some questions

Since Dave Doran’s blog has no comments and he sometimes comments here, I thought I’d ask some questions.

I have listened to the audio of his first two presentations at the recent Mid-America Conference on Preaching. I have to say that in general I am in agreement with what he is teaching about ecclesiastical separation. We may differ on some points of application, but as to philosophy, biblical grounds and motivation, I think Dave has it basically right. (I am sure he is relieved to know I think so!) I would encourage anyone to listen to the audio for their own instruction.

But I do have some questions:

Dave says that one of the evidences there is no more fundamentalist movement is that we have no “Fundamentalist Council” and no leaders. Two questions from this:

  1. No leaders? You don’t consider yourself to be one? Bauder, Vaughn, Jones III, et al are not leaders of Fundamentalism?
  2. When did we ever have a “Fundamentalist Council”? From my reading of history, Ketcham, Riley, the Joneses, Rice and others took positions and some followed them. That was the movement in days gone by, no? Where was the Council?

Dave wants to use the term ‘Gospel-driven’ separation. Why this term specifically? I find it ambiguous and confusing. Dave himself has to spend the bulk of his first lecture explaining what it is. Here are some reasons I find it ambiguous:

  1. Some people use the term ‘Gospel’ as a code word for Calvinism. I don’t think Dave is doing this, but to hear some talk about ‘Gospel-centered’ and ‘Gospel-focused’, etc., they mean
    Calvinism. Why use a term that has that connotation?
  2. The more Dave describes his term, the more I hear the term “the Fundamentals”, as in “those things essential to salvation”. Is Dave trying to avoid the term ‘Fundamentals’ because so many want to limit it to a five item list? Or some other list?

In explaining ‘gospel-driven’ separation, Dave mentions that the virgin birth isn’t essential to salvation in that when he came to Christ as an 8 yr old, he wouldn’t have understood the concept, but certainly believes he was born again at that point. But… we aren’t really talking about 8yr olds when it comes to separation, are we? Aren’t we talking about orthodoxy here? That is, essential to orthodox Christian doctrine? Wouldn’t we consider the virgin birth essential to orthodoxy? Would we accept the testimony of a trained theologian who denies the virgin birth? Or anyone who, having been taught what it means, denies it?

What about the doctrine of inerrancy? Would that be essential to orthodoxy? Would we be willing to accept the Christian testimony of someone who denies inerrancy? Would we make ‘errancy’ a separation issue? Would an ‘errantist’ who is basically orthodox with respect to salvation be an apostate?

When it comes to the doctrine of secondary separation, i.e., separation from true Christian brothers, Dave posits the idea of someone who is in a denomination along with an apostate. He says that if an orthodox person in such a denomination is actively trying to oust the apostates, he would accept that person as a separatist.

So ok… would, say, an Open Theist be an apostate? Would it be tolerable to remain in a denomination that allowed an Open Theist to continue in membership? What if an attempt had been made to oust the Open Theist, it failed, and now the orthodox was just co-existing? Would that be acceptable? [This is all hypothetical, eh?]

Or how about a large Baptist group in the South. It has recently enjoyed a ‘conservative resurgence’. Were there at one time apostates in that group? Were the conservatives in that group pushing for ouster or control? Having gained control, are there still apostates lurking? Is anyone pushing for their ouster? Is this state of affairs acceptable from a Fundamentalist perspective?

What if we have a guy who is ostensibly orthodox in theology but uses gutter language and seems obsessed with the ‘shock value’ of certain subjects in his preaching and teaching? Would that kind of practice be acceptable? Is it acceptable for others who are orthodox to maintain close ties with such a person or his organizations?

Near the end of the second session, Dave sums up four positions.

  • A = Apostasy
  • B = Ecumenical Evangelical (formerly ‘New Evangelical’? – those who grant Christian fellowship to apostates)
  • C = Inconsistent Separatist (Bauder’s ‘Indifferentist’? Those who claim separation but won’t separate from ‘B’?)

He says here, “I do not believe that we should extend fellowship to any of those.”

  • D = Those who will fellowship with C – we won’t break fellowship with D for this reason, he is personally a separatist but is willing to be more open than Dave on C.

I hope I am understanding this right and am willing to be corrected. But if I have that right, I agree with this position.

I would but, say, Dever in the C position, basically. I don’t think that he grants Christian fellowship to apostates, but he is willing (I think) to have some fellowship with some in the B crowd. Actually, for me, it seems that Dave and some other friends of mine are the Ds – they’ll fellowship to some extent with Dever. This makes me nervous. But I’m not prepared to break fellowship at this point. That might be a future call, if some D brethren start looking more and more like C brethren, but if things stay as they are, I would be nervous but open to fellowship.

Does that make sense? Am I getting those views right?

One more thing: following this discussion, he takes the discussion to the area of King James Only advocates.

Dave says, “Let’s say there is someone who claims to be a fundamentalist but also attributes to an English translation what can only be attributed to the originals and therefore is undercutting the inspiration of the Scriptures.” Dave says, “no fellowship with that person.”

This brings up more questions in my mind. What is the basis for this ‘no fellowship’ position? Is Dave saying that the Ruckmanite is an apostate? That is to say, if we are applying the separation grid as Dave has described it, is that where the Ruckmanite would fall?1

So then Dave goes on to describe the fundamentalist who thinks Ruckmanism is wrong to the point of heresy but doesn’t completely break fellowship with them. Dave wouldn’t have fellowship with this person either. So would these ‘professing fundamentalists’ be like position ‘B’ on the chart above? They aren’t ecumenical, but they are extending some sort of Christian recognition to a heretic, an apostate?

Next, we talk about guys who would now be in position ‘C’ with respect to Ruckmanism… they won’t break fellowship with ‘B’ (Ruckman fellowshippers) because they are giving them some slack because they are optimistic about them. Are these guys “Inconsistent separatists”?

According to Dave’s chart above, he says he won’t fellowship with ‘A’, ‘B’, or ‘C’ (although I guess I accused him of fellowshipping with C, didn’t I!).

Dave says the ‘C’ men on the version issue are willing to fellowship with the ‘B’ men on the version issue, but not the ‘C’ men on the ecumenism issue because the ‘B’ men have the right “membership card”, not because they are consistently following Biblical principle.

Is that right? Have I got all my alphabet soup in the right order?

On this point, there are some key questions: Is Ruckmanism actually

an apostasy such that gospel essentials are being denied or sufficiently undermined so as to destroy the gospel? Can a man be a Ruckmanite and be a Christian? Are we saying NO to that question?

I am perfectly willing to cut Ruckmanites completely off. I have done so. (It actually created a little dicey situation in church yesterday.) I have urged KJO friends to do the same. But… are we saying that Ruckmanism is the same thing, spiritually speaking, as modernism? That Ruckmanites are not Christians?

~~~

Well, as you can see, I have a lot of questions. I agree with the basic grid as explained, but I still have a lot of questions.

don_sig2

Notes:

  1. Please note, Dave doesn’t use the term “Ruckmanite” in this discussion – I am using it for shorthand, because I think that this is who he is talking about. []

Comments

  1. Don,

    I don’t think there is a substantial difference between using “the Fundamentals” and using “the Gospel” as the driving issue behind our philosophy of Biblical separation. Both terms actually require explanation because each is subject to undue reductionism. You say you separated based on the fundamentals and someone will say you are only looking at the so-called five fundamentals and ignoring critical issues such as justification by faith alone. If I advocate gospel-drive separation, then I can be accused of ignoring inerrancy or the like. I don’t think it is a fair criticism in either case. The main benefit I see in the gospel-driven terminology is that the Scriptures use that term and concept over and over again. It brings the gospel to the forefront in a way that I think is very healthy. Paul says, for example, in Gal 2:5, “to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.” (ESV) By tying separation to the gospel like this, it may also help those not predisposed to fundamentalism, or have baggage associated with the term, to have a better chance to see the issue for what it is – a solid, important, critical doctrine.

    In regard to the KJVOism example, I struggled to find someone who I thought belonged in those different groups, based on issues of fellowship. Perhaps I am uninformed, but even the most strident perfect-preservationist tends to distance himself from Ruckman. He is a polarizing individual even within the KJVO camps. I think the perfect-preservationist position is wrong on so many levels – theologically, biblically, historically, and practically, BUT I think I could fellowship with someone who holds that position if they were not militant about it (meaning they think anyone who takes a contrary position must be separated from) and if they did not press this issue publically during those times of fellowship (i.e., they did not preach on it or allude to it during those time, like in a camp speaker setting, or visiting speaker setting). I don’t see that error impacting the gospel (or a fundamental, although at times it can get close to impacting the doctrine of inspiration), so I don’t think it has to be an issue of separation. However, since it tends to be an issue of separation on the other side, it tends to be a moot issue. So, I thought the version issue example was not all that helpful because I could not fill in the chairs in my mind, but I thought the overall concept that we have problems on “our side” was well-taken. As I write that, I have Hammond in my mind and perhaps they are another group, other than Ruckman, who is heretical on the version issue, and with whom “our side” has inconsistent separation issues.

    • Andy,

      I have now listened to part 3 and 4 as well as all of discussion 1 and half of discussion 2. (I am on the road at an internet cafe and have spent my morning with Dave Doran. And Beverley Sills, a little bit. One of them has a lovely voice.)

      I think you are right that separation on the fundamentals vs. separation as gospel-driven both require explanation. I think that what Dave is saying is essentially the same thing as the fundamentals, but I wouldn’t mind having him answer if and when he has time. I have to say that I really appreciate this presentation. I appreciate him taking the time to put it together and in principle form, I think he is expressing exactly what I think about separation/fellowship. There may be points where we might disagree with applications, but I think he is saying we need to be able to give one another a bit of space on that, as long as we are agreed on the bedrock principle. I would agree with that.

      I do think there are some differences I have with Dave in lectures 3 and 4, but I’ll leave that for later, I’m enjoying a beautiful day in the BC interior and am full of love in my heart! (heh, heh)

      I think Dave somewhat regretted getting specific with the KJV illustration, as I listen to the q and a, but I am curious about the answers there. And I hadn’t thought about the Hammond situation. I wonder if he would say Hammond was apostate? Not sure if I would exactly, but it isn’t a good scene. Obviously we do have some connections there through Patch that bother me (and probably some others too).

      As I was listening this morning, I was wondering something else, so if Dave looks in here and chooses to answer, I’d appreciate it. I understand Dave’s emphasis on not getting into personalities for this particular presentation. He is trying to teach a principle and wants us to “hard down learn it” as Mrs Boyd used to say.

      But I wonder if there isn’t a need for some clarity with respect to a guy like Piper. There are some pretty serious errors he is connected with. To me, Driscoll is an apostate in practice. To me, Open Theism is an apostate position. Same with the Toronto Blessing and charismatism in general. I am very troubled by Piper’s connections to these things, and I am very troubled by the hero worship he is accorded by many. It seems to me that at some point, people in leadership positions need to call a guy like Piper out on these connections with apostasy. Maybe it is just me. Dave might not be prepared to make those same distinctions as I would, but I wonder if he would agree with my assessment of Driscoll, Open Theism, Toronto Blessing, etc.

      Anyway, I am really grateful for the work done last week. I still have lots of questions and would appreciate any answers Dave might choose to give. I think this is an important step and do urge people to download and listen to Dave’s messages.

      Tracy,

      I would urge you to listen to the sessions. Dave said specifically that he thought John R. Rice was wrong in the steps he took. You may not agree, but you ought to at least give a listen.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

      • An additional comment: I think I should clarify my view of the connection of charismatism with apostasy. In listening to the rest of Dave’s Discussion 2 session he makes some comments about charismatism that made me realize I need to be more precise.

        1. Simply holding to continuationism is not an apostate position. I would say it is a pernicious error, but not apostasy per se.

        2. Dave mentioned the view that you must speak in tongues in order to be a genuine Christian as being an attack on the gospel, which would put that kind of charismatism into apostasy (my word, Dave didn’t use that one).

        3. I think the Oneness Pentecostalism that denies the Trinity is an apostate position, although I suppose it isn’t directly connected with the charismatism.

        4. I think that continuationism can slide into an apostate position with respect to inspiration when it considers a ‘word of prophecy’ to be on a par with the Scriptures. Wayne Grudem doesn’t hold this view, but he recognizes the danger. Read his The Gift of Prophecy and you will get his incredibly flawed exegesis where he tries to dumb prophecy down to just an impression, but not a revelation. He cites Agabus in Ac 21.10-11 as making ‘errors’ in his prophecy which allegedly proves that NT prophecy isn’t the same as OT prophecy. C J Mahaney and Bob Kauflin hold this view. A couple of things need to be said about this:

        First, these men see the gospel danger of continuationism, that is why they work so hard at dumbing prophecy down so that it doesn’t equal new revelation.

        Second, what they don’t see is that their argument attacks inerrancy because Ac 21.11 says “the Spirit says“. Is that statement in error? If inspiration is a gospel oriented issue, as Dave asserted in his discussions (and I agree with him), then these men are on very very thin ice.

        Since this error is so grievous, so pernicious, as I said above, I think that if it isn’t apostasy, it is a kissing cousin of apostasy and is grounds for separation in the case of most charismatics.

        Of course, that is my opinion. But I thought I should clarify and not just leave my statement out there. I realize that apostasy is a very serious charge, but if that is the first level of separation (the objective of gospel-driven separation) we need to be very careful in examining the aberrant doctrines people hold.

        Enough for now.

        Maranatha!
        Don Johnson
        Jer 33.3

  2. T. Pennock says:

    Don,

    By the time it’s all said and done, and the idea fundamentalists and the movement fundamentalists have shaken things out, I think the view of ecclesiastical separatism that will largely prevail won’t be entirely different from the separatism of Bob Jones, Sr (before Bob Jr. poisoned him with the views of Charles Woodbridge).

    I think the Hamilton Hotel Resolution on separation had it about right. And perhaps today we’re seeing, not the demise of fundamentalism as some would hope, but a late course corrrective that will ultimately return us to a more even-handed, judicious, and well-focused militancy.

    If the idea men and the movement men don’t get it settled, I fear the former will ultimately be swallowed up by the conservative evangelicals and the latter will simply die on the vine. There’s much at stake here, to be sure. And it’s not a little disconcerting to see that perhaps much of fundamentalism was built on a bubble.

    Have a good one!

    tjp