Dispensationalism: A Basis For Ecclesiastical Separation -- By: Anonymous
MBTJ 3:2 (Fall 2013) p. 72
A Basis For
Larry R. Oats1
There is a crisis in Baptist life today which cannot be resolved by bigger budgets, better programs, or more sophisticated systems of data processing and mass communication. It is a crisis of identity rooted in a fundamental theological failure of nerve. The two major diseases of the contemporary church are spiritual amnesia (we have forgotten who we are) and ecclesiastical myopia (whoever we are, we are glad we are not like “them”). While these maladies are not unique to the people of God called Baptists, they are perhaps most glaringly present among us. . . .
We have lost the great historic traditions which have given us our vitality and identity. Seduced by the lure of modernity (“whatever is latest is best”), we find ourselves awash on the sea of pragmatism (“whatever works is right”), indifference, and theological vacuity.2
One of the traditions subject to loss is ecclesiastical separation. Violations of this doctrine come from two directions. One is the isolationist position or the strong denominational position. A church or religious organization must be in absolute or near absolute agreement with another
MBTJ 3:2 (Fall 2013) p. 73
church or religious organization or must belong to the right association or denomination for there to be any fellowship. This type of separation can take place over doctrine or church polity, but it may also occur because of issues such as dress, haircuts, Bible versions, etc. This position, while sometimes very popular, is often damaging to the people involved. It can create a false sense of superiority; bitterness and rancor are too often its by-products; and it assuredly subverts the commandment to love the brethren.
Of more concern is the movement of some of our fundamentalist brothers into an “evangelical ecumenism.” The lure of the megachurch and marketing movements, the need to do battle in the arenas of abortion, euthanasia, politics, and numerous other worthy areas, the appeal of the supposed simplicity of the emerging church, as well as the attractiveness of evangelicalism’s irenicism all serve to draw some fundamentalists into a closer fellowship with evangelical churches and organizations. Some fundamentalists have already left the fold; others are re-examining their commitments. Others have asked why fundamentalism cannot return to its early, interdenominational days, when essentially all true believers were able to fellowship together and stand against the “real” enemy of liberalism and unbelief.
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