is separation a fundamental doctrine

This post commences a series of posts I intend to produce with respect to Kevin Bauder’s lectures at International Baptist College, delivered September 15, 16, and 17 of 2008. I posted earlier about my disagreement with Bauder’s view of history. (So far I have had no one challenge my recollection of the period, but that could only be a measure of the point of view of my paltry readership.) I also posted on a point Bauder made in the lectures that I thought was quite helpful.

The critical lecture in the series at IBC is lecture 10, the final lecture. In this lecture, I found several points of agreement on analyzing the current state of affairs, whatever one might think of the history that led to this point. In consequence, I do want to give credit for a very clear analysis of the essential difference between Fundamentalists and Conservative Evangelicals. It is essential that our people understand the difference and know that there is a difference! (It seems that some wish to deny a difference entirely. I submit that they are entirely wrong, and I think Bauder does, too.)

Now, from the critical tenth lecture in this series, I have twenty clips — a bit unwieldy for one post. I am planning a series of six posts using these clips as illustrative/foundational material for a discussion of what Bauder is saying. I agree with a most of what Bauder says in this lecture. I have some philosophical differences at some points, more with respect to some of his conclusions and present attitude towards what are called Conservative Evangelicals. We will have to work our way up to that.

This first post has to do with one clip and a mild objection to one of bro. Bauder’s assertions. Here is the clip.

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In this clip, [04:26] Is Separation a Fundamental, bro. Bauder is asserting that separation is not a fundamental doctrine, not a defining doctrine. A good deal of this lecture series is spent on defining ‘the circle’ or, ‘is you is, or is you ain’t a Christian’. The doctrines defining the circle would be gospel centred doctrines. Doctrines like the doctrine of sin, the doctrine of the substitutionary atonement, the doctrine of Christ as the perfect substitute (including doctrines of deity, impeccability, active atonement – death, burial, resurrection, return in judgement, etc.). The doctrines of heaven and hell, the doctrines of inspiration and so on are going to be related tangentially, at least, to this fundamental question, ‘who is a Christian?’ The doctrines that define the answer to that question must be considered a fundamental doctrine. These doctrines define the circle. If you answer one way, you are inside the circle, if you answer the other way, you are outside the circle.

In the clip, Bauder says he doesn’t know of many fundamentalists who will insist that separation itself is a fundamental. I will agree with that as far as agreeing that not many fundamentalists would make the assertion.

However, I want to make this assertion — fundamentalists should say that separation is fundamental to the gospel in this way: your answer to the question ‘should a Christian separate’ may not put you inside or outside the circle exactly, but the question whether there is a circle or not is a question of separation in and of itself.

Do you agree with the following statement? There is a distinction between who is a Christian and who isn’t a Christian. If you do, you immediately are asserting there are distinctions and divisions between people of mankind over the Christ question. This is distinctive. This is distinguishing. This is separating.

Furthermore, I am going to assert that all true Christians make a fundamental distinction or separation with other people. True Christians are willing to assert there are individuals who aren’t Christians. And at some point they will draw a line and refuse to participate in a religious activity with them.

You see, an apostate is willing to enter into an inter-faith prayer service with a Muslim, or a Native American spiritualist, or a Wiccan, or what have you. But there are some, even among those whom Bauder will mark as indifferentists (term to be defined later), who are true Christians, though way on the left of the spectrum, and very unwilling to accept a doctrine of separation as Fundamentalists articulate it, but who will say at some point, ‘Whoa! There aren’t many paths to God, we can’t count Wiccans in, there is a circle, and those people aren’t in it.’ I have seen evidence of this even in such broad minded, left leaning, indifferentist bastions as Christianity Today. Even CT will come to the point where they have to stop and say, “No, that isn’t Christian.” They see the circle, in other words, and they say, “That is outside the circle.” Some may err by drawing the circle too widely, but I think all true Christians recognize that there is a circle.

As such, I submit that there is a fundamental distinctiveness to true Christianity where true Christians (however compromised they might be) are able to distinguish between Christians and non-Christians (however dimly and imperfectly some of our more broad minded Christians make that distinction). As such, Separation is a Fundamental doctrine. It is basic to the definition contained in the word, Christian. If you are so broad-minded as to be a universalist, denying any possibility of distinctions between people at all, you are not a Christian.

Separation is a fundamental doctrine.

It is high time that we quit equivocating on this point and really and firmly began to articulate this among our people. We are not articulating that all true Christians see separation in all its permutations as universally binding. Not at all! But we are articulating this notion: if you believe there is a difference between non-Christians and Christians, you are affirming the biblical notion of Separation at least to that degree. And I submit that it is essential to any rational form of Christianity to insist that the notion of separateness is essential to Christianity itself.

We are only giving a sop to the left if we wish to maintain otherwise.



  1. This first post has to do with one clip and a mild objection to one of bro. Bauder’s assertions. Here is the clip.

    I can’t find your email, so I will ask here. Sorry.

    Why bro. Bauder?

    Secondly, how do you post the clip like you do?

    Thirdly, thanks for your work on this project.

    And you are right about the “CIRCLE”? Every pastor and church has their circle in which they will fellowship with, well most.

  2. Hi Charles

    Why bro Bauder? Because he recently taught a lengthy seminar on the subject of Biblical Separation. The subject is especially pertinent because of the current questions among fundamentalists about what to do with Conservative Evangelicals.

    While I agree with a good deal of what Bauder says, I also have points of difference. I am using this forum to lay out where those points of difference are. It is up to the reader to see whether my differences are valid or not.

    How do I post clips? I use software called RipEditBurn to copy excerpts out of audio files and save as clips.

    When we are talking about the circle in this post, we are talking about the Christian circle. I am echoing Bauder’s words on this point. If you want a clearer picture, you can listen to the whole series, it is about 15 hours worth of listening. The link is at the top of the post.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  3. 2 Cor 6:18 makes it sound fundamental.