Thursday, December 03, 2015

Taking the Minnick Article on Separation for a Test

In an article about biblical separation I posted on Monday this week, I linked to an article at Frontline by Mark Minnick that I said was good, that especially exposed and applied the teaching of 2 Thessalonians 3 on separation.  I have never read anyone in Minnick's realm of fundamentalism write with such honesty on the subject.  I wouldn't have thought he believed what he wrote, but it gave me a lot of new respect for him, for even writing it, regardless if he even practices it.  However, I want to think about what he wrote and test it as to practice.  I want to take the teaching and test it on certain known practices in fundamentalism and see what it does.

Minnick heads his article with 2 Thessalonians 3:14 -- you can read it from the link above.  It really isn't hard to understand, so why is it hard to understand?  It's not understanding, but love and courage and fear, and all the motivation we need to please God by obeying His Word.  Evangelicals and fundamentalists, it seems, would rather conform the passage to their practice, for purposes of keeping together the coalitions.  The coalition should be bowing to scripture as authority, but that isn't the nature of coalitions, none that I know of.

It doesn't say, non-essentials, but "our word by this epistle," which includes what almost any and many fundamentalists would say are non-essentials.  Minnick says that this is obviously "by extension any of [Paul's] teaching anywhere."  Minnick writes:

Fundamentalists hold that the command of 3:14 is to be applied to any believer who persists in any disobedience to what Scripture clearly demands of all Christians.

I have never heard that written by a fundamentalist anywhere, so if that is what fundamentalists hold, it was news to me.  Do they believe this?  I say, "Come on, they don't say this, and they for sure don't practice it."  Minnick goes on the prove his point textually and contextually.

In addition, Minnick says that in his epistle Paul commands separation.  This is simple really. Anyone with a basic understanding of literature gets this.  Minnick writes:

The command to separate from disobedient brethren is part of the tradition Paul was handing over to his readers.

Minnick says that this shouldn't be called "secondary separation" because it's just obeying Paul's epistle to the Thessalonian church.  When you don't separate, you are disobedient, and disobedience merits separation.  This is easy, but people play dumb with it so they can be disobedient.  God won't be fooled by people playing dumb, just like parents aren't when their toddlers participate in such an act.  They don't get away with it, and no one should get away with it.

Minnick diminishes his essay in the last paragraph with the teaching that there are doctrines that are primary to the faith.  He uses the typical proof texts of evangelicals.  Why do I think this isn't good?  One, it isn't taught in the passages he references.  I've talked a lot about that in the past here, dealing with each of them.  This is a new doctrine to make room for not separating, which could probably be number two.  Three, the Bible teaches the opposite in numbers of different ways, which I've dealt with here.  Four, when someone won't practice the Bible, perhaps using secondary doctrine as an excuse, he's exemplifying a lack of righteousness, which is what the gospel produces.  His conduct does not reveal the gospel's effects in his life, and the New Testament all over connects that to salvation.

With everything else being written above, let's take this to a test.  Does Minnick himself fellowship with churches that do not practice the tradition of his church?  Minnick says that Paul teaches head coverings?  Does he separate over that?  To end my last post, I mentioned the fellowship of Steve Pettit, president of BJU, at the preaching conference he's going to preach at with the evangelical Presbyterians and others he will preach with.  Does Minnick fellowship with Pettit?  There is way more than that, but that's just one example that could be taken for a test.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm thankful for Minnick's article.  I have not read this teaching by anyone else in his orbit of fundamentalism -- none.  What he is writing is unique.  Will he practice it?  It can be done, but it would cost some, probably much, for him to do that.

12 comments:

Colin Maxwell said...

Hi Kent,

I read your article. I wqas wondering: What differences in doctrine among professing believers would you not separate over? What makes them different from the ones which you would separate over?

Colin Maxwell

David M. Coe said...

Colin, *IF* I am reading Kent correctly (I read it twice and was still a bit confused), he will separate fellowship from any church that is not a carbon copy to his own.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Colin. I'm sorry that I had not answered this before. Non-biblical or Unbiblical doctrines are not worthy of separation. There are disputable matters, not covered by the Bible in belief and practice. Everyone deserves time to grow. We would fellowship with churches on the right trajectory, just like people in a church need time to grow. This is within the idea of strengthening the feebleminded, supporting the weak, and being patient with all men. We warn the unruly, and those are also the ones to separate from. Minnick himself is saying there isn't a biblical doctrine that we shouldn't separate over, as I read him. What am I missing do you think?

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi David,

Thanks for dropping by. You sounded confused, so I get your statement that you were confused. That's too bad, that is, that you are confused. You should read our book, A Pure Church, which contains exegesis of the passages. From a short blog article, I think it is interesting that you would say that I wrote that we fellowship with churches that are a "carbon copy" of our own. I rarely use carbon to copy any more, but you sound like a fundamentalist. For many, whatever Greenville or Hammond or Powell or Watertown or Lansdale says is worthy of fellowship. What I'm saying is that you sound like a fundamentalist who puts his finger in the air to figure out how to separate. Perhaps you could offer some serious interaction instead of the drive-by or troll that you provided. I will commend you though for including your name.

Colin Maxwell said...

Hi Kent,

Thanks for your reply. First of all, Did you mean to write "Non-biblical or Unbiblical doctrines are not worthy of separation."? (Emphasis mine) I am querying particularly the use of the word "UnBiblical"

Secondly, I remember asking you before about a similar theme. If I remember right, you said that you would accept Calvinists into membership of your church, but only if they basically kept the head down and the mouth shut on the matter of their Calvinism. (Words to that effect)Yet their belief in (say) unconditional election and particular redemption can hardly be dismissed as Non biblical. On what basis could a hard core (not necessarily hyper) Calvinist fellowship in your church and you still remain true to the separatist principles above?

Regards,


Colin Maxwell

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Colin,

Yes, that was a mistake, "unbiblical," I chuckle when I see it, glad it was a comment only. I meant totally non-biblical, but I wasn't editing much there.

I didn't put a lot of detail in there either. A Calvinist could be a member of our church as long as he didn't cause division over it (Rom 16:17-18), but that isn't the only issue exactly like that. Our church has one doctrine (1 Cor 1:10), which is what the NT teaches. You would have to show me otherwise from the Bible instead of doing something, for instance, snarky. I'm taking "keep your head down" as that. I still think of you warmly and affectionately though, Colin, and the snark doesn't stop that. I think someone can teach right on salvation, believe the same as our doctrinal statement and be a Calvinist. That would bother a lot of other people here that are non-Calvinist, more than it should you. We've had two members that were Calvinist and we disciplined both of them out, not because of Calvinism. One wouldn't get a job. He could read up a storm on sovereignty though. The other just stopped attending because he was bugged by a couple of practices that were non-scriptural issues (ironic huh)? He wasn't disciplined for Calvinism, but for not attending church (you can't be a card carrying member of our church, you've actually got to assemble).

David M. Coe said...

Kent, your reply to my comment seemed rather harsh. I never meant to make you defensive and I certainly was not trolling. I was merely responding to Colin's comment. I read your post twice and was still unsure what you were saying - but as I replied to Colin - I thought you were suggesting that a church had to believe EXACTLY like you to receive your friendship or fellowship.

Again... no offense meant or intended.

Kent Brandenburg said...

David,

You seem to be good at picking up harshness, but you can't understand what I wrote in my post? There are so many things wrong with your comment. You were trolling, like your comment could be used as a model for it. If you don't know what I'm saying, then just ask. I don't think "friendship" and "fellowship" are identical. "Carbon copy" is the language you used. And it is a common argument. If a church separates, they did that because the other church wasn't a carbon copy. No. They broke fellowship because the other side wasn't following the truth.

I'd like to know still though, David, how you were confused. You said you were confused. How so? If you really were not intending to be offensive and weren't trolling, then let's have a conversation here, rather than a drive-by.

Colin Maxwell said...

Hi Kent,

My apologies if you felt that my reference to keeping the head down and mouth shut was being snarky. Maybe a little gutsy in the cold light of day (semantics?) but another way of saying that they weren't to be divisive over the issue. I can understand that. For 2 years I was a Calvinist in a non Calvinist Dispensational Brethren(ish) Assembly. I could defend my corner, but never sought to be divisive over the issue. I was 18-19 years old (so make allowances for youth) and I knew I was never going to change the doctrine of the older saints who had been there for years. I did move on into a Calvinistic (WCF) church but I have been back and preached and renewed fellowship in my former fellowship and the memories are positive. I can happily tolerate in others (within the fundamentals of the faith) what I won't tolerate in myself.

Assuming that your church holds to conditional election where God's choice is predicated on His foresight of our saving faith and holds to an unlimited atonement where the sins of the Rich Man in Hell were all laid on Christ and paid for in full, then by accepting Calvinists (who deny both) into membership, are you not effectively saying that these differences in doctrine are non essential?
TBH (not snarky) I can see no other conclusion. If a well taught Calvinist member was to teach in your church and you could pick up little whiffs from time to time (John Newton said that he put his Calvinism in his sermons like sugar into a cup of tea) and someone strongly objected, then who would be seen as causing the division?

I appreciate you taking the time and patience to answer me here. Again, apologies if I come across snarky. It is certainly not my intention.

Regards,

Colin Maxwell

David M. Coe said...

Kent, you have it wrong, Sir. I know Colin (above), and he is the one that drew my (and others) attention here. I read your post... read his comments... and replied to him.

If that is your definition of trolling - then so be it. We have a least one mutual friend and therefore I will not engage in any type of argument. That was never my intention to begin with.

May God bless your services tonight,

David M Coe
Beth Haven Baptist Church
Morgantown, WV

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Colin,

Thanks for coming back. I really don't know what you believe, but I would think that we're far closer than about 98 percent on the planet or I wouldn't even be on your radar.

I think that in many cases we are exegeting what someone else says about the Bible rather than what the Bible itself says, and we don't separate over things that the Bible doesn't speak about. A Calvinist, I believe, could agree with 100% of our doctrinal statement on salvation and still believe in TULIP. We're talking about a difference then in the interpretation of passages, which our church chooses not to separate over. That doesn't mean that the doctrines are non-essential, just that it doesn't rise to the level, as far as our church is concerned, as doctrinal division, unless someone causes division over it. On top of that, like I've said, all of us need to time to grow, so even though scripture teaches one thing, not everyone will be on the same page this side of glory, while they are growing until the place of glorification. This is not a new position for me. There is one doctrine and God wants us to believe and practice all of it.

Related to TULIP, besides preaching TULIP, you would see us to act more like Calvinists than most Calvinists act. Why? We believe salvation is of the Lord. We believe evangelism depends on the gospel, but not on us. We don't use new measures, unlike the new Calvinists and many other reformed and Calvinists. I don't preach TULIP, because I'm not convinced scripture teaches it and I see scripture teaching something different.

I don't use terminology like choice predicated on His foresight of our saving faith. I don't mind, "elect according to foreknowledge" in 1 Peter 1:2 and "chosen....through belief in the truth" in 2 Thess 2:13. I believe God initiates it with His revelation and the mystery is why some believe and why some don't. I don't believe that foreknowledge is predetermination, even though I believe that He predestines those He justifies to conform to the image of His Son. Eph 1:4 says that He chooses us in Him, not willy nilly out of a pot of humanity.

Is there a verse that says that the sins of the rich man were laid on Christ on the cross? I would believe it if scripture said it. Did Christ die for His sins? Yes. Paul preached when he came to Corinth, Christ died for your sins. And Peter says that the Lord bought them who deny Him. We are saved by faith alone, not faith plus something else. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Someone who believes in Jesus has peace with God and a standing in Him. If you don't believe, you don't have that. So, even though Jesus died for everyone, we don't experience salvation except by faith. But you've heard all this before.

I don't know exactly where we would be heading with this. Does the fact that I don't separate over Calvinism mean that we can reduce fellowship to a few doctrines or whatever we want them to be? That's not how the Bible reads. I encourage you to read our book.

Thanks.

Kent Brandenburg said...

David,

I'm pretty sure I was harsh and sharp with you and that it was possible that you were not meaning to troll. Were you meaning to back me up in what I believed? Were you supporting me and I didn't know it? Do you support churches having doctrine that is carbon copy? If you said "yes" to this then I would know that I had you wrong.

Thanks.

Kent