Soft separatism is characterized by focusing on positive truth and avoiding “negativism and criticism.” Soft separatists don’t reprove error plainly or name the names of compromisers. They avoid dealing with “personalties.”
Soft separatists don’t distance themselves properly from those who are headed in a wrong direction in order to cut off the leaven of compromise from their personal lives and families and churches. Compromise is a contagious spiritual disease, and separation is the only thing that will protect us from its pollution.
Soft separatists are more concerned about the danger of “fragmentation” and more desirous of “unity” and getting along with the brethren than about standing for the truth.
Soft separatists don’t properly educate their church members so that they won’t be led astray by the evangelical bridge builders and contemporary worship musicians, etc. In a soft separatist church the people are largely ignorant about important issues such as contemporary worship music, textual criticism and the modern versions, New Evangelicalism, the Southern Baptist Convention, Reformed theology, reconstructionism, Darwinian and theistic evolution, contemplative mysticism, and the emerging church.
If they are given any education on such things, it is paper thin and ineffectual.
Soft separatists don’t carry books containing clear warnings of such things in their bookstores. They don’t encourage the people to read publications that issue clear warnings about such things. They don’t have conferences to provide education and exhortation on such matters. Their conferences are focused on evangelism and world missions and “positive” Bible preaching and “friendship,” which are important topics, but the equally important issues of separatism and related topics are neglected.
Since the previous characteristics are actually principles that have characterized New Evangelicalism since the 1950s, it is no surprise that soft separatism leads to full-blown New Evangelicalism within a generation or two.
Soft separatism is the mindset that has already led a great many IBaptist churches into the contemporary sphere, and it is going to have the same result in a great many more churches in coming years
This is because soft separatism is not biblical separation. It is separation in name only.
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The following is excerpted from the free eBook New Evangelicalism: Its History, Characteristics, and Fruit, which is available from Way of Life Literature’s web site -- www.wayoflife.org
“A debate is a conflict which clarifies a position. A dialogue is a conversation which compromises a position” (John Ashbrook, The New Neutralism II, 1992, p. 7).
Another characteristic of New Evangelicalism is that its replace of separation with dialogue.
Since the last half of the 20th century, theological dialogue has become a prominent aspect of Christianity. A report issued in 1983 by the Center for Unity in Rome listed 119 official ongoing dialogues between representatives of Anglican, Baptist, Disciples, Evangelical, Lutheran, Methodist, Eastern Orthodox, Old Catholic, Oriental Orthodox, Pentecostal, Reformed, Roman Catholic, United, and World Council of Churches.
Dialogue has also become a major aspect of evangelicalism. The late Harold Ockenga said that the New Evangelicalism differs “from fundamentalism in its repudiation of separatism and its determination to engage itself in the theological dialogue of the day” (Ockenga, foreword to Harold Lindsell’s The Battle for the Bible).
Dialogue between Evangelicals and Catholics
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On the side of the Roman Catholic Church, the Second Vatican Council, in its “Decree on Ecumenism,” called for “dialogue with our brethren” and said that “dialogues and consultations ... are strongly recommended.”
Evangelicals have responded to this call. Following are a few examples:
We are witnessing a widespread collapse of separatism in Independent Baptist churches.
Since the old fundamentalist movement was captured by New Evangelicalism in the 1950s, biblical separatism has largely been an Independent Baptist phenomenon. Some Presbyterian and Bible and Brethren churches have maintained a separatist stance, but the number is very, very small compared to those of Independent Baptists. Thousands of IBaptist churches were planted during the last half of the twentieth century, and many others came out of Southern Baptist, Conservative Baptist, etc., to fly the flag of separatism.
A dramatic change is taking place, though. The scenario that existed when I was saved in the early 1970s and joined an Independent Baptist church by personal conviction is radically different from the one that exists today.
What is happening now among fundamental Baptist churches is nearly a mirror image of what happened in the 1950s within fundamentalism-evangelicalism (the terms were synonymous when New Evangelicalism exploded on the scene). At its heart, it is the rejection of “separatism.”
September 21, 2011 (Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
The following is by Buddy Smith and is from Heads Up! September 9, 2011, email@example.com --
"For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods." I Kings 11:4-8
How could the wisest king in history go so terribly wrong? He began his reign so well, and ended it so poorly. Where did he go wrong?
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