“Toleration, an acceptance of widely varying theological concepts - a mood of broadmindedness,” is the present day “mood” of certain high profile men in fundamental Baptist circles and the lesser-known, many of whom you will find at Sharper Iron.2 The admonition from Dr. Ernest Pickering is as needed and applicable today as it was then (1985). Only the names of who should heed his ministry of warning have changed. Self-identified separatists are becoming increasingly New Evangelical in “mood” as they cast off what some have labeled the “ugliness” of separatism.I, with others, was involved in the original conflicts over ecumenical evangelism. Some of us raised the first cries against the principles of the “new evangelicalism.” We have labored for years to defend our young people, our churches and our educational institutions against the watered-down theology and middle-of-the-road philosophy held by many of those with whom you would have us unite. The arguments we hear now we recall very vividly hearing thirty years ago from those who wanted us to move beyond the “fundamentalist-modernist controversy” to a more “centrist” position. The new evangelical movement began years ago with what one astute observer aptly called a “mood.” Moods are difficult to define sometimes, but they nonetheless can be real and potent forces. Theirs was a mood of toleration, an acceptance of widely varying theological concepts - a mood of “broadmindedness.” We fear such moods since we have seen, within our lifetime, their final outcome - a full-blown movement steeped in compromise. We believe we sense such a mood abroad today among those who, in all sincerity no doubt, think we should broaden our bases and reshape our image.1
The Rev. Billy Graham justified his compromise based on the exaltation of the Gospel at the expense of obedience to “picky” things. Today, the recurring theme from men who are reaching out to and ministering in cooperation with evangelicals takes these forms: We are “separated unto the Gospel,” we practice “Gospel-driven separation.”3
Since it is very difficult to oppose the Gospel, these men are moving confidently toward compromise—possibly under the impression that only the most discerning will notice. If my only concern, or even my main concern, is the Gospel, and virtually everything else is secondary, I have staked out great latitude in my choices in every area—both in personal and ecclesiastical separation. If, however, I make the entire Bible my “rule of faith and practice,” I find myself far more confined.
Rather than the evangelistic meetings of Billy Graham the new form of latitude for converging with non-separatist evangelicals is conducted through meetings of theological/academic concerns. These initial meetings will yield new and greater forms of compromise. This is the pathway of the NEW “New” Evangelicalism!With recent events in mind it is clear now that self-described biblical separatists will not be confined by the whole counsel of God.
“Theirs was a mood of toleration, an acceptance of widely varying theological concepts - a mood of ‘broadmindedness.’ We fear such moods since we have seen, within our lifetime, their final outcome - a full-blown movement steeped in compromise.”And so it is again, today! Kevin Bauder, Dave Doran, Matt Olson, Tim Jordan are attempting to influence this and the next generation with a “mood of toleration and broadmindedness” for the sake of unity with evangelicals. In forging strategic new alliances with evangelicals they must and have tolerated doctrinal aberrations, cultural relativism, worldliness in ministry and ecumenical compromises of the evangelicals. Any legitimate ministry of warning must, furthermore, be muted or killed off for the sake of growing this fledgling new unity.
We are witnessing a Gospel-centric mood, a “movement steeped in compromise” through a watering-down of, a nullification, an abandonment of the God-given mandates for separatism.
1) Dr. Ernest Pickering: Should Fundamentalists & Evangelicals Unite? An evaluation of Edward Dobson’s book, In Search of Unity (emphasis added). Kevin Mungons, as well as the leadership at Sharper Iron (SI), will have us believe that the principles and practice of separatism coming from Drs. Bauder, Doran, Olson, Jordan is no different than that of Dr. Ernest Pickering.
2) SI has never posted a main page article that was positive and uplifting toward Fundamentalism. SI’s leadership (admins/moderators/publisher), most of the few active participants and in its blogroll are heavily slanted toward and biased on behalf the star personalities of the so-called “conservative” evangelicalism and their conferences. See, I Had to Ask: How Does This Sharper Me?
3) Dr. Dave Doran: Starting at the Right Spot, Nov. 23, 2009. See also, Is This a Clear Case for “Gospel-Driven Separation?”
Dr. Ernest Pickering, “The Separatist Cause is Not Advanced by Featuring Non-Separatists.”
Is There a Second Definition for “Separation in Academic Contexts?”
Do the Scriptures allow for two sets of standards for the definition and application of biblical separatism? Is there one standard for the God ordained mandates for believers in a local church and a different, moderated, redefined standard for believers in a ministry under the auspices of a local church? We address this new form of separatism presented in an article by Pastor Dave Doran.Is Northland International University “Unchanged”?
Preserving the Separatist Impulse