A Theology Of Separation -- By: Larry R. Oats

Journal: Maranatha Baptist Theological Journal
Volume: MBTJ 04:2 (Fall 2014)
Article: A Theology Of Separation
Author: Larry R. Oats

A Theology Of Separation

Larry R. Oats1

In the last issue of the Maranatha Baptist Theological Journal I wrote an article on the Theology of Fellowship. This current article is the flipside of the earlier article. A theology of separation needs to be part of a theology of fellowship. This article will be limited to the New Testament. A study of separation in the Old Testament would be a rich study, for God makes it clear that his holiness requires separation. God removed Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. God removed Noah in an ark, separated from the doomed world. He told Abram to leave his family and country. He instructed the nation of Israel to eliminate all Gentiles in the Promised Land so that the Jews would not be contaminated by the wickedness of those living at that time in what would become their new world. When they chose idolatry over their Lord, God placed them in a foreign land where they were not only required to be a part of a pagan culture, but they were also under the thumb of those pagans, until they were ready to return to their land.

The New Testament also lays out requirements for separation. This article will look at passages that demand separation from unbelievers and from believers alike and seek to apply the New Testament teaching to the current situation. Separation in the church age was evidenced in numerous situations. The Donatist controversy in the early church resulted in the separation of a sizable number of African churches from the proto-Roman Catholic Church. The Anabaptists prior to and during the Reformation practiced both church and personal separation. The

Reformers separated from the Church at Rome and from each other. Puritans, unable to purify the Church of England, separated and formed their own Separatist churches. Roger Williams, seeking a pure church in Massachusetts, found himself required to separate from those who failed to obey God’s Word. This article will focus its attention on ecclesiastical separation, the separation of the church as a body, rather than personal separation, which is the separation of an individual from a particular body or the decision of an individual to refrain from participation in a particular practice.

Separation From Unbelievers

The requirement of separation from unsaved individuals is generally accepted by Bible believers. A century ago those who took the name Fundamentalist to demonstrate that they believed that there were certain “fundamentals” of the faith that could not be given up without also giving up biblical Christianity stood against the liberals in the mainline denominations in America. They initially sought to remov...

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