a few more notes from the Calgary discussion

I’d like to wrap up my reporting of our discussion in Calgary led by pastor Mark Minnick. Our subject was Conservative Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism, an afternoon discussion session at the annual meeting of the Western Canada Baptist Fellowship.

My first report is here and my most recent, and perhaps most significant report is here.

This post is going to be a bit of a hodge-podge, just a few random thoughts from my notes that I didn’t include earlier, but thought worthy of your attention.

On Secondary Separation:

Pastor Minnick answered it this way [my paraphrase]: What you have in the Bible are different classes of passages. Some tell you what to do with the unorthodox and apostate, others tell you what to do with the disobedient. The Bible doesn’t make one class secondary to the other, both are primary.

On Drawing the Line

A question was asked along these lines: ‘Where do you draw the line? Do you have conversations with a conservative evangelical, attend conferences, preach for, teach classes for, etc.?’

In other words, how close can one go in having some association without troubling one’s own conscience or breaking a scriptural principle?

The response to this was quite interesting. Pastor Minnick believes the conversation with those who are open to discussion must continue. Earlier in the discussion, he mentioned several names and contacts he had with them over the years. One of them seemed to not be thinking very deeply about any matters of separation at all, but Minnick is still hopeful that as time goes on some light may dawn. Others have seemed more open.  But it seems that pastor Minnick draws the line at having conversations. He said [again, my paraphrase]:

“I don’t attend their conferences because I don’t want to confuse those that follow me.”

He quickly added, concerning conference attendance: “but I have friends that do attend them.”

My editorial comment: Discernment is necessary in all these matters, of course. Even in the area of ‘conversations’ one must be able to quickly discern the possibility for fruitfulness. There are some who seem quite willing to talk about issues and philosophy (and some who will even verbally agree with you – the ‘yeah, you’re right’ response). But many of these are like the crowd Paul faced in Athens “We will hear thee again of this matter.” Yeah, right. Sure they will.

What would be nice to see is some deeds, not just words. By that, I mean deeds that would clearly mark a break with evangelical inclusivism. I mentioned in an earlier post one example of a conservative evangelical heading off to preach for a group that tolerates the ordination of women. It would be nice to see some of these guys saying, ‘No’ to things like that.

And while these conversations might be hopeful, at some point one has to discern whether they will be profitable or not. In other words, if the conservative evangelical insists on pursuing his evangelical ways in spite of much conversation with fundamentalists and much discussion of these issues, what, then, is the point?

On the time it takes to deal with some doctrines

One final comment from our meeting. Pastor Minnick pointed out that some doctrines take time and much fine parsing to be fully explained, even in Scripture. Others can be laid out very quickly and plainly. For an example of complicated doctrine, he pointed out 1 Cor 8-10, the meat offered to idols argument. That’s three extended chapters, covering several different aspects of the question. That question wasn’t an easy one to answer. It takes time to develop it, to understand it, and to apply it.

The fundamentalist position is such a doctrine. It can’t be explained in a ‘sound bite’. A comprehensive understanding of the holiness of God, of the principles of separation sprinkled through the Scriptures, and of the explicit separation passages is required. It isn’t an easy doctrine. Since it requires time and comprehensive understanding, we shouldn’t expect changes to happen overnight. [Though we should expect changes if true understanding of the Scriptural principles are sought and embraced.]


Well, that about wraps it up. Of course I have more things to say on this subject. The wheels are always turning! (Some would say the sawdust is always burning!) I’ll be adding more of my own thoughts on these things as time goes on.



  1. Is there any purest, in the sense we are 100% able to totally separate ourselves from those who we believe we should?

    “The fundamentalist position is such a doctrine. It can’t be explained in a ’sound bite’.”

  2. Hi Charles

    The way you ask the question, I’d say yes, since I think I am separated exactly as I believe I should be. But of course, I don’t think you mean it exactly that way.

    I am not calling for perfection, but a philosophy. I have fundamentalist friends who don’t see everything exactly as I do and may allow an association or partnership to some extent different from my own position. We aren’t looking for perfect unanimity or disavowing soul liberty. But we would have a fairly similar philosophy, understanding of holiness and aversion to compromise.

    As differences increase, the ability to cooperate diminishes.

    The bottom line is that in the end, I have to answer to the Lord for my ministry, for good or ill. I will make my decisions with that in mind more than the opinions of men. May God grant wisdom to make the right choices along the way.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  3. Don,

    Thanks for your report here. It was interesting. I don’t go to FBF events and I’ll blog the details sometime, maybe soon. By the way, it fits with what I see Scripture teach about separation. I would love to hear other’s comments on it.

    What Minnick said at the conference, it seems, is what we would have wanted from him in the interview. I still can’t understand why he couldn’t or wouldn’t do that. Some say that he did say those things, but look what it took for you to make him say them. You had to lay out his quote, underline words, and then explain them. That isn’t Holy Spirit boldness. Neither do I believe it represents Scriptural meekness or gentleness either.