series below.)

Axioms of Separation
John Ashbrook

Chapter III

PRACTICING SEPARATION PRACTICALLY

(This post concludes chapter three – the first part of the chapter is here.)

AXIOM #8: DO NOT AFFILIATE YOUR CHURCH WITH ANY CHURCH, MISSION, MOVEMENT OR EVANGELISTIC EFFORT WHICH DOES NOT PRACTICE BIBLICAL SEPARATION. Missions, movements and evangelistic efforts will come to you seeking your support. Some of them will appear to have good policies, but they do not want to declare themselves separatists. Beware! Actively reproving apostasy is a part of Biblical separation. If any group will not pay that price it will lead to the assembling of a mixed multitude.

SILENT ON SEPARATION SEMINARS

Seminars for God’s people are big these days. There are church growth seminars, counselling seminars, and things like The Institute of Basic Youth Conflicts. Most of these seminars multiply registrations by appealing to a broad clientele. They take no stand on separation from apostasy and compromise. As a result, the fundamentalist enticed to the seminar may have a Methodist on the right, a Catholic priest on the left and new evangelicals fore and aft. The seminars assemble the Billy Graham ecumenical crowd with fundamentalists added. Why does that crowd feel comfortable together? There is no note of reproving apostasy. It has been quietly agreed that, for the sake of the ministry, Ephesians 5:11 will not be practiced.

The Gideons are a good example of the problem. Putting Bibles in hotel rooms is a good cause. However, the Gideons usually want to be in the First Fundamental Church on Sunday evening after being in the First Modernistic Church on Sunday morning. (It has to be in that order, for the modernistic church does not have an evening service.) Allowing them to bridge the gulf of separation says to the whole community, “Fundamental churches and modernistic churches are about the same … they support the same things.”

A few years ago the Moral Majority was the rage. The expressed goals of the group appealed to fundamentalists who were against pornography, homosexuality and abortion and were for restoring morality, strengthening defense and opposing communism. Why not join it? Answer: It would not practice Biblical separation. Any fundamentalist knows that we are a minority. You cannot practice Biblical separation and build a majority because we are a minority. The world’s way is always to win with a majority. Stop to think for a moment. Can you name anytime in Scripture where God followed that policy? Charles Spurgeon said: “long ago I ceased to count heads. Truth is usually in the minority in this evil world.” The battles of Scripture were always won by an obedient minority, not a diverse majority. Do not affiliate your church with any church, mission, movement or evangelistic effort which does not practice Biblical separation.

Let me introduce another axiom right here. Perhaps it is not really another. It is almost a corollary of the previous axiom.

AXIOM #9: YOU CANNOT PRESERVE A POSITION WITHOUT CRUSADING FOR IT. Thirty years ago, as a young man, I was elected to the Executive Committee of the Independent Fundamental Churches of America. A new president was elected at the same time. The new president, a godly man, professed to believe in separation. He said that he wanted to keep the group clean, but that there had been too much talk about apostasy and separation. He declared that the group should take a stand quietly, without being offensive. Under that leadership the I FCA ceased to be an outspoken fundamentalist group in the front rank of the battle. “Be positive” is one of the world’s watchwords. Trying to take a stand, while remaining all positive, is the halfway house between fundamentalism and new evangelicalism. It always leads to the weaker position, not the stronger one.

Thousands of churches have fallen to new evangelicalism while trying to be silent fundamentalists. People and groups like Billy Graham, Christianity Today, the National Association of Evangelicals, the World Evangelical Fellowship, the Evangelical Foreign Missions Association, the Interdenominational Foreign Missions Association, Wheaton College and Fuller Seminary have put on a massive blitz to sell the Christian world on new evangelicalism. Fundamentalism met this blitz with a great silence. Some voices were raised; but the majority of fundamentalists tried to maintain their position by standing silently. The Bible believing church was stolen by vocal new evangelicalism. You cannot preserve a position without crusading for it.

TIGERS TO PUSSY CATS

In the early days of fundamentalism its leaders were known as being “fighting fundamentalists.” The fundamentalists were namers of names. They identified liberals. They quoted their infidelity. They reproved apostasy. New evangelicalism criticized that. They accused fundamentalists of being unkind to the liberals. They said that it was wrong to name names. Under the pressure of this criticism many of the tigers of fighting fundamentalism have turned into the pussy cats of quiet fundamentalism. Many a quiet fundamentalist now purrs on the hearth of new evangelicalism. The last forty years of church history prove that you cannot preserve a position without crusading for it.

AXIOM #10: WHEN IN DOUBT, DON’T JOIN. I believe that every Christian ought to be a member of a Bible-believing church. If there is not one he can conscientiously join, he ought to be the spark to start one. Beyond that, what do you have to join? Satan is a joiner. He is always associating, affiliating, amalgamating to put together his one-world religious system. Thousands of invitations to join are his opportunities to compromise.

How does God usually guide us in this age? Does He guide by visions, dreams, circumstances or neon signs? No. As we read God’s Word and pray about a decision, God gives, or withholds, His peace in that matter. What I am saying is that if you do not have perfect peace about it, don’t join. You don’t have to join anything. You will never have to apologize for what you don’t join.

In any area there are fellowship groups, Christian school groups, legal groups, and moral cause groups. I am not saying that all of these are bad. If there is no obvious Scriptural reason why you should not join, pray about it and think it through Biblically. Then, if you are not at peace about the whole thing, don’t join.

Next in this series: Axioms – Chapter 4


Dr. John Ashbrook served the Lord for many years as pastor of Bible Community Church of Mentor, OH. His ministry made a strong contribution to Biblical fundamentalism.


Previously on P&D:


Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

Submit other comments here.