May 7, 2010

The Breakdown of Fidelity Toward the God-Given Mandates for Separatism

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

Today I am linking you to an important article that discusses the current craze among some in Fundamental circles for fellowship with “
conservative” evangelicals. A growing affinity for that fellowship in spite of various forms of aberrant theology, dangerous ecumenical compromises and worldly methods of ministry among conservative evangelicals. I refer to the article,

Considerations Concerning the Proclamation of a Post-Fundamentalism Era and the Foundations for Paleo-Evangelicalism, Part 8

This new installment in Brother Gordon Phillips’s series is a powerful commentary on the growing passion of certain self described
biblical separatists (in or formerly among Fundamentalist ranks) for fellowship with the so-called “conservative” evangelicals and certain new evangelicals erroneously counted among the conservatives.

Brother Gordon at the outset notes that his article,

…will seek to answer the question of whether the historical lines of separation for Fundamentalists should be scrapped in favor of fresh approaches meant to allow fellowship and cooperation with Conservative Evangelicals.
The article contains quotes such as,
A neglect of the doctrine of separation from brethren will eventually lead to a softer attitude toward ecclesiastical separation in general, and that is an ill wind that does not bode well for the next generation of would-be Fundamentalists.”
The author of the excerpt above is Dr. Rolland McCune, faculty member at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary (DBTS). IMO Dr. McCune's extended comment is especially noteworthy in light of DBTS president *Dave Doran redefining biblical separatism to accommodate and host conservative evangelicals at DBTS, a ministry of Inter-City Baptist Church.

Another remarkable aspect of Dr. McCune’s commentary from 1994 is its striking similarity to recent remarks by DBTS’s Dr. Gerald Priest who, at the pseudo- fundamentalist Sharper Iron site, wrote in reaction to Kevin Bauder’s Let’s Get Clear on This,
Kevin has been quite lavish in his praise of conservative evangelicals while castigating so-called fundamentalists…. What I fear is that we may be allowing a Trojan horse into the fundamentalist camp. And after a while, if we keep going down this track, any significant difference between conservative evangelical and the fundamentalist institutions may disappear.”
Considerations Concerning... is an important contribution to a discussion of the ongoing breakdown of fidelity toward the God-given mandates for separatism. (2 Cor. 6:14-17; Eph. 5:11; 2 John 9-11; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15; Romans 16:17) The article, furthermore, identifies some of the leading contributors to this break down.

Again, I encourage all guests of
IDOTG to link to, read and reflect upon Brother Gordon’s essay, Considerations Concerning the Proclamation of a Post-Fundamentalism Era and the Foundations for Paleo-Evangelicalism, Part 8


Brother Phillips’s has informed me he will publish a new installment in his series Considerations Concerning the Proclamation of a Post-Fundamentalism Era…. Following is a sample.
In the face of such revelations, Fundamentalist organizations and their leaders in particular cannot continue to pretend that nothing is happening. Could it be that some of what we are witnessing are the actions of certain men specifically designed to implement a revolution in Fundamentalism? Are these critics perhaps awaiting another self-created flash point to come along again like what was attempted prior to the 2009 FBFI annual meeting in hopes of finally rising the ire of the dissatisfied masses of YF's to a point that they would demand wholesale changes in Fundamentalist organizations and institutions?
See comment thread for an appendix entry by Dr. Ernest Pickering from his classic Biblical Separation: The Struggle for a Pure Church.

Recent articles at
IDOTG that address the breakdown of biblical separatism include:

*Is There a Second Definition for “Separation” in Academic Contexts? Exposing impressionable students to compromised Christian leaders and scholars is not only dangerous it is an act of disobedience.”

Al Mohler Signs The Manhattan Declaration: Was This a First Time Foray Toward Ecumenism?

Let’s Get “CRYSTAL” Clear on This: A Response to Kevin Bauder’s “Cannonball” Cogitations

John Piper, “I'm Going to Need Help to Know Why I Should Feel Bad About This Decision” to Feature Rick Warren at Desiring God



    Some leaders operate on the principle that they will use speakers who are well-known–even though they may be shaky in their convictions in some areas–because they have specialties that are helpful and thus can be a blessing to their congregations. The wisdom, however, of following this course of action is very doubtful. For instance, the president of a separatist school may be asked to consider using some outstanding Bible preacher in his chapel or Bible conference. The man may have expertise in the Scriptures, be fundamental in doctrine and possess a tremendous gift of communication. He may also be one who goes everywhere, evidencing little discernment in the choice of places where he ministers, speaking one week at the separatist college and perhaps the next at a Bible conference controlled by new evangelicals or their sympathizers. Some see no harm in using such a man. They look only at the messages he delivers from the platform which, in themselves, may be without fault.

    But a man is more than his pulpit messages. He brings to the pulpit a lifetime of associations, actions and perhaps writings. He comes as a total person. Is he in his total ministry the type of person you would want the young people at the separatist college to emulate? Perhaps you, as an adult, mature believer, could make the necessary adjustments in thinking and divorce what he is from what he says. Most of the youth would not be capable of doing that. The same would be true of most church members. They would be influenced by the man’s example as well as by his preaching. If he is a compromiser, his example would be harmful, and the college president would be at fault for setting him up as such. The separatist cause is not advanced by featuring nonseparatist's.

    Dr. Ernest Pickering, Biblical Separation: The Struggle for a Pure Church, p.229 [bold added].

  2. Following are comments I have added to the discussion thread at Gordon's blog.


  3. Gordon:

    Dave Doran wrote to you, “Not sure where you would find any disagreement with Dr. McCune in anything I’ve written on this point. I think I was very clear in my criticism of the Manhatten [sic] Declaration, for instance.

    I am going to add clear evidence that Dave Doran is acting in ways that are contrary to the expressions you quoted from Dr. McCune. In successive comments I will add additional commentary that will address his so-called “criticism of the Manhattan Declaration.”

    In Doran’s blog article, Separation in Academic Contexts he redefines biblical separatism to make two different applications. One for the church and different standard for DBTS, which is a ministry of his local church ICBC. This, therefore, represents a softening of ecclesiastical separation to accommodate his desire to welcome and host the conservative evangelicals. See- Is There a Second Definition for “Separation” in Academic Contexts.

    This is where Doran is cutting against the grain of McCune’s 1994 statement, which he has to my knowledge never retreated from himself.

    A neglect of the doctrine of separation from brethren will eventually lead to a softer attitude toward ecclesiastical separation in general, and that is an ill wind that does not bode well for the next generation of would-be Fundamentalists.

    Doran has IMO irrefutably taken “a softer attitude toward ecclesiastical separation,” by evidence of his redefining separatism to accommodate and host the conservative evangelicals at DBTS, where McCune is on faculty. This clearly, “is an ill-wind that does not bode well for the next generation of would-be Fundamentalists.” It is noteworthy to mention Doran has essentially shed the label “Fundamentalist.”

    Furthermore, Doran wrote an article in 1995 titled, In Defense of Militancy. I included an excerpt from it in my article on the Manhattan Declaration (MD) in the current edition of FrontLine magazine. I partly used the excerpt because it was solid and a clear warning of the dangers with softening our separatist stand.

    Dave Doran has IMO backed away from the resolve toward militancy he expressed in that 1995 article and is at odds with the 1994 article by Dr. McCune that you cited. This seems obvious to me from what I’ve read and/or what is absent at his blog in regard to the conservative evangelical (ce) camp.

    There is an obvious growing affinity for the ce men. An extreme reluctance to sound the “ministry of warning that is so clearly called for over the obvious in the ce camp. A willingness to tolerate, allow for, excuse or ignore the aberrant theology (such as Piper’s Charismatic theology) and the broadening ecumenical compromises, such as Al Mohler signing the MD, which compromised the Gospel. I will continue on this theme in the next comment.


  4. Gordon:

    I’d like to insert a parenthetical thought. Dave Doran suggests some may have a “personal ax to grind.” I am not aware of any one who takes that tact.

    In any event, what Dr. Doran does within the confines of his own church and seminary is the concern of his membership, faculty and students.

    However when he, or any man including you and me, posts his personal views and practices to the public forum they become fair game. When a man publishes in the public venues others come under that influence and may consequently consider and possibly adopt his positions.

    Public commentary from men such as Dave Doran, Kevin Bauder, Al Mohler and John Piper has and I suspect will continue to come under legitimate scrutiny. Especially those views that may contain elements that are contrary to the doctrine which we have learned, and could lead others to abandon fidelity to the unchanging mandates found in the Word of God.


  5. Gordon:

    On Doran’s comment that he has been critical of the Manhattan Declaration (MD) let me at the outset note that he was critical. There is, however, much to review in regard to the MD, especially Doran’s position on “Gospel-driven separation” prior to and his reaction following the signing of the MD.

    Prior to the (MD) is that Doran wrote series on what he described as Gospel-driven separation. Within days the news of Mohler and Duncan signing the MD broke. Doran was spot on in his series over what he deemed necessitated Gospel-driven separation. Signing the MD was a clear example of one of Doran’s three stated scenarios that in his words would establish “biblical obligations…[for] Gospel Driven separation,” from brethren who compromise the Gospel. The scenario he stated was,

    For the sake of the clarity of the gospel, believers and churches must separate from those who compromise the faith by granting Christian recognition and fellowship to those who have denied essential doctrines of the Faith.”

    The signing of the MD was a clear case for, but a clear application of his own definition of the biblical obligations for Gospel-Driven separation have never not applied; why? What was Doran’s ultimate conclusion on the whole MD matter? He concluded by stating (expressed from his blog) to his seminary students that Mohler’s signing the MD was merely, “a wrong decision based on bad judgment.”

    Now that is a far cry from the kind of powerful commentary he expressed in the 1995 article In Defense of Militancy and in his 2009 series from his blog on Gospel-driven separation.

    The Gospel was compromised by Al Mohler and Ligon Duncan when they joined the deadly “enemies of the cross of Christ” (Phil. 3:18) to sign the MD. A clear, uncompromising call for the application of Gospel-driven separation from the ce signatories to the MD is to date nowhere in evidence from the writing ministry of Pastor Dave Doran.

    There is nothing I am aware of in the public venue from Dave Doran cautioning his readers to refrain from attending or endorsing T4G where in its leadership and on the platform are the very men who did, “compromise the faith by granting Christian recognition and fellowship to those who have denied essential doctrines of the Faith.” If that commentary exists I'd be happy to be directed to it. Instead he posts two recent articles at his blog that were somewhat neutral toward, but did contain with some elements of praise for T4G.

    Is there any more obvious indication of a missed opportunity for the application of Gospel-driven separation and/or a mixed message at best?


    For thorough documentation and commentary see- Al Mohler Signs the Manhattan Declaration: Is This a Clear Case for (Dave Doran’s) Gospel Driven Separation?

  6. Lou,

    Thanks for highlighting this series on Fundamentalism.

    I posted its final installment last night.

    "Considerations Concerning the Proclamation of a Post-Fundamentalism Era and the Foundations for Paleo-Evangelicalism, Part 9" can be read at .