on separation simply summed

One of the great difficulities in understanding separation is what to do with the brother who differs with me at some point but not every point. I am talking here about brethren who in the main are separatists. When brethren will separate with unbelief and apostasy and certain forms of disobedience, how are we to relate to them if they allow some forms of disobedience that I do not allow? What are they to do with me? [Of course, by disobedience, I mean disobedience as I understand it – our definitions here tend to be fairly subjective.]

For example, there are brethren who do not compromise themselves with apostasy but who will allow greater latitude in music than I will. At some points, some go so far in this area that I couldn’t support their gatherings, though I would not be uncomfortable with personal fellowship, or even with having such a man support my gatherings. [This is only an example, please don’t get sidetracked by the subject of the example!]

But there are other examples. Suppose a man wants to be a part of fundamentalist fellowship but is an active supporter of Samaritan’s Purse or other such causes? What then?

One of my sons was in a conversation with some fellows along these lines. In their defense, we must note that they are young, untrained, and not in a position of leadership. But there may come a point when their views matter, and decisions would have to be made concerning fellowship. That point is not now. But what was significant to me in the report of this conversation was an observation my son made to me:

“To be a fundamentalist doesn’t mean you have to be always on the same page, but you do have to at least be in the same book.”

I thought that summed it all up rather well. There is quite a diversity of applications of separation. Sometimes our separating brothers make us uncomfortable with what they do or don’t separate from. I am pretty sure that I make my separating brothers uncomfortable with what I do or don’t separate from. But we are separating brothers. We are fundamentalists in philosophy, whether we use the label or not.

Those who are fundamentalists might not all always be on the same page, or even in the same chapter, but they are in the same book.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

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