Degrees of Separation

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by swaimj, Dec 16, 2001.

  1. swaimj

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    Seems like this topic was covered sometime ago, but as I had some seminary classes that covered it this semester, I wanted to bring it up. I see a biblical basis for two degrees of separation:

    First degree: Separation from unbelievers based on II Cor 6:14-7:1

    Second degree: Separation from disobedient Christians based on Rom 16:17 and I Thess 3:6, 14,15

    Do you see more/less; and what is the biblical basis?
     
  2. Chris Temple

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by swaimj:

    Do you see more/less; and what is the biblical basis?
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    You just gave it, didn't you? ;)
     
  3. swaimj

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    I think so, but some fundametalists would take separation further. Also, I want to see if some define what they practice in a different way. BTW Chris, please don't take this as an attack, but most fundamental Baptists in the south (I'm originally from NC) are people who left or their forebears left the SBC in the 50's and 60's and would consider SBCers as not practicing 2nd degree separation since the SBC has liberals in it. I realize that the SBC leadership has tried (and it seems has largely succeeded) in ridding the seminaries of liberals, but the movement to do this occured in the 70's and 80s, long after independent Baptists had left the convention.
     
  4. dfd2

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    I grew up GARBC and the why it would work it self out as a church. Would be for example the church would seperate itself from an apostate church, the RCC. And then also the GARBC church would seperate itself from a church(even if that church was biblically sound etc..) that assoc with an apostate church or association. The GARBC assoc of churches came out of the North to fight against liberal theology and compromise at the turn of the century.
     
  5. Gina B

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    Add Titus 3:10 to that.....
    More separation than from unbelievers and disobedient Christians? There's nothing left after that to be separated from! [​IMG]
    Gina
     
  6. Larry

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    I know this is sort of covered in the “Second degree” but I think it deserves mention. Those who preach a “soft Gospel” 2 Corinthians 11:4 & Galatians 1:9
     
  7. Pastor Larry

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    I think discussion of "second degree separation" is a misnomer. Believers are to separate from two kinds of people (ecclesiastically): Unbelievers and disobedient believers.

    The "second degree" supposedly referse to "Do we separatre from those who refuse to separate from unbelievers or disobedient believers?"

    The question is not the degree but rather the state of obedience. If someone is disobedient and refuses to repent, we are to separate from them.
     
  8. Aaron

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    What is meant by 1st and 2nd degree?
     
  9. swaimj

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    The term "degree" probably originates with writings between Bob Jones, Jr. and John R. Rice when they disagreed with one another as to what necessitated separating from a brother. Both separated from Billy Graham when he practiced ecumenical evangelism, but Rice continued to associate with conservative Southern Baptists (like R.G. Lee for example). Jones held that a conservative Southern Baptist was compromising because he remained in an organization which harbored liberals. Rice associated with them because he felt that they were staying in the convention in an effort to clean it up. That becomes a question of whether you choose to see the cup as half full or half empty. "Degree" probably refers to how far from the truth the person is from whom one is separating. Is the person denying doctrine itself or are they associating with someone who denies it. The first case is first degree and the second is second degree. Since both Jones and Rice are dead, maybe we should bury the term as well. The more biblical terminology, as Chris and Pastor Larry have said, is unbelievers and disobedient believers.
     
  10. Optional

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    Did Jesus adhere to the 2 degrees of separation being spoken of here?

    I minister to drug addicts and homeless people on a regular basis. If I separated myself from them - how could I do that?

    Now if you're speaking of a lifestyle of just hanging out for no reason...
     
  11. Pastor Larry

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Optional:
    I minister to drug addicts and homeless people on a regular basis. If I separated myself from them - how could I do that?
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    This issue is really separated from the issue under discussion here. "Separation" as a doctrine refers to ecclesiastical/ministerial ties regarding to with whom we minister, not those to whom we minister. It is a professional/ministerial/ecclesiastical issue rather than a personal one.

    The first and second degree issue I think did arise from Jones Jr, and Rice ... or at least become popularized with them. It dealt with "Do we separate from those who refuse to separate?" IN other words, if someone "did everything right" except fail to separate from someone, did we separate from them? Was their lack of separation an issue to separate over? It was really an unfortunate term.

    The issue in separation is not "degrees" per se. It is simply this: Is Pr/Dr. "A" in obedience to the commands of Scripture? If so, then we can have association; if not, then we cannot. When someone fails to separate from someone they should separate from, then they are not in obedience. Therefore, the "second degree" is not really a "second degree" at all; it is a "first degree" separation from someone who refuses to be obedient to Scripture.

    Admittedly, it becomes a confusing issue at some point and people do differ on what necessitates separation.
     
  12. Karen

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Pastor Larry:

    .....
    When someone fails to separate from someone they should separate from, then they are not in obedience.
    ......
    Admittedly, it becomes a confusing issue at some point and people do differ on what necessitates separation.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I am not intending to hijack this thread to a discussion of Christians and divorce. But I do think such an issue illustrates well why separation does become a confusing issue.
    I do better sometimes with a concrete example.

    My SBC individual church will not ordain as a deacon anyone who has been divorced. I disagree with this but am in the minority view. I think that they emphasize one thing on the list of qualifications and hardly look at others, such as how you raise your children. However, I don't argue about it.
    (Neither I nor my husband have ever been divorced - so I am not trying to "excuse" my personal situation.)
    There are several other SBC churches in the area which will ordain divorced deacons in some cases, depending on such factors as who initiated the divorce, reasons, timing.
    For example, they (and I) say what you do before you are a Christian does not count. They will ordain someone who was divorced before becoming a Christian, for example, in the same way they might ordain someone who had affairs before he became a Christian but never got divorced.

    So my church has a strong view, but it does not hesitate to have a great working relationship in missions and other ways with other local churches it disagrees with on many points. Neither side sees itself as deliberately disobeying Scripture, but being true to what it thinks Scripture says.
    Neither side demands that the other agree. They also agree on many other points.

    Ultimately, a second-degree separation could lead to no contact with or cooperation in ANY way with any other church.

    On the personal Christian level, would many people on this board be able to associate in real life? I think so, but I guess not if a person holds his core beliefs on Calvinism or whatever so strongly that anyone else that differs is not doing it as the result of prayer and study but as the result of disobedience.

    Or is separation ONLY dealing with "behavioral" issues like lying and murder rather than "theological" issues?

    Karen
     
  13. swaimj

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    Karen,
    One of the things the Romans passage talks about is separating from one who causes divisions. If two churches disagree on a questionable issue, but can agree to disagree, and not constantly make an issue of it, I think that is good. It allows them still to work together. If I had to separate from anyone and everyone with whom I had a disagreement, I would have to separate from everyone and so would everyone else. Our primary responsibility to one another is to love one another, not separate from one another, and love covers a multitude of sins.
     
  14. Rosa

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    Now I am really confused. Are you suppose to separate yourselves from Christians within the church who sin and refuse to repent? or Are you suppose to separate yourselves from the actions of those in the world? How do you witness to thoes you have separated yourself from? The reason I ask is because of the answers I got on another question about Muslums. The name of that thread was:Should I rethink my position on Muslum's? Scripture Please? Again, I am really confused now.
     
  15. Chris Temple

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Karen:
    There are several other SBC churches in the area which will ordain divorced deacons in some cases, depending on such factors as who initiated the divorce, reasons, timing.
    For example, they (and I) say what you do before you are a Christian does not count. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Christ has the same belief. He ordained a blasphemer and persecutor to be an Apostle ;)

    1 Tim. 1:12-15 (ESV)
    I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, [13] though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, [14] and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. [15] The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.
     
  16. Chris Temple

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Rosa:
    Now I am really confused. Are you suppose to separate yourselves from Christians within the church who sin and refuse to repent? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Yes. 1 Cor. 5:5 (ESV)
    you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

    The seperation from the unrepentant professor in Christ is for his good, that he would see his error and repent.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>or Are you suppose to separate yourselves from the actions of those in the world? How do you witness to thoes you have separated yourself from? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    1 Cor 5:9 ¶ I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people.
    10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.
    11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner——not even to eat with such a person.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>The reason I ask is because of the answers I got on another question about Muslums. The name of that thread was:Should I rethink my position on Muslum's? Scripture Please? Again, I am really confused now.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    We do not remove ourselves from sinners because we are the light of the world, and are to bring our witness of Christ to them. We are to separate from the sinning brother for he brings impurity into the church and ruins the witness of Christ. In all things we abstain from any form fo evil, yet we live as Christians among the unbelievers, hoping to win some to Christ.

    [ December 18, 2001: Message edited by: Chris Temple ]
     
  17. Pastor Larry

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    The issue that you are addressing is an issue that is not clearly defined. There is legitimate debate about it; however, I do not think it is quite as simple as "Christ did it too" that Chris suggested.

    In that case, separation is not necessarily required. And it wouldn't be "second degree" in any case. Since you do better with examples, try this one. Church A associates themselves with the Billy Graham crusade. Church B denounces Billy Graham but will not separate themselves from Church A. Should Church C separate themselves from Church B? According to the position Rice took, "No," they are under no obligation to do so because that would be "second degree separation," separating from those who refuse to separate. Biblically speaking, the answer is absolutely. Church B is in a condition of disobedience and therefore Church C is to separate from them on that basis.

    What I am saying is that "second degree separation" is a misnomer. There is no such thing. These issues are largely one of ecclesiastical separation from those who refuse to obey Scripture.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Ultimately, a second-degree separation could lead to no contact with or cooperation in ANY way with any other church.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Yes and No. It does not mean that you cannot have friends in the other church. It does mean that the two churches should not cooperate in a local effort, be a part of the same fellowship, etc.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Or is separation ONLY dealing with "behavioral" issues like lying and murder rather than "theological" issues?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    It is about both. Personal separation, such as church discipline is analogous to, though not identical to, ecclesiastical separation. Theological issues are the core of our belief. That is why we do not associate in an ecclesiastical sense (or at least should not) with Catholics. They do not believe our gospel (despite their protests to the contrary in their own forum down below). When someone cooperates in an ecumenical endeavor, they are watering down the doctrine which the church is supposed to guard. Therefore, ecclesiastical separation is a matter of doctrinal purity on the core issues. It oftentimes becomes a matter of pragmatics: So and so is a good friend; so and so has been in our fellowship for 50 years; so and so is reaching so many people; etc. You have heard them all. The point is doctrine and the principle of the truth. As someone has said, You have to be willing to sink the ship over principle and over doctrine.

    ON Calvinism as an example, there is a degree to which we can differ and still have fellowship. There does come a point of separation however and we must be willing to take that step and let the chips fall where they may.
     
  18. Pastor Larry

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Rosa:
    Now I am really confused. Are you suppose to separate yourselves from Christians within the church who sin and refuse to repent? or Are you suppose to separate yourselves from the actions of those in the world? How do you witness to thoes you have separated yourself from? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I would answer this way:

    Personally -- separate from "so called brothers" (1 Cor 5:13) who are disobedient and refuse to repent. Admonish, warn, correct, and the separate. With unbelievers, we are not to isolate ourselves because we are called to evangelism. Remember they do not claim Christ; therefore evangelize. However, I would be careful developing "close friendships" with unbelievers because they can drag us down if we are weak.

    Ecclesiastically -- separate from those organizations and leaders who refuse to obey Scripture (Rom 16:17-18; etc.).


    In your thread earlier, if you shop at a muslim store (which I believe the issue was) that is a personal choice. It is not a matter on which Scripture speaks. If you attend a Muslim church or cooperate with a muslim church in some endeavor, that is a different issue.
     
  19. Dr. Bob

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    Pastor Larry - I have watched this thread and your reasoned responses with joy. Thank you for adding to the BaptistBoard with your thoughts.

    And as for separation? Many of our ifb churches practice separation for minute (pronounced my-noot) idosyncrises or small doctrinal differences in interpretation. NOT real issues; "fluff". Satan wants us to be divided over non-issues.

    Look at my historic ifb movement - we will stand together on the inspiration, virgin birth, pre-trib rapture, so what does Satan do? He divides us over English translations of God's Word?

    Who would have ever dreamt that I would not be allowed to speak at an ifb conference because I translated the Greek myself and did not use Jacobean archaic grammar?

    Satan must be happy. The KJVonly movement is destroying the doctrinal unity within the fundamentalist ranks. :mad:
     
  20. Bro. Curtis

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    Dr. Bob....

    Every KJVonly believer isn't part of a movement. My KJVonly stance is a matter of preference. My IFB church just happens to use the KJV. But you would be hard pressed to find a member of my church who would question anybody's growth just because of the Bible they use.

    On the other hand, I agree with what you said about how satan has divided us.
     

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