This is going to be a controversial post. Some of you will wonder why it is controversial. The topic itself does not seem to be that big of a deal. However, I serve as a pastor in a fellowship of churches where the issue if ecclesiastical separation (i.e. churches separating from other churches because they differ in areas of belief) is a major concern. My views are probably very different from many of my colleagues’ views. Please do not take this post as representative of the standard position of other pastors in our fellowship. It is not.
Actually, my plan with this post is just to introduce the topic of separation by giving the “official” position of the GARBC (General Association of Regular Baptist Churches). Here is the official stance of our fellowship taken directly from the doctrinal statement found on the GARBC website:
We believe in obedience to the Biblical commands to separate ourselves unto God from worldliness and ecclesiastical apostasy. 2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:9, 10; 1 Timothy 6:3-5; Romans 16:17; 2 John 9-11.
My plan is to do a follow-up post to this one where I will look at each of the passages cited above in support of biblical separation and then also look at how this doctrine has been understood within our fellowship (and perhaps by others).
For now, I would like to get your feedback regarding this issue. How far should we take the Bible’s commands to separate ourselves from false teaching? Does this mean that Baptists should not partner with Methodists, or Lutherans, or other Baptists because we do not believe exactly the same things? What if we do believe the same things, but we happen to come from different Baptist groups? Where do we draw the line? Share your thoughts. I will share mine in the next day or so with a follow-up post.
Update: The follow-up post to this article is located here.