two random quotes from CH class

Here are two quotes from my 1980 Church History class. The section I am dealing with in recent posts are basically preliminary to a discussion of new evangelicalism vs. fundamentalism. Here are the quotes:

A schismatic spirit is one that insists upon total agreement on non-essentials as well as on the essentials.


Fundamentalist creeds do not include denominational distinctives.

Is there any correlation between these two ideas?

Obviously within denominational efforts, denominational distinctives will be proclaimed. Some will not cooperate outside such distinctives. Would that be schismatic? I don’t think so, as I would find only very limited opportunity for cooperative effort beyond the scope of Baptist distinctives. [Not that my practice is the standard!]

At the same time, I recognize that there are faithful fundamentalist brethren who do not hold to Baptist distinctives. My distinctives don’t limit my fellowship as much as they do my cooperative energy. I’m not going to be funding Presbyterian missions as a Baptist, although I may rejoice to hear of souls saved through the ministry of my Presbyterian friends (and family members!).

With that example, I don’t think a refusal of cooperation is schism in every case. There is a difference between cooperation and fellowship. Schism is a refusal of even fellowship over non-essential doctrines — a refusal to bid a brother ‘Godspeed’ because he doesn’t hold to exactly the same standards in the same way I do, for example. It is almost a denial of standing as a Christian: ‘you’re not a Christian because you use a different version than me.’ On the other hand, I might not cooperate with another Christian because of the version(s) he uses, but that is not the same as schism – we can still have some fellowship because we are both Christians.

Am I making any sense, or am I up too late?



  1. This is something that I am going to write something positive on in the near future, but it does need to be thought about in a positive way and not just negative.

  2. What do you think about my distinction between cooperation and fellowship? Obviously the words are used kind of loosely in our description of what we do in church circles … we might have a meeting where several churches/pastors gather for preaching and we call it a fellowship. In my terminology here, that is a cooperative meeting. And it is of course fellowship.

    But I am thinking that I can have some personal fellowship with people with whom I couldn’t cooperate in a way that I couldn’t with some …

    I am not sure my terms are the best to describe what I am talking about here, but do you get what I am saying here? Am I out to lunch, or???

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  3. I would like to think about it. The way it is in my mind now is that fellowship should occur with those we are in biblical alignment completely. I’m thinking that we automatically have a kind of fellowship with every believer spiritually, but that based on separation passages, that we don’t fellowship when doctrine and practice are at stake. However, I believe we can talk to people and encourage the right practices. That might not be technically fellowship, but it is something Christians should do. I haven’t laid this whole thing out on paper, but having preached through the whole NT and most of the OT, I have a grip on the essence of it, which is what I just explained.

    I think you are separating the two by saying one is fellowship and the other is cooperation. I believe we can cooperate with those with whom we fellowship. I don’t think we can separate cooperation and fellowship. I don’t think that means that we cannot talk to one another. I also believe patience is required because of Christian growth, so we don’t cut people off.

  4. Yes, as I think about it, using the term ‘fellowship’ is too vague, especially since we use it to mean “full fellowship” and “full agreement”, etc.

    What I was more getting at above, but didn’t spell out, was something along the lines that I could really delight in spending a few hours talking, praying, thinking with someone whom I wouldn’t invite to my pulpit or join in a cooperative meeting with. Some Free Presby friends, for example.

    And to a lesser degree, I can meet with and talk to evangelicals of various sorts, although we would never cooperate in a joint effort.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3