Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Print Page What Is Biblical Separation?

One of the major things lacking in fundamental circles is the practice of separation. Without the practice of separation a church or school will eventually become New Evangelicals. New or "neo-evangelicalism" was termed by Harold Ockenga in 1948 and is defined as "a rejection of separatism".

As an example I will use Northland International University (formerly Northland Baptist Bible College) in Dunbar, Wisconsin as an example. The school is popular in fundamental circles in the north central part of the country. Many fundamental churches send their people to the school. The school use to take fundamental stances on things such as music and separation. For example when it comes to music their stance use to be:
We avoid music classified as ‘Contemporary Christian Music’- sacred music which is written or performed in a popular or worldly style. These styles include rock, Blues, Jazz, “big band,” rap, New Age, and other styles normally associated with worldly entertainment or dancing. We also avoid “pop” or rock arrangements. Some styles of secular music, such as classical music, marching band music, fun songs, or traditional folk songs may be appropriate for certain occasions. However, some styles, such as jazz, rock, rap, punk, dance band, or New Age are never considered appropriate.”  
Even now the school claims a fundamentalist stance when it comes to separation and the Charismatic Movement:
The university’s position is not to cooperate with any organization or movement that is connected with apostasy or that places less than primary emphasis on the authority of the Word of God. Northland International University does not accept the philosophy, position, or practice of the National Council of Churches in America or the World Council of Churches. Furthermore, Northland is opposed to Liberalism, Neo-Orthodoxy, New Evangelicalism, Hyper-Calvinism, and the Charismatic Movement.” (Ecclesiastical Separation, p.9.)  
“We believe God has given spiritual gifts to Christians to serve in and through the local church. Every believer has at least one gift, and the use of the gifts is always for the ultimate purpose of bringing glory to God. Among the gifts listed in the Bible, we believe that sign gifts (miracles, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy) were temporary in nature and given to the church in its infant state before the completion of the canon of Scripture. Therefore, we reject the modern Charismatic Movement and the confusion it has brought. (Romans 12:6–8; I Corinthians 12:1–11, 13:8;Ephesians 4:11–12)” (Articles of Faith, p. 12.)  
“Thus we cannot accept the position reflected in the Ecumenical Movement, Neo-Orthodoxy, New Evangelicalism, or the various branches of the Charismatic Movement. We believe cooperation should be limited to those of like precious faith. (Romans 16:17; I Corinthians 6:19-20; II Corinthians 6:14-17; I Thessalonians 5:22; II Thessalonians 3:6, 14-15; I John 2:15, 17; II John 9, 10.) (Articles of Faith, p. 12.) 
Things have quickly changed when the latest president, Matt Olsen, came aboard in 2002. Their music stance has now been weakened to this:
"You will find Northland to be a very musical campus! God not only created music, but He also created us, His image bearers, to be musical. Therefore, we believe that music should honor the character of God, and be used in ways that help you and those around you grow in your walk with Christ. We encourage our students to listen to and promote such music, to understand what the Bible says about it, and to learn to make appropriate musical choices based on biblical principles for God’s glory and others’ good.  
Northland’s music policy is simply this: we trust that many of the students God has sent us desire to honor Him with their lives. We also know that God’s Spirit is constantly at work, sanctifying each of His children. When it comes to music, two people equally dedicated to the Lord may not have the same musical preferences. All we ask is that your music not be in direct conflict with God’s character, that you submit to God’s Spirit and to your God-ordained authorities (parents, pastor, etc.), and that the law of love will trump the law of liberty in your public listening and playing. If you have particular questions about music or our music philosophy, policies, or procedures, you can talk with us upon arrival or give us a call. We would love to explain the biblical principles involved so you can think through your music tastes and standards. Even though in the long run your boundaries may not align exactly with ours as an institution, we believe that your time at Northland will greatly aid you in developing a biblical philosophy of music that transcends time and culture."
Notice how things like rock, rap and jazz are no longer mentioned? Dr. Les Ollila who is chancellor of Northland stated this in response to concerns about the changes at Northland:
“As we have attempted to responsibly adjust the way the vision and philosophy is applied in certain settings at our institution, the foundational principles and historic theological positions to which we have always been committed remain unchanged.” (Is Northland Changing? A Chancellor’s Perspective from Dr. Les Ollila, Dec. 2010.)
This is a good time to bring up Ernest Pickering. Ernest Pickering pastored such churches as Fourth Baptist Church in Minneapolis Minnesota, Woodcrest Baptist Church in Fridley Minnesota, Maranatha Bible Church in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, Emmanuel Baptist Church in Toledo, Ohio, Bible Baptist Church of Kokomo, Indiana. He wrote two books on separation called The Tragedy of Compromise and Biblical Separation which are still used by fundamental schools for teaching separation. He also served as President of Northwest Baptist Seminary in Tacoma, Washington, Baptist Bible College in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania and Central Theological Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

On page 163 in The Tragedy of Compromise Pickering wrote:
Leaders of church organizations find it difficult to admit that there is anything amiss. To do so would be to reflect upon their leadership and suggest that they have been less than watchful. Leaders, therefore, will emphatically deny that there has been any change. “We stand just where we have always stood” will be the reassuring litany. While any objective observer can plainly see that the stance of the organization has changed, those intent on protecting the image of the group will steadfastly deny that fact.
This is exactly what Dr. Ollila is doing! People like Ollila and Olsen are well aware of Pickering and his writings so they are without excuse. To show you how far Northland has gone they watch the video where students and staff perform music and dance to the Broadway play Wicked.

On July 2, 2012 from his personal blog Dr. Olson wrote,
“I have great confidence in this next generation. They get what matters most. This was evidenced in my visit Sunday to Grace Bible Church in Philadelphia, where Ian McConnell serves as the pastor for preaching and vision. It was great to connect with some Northland alumni at Grace as well. Danny Adams (and his wife Becky [Dillabaugh]) serves as the pastor for children’s ministries. Jesse Trach is currently an elder in training and being evaluated for pastoral ministry and Nathan Branine is attending Grace while making much of Jesus in the Philadelphia school systems. Come the beginning of September Greg Dietrich and his wife will be relocating to Philadelphia to attend Grace and work remotely for us at Northland.”  
The problem is that the beliefs of this church states: "Beliefs: We are evangelical, Reformed, and continuationist." This goes against the school's policy of separation with charismatics! Olsen went even further and said in his blog on September 3, 2012:
"The mode of baptism, timing of the rapture, cessationist or non-cessationist positions, dispensational or covenant positions, church polity, style of music, philosophy of ministry—are NOT fundamentals of the faith. They never have been. When we get to heaven I think there are going to be a lot of people feeling ashamed about how they fought over these things and neglected what matters most." 
This is no different that when pastors and leaders say such things as “in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty”, "it's all about the gospel" and "major in the minors minor in the majors". Again Olsen is going against the policy of the school. Either the policy needs to change or the president of Northland needs to change. Olsen is clearly a New Evangelical and he's making sure Northland is the same way. Look as Olsen's views and read what Pickering eloquently put in on page 129 of The Tragedy of Compromise:
New Evangelicals historically have boasted of the great diversity that exists within the general pale of what is called “evangelicism.” They have erected a large umbrella under which persons and churches with many varying convictions can find shelter. This same outlook is found in the church marketing movement. Its spokesmen advise their followers to downplay what they call “denominational disctincitives” by which they mean such things as the mode of baptism, church organization, the doctrine of eternal security, and views of spiritual gifts. There is a call for an emphasis upon more general evangelical truth that is not “divisive.”
Truly the aisle leading to the salad- bar sanctuaries comes from the camp of New Evanglicalism. Compromise, a hallmark of New Evangelicism, is a guiding principle of church marketing. 
And on page 74:
Doctrine has fallen on evil times. Few wish to battle for what they call “peripheral” doctrines. They wish to emphasize instead our unity in Christ and the blessings they see flowing from that. 
And page 21:
One of the chief differences between New Evangelicals and fundamentalists concerns the views of each regarding what we call “ecclesiastical separation.” Fundamental separatists believe that there should be a complete separation from all churches and fellowships of churches that tolerate unbelief or compromise with error. In contrasting fundamentalism and evangelicalism, Peterson observed, “The spirit of evangelicalism… is more amiable. We consider it important to maintain fellowship with other Christians, even if they are mistaken on certain issues, especially if they can join us in advancing the gospel.” This observation is quit typical of the general attitude of New Evangelicals – “let us compromise doctrinal matters for the sake of evangelicalism.
David Cloud who has written much on separation put it this way:
"This does not mean that we consider all doctrine of equal importance. There are damnable heresies, which only the unregenerate hold, and lesser heresies, which even born again believers hold. But every clearly-taught doctrine of the New Testament faith should be honored and none despised. And we should be willing to defend whatever teaching happens to be under attack at any given time.David Cloud (2011-09-28 00:00:00-06:00). Biblical Separatism and its Collapse (Kindle Locations 1986-1989). Way of Life Literature. Kindle Edition.
For those that don't think Charismatics should be separated from they need to  heed the words of Pickering:
So also is it with charismatics who insist that sign-gifts are still operable today. Paul did not mince words about false doctrines when he wrote, “Now the Spirit Speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Tim 4:1). The great apostle of love, John, was not only concerned about the manifestation of love but also about the repudiation of error. He did not advocate a naïve gullibility concerning doctrine. “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). In pursuing that theme he said that we should be able to differentiate between the “spirit of truth, and the spirit of error” (1 John 4:6). Spiritual discernment is important and must be exercised. There is a vast difference between truth and error and this difference out not to be ignored or glossed over. The Tragedy of Compromise Pg. 73, Ernest Pickering
The “willingness to re-examine beliefs concerning the work of the Holy Spirit” opened up the way of the flood tide of charismatic teaching with which the church has been inundated in recent years. The formation of such groups as the NAE gave Pentecostalism and the new charismatic movement a “place in the sun” that they had not enjoyed previously. Even though many New Evangelical scholars did not espouse these views, the fact that they would tolerate them without rebuke gave such views a springboard within the evangelical communityThe Tragedy of Compromise Pg. 15, Ernest Pickering
Another area which Olsen any others are compromising is on Eschatology.  Amillennialism  is common in Calvinist circles and Calvinism has made a push in fundamental churches and schools. Tied closely to Amillennialism is the rejection of dispensationalism. They say the universal church has replaced Israel. Pickering mentions that these two things are principles of New Evangelicals. Quoting Christian Life, March 1956 he lists:
3. “a more tolerant attitude toward varying views on eschatology”
4. “a shift away from so-called extreme dispensationalism”
The Tragedy of Compromise Pg. 14, Ernest Pickering  
Many in fundamental circles don't believe affiliations matter but orthodoxy (correct belief) without orthopraxy (correct practice) is useless.
 “Separation, however, does involve affiliations. This goes to the very heart of the matter. You cannot be a consistent separatist while retaining un-Biblical affiliations. This was one of the basic problems which hounded the Conservative Baptist movement throughout its days of internal struggle. Some wanted to be separatists on paper but not in actions. Separation requires severance from which is wrong.  Biblical Separation Pg 106, Ernest Pickering
Often in fundamental schools and fundamental scholarly circles not taking a stance on issues on things such as eschatology is looked upon as the higher ground when really it is the postmodern view that is infiltrated our circles. Pickering gives a real life account of such thinking:
The tolerance of various eschatological views is also mentioned as a hallmark of the New Evangelical position. Until the 1950s the majority of fundamentalists have been premillenialists, and a large number dispensationalists (although there were fundamentalists that were neither, such as T.T. Shields) . Now more openness was hailed as a sign of growing maturity. Years ago this writer was invited to lecture at a New Evangelical seminary on the subject “Why I Am a Fundamentalist.” Following the lecture and a question-and-answer session, I was invited to coffee with the faculty. While chitchatting in the faculty lounge, I asked
the professor of theology what scheme of eschatology was espoused by the seminary and taught in the classroom. He laughed and replied “I teach them all. And when we get to the end of the course, the students don’t even know what I believe.” He viewed this as masterful instruction. One, however, is reminded of the pedagogy of our Lord, of whom it was said, “He taught them as one having authority, and not as scribes” (Matt. 7:29). In answering biblical questions the scribes were wont to use circuitous reasoning, quoting many scholars, and avoiding dogmatism on disputed points. Christ, on the other hand, spoke plainly and with authority.  The Tragedy of Compromise Pg. 15, Ernest Pickering 
We must pray for our pastors and laymen need to guard themselves from outside influences if we are to keep our churches from error. Pickering has years of experience as a pastor and told us this:
Many pastors find themselves under considerable pressure from members of their church. Some of these members have perhaps moved into the church from other churches that were of New Evangelical persuasion. Others have been influenced by the writings of current New Evangelicals. Still others have friends who have New Evangelicals leanings. Man are also influenced by local Christian radio stations that feature an abundance of New Evangelical teaching and music. The separatist pastor often feels himself besieged by alien forces as he tries to lead his people in the right direction. Many pastors have felt obligated to resign because they felt they did not have the church leadership with them as they struggled against the New Evangelical philosophy.  The Tragedy of Compromise Pg. 167-168, Ernest Pickering 

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