October 21, 2017

FrontLine January/February 2015

FL2015.1.JanFeb

The Doctrine of Separation

John C. Vaughn

It has been said that a biblical Fundamentalist is someone “who believes the Bible, obeys the Bible, proclaims the Bible, and defends the Bible.” The logical consequence of that sequence is biblical separation. But biblical separation is more than that — it is a biblical doctrine itself, to be believed, obeyed, proclaimed, and defended. Some fear that an emphasis on separation should be avoided because it is unpopular and divisive, but therein lies a great danger. Silence on any doctrine is a death spiral. Nearly seventy years ago “Neo-Evangelicalism” proscribed the doctrine of ecclesiastical separation. Today, silence on separation is a common denominator of more recent expressions of Evangelicalism such as the Gospel Coalition. Worse, some who still call themselves Fundamentalists are becoming averse to biblical separation.

Fundamental Baptists have separation in their theological DNA. Accordingly, those of us in FBFI like to connect ourselves to the driving principles of those Baptists who identified themselves as the “Fundamentalist Fellowship” nearly one-hundred years ago. Admittedly, Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International does not have exclusive claim to that heritage, but we unashamedly identify ourselves as a “Fundamentalist fellowship” in the spirit of our forebears. Without question, the family tree of both FBFI and Baptist World Mission (BWM) can be traced to the same group of men. Because both groups share the common heritage of standing for biblical separation when other Evangelicals reject it, it was natural for this issue of FBFI’s FrontLine to be compiled by a team of leaders from BWM.

To begin, the Editor provides a sampling of texts to provide a practical foundation for “The Biblical Mandate* and Motive for Separation.” Then Dr. Steve Hankins argues that “Biblical Separation [Is] A Fundamental Doctrine Mandated by the Nature of God and the Nature of the Gospel.” As he does best, Fred Moritz provides “a brief apologetic for the convictions about biblical separation and the historical context that brought [BWM] into existence” in his article “The Mooring of Biblical Separation.” Bud Steadman explains why separation is “Foundational to Missions” and therefore foundational to biblical evangelicalism itself. Kevin Brosnan answers two critically important questions: “How can the missionary church planter establish churches cross-culturally that are both doctrinally sound and culturally appropriate? And are these two goals necessarily at odds with each other?” To underscore the dangers of seeking, again, an evangelicalism apart from separation, Dan Greenfield presents a critique of the Gospel Coalition, which identifies itself as “a fellowship of evangelical churches deeply committed to renewing our faith in the gospel of Christ and to reforming our ministry practices to conform fully to the Scriptures,” yet which, as Greenfield states, “nowhere advocates the necessity of ecclesiastical separation . . . as an essential principle.”

Combined, these articles present a cogent argument for the biblical mandate and motive for separation in the context of modern ecclesiastical and missionary history and, based on that argument, an implicit appeal for Fundamentalists not to repeat the mistakes that required Francis Schaeffer to ask in “The Great Evangelical Disaster” whether Evangelicalism itself had sold out to the world.

Contents:

The Biblical Mandate and Motive for Separation
John C. Vaughn

Does separation contradict God’s command to love your neighbor?

Biblical Separation — A Fundamental Doctrine
Stephen J. Hankins

True followers of Christ are radically “God centered” and “gospel centered” but in a way far more profound than using these popular descriptive phrases simply as code for adherence to a Reformed theology.

The Mooring of Biblical Separation
Fred Moritz

Biblical principles guide matters of association and cooperation in the present theological situation.

Planting Biblically Separated, Culturally Sensitive Churches
Kevin Brosnan

The tension of the dichotomy between cultural compromise and cultural assimilation relates to the outworking of the “indigenous principle.”

Biblical Separation — Foundational to Missions
Bud Steadman

Biblically we must not divorce what a man is from what a man does.

The Gospel Coalition
Dan Greenfield

When considering a formal, organized fellowship, agreement in doctrine and practice is essential.

Extending Local Church Ministry around the World
John C. Vaughn

The Genius of Apostasy, Part Three
David C. Innes

At a Glance: The Books of Samuel
Layton Talbert

Newsworthy
Robert Condict

On Language & Scripture
Mark L. Ward, Jr.

Regional Reports
Compiled by Doug Wright

Can You Help Me?
Jerry Sivnksty

We would like to thank Baptist World Mission for coordinating this issue of FrontLine magazine.


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.