it’s not simple

Dave points out some of the difficulties we have in dealing with the doctrine of separation. I agree with him about the complexities we face. Separation decisions aren’t easy.

His ‘case study’ is the recent conference in Powell, TN, the International Baptist Friends Conference. His view is that it is unacceptable to enter into ministry partnership with a church and pastor from Hammond, IN. In the main, I agree with this point.

In discussing the topic, Dave says this:

My guess is that plenty of people in the FBF are prepared to overlook it. It is clear that speaking for the Pastors School in Hammond doesn’t get one excluded from Bible Conferences or have churches refuse to host your music seminars. And that reality raises the point that needs to be discussed and illustrates something that I’ve been saying for at least a couple of years now—what ripple ramifications should this have for my fellowship?

Well, that is a good question. What should our relationship be with those who don’t see Hammond as such a problem as I do (or as Dave does)?

Dave goes on to say:

I doubt that many men in fundamentalist circles will stop having any of the good men who have spoken for or along side of Jack Schaap in to speak for them. They will ignore this or explain it away. They will say that these men have good reasons for what they are doing. They will minimize the theological and ministerial aberrations in Hammond.

To be clear, we are especially talking here about Vaughn, Binney, and Hamilton. A lot of fundamentalists will continue to have ministry partnership with these men, to one extent or other.

It sounds like Dave is saying that he wouldn’t have ministry fellowship with these men, given this statement:

I have good friends who are thoroughly committed separatists who will still have these men speak in conferences or in their churches or will serve with them on boards. It doesn’t make sense to me, but the bottom line is that it doesn’t need to make sense to me since they don’t answer to me.

A logical step from this position is to say that, on the other hand, fellowship with certain conservative evangelicals is legitimate even though they may have some problematic associations themselves. But, the logic would say, we shouldn’t condemn any brethren who do this, since many of our fundamentalist brethren are entangled with these other problematic associations.

To all that I say this:

  1. The Hammond connection is a huge problem. I understand the rationale of Dr. Vaughn for attending the IBF conference, but am not entirely comfortable with it.
  2. I don’t like the connections of Binney and Hamilton with Hammond. I still use their materials, but my connections with them likely end there.
  3. One conference does not a pattern make. I am not comfortable with this choice, but it isn’t yet the end of the world for me.
  4. I am appreciative of the apparent movement of Sexton towards the BJU/FBF orbit. I want to encourage it, but I wouldn’t just enter into unreserved fellowship at this point. He does need to shed the Hammond baggage if he wants less reserved fellowship, in my opinion.
  5. The support of men like Dever for the Acts 29 (Driscoll) movement is far more problematic for me than Vaughn’s participation in the IBF conference. The charismatic confusion MacArthur promotes by his associations is likewise far more problematic.

As I say in my subject line, ‘it’s not simple’. The decisions of others make our relationships with them a matter of individual judgement. Since fundamentalism is largely an unorganized group of independents, it will always be thus. Some who wear the label won’t fellowship (partner) with others who also wear the label, for various reasons. Those reasons (and partnerships) may change over time.

This complexity is frustrating, but it is unavoidable if we wish to attempt a consistent fundamentalist testimony.

don_sig2

Comments

  1. tjp says:

    Don,

    I think fundamentalists are now considering a healthier doctrine of separation. They are finally realizing that Jones, Jr., and Jones the III had it wrong and that the clearest principle of separation was actually held by Jones, Sr., which was essentially this: that believers must separate from unbelief and from everything else the Bible says they must specifically separate from. After that, all questions of separation are entirely a matter of wisdom and prudence.

    The principle is remarkably wise and allows for both restriction and leeway. It provides breathing room for the ever-shifting relationships among believers and their associations. It puts the onus of separation squarely on the obedience and discernment of Christians and not on some contrived theory of lineal contamination. Since it doesn’t determine every boundary beforehand, it requires both wisdom and freedom in its exercise. This, I think, is healthy and will ultimately be the resting place of fundamentalism’s current unrest.

    Having adopted the deplorable theory lineal contamination, fundamentalists painted themselves into a corner. They never left themselves room for legitimate differences in the application of Biblical wisdom. Once one of the institutional chieftains determined something was unclean, that was it. The lineal theory of contamination took over and all were judged accordingly, even unto the third and fourth generation. Thankfully, many fundies are recognizing this as a serious defect in their theology of uncleanness. That is why, I think, Minnick and Doran could not bring themselves to declare Mark Dever filthy and unclean. They have shifted away, whether consciously or not, from the position of Bob, Jr., to the position Bob, Sr.

    And I think that’s a healthy move.

    Have a good one!

    tjp

    • Hi Tracy

      You know, of course, that I think you have your history all wrong. And that you don’t understand any of the Drs. Bob. But you are a good brother anyway.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  2. Brian Ernsberger says:

    Thanks Don, for your posting and musing on this issue. This is indeed the heart of the rumblings within Fundamentalism and it always has been, separation, and to what extent we will exercise that doctrine. I agree that one time to Hammond does not make a trend, yet with that said, Hammond has made some significant changes within the KJO issue. I understand there are other issues that continue to make Hammond toxic, but is there a tack at Hammond to go in the right, Biblical direction on these other issues as they have made strides in the KJO? Time will tell. I find it rather interesting that someone of Dave Doran’s standing would be speaking of separation in this direction (the hyper/fringe area of fundamentalism) and not use the same measure when referencing CEs. An inconsistent standard on Doran’s part, it would seem. Indeed it is interesting to see what all of this will do with the complexion of Fundamentalism.

  3. Don:

    I really appreciate your tackling these new articles by Dave Doran. Dave’s Tuesday night article begins this way,

    “Catching up on another loose end…”

    Speaking of a “loose end” he still has not written word one, which he promised, in regard to the John Piper “poor choices” invite of Rick Warren. Bauder, of course, has said nothing about Al Mohler and Ligon Duncan signing the Manhattan Declaration nor Piper’s invite of Warren. IMO, Bauder has no intention of ever discussing either of those events.

    Personally, I think Bauder especially has been inconsistent, which has been demonstrated to us. I think he might still be trying to wipe the egg off his face after he heaped “lavish praise” on and defended Piper in his Let’s Get Clear on This article only to have Piper invite Warren to the DG conference.

    I don’t mind if Doran wants to discuss or criticize issues with the IBFI, there are genuine concerns that deserve criticism. He is, however, clearly avoiding the same level of deserved criticism for the egregious and unbiblical behavior of his new friends in the so-called “conservative” evangelical camp. Why the double standard for separation?

    The real hypocrisy, however, is with this statement, “My guess is that plenty of people in the FBF are prepared to overlook it.” [Yet] Doran and Bauder have for [some time] now tolerated… and/or excused much of the obvious aberrations in theology and ecumenical compromises with the ce camp.

    Here is another excerpt from Doran’s Tuesday article Does the Line Keep Moving:

    “I doubt that many men in fundamentalist circles will stop having any of the good men who have spoken for or along side of Jack Schaap in to speak for them. They will ignore this or explain it away. They will say that these men have good reasons for what they are doing.”

    Isn’t this EXACTLY the MO of Bauder and Doran with the conservative evangelicals? Charismatic theology, signing the MD, sitting as chair for the Billy Graham crusade, disgraceful filth speech, worldly methods of ministry and hosting Rick Warren are consistently ignored and/or explained away.

    When you read through his new article today Everybody Has Reasons make a careful read of the last paragraph in light of the two previous. With what we have seen demonstrated over the past year or more I read that last paragraph and asked myself if Dave recognizes that he is defining exactly how he and Kevin Bauder have been operating. This is strange.

    And just onemore observation: It might be worth considering that Doran has essentially shed, divested himself of the label, “Fundamentalist.” So, as we read, we might consider that as he is speaking to and about certain segments of Fundamentalism, he is no longer speaking as a Fundamentalist.

    LM

    [Edited for length and condensed to one post.]

  4. Watchman says:

    Don, in what respect(s) is Tracy wrong concerning the history and diverging views of separation between the Drs. Bob? I saw it from the other side of the battle lines of one of their more notable intra-mural skirmishes, but from outside Greenville (at least the part of the outside where I was) Jr. and III were seen as taking a completely different position from Sr on the issue.

    • Hi Watchman

      Tracy wants to isolate his view of Sr to pre 1957 approaches, I think. In an earlier discussion here on oxgoad, my son provided documentation of Sr’s agreement and participation with Jr in the decisions post 1957 with respect to the New Evangelical compromises and its effects among churches. One has to also note that 1957-1968 is the last decade of Sr’s life, from age 75 to age 85. I don’t know for certain, but I believe he was less active in those years than previously.

      From a personal conversation with Dr. Bob III, I know that Sr and Jr were in unanimity about Billy Graham and were prepared to “lose the school” if necessary.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  5. Larry says:

    Don,

    I wonder if you might indulge us with some reasoning behind your point #5, about Dever/Acts 29/charismatism being more concerning than the issues of soteriology/bibliology/morality involved in the IFBI situation.

    I find them both very troubling, but you seem to give priority to the former, if I understand you correctly. I would be interested in your reasoning.

    Thanks

  6. Brian Ernsberger says:

    Another factor to consider in the perceived differences between the Dr. Bob’s is that Sr. was not necessarily a front line name in the modernist/Fundamentalist battles early on in the 20th Century. I am not saying he wasn’t involved but as an evangelist he was not engaging the fight like say a Robert Ketchum was who was fighting it within the NBC. By the time BJU is established (1927) many of those battles are over and Fundamentalists have left and are building their own institutions. As such by the time you get to the Jr./III eras new battles have arisen and these men because of their positions at a respected bastion of Fundamentalism are now in the fray directly in a way that Sr. was not. I would say that trying to compare these men in this regard is about like comparing apples to oranges. That is also not to say that Sr. was soft, just read some of his sermons and accounts of his revivals and it is quite evident he took no prisoners.

  7. Keith says:

    “The support of men like Dever for the Acts 29 (Driscoll) movement is far more problematic for me than Vaughn’s participation in the IBF conference. The charismatic confusion MacArthur promotes by his associations is likewise far more problematic.”

    Of course you’d think so.

    How you can justify that position is a different story. How by any non-partisan standard is Acts 29 more problematic than Hammond. How are the sane “non-cessationists” that Mac has any association with more problematic than the lunatic KJV-only crowd?

    Keith

    • This is for both Larry and Keith, since you are both speaking to the same point.

      First, the reason Dave is bringing up the IBFI is because of the involvement of Vauhgn (and Shrock). Their participation is questioned because of the presence of Schaap. If Schaap hadn’t been involved, I doubt Dave would have said anything.

      Second, Schaap was not the conference host, nor a co-sponsor, or anything of the sort. His role was not as one of the front-line speakers. Nevertheless, he was certainly there and that does make it a problem. However, it wasn’t his conference. I have much more difficulty with Binney and Hamilton due to their participation directly at Hammond than I do with Vaughn.

      Third, Acts 29 is more than Driscoll, but his presence is writ large in that organization. Driscoll is very problematic, on a level with Schaap, I’d have to say. Dever has been quite enthusiastic in his participation and support of Acts 29 in the past. He tends to consistently support works that I would find pretty questionable. It’s not a one-time thing but a regular pattern of direct involvement with a pretty problematic organization/individual (my opinion, of course). Likewise, MacArthur, in spite of speaking out against the charismatic movement quite strongly nevertheless supports well known charismatics when it suits him. You can’t have it both ways, in my opinion.

      Fourth, I would like to see Sexton move away from his ties with the lunatic fringe of the KJO crowd. He has made some steps in that direction and I believe Vaughn’s overtures to him have more to do with encouraging that trend. Personally, I wouldn’t have attended the IBFI because of the presence of Schaap, but I understand why Vaughn did. I would prefer to encourage Sexton to distance himself from such first, then join in more public support at his functions, but I don’t see Vaughn’s support for Sexton (indirectly and incidentally putting in connection with Schaap) the same as Dever’s direct support for Acts 29/Driscoll or MacArthur’s direct support for Mahaney/Laurie, et al.

      And in the end, as I said, “it’s not easy”.

      But just because it’s not easy doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to be consistent separatists all across the board.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  8. Keith says:

    Don,

    That doesn’t answer the question.

    Why is Acts 29 worse than Hammond?

    Why are the “Sovereign Grace” charismatics worse than the KJV only crowd?

    Why does it matter what direction anyone is heading if compromise is wrong?

    Keith

    • I don’t think I said Acts 29 was worse than Hammond.

      I do think charismatism in all its forms is worse than most of the KJO problems, excepting Ruckmanism and those who support it.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  9. Larry says:

    I wonder if Dever really been “quite enthusiastic in his participation and support of Acts 29 in the past”?

    I only recall Dever speaking at one Acts 29 boot camp in Chicago 2008. I have the session on my computer and I just listened to the first part of it again to refresh my memory.

    In it, he admits how out of place he is, and how the stylistic differences alone are enough to confuse people about why he is there. Dever is actually quite conservative in his music, from what I understand, and certainly in preaching. He is the reason why the last T4G used four part harmony and printed music, according to what I read.

    In 2008, he says he doesn’t know much about A29, but knows that they don’t have a lot of things in common such as the use of humor, things that are worldly or pragmatic, authority in the local church. He says to them that these things are enough to separate them from their brothers and sisters in Christ, and it may separate people from Dever now that he is speaking to them publicly.

    In other words, he admits up front that he and A29 don’t see eye to eye, and there is the possibility of confusion from him speaking there.

    Now, I don’t know if Dever has changed his view on A29. I rather doubt it. I imagine Dever is still probably pretty uncomfortable with the A29 approach.

    Perhaps you have some different information that would lead you to say he is an enthusiastic supporter.

    I also wonder what works he consistently supports that trouble you? I don’t know a whole lot about that end of it.

    But more to the point, I also wonder why Dever’s speaking at A29 with Driscoll is worse than Vaughn’s speaking at IFBI with Schaap (if I understand your point, and again, perhaps I don’t).

    I suppose this might sound cynical and I don’t sincerely don’t mean it that way, but this seems like the reason that fundamentalism gets a “good old boys club” reputation. Fundamentalists give passes to “us” but not to “them.” If your argument is that Vaughn was a one time thing and Dever’s is a pattern (though I don’t think Dever and A29 is any sort of pattern), than that holds weight. That seems perhaps the argument you were making.

    I agree it’s hard to be consistent, but we should try, and that is why Vaughn speaking with Schaap is, to me at least, a whole lot more significant than Dever speaking for A29. I don’t expect Dever to be big on separation; I would expect it from Vaughn.

    Thanks, Don

    • Larry,

      If you search my archives under Dever, I think you should be able to find it. (Although some of my older blogspot posts don’t have categories). I believe that the conference you mention is the one I had in mind. True, he is quite different from the Acts 29 group, but he was effusive in his support. He regularly appears at out of the way venues like this, as far as I can tell. I have noted a few of them here from time to time.

      Time will tell as to whether Vaughn is following a disturbing pattern or not. But that is a main component of my argument here. I also think “who is the host” etc, has some bearing. You can’t always anticipate everyone your host will invite, although if it had been me and I had learned of it ahead of time, I would have found some way to pull out.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  10. Don:

    It really looks to me like Doran (especially) from his blog and Larry to a lesser degree here are trying to build a case for inconsistency among some Fundamentalists in order to approve of the glaring patterns of documented inconsistency with the evangelicals.

    Patterns have meaning. There is a great difference between an aberration and a pattern of life.

    Dave Doran has been reacting in his articles to John Vaughn working with Clarence Sexton in a conference featuring Jack Schaap. What I believe will be a one-time event, an aberration that was unfortunate. Isn’t it possible Vaughn did not expect or intend to be in a conference with Schaap on the platform.

    I wonder if Doran might have first given benefit of the doubt and even contacted Dr. Vaughn about it prior to posting his current series.

    IMO what happened this year will not be repeated. If it is I will have a reaction to it since it will then have become a pattern.

    On the other hand, there is a clear and obvious pattern of ecumenical compromise among certain conservative evangelicals. And this clear pattern among the ce men gets what has become a pattern response from men like Doran and Bauder.

    Their pattern has been to either tolerate, excuse or ignore the doctrinal aberrations such as- John Piper’s Charismatic theology, compromising the Gospel through ecumenism such as Mohler signing the MD and sitting as chair for the Billy Graham crusade. And of course Piper’s recent invite of Rick Warren to DG, which appears to not even be on the back-burner.

    This pattern is coming from men who claim a heritage of and fidelity to biblical separatism.

    Lou

  11. tjp says:

    Don,

    In his “Without Addition or Subtraction” post, Dave wrote:

    “I have argued that believers must separate from those who deny essential doctrines of the faith. I have argued that we must withdraw or withhold fellowship from those who disobey what the Bible teaches about this. I have argued that taking the step beyond these two necessary steps is a matter of judgment for which we need to leave room for differences of response.”

    I find this statement remarkably similar to what I’ve stated Dr. Bob Sr.’s view on separation to be: “that believers must separate from unbelief and from everything else the Bible says they must specifically separate from. After that, all questions of separation are entirely a matter of wisdom and prudence.”

    Having conducted the vast majority of his ministry (perhaps 85-90 percent of it) under a view of separation that would surely make room for some of today’s CEs, Dr. Bob would not be offended by Doran’s recent tilt. The truth is it wasn’t until the end of his ministry that Dr. Bob was led astray by Dr. Bob, Jr. and Dr. Charles Woodbridge to embrace a radical form of separatism. Prior to that, Dr. Bob freely fellowshipped with Southern Baptists, Methodists, and others who maintained either membership in or association with denominations that sported apostates. That fact is irrefutable.

    Don, I’ve been reading your site now for a while, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your comments. But I’m wondering if you’re so emotionally invested in the separatism of the latter Joneses that you can no longer remain objective. Dave’s current musings about separation fall well within the framework of historic fundamentalism and perhaps even strike a much-needed balance.

    Maybe I’m wrong. But as far as I can tell, Dave is still militant for the truth but not against truthers. At some point, we need to draw in our horns and say with our Lord, “For he that is not against us is on our part” (Mk. 9:40).

    Have a good one!

    tjp

    • Tracy, I don’t agree with your view of the Joneses. But that is a distraction from our topic.

      As stated, I agree with Dave’s definitions.

      First:

      I have argued that believers must separate from those who deny essential doctrines of the faith.

      This goes without saying. You couldn’t very well be a fundamentalist without this.

      Second:

      I have argued that we must withdraw or withhold fellowship from those who disobey what the Bible teaches about this.

      And this is exactly what I was taught at BJU by Dr. Bob Jr and Dr. Bob III.

      The difference seems to be in application. Some are saying they agree with this second point, but then will make excuses for Mohler and the Manhattan Declaration or Piper and his many compromises. And then we have to say, what about those T4G men, for example, who are tolerating the errors of Piper and Mohler? Obviously it can be a bit of a circus by trying to define the lines by the “chain of separation” as some try to do to refute any real practical application of point 2. But what are we to do with Dever, MacArthur, et al, if they seemingly won’t do anything about Mohler and Piper?

      It seems that the patterns of their fellowship is in the milieu of compromise and confusion. I think that we have no real basis for ministry cooperation with men in that environment – such cooperation would confuse our people and perpetuate a stance where there is no practical difference between the conservative evangelical and the fundamentalist.

      Some might think that is a good thing. But I think that there still remains a practical differentiation between fundamentalism and evangelicalism that is important.

      Dave himself, not so long ago, on this blog admitted that he would not invite Dever in to speak to his people. Perhaps things have changed since then, but it was his stated position here.

      To me, that would be a practical application of point two, one with which I would agree. But the way Dave has been talking lately, I am not sure that he has much real practical application of that principle any more. I’d be interested to see him give some examples of how he would apply principle two these days.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  12. Should we view a preacher by his preaching of the Scripture or by the people who he has preaching for him? Does his association with those whom you might not like, disqualify his preaching?

    I am listening to the teaching of the scripture more than I am who one has in his church or where he will go to preach.

    Do you really believe God can’t save those whom Christ died for because we might associate with certain preachers? Just asking.

    • Charles,

      The issue is not simply who we listen to. We are also concerned with who men associate with. The Bible is quite clear that associations can involve you in the evil deeds of other men, even if all you do is give them a polite greeting. Read 2 Jn.

      You know, I think this is an example of where the children of this generation are wiser than the children of light. In the political arena, it matters who one appears with, who, or even how, someone is received by someone else. The president has protocols he follows depending on the relationship he and/or the nation has with various other people. He just can’t meet with some people because of the message it sends. That is why Obama was criticized for his willingness to meet with the Iranian guy (can’t spell his name) without any conditions. Associations matter. The children of this generation get it. Christians, naively, don’t.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  13. Keith says:

    “I do think charismatism in all its forms is worse than most of the KJO problems, excepting Ruckmanism and those who support it.”

    Excepting Ruckmanism from KJO is like excepting the Foursquare Church and the Assemblies of God from charimaticism.

    Keith

    • Well, Keith, that is obviously a matter of opinion, isn’t it?

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  14. Larry says:

    To clarify, the idea that I am trying to present a case for inconsistency among fundamentalists is incorrect. It is actually quite the opposite. While it is difficult and not entirely clear, and while good men can differ on the application, I think we need to seek for a greater consistency.

    If we separate from some “conservative evangelicals” because they associate with people who are doctrinally aberrant, we should also separate from fundamentalists who associate with people who are doctrinally aberrant. We should not extend them latitude simply because they are “one of us.” So we shouldn’t give Clarence Sexton latitude that we would not give to John MacArthur; we should not give John Vaughn latitude that we would not give to John Piper. Let’s draw the lines on truth, not on camps.

    I have long said that I think a major problem with fundamentalism is not that we are too separatistic; it is that we are not separatistic enough. The issue is not that we should seek ministerial fellowship and participation with “conservative evangelicals;” it is that we should abandon ministerial fellowship and participation with a number of “fundamentalists.” People see that inconsistency and think separatism is wrong. I see that inconsistency and think the inconsistency is wrong.

    While I am here, I would also say that I think conservative charismatism that fully affirms the authority of the NT as the Word of God and the standard by which all things should be judged is not as bad as much of KJVO. Much of KJVO contradicts the authority of the Bible by holding up a standard that is not judged by the Bible itself. They teach something about the Bible that the Bible does not teach about itself. A “conservative charismatic” does not do that. Obviously, there are a lot of caveats in there, and a lot of people would say, “Yes, but that’s not my position,” so I won’t pretend to address all of it.

    But there are people far short of Ruckman who add to the doctrine of bibliology in a way that does more damage than a conservative charismatic who thinks that a spurt of memory is a work of the Spirit through prophecy, when it’s actually just a spurt of memory.

    • So Larry, let me ask you some questions:

      1. Are you saying that we shouldn’t be moving towards fellowship (ministry partnership) with conservative evangelicals?
      2. Are you trying to make an equivalence between the many errors John Piper (favorable to laughing revival, tolerant of open theism, promotion of Driscoll and Warren, hypocrisy with Lausanne women preachers) and this one instance where John Vaughn appeared at a conference that also had Jack Schaap?

      With respect to the “conservative charismatics”, I would assume that you mean ‘like Wayne Grudem’. Have you read Grudem attempt to defend his false views? He realizes that the ‘ongoing revelation’ feature of charismatic gifts is a real problem, so he dumbs the Bible down and claims New Testament prophecies were just ‘impressions’ and that when Acts records that the Holy Spirit spoke through Agabus, it actually was just an impression and Agabus got the details wrong. Never mind that Luke says the Holy Spirit said it, Grudem and conservative evangelicals know better.

      I have a Hebrew word for that… balognim (that would be the plural of balogna, meaning that notion is worth at least two of them).

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  15. I’m curious about this statement, Larry:

    “Much of KJVO contradicts the authority of the Bible by holding up a standard that is not judged by the Bible itself. They teach something about the Bible that the Bible does not teach about itself. A “conservative charismatic” does not do that.”

    Not that you and I are going to see each other at anything anyway, but I do hope the best for you and would be concerned for you out of Christian love. As it relates only to bibliology, I would wonder what you consider are the things worth separating over that KJVOs believe. I haven’t had anybody pinpoint that for me that has made a similar type of statement as you made. I won’t argue here at all with what you say. I’m just interested in knowing what it is.

    By the way, I agree with most of your statement above. I don’t think fundamentalists separate enough either.

  16. By the way, I do also get Don’s point about John Vaughn. Again, he and I won’t likely see each other either, especially if I have to be a Baptist Friends conference to get the opportunity. But if I were in fellowship with John Vaughn, and he spoke at something that was a concern separation-wise, I would try to restore him first by asking him to admit he shouldn’t have been in this joint venture with Jack Schaap among others. I wouldn’t just cut him off. Has anybody that thinks he’s in fellowship with John Vaughn actually talked to him to see if he wished he hadn’t been there?

  17. Larry says:

    1. Are you saying that we shouldn’t be moving towards fellowship (ministry partnership) with conservative evangelicals?

    Yes, I am saying that we should not. Again, the focus is on ministry partnership in a tangible sense, not some mystical “going to a conference” or using a book, or some such. I am talking about partnering in ministry.

    2. Are you trying to make an equivalence between the many errors John Piper (favorable to laughing revival, tolerant of open theism, promotion of Driscoll and Warren, hypocrisy with Lausanne women preachers) and this one instance where John Vaughn appeared at a conference that also had Jack Schaap?

    No, the comparison is between the errors of John Piper and the errors of Jack Schaap. which are both serious errors that should result in separation. Vaughn appears to be inconsistent since I don’t think he would speak at a conference with John Piper, but did with Schaap. And I don’t think anyone would excuse Vaughn for speaking even “one time” at a conference that Piper had also appeared at. He would be attacked for failure to separate. But many have excused him for speaking at a conference with Schaap. I think that is very problematic.

    With respect to the “conservative charismatics”, I would assume that you mean ‘like Wayne Grudem’. Have you read Grudem attempt to defend his false views?

    Yes, and I think he is dead wrong. My point is that he is not like Benny Hinn or the likes of him. There is a clear difference. They are not equally bad or dangerous. Grudem and Mahaney are those who would say that the Bible is the ultimate authority and the standard by which these “impressions” are to be judged.

    The fact that Grudem calls “memory” a “prophecy” does not make memory a prophecy. It is still a memory.

    To Kent (and feel free to interact; it won’t bother me),

    As examples that would cause me to separate:
    1. Someone who teaches that the KJV is the only word of God and that all translations should be made from the KJV.
    2. Someone who teaches that the KJV is absolutely without error, and uses the KJV as the standard of comparison to declare other translations wrong.
    3. Someone who declares that a particular edition of the TR is absolutely without error, and that every single word in the TR is exactly as the original authors penned it.
    4. Those who claim that the Bible itself teaches that the KJV is the only or best translation (not those who do so by deduction).
    5. Those who create division over it.

    Not included:
    1. Those who say that the KJV is the best translation.
    2. Those who say that the TR is the best Greek text.
    3. Those who use only the KJV.
    4. Those who say that others translations have problems (so long as they admit the the KJV also has some issues in various places; otherwise see #2 above).
    5. Those who think everyone must use only the KJV.

    I have no problem with people who use only the KJV, who think its the best translation, who prefer the TR, etc. I will gladly fellowship with them (provided other things are satisfactory). I would preach for them, and gladly use a KJV when I do.

    • @ Larry

      I am sorry for the delay in posting. We are on the road today. We spent the morning at the Gateway Arch in St Louis and are now in Iowa.

      1. Are you saying that we shouldn’t be moving towards fellowship (ministry partnership) with conservative evangelicals?

      Yes, I am saying that we should not. Again, the focus is on ministry partnership in a tangible sense, not some mystical “going to a conference” or using a book, or some such. I am talking about partnering in ministry.

      Interesting. So would you say Dave Doran was wrong to have someone from Masters in for the William Rice lectures this year? Or that another fundamentalist seminary who is rumoured to be having a prominent T4G man in next year would be wrong?

      No, the comparison is between the errors of John Piper and the errors of Jack Schaap. which are both serious errors that should result in separation. Vaughn appears to be inconsistent since I don’t think he would speak at a conference with John Piper, but did with Schaap. And I don’t think anyone would excuse Vaughn for speaking even “one time” at a conference that Piper had also appeared at. He would be attacked for failure to separate. But many have excused him for speaking at a conference with Schaap.

      Well, I am not saying that the IBFI conference isn’t a problem. (And, BTW, Kent, I did talk to Dr. Vaughn prior to the meeting, but not after.) However, I think we are all prone to error and may make mistaken judgements at times. So I am prepared to wait and see. I don’t think we want to see a continued pattern, but we do have to allow one another some latitude. If we are going to demand absolute perfection, I think the word Pharisee will come into play.

      I do see your point about ‘what would happen if instead of Schaap, the guy had been Piper’. I think that Schaap’s errors tend in a different direction, perhaps that is why we are not getting as exercised about it as we would if it were the other way around.

      On your points to Kent (I am sure he will want to respond), I think this is another area that is not entirely simple.

      I tend to agree with your points here, it does depend on your definitions. I might not state your separation point #3 exactly the way you do, but I think I would generally agree with its basic thrust.

      I don’t want to turn this thread into a KJV only discussion as such, but I think it was fair game for Kent to ask for clarification and for you to offer it. And it is fine for Kent to respond if he cares to. But I don’t want to get into a back and forth about the merits of these points of view. Just state your views and note your disagreements, but let’s keep it to discussing grounds for separation. Does that make sense?

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  18. Don,

    You say that you agree with Dave’s statement that “we must withdraw or withhold fellowship from those who disobey what the Bible teaches about this” (that is, about separating from believers who refuse to separate from unbelievers). And you also say that this is exactly what you were taught at BJU.

    And herein lies the real problem: Making separation MANDATORY from believers who don’t separate from unbelievers. This is where the Joneses and Woodbridge messed up. By adopting a mandatory view, BJU went beyond Paul, who could have easily established the university’s position in 2 Cor. 6:14-18 if he had believed it. He could have told the offenders, “If you don’t separate from belial, then we must of necessity separate from you and those who fellowship with you.” But, obviously, he didn’t.

    I’m not saying we shouldn’t separate from believers who coddle unbelievers. But I am saying we shouldn’t make it MANDATORY. Making it mandatory not only goes beyond apostolic decree but establishes lineal contamination and the need to contort Scripture to support it. We should base our separation from believers who fellowship with improperly yoked believers on the basis of wisdom and prudence. This would avoid not only lineal contamination but secondary and tertiary separation problems.

    I’m not a cheerleader for CEs. I don’t participate in their gatherings or recommend their books, nor do I imbibe their Calvinism. I think they have serious issues, many of which you’ve noted. Yet I don’t believe fellowshipping with them on certain levels is compromise. Wisdom and prudence may permit and even require some degree of engagement. After all, they are brothers who are only lineally connected to unbelievers, if at all. Now, if you can establish that they are indeed filthy and unclean, then, yes, let’s talk separation.

    Unfortunately, the answer of the Joneses and Woodbridge to the question–What should we do with brothers who refuse to separate from unbelief?–was to separate from those brothers as a matter of Biblical obedience and thus make any connection with them a grave compromise. But such extremism has turned fundamentalism against itself. Separation isn’t only a matter of consistency; it’s also a matter of wisdom. What degree of separation may be appropriate in one context may not be appropriate in another. Beyond primary separation, wisdom and prudence must dictate.

    Paul never ordered mandatory separation from believers who refused to separate from unbelievers. Perhaps he saw where such a course would lead and therefore avoided it. By his silence he evidently left it up to believers to settle for themselves the degree of separation from brothers who fellowship with those brothers who were improperly yoked.

    Again, I go back to my original statement on separation: that believers must separate from unbelief and from everything else the Bible says they must specifically separate from. After that, all questions of separation are entirely a matter of wisdom and prudence. To make separation mandatory beyond unbelief only lays the groundwork for multiplied mischief, suspicion, and evil surmisings. Wisdom and discernment are the keys, not contorted Scriptures and fiefdom fiats.

    Along with you, Don, I believe Fundamentalism is slipping away.

    Its failure to train new leaders, correct its faults, fortify its apologetic, hold its young, recruit fresh blood, broaden its appeal, and discern the times have all contributed to the current dissention within its ranks. After years of internal negelect, it has finally brought itself to the precipice of extinction.

    As I see it, Fundamentalism can’t afford to act stupidly any more. People are watching. And what they see is a movement in disaray: leadership that can’t lead, machinery that doesn’t work, and a rank and file that stands puzzled at the old lion’s silence.

    While I disagree with those who justify the actions of CE’s by the bad behavior of some Fundies, I do believe there needs to be a thorough critique the fundamentalism’s moorings. And one of the areas that must be carefully examined is the notion of mandatory separation from brothers who fellowship with other brothers who are improperly yoked or who are only tangentially related to erring brothers. The lineal contamination theory must be revisited.

    Oddly enough, Don, I agree with many of your complaints about the weaknesses now arising within the separatist ranks. And I agree with many of your conclusions about separation. But, unlike you, I draw the same conclusions from a different foundation–one of wisdom, discernment, and prudence. To me, it’s better to say that fellowshipping with the T4G gang, for instance, is unwise and problematic than it is to say that fellowshipping with them is blatant denial of Scripture.

    Again, I appreciate many of your comments.

    Have a good one!

    tjp

    • Tracy,

      In general, I think you and I agree in application. I think we basically get to the same place but perhaps use different definitions or rationales (slightly).

      A few comments:

      I’m not a cheerleader for CEs. I don’t participate in their gatherings or recommend their books, nor do I imbibe their Calvinism. I think they have serious issues, many of which you’ve noted. Yet I don’t believe fellowshipping with them on certain levels is compromise.

      I wonder what you mean by “fellowship on certain levels”. What does “fellowship” mean? To me, and I think to the apostles, ‘fellowship’ means active partnership – monetary support, ministry cooperation, joint programs, and the like. Given those meanings, I have a hard time seeing any place for fellowship with CEs. This is due to both association issues and also theological differences and philosophy differences. One of the major problems in discussing this is that ‘fellowship’ in English doesn’t mean the same as ‘koinonia’ in Greek.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  19. Thanks for the comments, Larry. I guess, I was looking for the violations of scripture that you believed were found in my bibliology. You said your problem was that it was something that the Bible didn’t teach itself. That’s what I was looking for.

    What you wrote was informative, but it wasn’t what I was asking. You would need to separate from me over #3, since that is a separating issue for you. Of course, I don’t think I “cause division,” #5. But I would be looking for how I disobey or stray from scripture on my position. This doesn’t have to be a drawn out, elaborate presentation, but give one, two, or three bullet points. I would think you separate over violations of what the Bible teaches, not your preferences, so I would look for you to do this.

  20. Brian Ernsberger says:

    To tjp:
    I am wondering a bit about your statement of “mandatory” separation and that somehow that is unbiblical. The issue of separation, be it with the CE crowd or any other brother in Christ, is based on Rom. 16:17, II Thess. 3:6, 7, 14, 15. Paul is very clear in making the separation mandatory. In Romans the imperative is used with the word avoid. The issue of fundamentalists looking towards the CE crowd has nothing to do with the II Cor. 6 passage. Nor does it have any bearing on the CE crowd looking further left in the religious spectrum and linking the liberals, apostates, etc.

    As I am writing this I pulled down a little brochure put out by the Bible faculty of BJU dated 1980 (I think this puts it squarely in the time frame that many see BJU in a bad light) titled, Biblical Separation. I would encourage you to get a copy if it is still available.

    I realize that often the need for separation will be filled with emotion because of the human ties that are involved, yet we must divorce our “feelings” from the fray and examine the facts and then allow the Word to direct our actions. Based on the six verses listed above my “fellowship” with any in the CE crowd is clear, I cannot fellowship. Yes, it is just as clear when it comes to those within Fundamentalism with deviant doctrinal views on the KJV issue as well, I cannot fellowship. This “fellowship” is being used as it is defined in the Biblical sense as Don pointed out in his last post.

  21. tjp says:

    Hi Brian,

    Needless to say, I share your concern about mandatory separation. I believe we must separate from everything Scripture says we must. But where does it say we must separate from brothers involved in unequal yokes or only tangentially related to unequal yokes? I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a clear, unequivocal text on this matter since so much is at stake.

    The Scriptures you cite are good ones. And I practice them. But where do they say I must separate from those who are improperly yoked? Perhaps there are times we should separate from them, and perhaps there are times we shouldn’t. Since Scripture doesn’t say one way or the other, shouldn’t wisdom and prudence dictate? Must we insist upon an a mandatory obedience where Scripture doesn’t?

    I agree that secondary separation isn’t taught in 2 Cor. 6:14-18. But, as I pointed out in a previous post, if Paul wanted to teach such a theory, 2 Cor. 6 would have been the ideal place to do it. Since he was already commanding separation from unbelief, it would have been logically fitting to command separation from those who failed to separate from unbelievers. But he didn’t.

    Again, the Scriptures you reference are certainly instructive. We should “mark” and “avoid” those who “cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine” which Paul taught. But where did he teach we must “mark” those brothers (and of course all who embrace them) who are improperly yoked and “avoid them”? That idea is neither found nor suggested in Ro. 16:17. It is simply read into the text or made a “logical” extension of it.

    Now there may be good reasons for marking and avoiding certain improperly yoked brothers. I happen to believe there are. But I would be leery about making such an act of separation a matter of divine fiat, especially when no fiat exists. I know this makes some folks uncomfortable. Yet applying Biblical wisdom where the Bible is silent is often awkward. But that’s exactly what the separation issue requires, since there is limited revelation about what constitutes an improperly yoked brother.

    Again, you cite the passages in Second Thessalonians as Scriptural evidence for mandatory separation. I agree. They require mandatory separation in the matter involved. But, once again, where do they require separation from those brothers who are improperly yoked? Perhaps I’m wrong here, but it seems to me that extreme separatists have a nasty penchant for making the application of certain texts their interpretation. And what solid exegesis won’t do for them, application will.

    In the end, recruiting passages like 2 Thess. 3:6,7,14,15 to prove secondary or tertiary separation only opens the door to proving too much. Sadly, if these texts are made to prove the Jones-Woodbridge theory, then they can be made to prove anything. Extreme separatists must divine pretty hard to find in these verses mandatory separation from improperly yoked brothers.

    Brian, your comments about feelings are good. And I heartily agree. It’s not about feelings; it’s about Scriptural truth. And when I find a clear statement that I MUST separate from improperly yoked brothers, I will. Until then, I think we must leave the issue of secondary separation where the Bible leaves it–in the realm of wisdom, prudence, and discernment. This will go a long way in relieving extreme separatists of evil surmisings and unfair judgments and will, perhaps, put an end to lineal contamination.

    Have a good one!

    tjp

  22. Larry says:

    Quickly, in response, first to Don and then Kent (and I don’t want this to become a KJV discussion either. I don’t have the time or interest for it).

    First, about Doran/DBTS/Vlach, I don’t know enough about Vlach to know. I don’t know of any area of disobedience in his life, but I may simply not know about it. Onetime lectures on an academic subject by someone who has the gospel right is not a violation of Scripture, as least so far as I can tell. I would entertain that argument, if someone wants to make it, but I think, based on my understanding of previous arguments, that it will involve little Scripture at this level because it would essentially be made by at least tertiary standards (IOW, not even secondary): We can’t have Vlach because he teaches at a school where John MacArthur is the president, and JM hasn’t separated from people he should have, and therefore anyone who teaches there is somehow implicated. But again, I know next to nothing about Vlach, so I am hesitant to make any firm declaration on that. I am not saying I would do it; I am saying I don’t have enough information to know.

    Again, my issue (stated in a very specific way intentionally) is ministry participation in a tangible way. I am not sure that having a speaker in to lecture to students and pastors on a topic of importance for a one time event is ministry participation (at least as I understand biblical fellowship). I think it is pretty obvious to most people that academic contexts are different in some ways than gathered church contexts for obvious reasons. The issue for me is ministry participation. So I will be accused of being inconsistent, but I think that is going to be a difficult case to make biblically.

    Second, to Kent, only for the sake of clarification and then I will drop it as Don has requested, my understanding of your question was that you were asking me to identify what KJVOs teach that the Bible does not teach, that therefore would lead me to separation. That was my point in #1-5. The Bible does not teach that the KJV alone is the Word of God, that the TR or Majority Text alone is the word of God, that either are perfect in the sense of “photocopy perfect,” etc. So when someone says, “The KJV alone is the Word of God,” they are teaching something about the Bible that the Bible does not teach about itself, and therefore, out of obedience to God’s command, we must separate from them for adding to the doctrine of Scripture.

    With respect to your position, I don’t know what you teach so I can’t really comment. You bring up #3. If you teach that one particular edition of the TR is the Word of God exactly as the original authors penned it, you are teaching something the Bible does not teach about itself. The Bible says nothing that would lead us to identify one particular edition of the TR as “the only Word of God.” Those arguments are obviously outside the Bible, which is not necessarily a problem, but they need to be held below biblical teaching, not equal to it. So aside from the argumentative/historical/evidentiary issues involved in making that case, you are substituting a conclusion drawn from the Bible’s teaching + your interpretation of the evidence for what the Bible teaches about itself. I reject that.

    If your position is, “I believe this, but I realize that there are good reasons to believe otherwise, and those who believe otherwise still equally believe the Bible (given other things)” I have no problem with that .So again, not knowing what you believe, I don’t know. My points above were to give examples of places where some KJVOs have contradicted or at the very least added to the Scripture’s teaching on itself.

    And with that, I will drop it here to respect Don’s wishes.

    Thanks Don and Kent

    • To Larry:

      I don’t find a lot to disagree with here, except I don’t think the “academic context” argument really holds. Dr Bob got heat for having John Ankerberg in some years ago, and I think some of it came from circles who are now claiming “academic context” is just fine now… I also think DTBS’ close connection to Inter-city makes the line between church/academy somewhat indistinct.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  23. tjp says:

    Don,

    I agree. We would surely end up on the same side of most issues but for entirely different reasons. When I talk about fellowshipping with CEs, I’m talking about ministering and worshipping with them in appropriate contexts (whatever they may be) whenever wisdom and prudence dictate.

    Since I don’t find where Scripture calls CEs unrighteous, benighted, demonic, unfruitful, infidelish, idolatrous, schismatic, filthy, and unclean–which would certainly be the case if lineal contamination were true–I’m not inclined to obsess over various kinds of fellowship. If I deem a situation more to the glory of God to minister with CEs, I will. And I will do it with a conscience void of offense.

    Since my view isn’t airtight, and doesn’t prejudge every situation by a peculiar canon of interpretive certitude, it sometimes leaves me wondering about the choices I’ve made over the years. Nevertheless, I’ve come to understand that, while consistency is a great virtue, it’s not the only virtue. Being Scriptural is the chief thing. And, from my perspective, being Scriptural means separating from unbelievers and every thing else the Bible commands. After that, all issues regarding separation are a matter of wisdom and prudence. And therein lies room for growth and error.

    Without meaning to be rude, Don, your mandatory separatism necessarily leaves many brothers in the shadows of spiritual adultery. To turn man like Rice and Jones into spiritual adulterers because they fellowshipped with Southern Baptists (who remained in a convention that had liberals in it) is at best uncharitable. As I see it, they were simply exercising Biblical discernment in an imperfect world and recognizing that not all God’s people see everything similarly, especially when it comes to gradations of separation.

    While your view of separation may keep your choices tight, I would find it difficult to operate in such a wiggle-free zone. Operating on the principles I do, I may minister with CEs on one issue but not another. Or I may embrace them in one context but not another. Since I see separation in more fluid terms than you do, I may support one CE missionary in one instance but not in another. This may open me up the charges of inconsistency, but I’m not sure inconsistency is always bad. In short, my view of separation doesn’t immediately place CEs beyond the pale of mutual fellowship and ministry.

    Have a good one!

    tjp

    • To Tracy

      With respect to both your comments to me and to Brian, I think one of the major problems we have in this discussion is using the term ‘separation’ for all our decisions in these areas. I have discussed this before, but let me give a summary again:

      1. Separation means non-involvement in any way in any kind of ministry relationship. Any openness to any kind of ministry cooperation is not really separation. Separation is mandated for unbelief. Some unbelievers will claim to be Christians and may seem to be Christians in some ways, making discernment difficult.

      2. Differences between Christians may (and often should) lead to some kind of limitation in ministry cooperation. In some cases, there is really no way two Christians (or churches, or institutions, or what have you) can work together in any practical way because the doctrinal, practical, or philosophical differences are too incompatible. This is the category we are discussing when it comes to CEs.

      3. For myself, I can’t really imagine a way that I could work with CE men in the current climate. The differences are too great and would cause confusion among my people that could well lead them to make serious errors in their spiritual lives.

      I think you are assuming a little too much, both in your view of the Joneses and me as well.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  24. Larry,

    I get it. You can’t find the term textus receptus in Scripture. The Bible doesn’t teach that we can’t smoke crack pipes either. It doesn’t teach that there will be 39 OT books and 27 NT books, but certain principles have been applied. We wouldn’t say that the decision of a 66 book canon is extra-scriptural. For instance, it doesn’t say what “all scripture” is in 2 Tim 3:16-17. It does say the Bible is perfect, is pure, that every Word would be preserved, that every Word would be available, and that we would have a settled text that someone could add to or take away from. This happens to be the same position that believers have taken historically, that the apographa were a duplicate of the autographa. When there is a settled, orthodox position and then at some point men turn from that to something else, who is doing the dividing?

    • Hi Kent,

      I think you are leaving the topic with this one…

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  25. Don,

    You’re right. This is my last comment on this post.

  26. Brian Ernsberger says:

    To TJP,

    As far as separation from those unequally yoked brethren that you refer to, I refer back to Rom. 16:17. Since God has laid down “doctrine,” i.e. teaching concerning our not yoking ourselves with unbelievers, then those brethren who are in violation of that Scriptural teaching are then creating divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine and should be marked and avoided. Yes, admonished as brethren in the effort to see their practice in line with the teaching of Scripture.

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