“Conservative evangelicalism encompasses a diverse spectrum of Christian leaders. Representatives include John Piper, Mark Dever, John MacArthur, Charles Ryrie, Bruce Ware, Bryan Chapell, Wayne Grudem, D. A. Carson, Al Mohler, Tim Keller, John D. Hannah, Ed Welch, Ligon Duncan, Tom Nettles, C. J. Mahaney, Norman Geisler, and R. C. Sproul. Conservative evangelical organizations include Together for the Gospel (T4G), the Gospel Coalition, the Master’s Seminary, the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors, the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (at least in its better moments), and Ligonier Ministries. These individuals and organizations exhibit a remarkable range of differences, but they can be classed together because of their vigorous commitment to and defense of the gospel...The “Conservative Evangelicals” have a great articulator in Dr. Bauder. Dr. Bauder gives a positive overview of the movement but says nothing as to their position on ecumenism and Biblical Separation. Read again Dr. Bauder’s definition of neo-evangelicalism. According to his definition, New Evangelicals of the past would qualify as “Conservative Evangelicals” today. Very Interesting. Can this be? Dr. David Beale in his book, In Pursuit of Purity, states “According to (Harold J.) Ockenga’s definition ( of new-evangelicalism which phrase he coined), new evangelicalism differs from Fundamentalism in three major areas: (1) a repudiation of the doctrine of separation; (2) a summons to greater social involvement; and (3)a determination to engage in theological dialogue with liberalism.”1 How is it that according to Dr. Bauder, “Conservative Evangelicals are not New Evangelicals”, yet the founder of New Evangelicalism labels the three major areas of difference from Fundamentalism that current “Conservative Evangelicals” identify with? I do not buy Dr. Bauder’s statement. Dr. Bauder’s “Conservative Evangelicals” repudiate the doctrine of separation, they are for greater social involvement, and they are determined to engage in theological dialogue with liberalism as is seen by their associations with what are considered liberal religious organizations.
Conservative evangelicals are different from Fundamentalists, but they are not new evangelicals. New evangelicals were committed to a policy of re-infiltrating ecclesiastical organizations that had been captured by apostates. They wanted to live in peaceful coexistence with apostasy. They were willing to recognize certain apostates as fellow-Christians and to cooperate with them in the Lord’s work. These are attitudes that conservative evangelicals explicitly reject. To apply this label to a conservative evangelical is completely unwarranted.
Frankly, conservative evangelicals do seem to take doctrine more seriously today than many Fundamentalists do. Not that the Fundamentalists are unwilling to discuss doctrine! Many of them are at this moment arguing for a “biblical” doctrine of the perfect preservation of the King James Version or of the Textus Receptus. Others have speculated that the work of redemption was not completed until Christ carried His material blood into the heavenly tabernacle, there to abide as a perpetual memorial before the presence of the Father. Still others have engaged in shrill campaigns of anti-Calvinism while defending theories of human nature that almost beg to be described as Pelagian. Such Fundamentalists are too numerous to be dismissed as aberrations—indeed, their tribe seems to be increasing.
Conservative evangelicals have oriented themselves by fixed points of doctrine. They have scoured apostasy from the world’s largest seminary. They have debunked Open Theism. They have articulated and defended a Complementarian position against evangelical feminism. They have rebutted the opponents of inerrancy. They have exposed and refuted the New Perspective on Paul. They have challenged the Emergent Church and laid bare its bankruptcy”.
In addition, as early as 1956, Christian Life magazine carried a descriptive article on New Evangelicalism and listed eight general features of the movement: (1) “A friendly attitude toward science”;(2) “A willingness to re-examine beliefs concerning the work of the Holy Spirit”; (3) “A more tolerant attitude toward varying views on eschatology”: (4) “A shift away from so – called extreme dispensationalism”; (5) “An increased emphasis on scholarship”; (6) “A more definite recognition of social responsibility”; (7) “A re-opening of the subject of biblical inspiration”; (8) “A growing willingness of evangelical theologians to converse with liberal theologians.”2 It sounds very much like “Conservative Evangelicals” to me. Or are they New Evangelicals? Nowhere in these eight things is there a reference to “peaceful co-existence with apostasy.” Rather, the new-evangelical wanted the opportunity to dialogue with liberalism.
In addition, Dr. Bauder makes the strong assertion that Conservative Evangelicals have “scoured apostasy from the world's largest seminary.” Is this not Puritanism, rather than separatism? When I read of Dr. R. Albert Mohler and Dr. Timothy George signing the Manhattan Declaration in September of 2009 in cooperation with Roman Catholics and the National and World Council of Churches’ members, my first thought was, “This is cooperation with apostasy!” With one sweep of the pen, however, Dr. Bauder has declared that Conservative Evangelicals are not new-evangelical and that Conservative Evangelicals have “scoured” apostasy from the world’s largest seminary without providing any proof. What Dr. Bauder seems to be alluding is that staying in and “scouring” rather than separating from apostasy really does work after all! He is ignoring the history of past attempts to “scour apostasy” by giving tacit approval of what these men have supposedly done, that is, staying in and not coming out from among them yet without giving any real proof this has actually happened. History has always proven that “trying to clean out apostasy while staying in” leads to apostasy not to purity. I would encourage all to read the late Dr. Ernest Pickering’s books, Biblical Separation: The Struggle For a Pure Church and The Tragedy of Compromise. (Note: Dr. Earnest Pickering was past president of Central Baptist [Theological] Seminary)
Separation is God’s answer to apostasy in any generation!
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them, and I will be their god, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (II Cor. 6:14 – 7:1).
Dr. Bauder does often speak on separation issues, yet seems to have blind spots regarding separation from disobedient brethren and ecclesiastical separation.(Matthew 18:15-18; Romans 16:17-18; I Cor. 5:1-13; II Thessalonians 3:6, 14-15; Titus 3:9-10). Is there absolutely no separation issue here with “conservative evangelicals?” Read on.
Dr. Mark Dever has become the new darling of those who profess to be Fundamentalists. Dr. Dever is considered to be “scary smart” by his close associates and has a charming personality. There is no question that he is a brilliant scholar and considered to be conservative in his understandings of the Gospel and an apologist for the same, though many are concerned of his commitment to Reformed dogma. However, when it comes to doctrinal issues such as Biblical Separation, he is way off the mark of Scripture. Dr. Mark Minnick, Pastor of Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Greenville, SC, and a professor at Bob Jones University, was on Dr. Dever’s radio program in Washington nearly two years ago to debate the issue of ecclesiastical separation and that of separation from disobedient brethren. It is clear from that interview that Dr. Dever does not share Fundamentalist views on ecclesiastical separation or secondary separation. In addition, let it be known that Dr. Mark Dever also serves on the Board of Directors of Southern Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. Though this Seminary is considered by some to be “conservative,” it is funded and supported by the compromising Southern Baptist Convention. Space does not permit a full examination of the compromises of the current Southern Baptist Convention but they are well documented.
Capitol Hill Baptist Church, (Mark Dever is Pastor there), is a member of the District of Columbia Baptist Convention which is affiliated with the following three national associations: American Baptist Churches, USA; Southern Baptist Convention, and the Progressive National Baptist Convention.3 The American Baptist Churches, USA and the Progressive National Baptist Convention are both members of the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches which are both blatantly apostate. In addition, the American Baptist Churches, USA and the Progressive National Baptist Convention maintain affiliation with the Baptist World Alliance which in turn maintains ecumenical relations with the apostate Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (Roman Catholic Church). It does not take a person long to realize that Mark Dever’s associations and that of his church reveal associations with apostasy. If I am playing Ring-Around-the-Rosie and I join hands with Mark Dever, and Mark Dever joins hands with the District of Columbia Baptist Convention, and the District of Columbia Baptist Convention joins hands with the American Baptist Churches, USA, Southern Baptist Convention, and around to the Baptist World Alliance and the World Council of Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, sooner or later we come full circle and we realize that we all are holding hands together.
“From Genesis to Revelation the doctrine of a moral law of God, namely the Biblical Doctrine of Separation is there. More is said in the Bible on this subject than on salvation. In fact, the Doctrine of Separation is involved in the doctrine of salvation. God’s Word clearly teaches separation from alien religions, from idolatry, and from apostasy. Furthermore, it teaches that true believers separate themselves from professing believers who are disobedient. But this new religion, calling itself evangelical, not only ignores the doctrine but treats with scorn those who adhere to it.”.”4Helgerson further remarks,
“Its attitude toward the doctrine of separation is that it is outmoded, unrealistic, and incompatible with the contemporary emphasis on love (editor: Christian Unity). Pride of intellect is characteristic of this movement. It looks to the demonstrable, takes the position that the only passages of Scripture to have validity in our day are those which the human intellect can recognize as worthwhile
|Mahaney, Mohler, Duncan, Dever|
There is a joining together of former Fundamentalists discontented with Biblical Separation, tired of the “old Fundamental prohibitions” and those who were never Biblical Separatists, but somewhat conservative in their doctrine, open on eschatology, open on social drinking, and open on music that blends a decent message with the music of the corrupt culture. They are meeting in the middle, so to speak. Their common ground: Rejection of Biblical Separation. Basically, they are saying, “Accept me on my terms: Don’t criticize who I hang out with, what I listen to, what I watch, what I drink, where I go, who I follow, what associations I maintain. Those are under ‘Christian liberty’ and, therefore, are off limits.” I ask you, is this Biblical?
If we say we believe in the authority of the Scriptures, then we must also believe that it authoritatively speaks to all areas of life and godliness. It stands to reason that limited or watered down authority is not a sovereign authority. The Non-Separatist Evangelical reins in the authority of the Scriptures and limits it to certain areas it deems as core doctrine. However, daily life is considered under the realm of personal tastes, rather than under the domain of the authority of the Word of God. The Non-Separatist Evangelical has so compartmentalized his or her life that they only apply God’s authoritative Word to certain areas deemed what I call “God zones;” refusing to apply them to those areas deemed “My life zones!” This, of course, is the height of arrogance and self-love and reduces the Scriptures to nothing more than a salad bar where we pick and choose what we like and leave behind what we don’t like!
Corrupt self-love is the heart of apostasy. II Timothy 3:1-9 indicates that in the last days perilous times shall come. What will be the key note of the last days? Self-love and the satisfaction of self! Professors of faith in Christ will demonstrate in the last days the characteristics of being: “lovers of self, covetous (loving things that we do not possess and willing to do anything to have them), boasters (self-praise), proud (self-love), blasphemers (loving what God hates), disobedient to parents (loving my self-will over and against the authority placed over me), unthankful (loving what I have without being thankful for it), unholy (loving the profane), without natural affection (having unnatural concepts of love for children, spouses, animals, fellow man, the environment, etc), ...lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (that is the practice of Biblical separation!). Dear reader, can the Bible be any clearer? Separation is God’s answer to the corruption of apostasy, yet that very truth is what is being rejected by the Non-Separatist Evangelical.
What is lost in the passing of Fundamentalism? Lost is the Biblical truth of going outside the camp to Christ, bearing His reproach, contempt, abuse and shame. We are laying down our arms to pick up the olive branch. Militant, Separatist Fundamentalism is anathema to the Non-Separatist Evangelical and, in their estimation, the sooner it is buried the better. Dear Reader, all I can say is, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”In my opinion, Dr. Bauder is seeking to administer the morphine of “Conservative Evangelicalism” to ailing Fundamentalism to finally put it to sleep.
Reprinted by permission: The Projector, Fall 2010. Ω
1) David O. Beale, In Pursuit of Purity: American Fundamentalism Since 1850, Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University Press, 1986, p. 262.
2) Beale, pp. 256 – 266.
3) http//dcbaptist.org Look under Capitol Hill Baptist Church and its affiliations. “Google” American Baptist Churches, USA and Progressive National Baptist Convention and see their ties to the National Council of Churches, World Council of Churches, Baptist World Alliance, and the Roman Catholic Pontifical Council Promoting Christian Unity.
4) Pastor Carlton Helgerson, The Challenge of a New Religion, Burlington, MA: The Church of the Open Bible, 1971, p. 11, 19
5) http//t4g.org/uploads/pdf/affirmations-denials.pdf See Article XVII
Site Publisher’s Note:
It has come to my attention that there may be several errors in this article on the biography of Dr. Mark Dever. Yesterday I addressed one of them. Today, however, I’d like to offer additional details for your consideration.
1) On the District of Columbia Baptist Convention- I have confirmed that Mark Dever and/or his church are not a member of this organization. In fact, there is a story in Christianity Today (2002) where Dever himself makes this very clear. You will find the link to that interview in the thread below.
2) On the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS)- Mark Dever is not a member of the SBTS board. Mark Dever is, however, noted at sites such as Wikipedia as a long-standing member of SBTS’s board of trustees.
3) On the radio program in Washington- Mark Dever does not have his own radio broadcast that I am aware of. In May 2008, however, Mark Dever conducted a 9Marks interview with Dr. Mark Minnick. I tried to provide a link to that interview, but according to several online sources it “could not be found or has been intentionally disabled by the content owner.”
I have alerted the author of this article to these biographical concerns. He has informed me that he is doing additional research to either reconfirm what he has written, revise or retract what may be in error. I appreciate the contact from several men who have with a good motive and spirit brought these things to my attention.
For related reading see:
Conservative Evangelicalism’s Distortion of the Doctrine of Separation, by Dr. Lance Ketchum
“In recent years we have had men rise up out of professed Bible believing Christianity (commonly referred to as Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism) to propose that Scriptural separation is not intended to maintain local church purity (Ecclesiastical purity) relating to doctrinal purity and practice, but merely intended to maintain purity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore they propose that local churches should not separate over other lesser important doctrines such as issues of Church polity, Pneumatology, or Eschatology (to mention a few areas they propose as lesser important areas of Truth). I believe this is little more than another level of an attempt to keep Bible believing Christianity culturally relevant in a national and world culture where true Bible believing Christianity is being rapidly relegated into cultural obscurity.”Kevin Bauder and Dave Doran to Join mark Dever at Lansdale: Is This a Fundamentalism Worth Saving?
Excusing the Brother for the Sake of His Sister: Is This the New “Fresh Application” of Biblical Separation Principles?
A Letter From Dr. Richard V. Clearwaters to Kevin Bauder