Secondary Separation

Discussion in 'Fundamental Baptist Forum' started by ktn4eg, Jun 30, 2010.

  1. ktn4eg

    ktn4eg
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    I recently came across the expression "Secondary Separation" when reading about some issues that IFBs have faced in the past (and maybe even still today).

    What exactly is meant by "Secondary Separation"?

    Is it something that we really need to practice?
     
  2. Luke2427

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    It's modern Phariseeism. Touch not, taste not, handle not...
    It's straining at gnats while swallowing camels. I know because I ascribed to it for years much to my chagrin.

    It works like this- If you should not eat dinner with heretics then you should not eat dinner with those who eat dinner with heretics.

    This type of erroneous logic is the essence of secondary separation.
     
  3. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    Basically 'secondary separation' is the idea that Christians not only separate from error, but that they separate from those who won't separate from error.
     
  4. Jon-Marc

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    In that case we would all have to live like hermits to avoid offending God by associating ignorantly with the wrong person. We would have to grow our own food and hunt for our own meat--for those of us who eat meat. After all, we couldn't shop where the "wrong" kind of people shop or work. That would also go against God's commandment to "Go into all the world and preach the gospel."
     
  5. Pastor Larry

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    Wow, talk about erroneous, even from someone who "ascribed" to it.

    It has nothing to do with straining at gnats while swallowing camels. It has to do with clarity concerning the gospel. Talk of "eating dinner" only is accurate if by "eating dinner" you mean "participating in Christian ministry/giving Christian recognition." If that's what you mean, then that's what you should have said. It has nothing to do with sharing a table at a restaurant.

    It also isn't modern day Pharisaism, neither is it about proto-gnosticism (which is what the "touch not, taste not, handle not" was about).

    Secondary separation is really a misnomer. It is actually separation from disobedient brothers as commanded by Scripture. Primary separation, so called, is separation from apostates. When someone fails to separate from apostates, they are disobedient to the commands of God, and they are to be separated from because of their disobedience (not because of the apostate's disobedience).

    The Scripture defines for believers various levels of relationships and participation. The dedicated believer will take this seriously in terms of fellowship in ministry.

    Not at all. This is based on a misunderstanding of the whole idea of separation and fellowship. Contrary to this and the above post, it has nothing to do with eating with someone, or shopping, or working. Paul specifically addressed this fallacious argument in 2 Cor 5, where he points out that he is not talking about people outside the church, but people inside the church ... a "so-called" brother.

    It has to do with ministry participation. We cannot, as believers, join in Christian ministry with those who are not Christians (i.e., apostates). That would seem self-evident, but many people reject that, and they join in Christian ministry with non-Christians. The result is essentially the communication of a false gospel.

    When someone communicates a false gospel by participating in Christian ministry with an apostate, we are bound to separate from them because of the confusing messages they send about the gospel.
     
    #5 Pastor Larry, Jun 30, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 30, 2010
  6. sag38

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    I can ascribe to Pastor Larry's description. But for some, secondary separation goes much further such as our recently short lived member who gave us a list of Disney cartoons and told us why we shouldn't watch them. He even preached a sermon on his list at his church. Or there is the man who came to my church with reluctance because in the last church he attended he was openly rebuked from the pulpit because he had long hair. Or couple I talked to who took a relative to church only to have him rebuked and called a homosexual because he had an earring.
     
  7. Pastor Larry

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    But I would say those aren't really "secondary separation." That's just lunacy. "Secondary separation" has the specific connotation of separating from someone because they fail to separate from someone and therefore are disobedient.

    Here's an example:

    Pastor A participates in a gospel service with a Roman Catholic. Person A should therefore be separated from in obedience to Scripture.

    Pastor B fails to separate from Pastor A. Pastor B is living in clear disobedience to the commands of Scripture. Pastor B should be separated from because of this clear disobedience, because he has failed to protect the gospel.
     
  8. thegospelgeek

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    How do you define 'in Christian ministry'?
     
  9. Mexdeaf

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    True separation is a heart issue, not a flesh issue. Just like true circumcision.
     
  10. Pastor Larry

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    Not sure what your question is? Christian ministry is ministry that is Christian, that recognizes other participants in the ministry as Christians.
     
  11. sag38

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    Larry, I'm not arguing with you. I agree with you. I was just pointing out what others would consider to be part of secondary separation such as not eating at a resturant because they have a bar in it or not going to the beach because of mixed bathing. Or not associating with a man because he has an earring.
     
  12. Pastor Larry

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    Sorry to miscommunicate. I knew you were agreeing with me in the main. I was just saying I have never heard those things said to be "secondary separation." Usually that term is reserved for the type of example I gave.
     
  13. jaigner

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    It's clear that this doctrine is one of those that begins in an honest and legitimate attempt to be faithful, but quickly can slide down into legalism and spiritual arrogance. Coming from the homeschooling community, I know a number of people who, seemingly blind to their own sin and error, are all too happy to distance themselves from people.

    Let's not forget that separation is not a joyous, happy thing. It is an unfortunate, grievous and hopefully rare situation that is a last resort. It's a case when there is someone in a fellowship who is being outspoken and actively disturbing the peace and doing their best to lead people with them.
     
  14. sag38

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    Some folks wear what they call secondary separation as a badge of honor. There's one thing for sure, you can know more about what they are against as oppossed to what they for.

    BTW, I've been there and done the homeschool thing too. My wife and I became so disgusted with the legalism displayed in the homeschool group we were a part of. Maybe it's best that they separated themselves from the sane people.
     
  15. thegospelgeek

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    You must have posted this one while I was writting my question. This gives me a better understanding of what you mean. The question becomes, how far do you take it? Can I participate in a Christain Food Pantry that accepts canned foods from a Minister who participated in a fund raiser against cancer that had a priest give the benediction?
     
  16. Pastor Larry

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    With due respect, and I know you mean nothing bad by this statement, but this is a case where I think people construct some pretty absurd illustrations to try to refute the point. Again, I am sure you don't mean it that way.

    People will answer this different ways (well, probably not this example, but the general question). My answer is this: Am I, or are you, giving an apostate or unbeliever recognition as a Christian brother?

    In the case you give, accepting food from someone is not recognizing him as a Christian brother, even though he might claim it. Participating in a "Christians Against Abortion" rally with a priest does give Christian recognition. Participating in a "Citizens Against Abortion" rally does not necessarily do that.

    There was a big fuss over the Manhattan Declaration recently. I think it was wrong to sign it because it was a declaration of Christianity. I think Al Mohler, for all the good he has done, was absolutely absurd to try to make the argument he did.

    I would not run a church based or Christian based food pantry with a Roman Catholic, for the simple reason that it recognizes a RC as a Christian, when he is not (most likely). On the other hand, I would accept donations from them, probably, unless it became a thing where the local RC church was promoting it as a Christian endeavor in which case I would probably turn them down because they would be viewing it as a partnership.

    I think the key thing is partnership. Is this a gospel based partnership, something we are doing togehter in the name of the gospel and the name of Christ. If so, the restrictions are there. If we are doing it as a community based endeavor rather than church based, I think the answer is somewhat different usually.
     
  17. Tom Bryant

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    I think this is the key ingredient in any Biblical view of secondary separation. But often some take it to a whole new level.
     
  18. thegospelgeek

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    Thank you for the kind response. My question was intended as a hyperbole, your response is clear and well thought out. I agree with you in principle, but you must agree that there are times when the lines become blurred. It becomes extremely difficult to define all situations. For example, if you volunteer for a Christian relief effort such a Samaritans Purse and you are placed along side a Hindu doctor administering medications, do you refuse?

    In all honesty I hold to the position that the Holy Spirit will lead me into the things/people that I must be separated from and those which I participate in. I feel that drawing lines with terms such as primary and secondary separation are too easily turned in legalism where we are no longer a witness for Christ. This does not mean that I am against separation, just that we need to follow God's guidance instead of having the Association, Pastor, or another man tell me what it is.
     
  19. Mexdeaf

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    This would be a good summary of my position also.
     
  20. swaimj

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    I think Pastor Larry has given a good statement on the need for separation both from apostates and from disobedient brethren. However, the first quoted comment above is true; fundamentalists have had quite a bit of division in their history over the issue of "secondary separation" or "degrees of separation". Degrees of separation goes beyond secondary separation (or separation from disobedient brothers) to separation from brothers who are not disobedient themselves, but who do not separate from others brothers who are disobedient. It would look like this: Do I separate from the apostate? Yes. This is separation. Do I separate from the one who does not separate from the apostate as he should? Yes. This is secondary separation. Now how about the person who does not separate from the person who refuses to separate but who would never himself work with the apostate? This gets into separation to the third degree and even beyond. It is at this level that fundamentalism became very divided starting in the late sixties. It is at this level that the problem of "guilt by association" enters and begins to make everyone suspicious of everyone else.
     

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