The Correct Teaching on Separation and Unity: It Will Not Contradict Itself
The key to a consistent belief and practice of separation and unity is ecclesiology. The Scriptural, exegetical, grammatical-historical view of the church is necessary for a correct and consistent position on separation and unity. Someone who believes the true church and the body of Christ is all believers must allow for no division with any believer--1 Corinthians 12:25: "There should be no schism in the body." And yet we have those passages on separation that instruct us to separate from other believers (2 Thess. 3:6-15; Rom. 16:17; 1 Cor. 5:9-11). You cannot practice Scriptural unity and separation if you believe that the church is all saints.
Acts 8:1, "And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles."
Acts 11:26, "And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch."
1 Corinthians 1:2, "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth. . . ."
Acts 16:5, "And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily."
1 Corinthians 7:17, "But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches."
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
Instead of interpreting "church" according to grammar and usage, most fundamentalists and evangelicals read a "universal church" into the text. Here is how their typical doctrinal statement reads for "church":
We believe that the true Church is composed of all such persons, who through saving faith in Jesus Christ, have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit and are united together in the body of Christ of which He is the Head.
We believe that the Church, the Body of Christ, is composed of all true believers who are placed into that Body by the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit.
Someone may ask, "What about soul liberty?" Soul liberty is not the right to cause disunity in a church. Everyone can read the Bible on his own, can understand it on his own, and is free to help the whole church come to the right position. God wants "one accord" and "one mind" (Acts 1:14; 2:46; Philip. 1:27; 2:2) for His church. Ten times the phrase "one accord" is applied to the church in the New Testament. Since the church has One Spirit, it isn't likely that you are right, but the whole church is wrong. On issues of liberty, they are exactly that, issues of liberty. A person has liberty to practice differently where the church had decided it is an issue of liberty.
Christ's assembly can and should have perfect unity. Fundamentalists and evangelicals do not have perfect unity in their body. They stay perpetually disobedient with their schisms in the body. Instead of unifying, they separate with other believers in their body.
A church follows the same principles of separation with other churches as it does with its own members. A church separates over its agreed-upon doctrine and practice, giving other churches and their members the opportunity for change, repentance, and growth. The church itself chooses the terms of separation; however, separating over all of the doctrines of Scripture, especially since man is to live by every Word of God (Matthew 4:4).
The Consequences of Contradicting the Doctrines of Separation and Unity