15 Dec Error and Separation
2 Thessalonians 3:6 – “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.”
2 John 10–11, “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.
Romans 16:17 – “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.”
For years, I have warned the Christians in the churches and ministries I have been involved with and fellow pastor friends about the dangers of not having firm convictions and standards concerning fellowship. I am grieved at the apostasy I see in fundamentalism and completely frustrated with those who feel that they are somehow immune to ungodly influences. I have lost so many friends to liberalism, the seeker sensitive, emerging, and reformed church movements…I cannot bear to lose another.
The argument that I hear the most is that they can “glean” from wherever they want to and don’t see that they themselves have become the perfect example of why that is unwise. They warn their people about being cast about by every wind of doctrine, while they expose themselves to error and heresy on a daily basis in their studies and without at conferences and fellowships. There is a chemistry of separation that teaches us that that which is clean is always profaned by that which is unclean. They have dirtied themselves with false doctrine and it has begun to take roots in our Fundamental Baptist Churches. There are some who tell me they have the ability to “eat the meat and spit out the bones” all the while there is a big lump in their throats evidencing the fact that that claim is not true.
Nearly four centuries ago a fellow named William Perkins made a useful distinction that there is a working difference between error and heresy. He wrote that ,“error of itself is no ground for breaking fellowship, that any doctrinal discrepancy between two Christians means that one or both are in error. The Bible does not on that account command them to separate from each other. Heresy is another matter; heresy is error, but error that strikes at the very roots of the faith, and heresy is always grounds for breaking fellowship.”
As a local church pastor, I am fully aware that we are going to differ on a lot of things. However, when it comes to doctrinal differences, something has to give. I had decided a long time ago that I would not attend conferences, fellowships, preacher’s meetings, etc. where non-Baptist preachers take the pulpit and preach from corrupt versions of the Bible. I would not fellowship with men who are modernists or believe in systems of sacramental grace. I would not fellowship with those from the New Age Movement or any other cult, whether Adventist, Eddyist, Masonic, Mormon, Unificationist, Unitarian, or Watchtower. I am of the same opinion still. Now, we have new fronts with the emerging church and reformed church movements; both filled with false doctrine and heresy (Calvinism) that we need to protect ourselves from…and the churches that God has made us overseers of. As much as we try to treat one another with Christian grace, somebody is in error…why do we choose not to divide over such error? Decisions to withdraw from, avoid, and mark those in such error is neither gossip or slander and has behind them the command and blessing of our Lord Jesus Christ. The divisions caused by these disorderly, contrary doctrinal offenses is the worst kind of discord…let us all be on guard…and walk after the tradition we have received.