There is an ugly side to separation. While a Scriptural mandate for separation in particular instances exists, it becomes a club in the hands of those who misuse and abuse it. Some run separation over its boundary walls and flood the plains of Christian unity. In our Independent Baptist world ( and in some other places too), some get flogged and run away with clear instructions to never come back. Usually, they never do. In too many sad cases, they run away from Christianity altogether. Wouldn’t you hate to be the cause of such a crime? Some wear it like a badge!
Perhaps some are misguided. Perhaps they think they are doing God a favor. Perhaps they have no discernment and think all errors are equal, and of course, to them disagreement is error. They enjoy a legal system that treats a speeding violation and murder as worthy of quite different punishments while never thinking that denying the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and holding a looser standard on some issue are quite different too. To them no compromise means separating from every person who holds a different point of view at every juncture. They are vigilant to make sure everyone crosses every “t” and dots every “i”. Perhaps they just need help to see they have some T-crossing and I-dotting to do themselves in that they had better make sure they are practicing separation as the Lord has told us.
But there is an uglier side still and it is diabolical. Some use it to control the masses. It is, for them, a cattle-herding technique. Someone at the head of a prominent clique sends an edict down that Bro. So-and-so must be separated from. Not only must he be separated from, but we must tell our people and friends to do likewise. Mention it, talk about it, Facebook about it–it often becomes a greater push than we give to things like fighting abortion, etc.
Why do I say it is diabolical? Because if you trace it back, you find despite the feigned indignation for God’s glory, nothing more than a hideous case of politics. Someone wouldn’t stay in line, or some big dog felt threatened, or too many listen to the guy instead of them, or that we grow our kingdom by overthrowing other kingdoms; yes, just politics. Jesus’ name is thrown around, but what has He to do with any of it? Need I answer that question?
In these cases I am thinking of great “doctrinal” issues came up. Strangely, no one had ever thought of them before, but now they are one of the fundamentals of the faith! Are you seeing something wrong with this picture? Could it be that you and I have been used in a political game?
I think now of a few prominent cases that sent tremors through the entire Independent Baptist world. I can’t mention them because many would take the issue, run and pick a side, and probably throw in a quote by one of the aforementioned leaders. We would forget the issue that we are actually talking about. See what I mean about being herded cattle? That is exactly what some want us to do.
We can’t make anyone do anything, but we can:
1. Determine that we will see ourselves as individually accountable to God and will practice separation ONLY as God’s Word has specifically stated.
2. Determine we will allow no leader, no matter how respectable, to dictate our consciences for us. We have God’s Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit.
3. Dedicate ourselves to remember that we have a duty to every fellow believer that includes loving treatment.
4. Dedicate ourselves to never treating anyone as a pawn in a political game, nor being a party to others who do.
I would be remiss if I didn’t warn you that if you do right, you might find yourself on the wrong side of this separation. The cost of disloyalty to men can be high, but the cost of disloyalty to Christ might cost you more.
Find all articles in the series here.