It’s happened again. Another self-avowed Christian fundamentalist has ‘shunned’ me, invoking the doctrine of Biblical Separation. I figured it was about time to learn how I kept breaking this law so I went to a few fundamentalist (their label) websites to get an idea.
Here are two common points;
Biblical separation is the acknowledgment that God has called believers out of the world to maintain a personal and corporate purity in the midst of sinful culture. Biblical separation is usually considered in two divisions: personal and ecclesiastical.
A Biblical Separatist is a Christian who withdraws from or will not associate nor cooperate with a church, group, body, organization or individual that :
1. Includes unbelievers and advocates teachings and practices which are contrary to scripture
2. Is apostate and advances apostate teachings and practices
3. Includes believers who aid, sanction, and advance apostates by their alignment and cooperation with them
4. Includes believers professing to be Christians who disobey and compromise clear Biblical teaching.
So what does a Biblical Separatist look like?
A Biblical Separatist is a Christian who withdraws or will not cooperate with an established church (organization or individual) that 1) includes unbelievers and advocates godless philosophies and practices, and/or 2) is apostate and propagates apostate teachings and practices, or 3) those believers that aid and sanction apostates by their alignment and cooperation with them, and/or 4) individual believers that profess to be Christians but disobey and compromise clear Bible teachings and will not repent.
The most obvious Biblical Separatists out there are the ones who, stereotypically, eschew exposure to all forms of today’s pop culture (although, ironically, those things that are on the approved list were once yesterday’s pop culture)
The influence of worldliness through fashion, music, literature, the media in all its forms, philosophies, attitudes, etc., destroys the believer’s sensitivity to what is truly acceptable to God and what is not. “Christian” rock, “Christian” psychology, worldly strategies of evangelism and ministry-these and many more examples could be given of how far many have strayed from truly Bible-based moorings. Dealing with these issues is not “Legalism,” but rather it is seeking to apply Biblical principles of godliness to our everyday Christian walk and witness. Separation from the worldliness that feeds the old nature and sears the conscience is vital.
Well, that’s one thing – avoiding those cultural temptations that might pull one astray. But what about avoiding those things of the world that might, in the process, require a more significant sacrifice? What if you work for a company that is less than moral in their dealings? What if your clothing is made by Chinese slave labor? What if the Christian books you buy were authored by people who might talk the talk, but when they walk they walk over others? What if your own church’s growth has taken place at the expense of those in your community?
Why should any Christian reasonably see merit in Biblical Separation? More from the Fundamental Evangelical Association:
There are at least four reasons why separation from disobedient brethren is required by God;
First, this type of discipline is necessary in the local church fellowship in order to maintain church purity.
Obviously this fellowship is working under the presumption that their Biblical view is pure, an idea that is not always defensible.
Second, separation from a disobedient brother is for his spiritual well-being.
I think this point is debatable. The practice of “shunning” someone is hardly guaranteed to show that person the ‘light’. If anything, the person moves farther away from those who shunned him. Besides, perhaps the shunning occurs because the person realizes that the community’s first premise is incorrect. Jesus himself, would likely be shunned by many of these congregations.
The third reason for practicing Biblical separation is the desire for a “full reward” at the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is not a very selfless attitude. Leave the dissenters to their demise while content in their own deserving reward.
Finally, separation from disobedient brethren is necessary in order to maintain a strong, consistent testimony in the midst of theological turmoil and confusion.
Which allows for the security and comfort that comes with the the certaintyof knowing their spiritual foundation is stable. But if the foundation is that strong, why such concern over contact with those who may disagree? Unfortunately, Biblical Separation only points out that their foundation is not only built on sand, but is a house of cards.
In no way am I trying to evoke any sympathy for the person who has been shunned. It most probably is for the benefit of their spiritual well-being, but not in the way that the fundamentalist sees it. In fact, it is much more likely that, when it comes to booting out disagreeable questioners, these anxious church folk are a day late and a dollar short. I doubt if most of those people who find themselves standing on the outside of fundamentalist congregations are there under protest.
I wonder, why they are more worried that my heretical ideas might infect their minds, as opposed to their ‘sound’ doctrine influencing my own.