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Dancing with Those Who Dance with Wolves -- Second Degree Separation

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"Separation from Christians Who Aren't Exactly Like Us. I have a friend who is an Independent Fundamental Baptist pastor. He told me he is friends with a local Southern Baptist Pastor who he believe is genuinely saved, even though they don't agree on Bible translation or on how much starch needs to be in your suit (I made that up"but I think it's an issue). When the SBC pastor was out of town, he asked the IFB pastor to fill in for him. He did, and all went well. But months later my friend felt a need to apologize to his congregation for doing so, because, in his words, "It sent the wrong message to my flock." I was stunned. "Sent what message? That those folks might be saved? That they may love Jesus just as much as your church does? That you might spend all eternity together in Heaven? That you ought to love them as brothers and sisters in Christ? Exactly what message do you think it sent?!" I really don't understand that mentality. Obviously, it's true in nature that "birds of a feather flock together." We all naturally feel more comfortable around people who think and act exactly as we do. It would be hard for me to attend a church exclusively full of young hipsters because if I tried to be hip, I'd probably throw my hip out! But, just because I'm not attending their church, it doesn't mean I should treat them with contempt or assume they are any less godly than I am, simply because they sport cool hairdos and drink lattes, and I don't. (I don't sport ANY hairdo"but that's beside the point!) I have many Christian friends who do not believe or live exactly the same way that I do. Some of my other friends may wish I would separate with them over doctrinal differences, but I will not, unless they are Core Doctrines. We may not start a church or ministry together, but we can still be friends. Immaturity is another issue. I'm not inclined to follow popular leaders who I deem to be spiritually immature (a student becomes like his teacher -- Luke 6:40), but I also need to avoid condemning someone who is immature and sometimes unwise. Remember that John Mark eventually became useful to the Apostle Paul, even though they parted ways for a while and didn't continue to do ministry together." -- Israel Wayne

Whether Wayne intended to or not this just muddies the water. I do not know any discernment minister who rails against hairdos and lattes. The issue must always be doctrinal. Now granted the latte drinking fauxhawk pastor at age 50 smacks of desperation to look relevant to the world. Regardless, someone like Mark Driscoll was never denounced for wearing a Mickey Mouse tee-shirt while he preached but rather that Mickey Mouse had better theology than he did. Likewise, no discernment ministry I have seen condemns anyone for being immature. The example provided make no sense. John Mark was not preaching falsely.

"Second-Degree Separation. Clearly, the Bible teaches the importance of Christians separating themselves away from others under certain conditions. What gets trickier, is the concept promoted in many Fundamentalist circles (which incidentally is the religious affiliation of most "discernment bloggers"), of second-degree separation. This is the view that we should not merely separate ourselves from sinful people, or those in doctrinal error, but also from anyone who associates with such people. Again there is a difference between being close friends with someone who teaches a false gospel (denying the core doctrines of the faith), and being friends with a person who is wrong on a lower-level doctrine (one that does not impact our salvation). Some of the issues on which true Christians disagree are issues such as: Method of baptism (sprinkling/pouring vs. immersion), Cessationism vs. Continuationism (are all the gifts of the Spirit in effect today), Egalitarianism vs. Complementarianism (roles of men and women in the home and church), Old Earth / Young Earth Creationism, Eschatology (end-times views), Bible translations, worship styles, etc. None of those issues are core doctrines that impact whether someone is saved. They are important (don't get me wrong!)! Someone is right, and someone is wrong in almost all those discussions. I am NOT saying those doctrines don't matter to us in our Christian walk. They do! But they will not save you. Faith in Christ alone will save you. So, you can be saved, and be wrong on many of these issues. Because we all feel strongly about these doctrines, it is hard for us to just "agree to disagree." On one level, I don't believe we need to do that. I believe we can discuss and even debate these doctrines"vigorously. But we need to do so with love, recognizing that this man or woman with whom we disagree is our brother or sister in Christ. He or she is NOT a heretic and should not be treated like one. That egregious denotation belongs to someone who denies the Virgin Birth, the Deity of Christ, the Resurrection, etc. (doctrines that DO impact our very salvation). We should treat heretics quite differently from brothers and sisters (who are wrong on a point or two)." -- Israel Wayne

Let's review the issues he presents first. Method of baptism is not a crucial doctrine, although baby baptism is heretical because it teaches the removal of original sin. Cessationism or continuationism I agree are not crucial but the abuse of the gifts never occurs in a vacuum. It is always accompanied by false teachings. Eschatology can differ. While I know the bible teaches women are not to preach or teach with authority over men, I can be friends with someone who disagrees with that. Bible translations are trickier because people who use the Message, which is not a translation, do so because they are immersed in false teaching. Any solid teacher would caution listeners to not use false sources such as the Message. Worship styles may sound benign but so much heresy is found in modern worship and you do not want to be supporting such heretics as Hillsong, Bethel, IHOP or Elevation. By the way, bothers or sisters caught up in heretical teachings are to ministered to in love so that they might come out from the darkness. Discernment ministries expose the false teacher, not their victims.

"Contending for the Faith, or Just Being Contentious? A favorite passage of many of these discernment bloggers is: Philippians 1:27-28 -- "Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; 28And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God." We are called to "strive for the faith of the gospel," but Paul also warns us: Second Timothy 2:23-26 -- "But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. 24And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will." What is the difference here? I think it can be as simple as asking, "Is it a Gospel issue?" If it is, we need to call out those promoting a false faith as being heretics. If it isn't a salvation issue, we gently seek to present the truth, with the hope that those who are in error will see their mistake and realign with the truth." -- Israel Wayne

I hesitantly agree because this sure seems to whitewash false teaching a bit. Specifically those that associate with them. For example, Francis Chan was the darling of the evangelical world until he shared the stage with heretic Mike Bickle and proclaimed how much he loved him. Dr. Michael Brown defends everyone from Bill Johnson to Benny Hinn. Is Israel Wayne suggesting that does not matter because it should. Who we lend our credibility to does matter. Who we lead people to does matter. It is useless to the body of Christ to write a book against antinomianism and then say that Joseph Prince is a good brother in the Lord, as Michael Brown did. No he is not. He is a voracious wolf and now you are enabling him to devour more sheep. Call it second degree separation or whatever you want but Michael Brown and Francis Chan are more dangerous than the wolves they protect.

"Examples of Second-Degree Separation:

Case #1: This week I was told by a Christian woman that she would have nothing to do with a certain Christian woman author (who is a Complementarian, believing women shouldn't be pastors), because she had once spoken at the same conference with a different Christian author who is an Egalitarian (who believes that women can be pastors -- although she isn't one herself). I'm pretty sure the two authors aren't even friends, but they did speak at the same women's conference.

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
 
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