Part One, Part Two
I want to give this at least one more shot (but there may be more). It is a small series spawned by a bigger series assessing independent Baptists.
Most of the discussion about unity and separation among Christians deals with what unifies and what separates. Scripture teaches unity and separation. Both evangelicals and fundamentalists know this. As I have written here so many times before, the only true view is consistent with itself (one could call this the test of coherence). The true view of the two results in or allows for coherence between the two. Both exist in an exactly biblical way. Someone can't hold to a position that doesn't separate according to scripture and be right about unity. That can't be biblical unity, because biblical unity won't contradict biblical separation.
Neither unity or separation is better than the other, that is, unity isn't better than separation and separation isn't better than unity. However, if there is a bias today, it's toward unity. Contemporary Christianity prioritizes unity, as if it is better than separation. When someone is ashamed of separation, he probably will unify with those he shouldn't.
I have a view of unity that coheres with separation. It is the one taught in the Bible, the one I can defend with scripture. If it wasn't true, I'd be glad to know what was true and take that position. Whatever is the true view should allow for the defense of both biblical unity and biblical separation. My belief contradicts the positions I most hear in fundamentalism.
Stay with me here, because I'm getting to the point that fits with the theme of these three posts.
Positions that contradict cannot both be right. From evangelicals, I hear a position that is gospel centered, that is, the gospel is the core of their unity, so unity is core driven. The core is the gospel. I don't hear teaching on separation from evangelicals. A core driven unity seems to eliminate separation altogether.
From fundamentalists, I hear a position that corresponds to separation. I hear a boundary driven unity, the boundary being the gospel. One unifies with someone whose belief does not deny the truths necessary for the gospel, and so separates with someone who does deny teachings required for salvation.
Evangelicals and fundamentalists contradict each other on their teaching of unity and separation. Those two positions are not the same. They both have something in common though. They both say the gospel is the basis of unity, one core driven and the other boundary driven.
If people are going to use the gospel as their basis of unity, and for fundamentalists, therefore, separation, then one would think that when they say "gospel," they mean the same thing. If people say the gospel is the basis of unity, whether core-driven or boundary driven, then one would think that it's the same gospel, at least. This is what I'm talking about with regards to the fellowship especially between fundamentalists. They want to limit unity to the gospel and then are not too picky as to what is the gospel, as I see it. This seems to dispel the idea that the gospel is what drives either unity or separation, but that it is just the terminology "gospel" that is important.
I'm going to be very plain now. I told someone that getting the gospel right is more important than the Manhattan Project during World War 2. I want to use the example of the Gospel Proclaimed as an example. I think that the gospel represented by Sexton, or at least those associated with him, the ones whom he still exalts (and you can't have it both ways), causes bile to rise in the throats of Doran and Bauder (and perhaps others). The fact that those two factions come together under the heading, Gospel Proclaimed, relates to what I'm talking about.
Fundamentalists, many independent Baptists, say that the doctrines necessary for the gospel are the basis of unity and separation. They are the boundary. And yet they've never come to an agreement in this coalition, in this definition, at what the gospel is. It is obvious in their practice that they have not done this and maybe aren't going to do this. I've never seen it. I'm doing it right here, and I don't even agree with their position on unity and separation. I practice at least their position, because I agree with at least their position, but they don't, is what I'm saying.
If men are going to unify on the gospel, unify on the gospel. If men are going to separate over the gospel, then separate over the gospel. Don't just say you are. Do it. But to do it, they are going to have settle on what it is.
I believe a game is played. Lordship is either included with the gospel or it isn't. Those who say it is and those who say it isn't -- they aren't saying the same thing. They aren't teaching the same thing. I would say everyone knows it. Among many who exclude Lordship, which is most independent Baptists, they don't like it because of its effect on their success. These people, those who exclude it, are included in the coalition. They are part of the unity, as if there is no difference. There is a difference and a major difference. Many are going to be in hell and they'll know there was a difference. The coalitions are not more important than what I'm talking about here, and these are the ones who say they are based upon the gospel. The game played is that a gospel is called a gospel that someone doesn't believe is the gospel and that's enough for it to be one. It isn't one, but it is called one, but it's only a game.
If you are someone who says unity and separation are based on the gospel, the gospel must be a big deal to you. I don't even say that it is the basis for unity and separation, and yet the gospel is a deal breaker with me. Is it for you? I don't think we can be fuzzy on it. Are we fuzzy on the Trinity? Is T. D. Jakes a Trinitarian? If we won't protect the gospel, what will we protect any more? If we won't defend it, what will we defend? If unity and separation are based on the gospel, you boundary-driven types, then I think you should decide where that line will be drawn. If you are not going to include Lordship, then let everyone know that you aren't going to do that. If someone is going to accept something along the lines of intellectual repentance, then let everyone know that you accept it. If not, your boundary doesn't mean that much.
What I'm talking about is a bias toward unity. You won't separate from someone that teaches a different gospel, very likely because you think unity with that person is superior to separation. It fits with the world's wrong understanding of love. Love is toleration. You think that you are more loving because you tolerate a different gospel. New evangelicalism spawned from dialogue with unbelievers. It was an evangelistic strategy of evangelicals. Fundamentalism separated from new evangelicalism because evangelicalism chose not to separate from unbelieving theology, based on its strategy of infiltration.
Is the gospel the litmus test of your fellowship? If it is, then you've got to come down on one side or the other of Lordship. If not, then you will get those who receive Jesus only as Savior, and not as Lord, maybe many, who will go to hell because of that omission, that omission from the gospel.
For the sake of complete transparency and full disclosure, I want to admit to you that I am also boundary driven in my belief about unity and separation. Core driven is wrong. It perverts the doctrine of God's love by equating it with tolerance. I agree with the boundary driven on this. However, I believe that the boundary is everything God has taught. Scripture is perspicuous. God doesn't allow for disobedience. Neither should we. Don't let this be a detriment to your enjoyment of and provocation to thought about the above post.