February 3, 2012

The Elephant in the Room: “Secondary Separation for Slow Learners

Yesterday, at the My Two Cents blog, a man named Paul Ferguson posted two comments that I feel are worth a wide reading. His comments are posted well down the thread under an article by Chris Anderson titled, My Two Cents on Elephants and Ecclesiastical Separation.

Brother Ferguson’s intial comment appeared here and is as follows.

The “Elephant Room saga” is 1948 secondary separation for slow learners at TGC. In fairness, many of the “Conservative Evangelicals” have practiced a form of separation for many years. When has MacArthur or Baucham preached in a liberal church or on the same platform as liberals?

The point is that they practice separation inconsistently. This current little spat is a case in point. Baucham/Dever etc separate from MacDonald over promotion/dialogue with a Modalist/Prosperity heretic but they don’t over Piper and his dialogues with another false teacher, Rick Warren or Piper’s claims that Mother Theresa is the model of sanctification. Indeed, Mohler also continues to get a pass for his tie ups with the universalist heretic Billy Graham.

We still await a biblical exposition and practical application by the Evangelical crowd of the doctrine of biblical separation. You can search through all of their copious writings and textbooks and you will find it is the doctrine that no one wants to talk about. That is the real “elephant in the room.”
Before his second comment appeared I included one of my own to recognize his excellent contribution and to expand its application.
To this excellent analysis I would only [emphasize] that Piper is routinely given a pass by fellow evangelicals. Furthermore, men in fundamental circles who claim to be biblical separatists are giving Mohler and Piper a pass by refusing to openly mark and admonish them for the egregious (unrepented of) errors noted by Paul above and call on believers to withdraw from and avoid them (Rom. 16:17-18; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15).
Brother Ferguson’s second was,
Chris, I applaud anyone who makes a step in the right direction in respect of separation. It is good that some of the Evangelicals are at last thinking about the idea.

But before we roll out the red carpet, let us remind ourselves that for 60 odd years they were the ones claiming to be the “expositers” and “exegetes.” The Fundamentalist movement were the obscurantists and lacking in exegetical sophistication.

The doctrine of separation began in heaven with the expulsion of Lucifer and carries on till the eternal golden age with the Great White Throne judgment. It is an integral part of Scripture –both OT and NT. So those who claim to have been at the vanguard of biblical exposition such as MacArthur, Dever, Piper et al have either:

(1) Missed a central doctrine of the Bible (2) Deliberately avoided a central doctrine of the Bible for expediency (3) Misunderstood a central doctrine of the Bible

My suspicion is that they are like Jonah – they know what they should do but have deliberately chosen not to do so. I cannot believe that a movement that has been going on for 60 odd years, whose roots were in Fundamentalism, could have missed such an obvious biblical doctrine....
I trust you appreciated these two comments by Paul Ferguson as much as I did.



  1. Excellent. This is precisely why we should NOT roll out the red carpet to this crowd or any other compromising bunch. We could not do this and be obedient to II Thessalonians 3:6. For any honest and humble believer there is no "elephant in the room." Everything is open to discussion and the scrutiny of every Bible passage is allowed to be applied to every area of our lives. This is simply not so with the New-Evangelical.

  2. I hesitate to congratulate a few of these men for "shedding their diapers" in finally coming to some understanding of separation.


    Because they are still in diapers with someone like John Piper. Maybe they changed a really smelly diaper but I am not sure they shed them.

    I do believe Piper will go the course of Pat Robertson and make more and more outlandish statements. I believe he is driven by a very similar mentality.

    And his supporters will double-down in their ego-investment in Piper and when he goes further and further they will refuse to admit what they were wrong about for quite some time and like foolish children bitterly endure the deserved personal humiliation that will come with this association to which they cling.

    On the other hand, another group will just pretend "he never really was part of us" or that they will decided on a policy of silence instead of clearly articulated denouncements of his theological errors.

    And some, will be rescued from his poisonous theology. I once read a description which might explain Piper's popularity with people who might somewhat seem to know better:

    Hugh McCann Says:

    January 11, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    I don’t see what people drool over, either, except that he gets them excited about drooling, I guess.

  3. Alex, Dwight:

    I am for the first time just a little encouraged to see what I think are the first and early glimmers of hope that men in ifb circles who have, for whatever reason, were caught in the current craze over these supposed "conservative" evangelicals are beginning to shed the scales from their eyes and recognize men like Piper, Mohler, etc al. are dangerous compromises.

    Men in our circles (Drs. Bauder and Doran in particular) have far too long been tolerating, ignoring and excusing the ce men for almost every egregious error they committed and will not repent of.

    I think many of the younger guys are finding they can't live in fidelity to the whole counsel of God and keep pretending men like Piper, Mohler, Duncan, Mahaney are the best example to be emulated.

    The "but they write such good books" mantra is finished. Largely because there is an obvious and huge disconnect between much of they write and what they do.

    Bottom line, for now is that Paul Ferguson got it right.


  4. Appreciate the article Lou, Paul is spot on with his analysis. It is good to see some eyes starting to open but I am not going to hold my breath on this one. I don't want to rain on the parade but the issues are still there concerning our rejection of CE whether they are willing to separate from others farther to their left or not. As I see this unfolding I am not seeing these men moving to the right toward a fundamentalist position.
    Encouraged, yes, but I will wait this one out. I'm thinking that now that this ER2 is in the rearview mirror and receding, things will start to be same-old, same-old again in the CE community. I know time will tell.

  5. Hi Brian:

    Like you I don't believe there is going to be anything lasting or growing among the ce men in regards to separation. My encouragement is drawn what appears to be an awakening among some on fundamental circles to the egregious actions of the likes of Piper and Mohler.


  6. Thanks Brother Lou. I am glad that there are some men who are not dazzled by the big names of the Evangelical world.

    Like the Apostle Paul we rejoice when Christ is truly preached, but we reserve the right to point out the inconsistency and failures of those who stand in the pulpits of Christendom. If Paul could call Peter publicly to task, then surely it is right for us to call Piper, MacDonald et al also. May God give us the grace to stand the same scrutiny.