Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Attraction and the Lie of Not Separating

Josh Teis, a pastor in Las Vegas, has just published a post, "Six Degrees of Separation," where he mocks biblical separation, a teaching by Almighty God in His Word, and then is joined by many others, doing the same.  I've noticed two categories of people who dislike separation and ridicule it:  one, people who've been separated from, and, two, people who don't want to separate and are criticized for their lack of separation.  The mockery is to make space for them not to separate or to justify themselves for why someone has separated from them. They want approval in their lack of separation or for whatever reason they've been separated from.  Teis communicates both categories in his hit piece.

The Teis article is a horrific caricature of the doctrine of separation, Salvador Dali like.  It's basically a rant against stuff that ticks him off about separation, and so he sets up a goofy strawman in the likeness of a clown. It won't help you learn what the bible teaches about it or even the history of it.

I keep up with what's happening in revivalist fundamentalism, the mainly southern independent Baptist fundamentalism.  It is in a stage of apostasy.  It will be seen as a blip in history, due to its perverted foundation, and Teis is a manifestation of it.  He is of the new hipster branch, that is a spin off of Paul Chappell and those like him, their pragmatism run amok.

No doubt fundamentalism does not equal biblical separation, which I've written about a lot here.  Fundamentalism does not get separation right, but it at least attempts to practice separation, a teaching in the Bible, including in every New Testament epistle.  Separation in fundamentalism can and should be criticized, applying scripture to its presentation.  Teis mentions one prominent book on separation by Ernest Pickering, Biblical Separation:  The Struggle for a Pure Church.  He offers very little analysis of the book except to say that Pickering taught, what has been termed, "secondary separation."  The main point of the Teis article is to scoff at outlandish examples of this and morph this into what fundamentalists, including Pickering, have said and taught about separation.  Teis exaggerates to the extent that his article is a total lie.

From his article, I don't know what Teis thinks about unity or separation.  What problems does separation create for someone, that it is such a concern for him?  Teis tries a new method and someone out there calls it worldly.  He'll never have Teis preach for him. Maybe the separatist says, in addition I won't have anyone preach for me, who preaches with or for Teis.  Less people are encouraged to have Teis preach.  I believe that's the kind of separation Teis is talking about.  It has zero effect on his church.  No one is stopping Teis from using his new method.  If what Teis were doing was scriptural, it's not going to stop his fundamental Baptists from bowling everyone over with the great power that he wants there to be.  He will miss some conferences of the losers who don't like his method.  Who cares?  Teis exaggerates the effects of this separation that he decries.  He'll pick up people from the left who use even more worldly things than Teis can stomach.  Obviously Teis has found more "friends" in the Southern Baptists and even the Charismatics.

I think the biggest concern here is hurt feelings. Teis had in David Ring, whoever David is, and people complained about it, and Josh had his feelings hurt.  He wants approval.  It stung enough that he writes a whole blog post about how horrible are the secondary separationers.  David had been hurt too.  He spoke at the Crystal Cathedral and every single IFB except for Josh Teis bailed on him -- what a bunch of schmucks.  What would be attractive about David Ring to Robert Schuller to have him in the first place?  What kind of man does Robert Schuller want to preach with and for him?  How did David Ring get past Robert Schuller?  You already have major problems if Schuller wants you to preach, if you're not clear enough in your belief and practice to be attractive to Robert Schuller.  It doesn't take very much curiosity to wonder this, so there is more to this than "secondary separation."  David Ring wanted to do what he wanted to do and resents all the people who rejected it.  David Ring is right (to himself) and now since he was a childhood hero of Teis, everyone has to tolerate Teis too.  If not, his feelings are hurt.

Teis himself is anchored in the revivalistic success of church growth methodology.  To expose all the error in his article would require an answer at least five times its size.  He gives credit to men who popularized a false gospel, such as Jack Hyles.  He glorifies an era when a large amount of the mess of revivalist fundamentalism began in the 1960s and 1970s.  He leaves out especially one important event in the history, the downfall of Hyles by means of the Robert Sumner, Biblical Evangelist article in 1989, and the factions that spun off of that one occurrence.  Disunity prevailed.  Many had to rethink their associations and what they believed and practiced.

Despite everything wrong with the Teis article, he is writing or speaking a popular message for this age, due to the attraction and the lie of not separating.  Not separating is attractive.  The more you tolerate, the bigger your tent and the more people who will associate.  This was the issue for Billy Graham back in his era.  He started including Roman Catholics and other liberals in his crusades until he reached a point where he approved of universalism, asserting that someone could be an unrepentant Buddhist and be saved.  In the end, the doctrine of a literal hell was too unpopular for Billy Graham to include in his doctrine or message.

I've known for a long time that its easier to let false doctrine and practice go.  The more open you are about it, the more popular and bigger you will be.  This is the spirit of the age, a type of reductionism, which shrinks the important doctrines to just a very few.  Does God approve of this?  We don't see anything in scripture that says He would.  We see a lot, everything actually, that says He would not.  Sure, men have liberty in non-scriptural matters, but not scriptural ones.  If you don't tell people they are wrong and just stay mostly positive, you'll have more and more followers.  It will be easy.

For instance, someone brings up same-sex marriage, and asks your opinion about it.  Everyone knows you'll do better in most places if you agree, just stay silent, or say something that comes down right in the middle, where whatever someone thinks or believes on it is acceptable.  I would say that's an extreme example, except that it isn't.

When you separate, many might call you unloving.  You aren't loving when you separate.  This isn't love, actual love, biblical love, that they speak of.  It is sentimentalism.  It is a feeling.  They feel rejected, that is, unloved.  The new love, which isn't love, you won't have if you separate.  To be in the fake love club, you've got to tolerate.  It makes people feel good, and that feeling, they say, is love.  Start loving, meaning, don't separate.  The fake love club is attractive, because it puts you in the category of a loving person, which is important, even if it isn't love.  This is the lie of not separating.  You are loving when you don't separate, but you aren't really loving, just fake loving.  It's a lie that you are loving.  It's not the only lie -- it's one of many -- but it is a crucial lie.

People think they are fine not separating.  That is also a lie.  They think God approves.  He doesn't.  That is a lie.  They think they should only separate over major doctrines.  That too is a lie.  That is not how the Bible, the truth, reads.  There are a lot of lies that must be accepted to continue not separating.

Josh Teis wants to continue on his merry way without rebuke or censure.  He wants to keep trying new and more things, and be accepted when he does.  He and his ilk keep trying more and more.  They have distorted what church is.   He'll probably succeed for a period of time, but he'll have to keep moving left to do that.  The old methods get old and he'll need new ones, which will get old, and so newer ones will be needed.  He wants to do them all without criticism, without separation in any way.


Tyler Robbins said...

I think the article is very bad, and Teis clearly hasn't read about Baptist fundamentalism very deeply. You can tell that from his brief discussion of the fundamentalist movement. I don't think he's actually read Pickering's book recently, either. It's an excellent book.

Really, I believe he's reacting against a particular version of separation he doesn't like.

What do you think of the basic principle that separation should only occur if you're dealing with an issue that's an explicit or clearly implicit doctrine of Scripture? That is, it has to be based on a clear Biblical teaching, not a mere opinion or subjective preference? This is what I got from Larry Oats at Seminary, and it has always made great sense to me.

Kent Brandenburg said...

I've been alive long enough now that I've seen a Teis replay at least three or four times. When he says separation, he means, less popular. He wants to be popular, because that's what he grew up thinking success was. Big crowd, popular conference speaker, guru, success, and then maybe add, God must be working.

I'm not sure I'm with Oats's triage. From my perspective with Oats, we wrote TSKT, and Oats critiqued one of my chapters on availability, as preaching works salvation, because it included Lordship, referring to Dt. 30:11-14 in Rom. 10:6-10. So if Oats is talking about the gospel and, let's say, he says no on lordship because it front loads works, is that explicit or implicit? How big a deal is this? This is where more and more room gets made for false doctrine and practice, even the gospel. So we give in, and where does that leave us?

Some of what we're talking about is practice. I remember when MBU gave an honorary to Tom Messer from Trinity. He has a trap set on platform at the time and uses rock music, and more, but he's a graduate that has succeeded. I called about his pragmatism and they played dumb. My interaction was with Oats. Is this another non-essential, false worship? We can keep reducing until there is very little left because so much is unclear.

There is a tendency of a parachurch to be inclusive to meet payroll and this hurts everyone. These are the ones setting the terms for separation in many cases for the ones they train. Does Oats lay out his system from scripture?

I would lay it out in two main categories, scriptural and non-scriptural. On the scriptural, it is doctrine and practice, not meaning every verse or word or phrase, but what doctrine is derived. Furthermore, is it causing division. Not everyone is on the same page, but are they in the right trajectory, moving the right direction, growing. Then each church decides, because the church is the deciding institution. Separation is keeping what pure? A church. Fellowship is cooperation. Division is not cooperating. It isn't having lunch. I can defend this paragraph from scripture. It is our book, A Pure Church.

Tyler Robbins said...

I have the book. I'll look at it. Thanks.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Bauder would call our view, everythingism, and his, historic fundamentalism, or the idea of fundamentalism, or something like that, as opposed to indifferentism, coined by Machen. If you give it a nasty name, it seems like it must be wrong. I've never had someone show we were wrong, they just look for inconsistencies in our practice, and if they think they found one, then they get to disobey the Bible.

Tyler Robbins said...

I shall look at it, and probably write a comparison of the two approaches in the near future. Oats' way always seemed to be the best way to avoid a morass of subjectivism.

On a practical level, I'm not sure what the real difference is between our positions, in actual practice. On SI, I shared my brief anecdote of the "worship" at a Baptist church in our orbit. I was appalled, and think that Good Friday service was blasphemous. I want nothing to do with that church, or its leadership. For all intents and purposes, I've separated from them.

I'm not the Pastor, so I can't make that call officially, but I plan to strenuously advocate we do nothing with them this coming year. They're going the hipster, "just show the world you're a nice guy" route - to the point they won't preach the Gospel at an advertised church event to celebrate the resurrection, for fear it will offend visitors. What madness. What blasphemy.

Kent Brandenburg said...

We're in a tough situation today, everything so muddled out there. Thanks. I like what you're saying here.

David said...

I read through the article last night. He had stated that there was a point when Baptists started separating on a more frequent basis and over more issues. He implies that the separatist Baptist are the ones who have changed. My experience is that those they separated from are the ones who had changed, leaving the others with the decision to go with the flow or separate. When I had to separate from the church I grew up with, it was because they had chosen to adopt a new philosophy of seeker friendly, make the church more like the world to attract the world. Interestingly, one of the pastors met with me and recommended I leave since he knew I was not comfortable with the changes (I had not been causing division or the like). I was 20 years old at the time, raised from cradle in the same church. The left also wants to separate from those who dont agree with them.

I think ones belief on the church greatly affects this issue of separation, whether one believes ekklesia is a congregation or also includes a universal church idea.

Tyler Robbins said...

I've seen this "universal church = reluctance to separate" argument for years, and I want to push back a bit. I think you give people too much credit. I think this adds a theological gloss on top of a more fundamental problem.

In many cases, I don't think churches are reluctant to formally separate from apostates or congregations that compromise on clear Biblical issues because of the concept of a "church catholic." I think it's often because they're just wimps.

Anonymous said...


I want to push back a little about your rejection of the "universal church = reluctance to separate" argument.

Motives are tough to nail down, but I know that when I was a believer in the doctrine that there is a universal church, I was motivated to try to some extent to remain not-too-vocal about the unbiblical doctrine and practice of others who were informally associated with the same “-ism” and its subset that I was. Separation from false doctrine and practice was endorsed (to some extent, less as time went on), as was separation from disobedient brethren (again, to some extent). But not generally among “us.” Usually, it was only in regard to “them.”

Being in the "-ism" I was associated with (or a subset of the “-ism”), I adopted the view (unconsciously? I don't think I was "taught" it except by example) that I needed to remain unified with the "-ism" or its subset, and that although it was unacceptable to separate from others in that "-ism" or its subset, I should indeed separate from those false teachers outside of the "-ism" or its subset. In my experience I imbibed a pseudo-separatism: separate from false teaching / practice only if it was evident in those outside my circle, which was not the (local) church, but the "-ism" or a subset thereof.

When I started with a presupposition that there was a universal church and tried to apply the clear commands of Scripture as to separation from disobedient brethren, I found it impossible to apply consistently, and there was resistance to separation if separation was directed at anyone "in" the "-ism". As I tried to apply the commands of Scripture about separation in those days, foremost in my mind was the “-ism” or its subset, not the (local) church.

Therefore, I would say that what you don't see is what I did.

(When I speak of “the ‘-ism’” here, I am speaking of what was presented in the late 20th century as Biblical Fundamentalism, the subset of it was that “circle” of people where I was, which at one point I believed to be the best form of the “-ism”, possibly the real “-ism”, which was supposed to be the closest we could get to New Testament doctrine and practice (Biblical Christianity) in this age.)

E. T. Chapman

Tyler Robbins said...

Bro. Chapman:

My own experience has been in the far-right of fundamentalism, where there was no real distinction of categories about separation - you basically "separated" from folks who weren't just like you. There was no clear, logical analysis of explicit and clear teaching vs. personal opinion.

Now, I am in the Pacific NorthWest. All experience is somewhat anecdotal, but my own experience is that leaders out here are more timid, and far less forceful and dogmatic than they are in the Midwest. For folks here, the lack of separation over real issues has less to do with a meaningful ecclesiology, and more to do with a desire to not be interpreted as being "unloving." Perhaps "wimpy" was too strong of a word, but you get the idea.

This is a big world, and we all share different experiences, to be sure!

Anonymous said...

Just want to say that Josh Teis is not a Fundamentalist. It's kind of a straw man to hold him up and say this is what Fundamentalism is. I agree that Josh Teis is part of the problem and he is trying to redefine what an Independent Baptist is. What he is doing is shameful and ought to be separated from.


Tyler Robbins said...


Ironically, you prove Teis' point with your comment here: "What he is doing is shameful and ought to be separated from."

What explicit or implicit teaching of Scripture has he violated? What steps have you taken to understand his point of view? If you don't have fellowship with Teis at all (i.e. he doesn't know you exist), how can you separate from him?

Jeremy Puckett said...

Amen. I first came across this "movement" about two years ago when Mr. Teis wrote the article "The New Independent Baptists". "Hipster" is such a great description of this group. When I started to learn about them I found out that a disturbing number of independent baptist preachers were attending Mr. Teis' various "Idea Day" conferences across the country- from my understanding one of the major focuses is to discuss new methods and gimmicks for getting people to come to church. This article totally hits the nail on the head, thank you for sharing your thoughts Sir.

JMark said...

The article appears to be along the same line of thinking as Cary Schmidt's recent article attacking separation.

I find it ironic how we are not to be conformed to this world, yet we use the tools and methods of the world to market a so-called Christianity.

And "pastors" like Teis wonder why many are separating? How can you look into the mirror and live like a fake? The world knows you want one foot inside and another out. It knows what to expect from true Christianity. It knows many died at the stake for Christ and we want to play Christianity in church and try not to be apart from the world.

Anonymous said...

Are you the same Pastor who posts every two hours on SI? Maybe you could write a blogpost some time about how a Pastor can fulfill all his responsibilities and still post so regularly. (That was obvious sarcasm for the sake of a point. )

It is not hard to follow Josh Teis because he is all over the internet and his services are on the web. I have never looked at his doctrinal statement but I don't need to because I can tell practically that I should separate. His services uses CCM, which is enough, but everything about him and his services present a certain type of attitude that is only unique with New a Evangelicals. Teis is a modern Day NE he just doesn't admit it. His view of God would be wrong to think that He accepts the style of worship and flippant approach to church. There are numerous things. I know many people who have interacted with him and I have had serious conversations in regards to his affect on Fundamentalism. I don't have to know anyone personally to separate. Remember Billy Graham? Most preachers didn't know him personally which meant Billy didn't know they existed, but they took stands against him in their churches and lives. I would never go to his Idea Days and I will warn other preachers not to go as well not to associate with him. It's pretty simple!

Thanks for your deep and probing questions! Hope this helps you understand. I will be back in two hours to check your response :)JK


Kent Brandenburg said...


I may be coming here to answer some of these comments in the next few days. I'm starting a little bit of a break.


Why take the shot at Tyler? He hasn't been pastoring for awhile. If he wants to use his time to moderate/comment/etc. on blogs, just leave it alone. If you read his blog, he's putting a lot of time into study, obviously. I'm guessing he's just very good at getting things done fast. That's my opinion.

Teis is criticizing fundamentalism. He would say he is a historic fundamentalist. He's making that argument. Many who claim to be historic fundamentalists would agree. I don't get your strawman claim.

Tyler Robbins said...


I haven't pastored for 18 months; that's why I have so much time to write!

As for Teis, I am sorry you don't appear to have taken the time to interact with him. Perhaps the interaction won't change your mind, but at least it will give you a real foundation for understanding his position.

For example, I disagree with Bro. Brandenburg, but I have taken the time to read TSKT, and correspond with him over the past several years about his view of the TR.

Take care!

Anonymous said...

First of all forgive me for the sarcasm above. It was not right and was not gracious nor kind.

It sounds to me like you are defending Josh and that he is worthy of fellowship?? That is the drift I get from your statements. It sounds like you know him really well because you don't think I have taken the time to know who he is. I listened to him interview some musician guy where they absolutely mocked conservative music because we wouldn't "tap our feet" and where they basically said music doesn't really matter, just the heart. Sounds like a New Evangelical to me. Also I happened to look at his blog and there is a recent article where he explains the gospel through the Disney movie Little Mermaid. He explains how he took his daughter to a Little Mermaid Broadway Musical and the story line presented a "type" of the Gospel. I don't know but that seems problematic to me. A key feature of New Evangelicals is the lack of personal separation. (Any preacher who can feel comfortable at a Little Mermaid Musical with real people and not just cartoons....?)

If I am getting the wrong view of Josh please explain to me how he is ok to fellowship with and how these particular issues I raised are not problems.


Tyler Robbins said...


I never heard of Teis and haven't the foggiest idea of what he believes.

Here is my advice about Teis:

1. If you've carefully analyzed your problems with Teis,
2. made certain you thoroughly understand his position,
3. have done the exegetical and systematic work to carefully and accurately categorize all your differences with him in the "explicit or clearly implicit teaching of Scripture" category,
4. and currently have meaningful fellowship with him so as to officially "separate" from him,
5. then feel free to proceed on your current course.

Beowulf said...

Dr. Brandenburg,

If you don't mind a request from someone who is both younger than you are, as well as a career layman, I think this might be an appropriate place to give it for those who regularly read here. It may seem off-topic, but just bear with me and I will be linear in it. It seems like a great deal of what you write here, and possibly on other blogs, deals with ecclesiastical separation. Even our discussion on closed communion boils down to ecclesiastical differences and whether they become a separation issue. I tend to see little if anything on the other side of Biblical separation, which is personal separation. If you focused more time on that, ecclesiastical separation would, for the most part, fall into place. Having ecclesiastical separation without personal is little more than pharisaical legalism, and eventually leads to "straining at gnats while swallowing camels" as well as becoming as whited sepulchers. Personal separation would include having a dress-standard, along with music, where we go or do not, that is more than what the world, apostate or even carnal Christianity might have, and is something we need to come to over time in our walk with God. Not everyone in a particular church will be on the same page in this, but if they are walking with God He will guide them into all truth (which is how people need to come to Biblical positions on issues like baptism, governments, communion etc -- we cannot force it but must lead on as Jacob said when he met Esau). This is something I would like to see more written on here, and then you might need to write less on separation from doctrinal/practical errors. Something we ought to remember is that God also will judge us for what spirit we took our stands in, and we while eery epistle speaks of ecclesiastical separation as do the Gospels, the Lord and the apostles did not build off what was false and sinful, but off declaring what is right and righteous: we should do the same. Thus I would like to see more written on this side of separation.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I'll answer your comment, but I want to know what you mean by legalism. You keep using the word, calling people legalist, but it's an often misused word that is defined in numbers of different ways. Do you think obedience to scripture is legalism, for instance?

Beowulf said...

Legalism is the outward actions of separation but doing so in the power of the flesh or without having the heart truly separated. It is the belief that these outward actions make people better. The Pharisees were meticulous about obedience to the letter, but Jesus said they did not have the heart right, so they were not personally separated: it is not wrong to be meticulous in obedience to the Bible, but only if it is inward as well as outward. Jesus said to the Pharisees about their paying tithes of small food but omitting justice, mercy, faith etc that "these things ought ye to have done and not leave the other undone." Simply put, I in no way oppose ecclesiastical separation - to tell contrary I practice it, but true separation has to be inward first, or God will not accept it.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Beowulf (which is anonymous as if you didn't put your own name, because it isn't your name),

You want outward separation with inward separation. More questions. 1) Is there inward separation without outward separation, as in someone separating inwardly, who doesn't separate outwardly? 2) When there is separation on the outside, how is it that you can tell separation on the inside? Related, how can you tell there isn't separation on the inside, when there is separation on the outside? 3) How do you judge the inside? 4) What's your verse for that, man judging the inside of someone?

I'm interested in your position. What interests me the most is how you judge people who are obedient on the outside and separating according to scripture on the outside, to be disobedient and not separated on the inside. I want to know how you know that, because I've never been able to judge someone's inside. I've had people judge mine, but I don't know how you get that knowledge. Could you help me understand how to judge people's insides? You seem to know. You seem to do it. You know what's going on for someone on the inside.

Beowulf said...

I do not mean to come across as shouting betimes in this reply, but it's just emphasis. First, to clarify legalism is when we think OUR actions are what makes us better and so compete with the work of Christ. As to what you asked, The outward does manifest the inward and (eventually) what is inward WILL come out. It is all too possible for someone to not be inwardly separate, but to outwardly do so. The woes pronounced on the Pharisees in Matthew 23 answer that. They kept the letter of the law but not the spirit -- the very word "Pharisee" comes from "pares" meaning "separate." When you are taking care of personal business do people know you to be a Christian, let alone a pastor? If you were at a neo-evangelical conference, would there be any discernable difference between you and them? It may be we are separated by a common language, and (for tests record) I have a disability which causes me to misread by a different thought process than most of the population of Earth. However, when I see someone acting as though HIS personal separation makes him better (what HE does or does not do), then it's a sign he is not inwardly separate. Also, when someone ECCLESIASTICALLY separates but his personal standards are of little to no difference from the Neo or the world, the spirit of which we have not received (see 1 Cor 12), then I can question his separation being genuine.

Historically, Fundamentalism was always weak on personal separation, and now it is dead as a movement. There is nothing wrong with seeking to obey the Bible, I do myself. But if I make it MY actions rather than Christ, I fail to keep telling spirit of the Bible. This is the whole reason we will cast all crowns given at the Judgement Seat at the feet of Jesus: it wasn't us but Him.