In the book “Why Most Independent Baptist Churches Will Be Emerging within 20 Years,” one of the reasons we give is that most are operating within the sphere of “soft separatism.” This refers to a church that claims to believe in separation, but it is a separatism that is weak and ineffective to protect the people. The rejection of separation begins softly and quietly. It is something that is difficult to put one’s finger on. It is a change of mood as much as anything. It is a change of emphasis. Those who are at the outset of rejecting separatism are offended when someone challenges them that this might be happening. The rejection of separation begins with a mere change in mood toward a more positive emphasis and a somewhat greater tolerance of error. It is a gradual loss of militant zeal in the defense of the faith. The first step in the rejection of separation can be identified not so much by what a preacher or a church or a Bible College does or says as by what it fails to do and what it neglects to say. The following questions can help identify whether or not an institution is going soft on separation: Are clear warnings issued from the pulpit? Does it invite separatist preachers to blow the trumpet against compromise in a plain way, including naming of the names of key compromisers? Does it warn more about disunity and “fragmentation” than it does about compromise? Does it dislike men who give plain public warnings about compromise? Does it ever host a conference on separation and use that forum to give clear warning on issues? Does it publicly and unhesitatingly identify itself with separatists? Is separation something that was once preached, talked about, and practiced but now left out of the agenda? Does it recommend literature on separation and literature that contains clear warnings about important issues? What is in the bookstore? Does it recommend books by New Evangelicals? Is the institution affiliating with those who are careless in their associations? Is the institution warming up to “conservative evangelicals”? Is the institution affiliating with those who use CCM and contemporary Southern Gospel and perhaps moving toward adopting this music itself? CCM is not just music; it is a philosophy of Christianity that is diametrically opposed to separatism, and CCM and a separatist stance cannot and will not live long in harmony.
(Friday Church News Notes, May 25, 2012, www.wayoflife.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, 866-295-4143)
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