Interesting: Douglas Wilson and Separation from Disobedient Brothers

This strikes me as interesting, though I initially didn’t pay it much attention. Douglas Wilson has been expressing concern over what appeared to be the ordination of a women minister by the PCA overseas. In fact, the church in question is not a PCA church, but is one with which the PCA cooperates—a union of which Wilson is critical. He seems to argue (at least in principle) for the sort of separation from compromising brothers that fundamentalists have espoused, especially with this closing line:

“So then the sum of the matter is that the PCA is not (yet) ordaining women to the ministry, but has no problem working closely with those who do.”

Update: Wilson has posted a clarification of his position here, where he argues (a) against cooperation though not necessarily in favor of hasty separation, and (b) for an approach to error in a denomination that amounts to “stay in and fight until you win or are kicked out.”At any rate, he sees an issue like church polity—or perhaps, more accurately, egalitarianism—as a dealbreaker for evangelical cooperation, even for the sake of missions and church planting. Again, interesting.


9 Responses

  1. Hi Chris

    The Bayly bros have a very similar position. I have known them for a long time. They are very courageous on this issue.

    However, for them it seems that they are very selective in the issues over which they would “go to the mat”. Egalitarianism vs. complementarianism is one. But on the other hand they have had no problem working with J. I. Packer, even after he signed ECT. So…

    Even though they are militant at points, they are still not where fundamentalists are.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  2. I don’t disagree with your last sentence, Don. My point was not that they’re fundamentalist-like in their separatism, but that the typically fundamentalist idea of limiting fellowship with orthodox brothers for disobedience exists elsewhere (outside of fundamentalism).

  3. Well, yes, that’s true. It even exists outside Christianity (although of course that would be a different kind of orthodoxy!)

    The fact that Wilson and the Baylys et al will take this step at some points should serve to justify the fundamentalist rationale, don’t you think?

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  4. “Even though they are militant at points, they are still not where fundamentalists are.”

    I, as well, do not disagree with the last sentence to a point. That sentence though does come across as though we as fundamentalists are the only ones right, which leads to pride, imHo. :-) Again, many think that if we have separation right, then we are just plain right. However, there are many who are on the other side of the fence who have the gospel “righter” than many fundamentalists. In my own experience, people with a very very poor gospel, decisionism, or easy believism are given a free pass often because, “Well, at least they take a good stand.”

    I do also appreciate the idea of fighting until one either wins or is kicked out, knowing they did all they possibly could to change the situation.

    Those are two or three cents.

  5. Don, that’s why it interested me. They don’t apply it the same as fundamentalists do (e.g. for the same reasons or to the same degree), but they do acknowledge that it’s a biblical principle, indicating that we’re not just inventing the idea.

    Mike, I agree. It seems to me that we’re willing to overlook serious theological errors within even as we separate for practical errors without. I’d like to post more on that sometime. But not today (which is crazy busy).

    Thanks for chiming in, men.

  6. With respect to pride, I would suggest that the risk for that is rooted in the human condition, not in the fact that you think you are right. Who doesn’t think they are right in whatever position they take? Do you think Wilson (the person under discussion here) is any less at risk of pride than we are?

    With respect to having the gospel more right, that would be a matter of opinion, now, wouldn’t it? And in fact, one where you and I would most likely disagree.

    What is poor about a gospel that preaches salvation in Christ alone by faith alone? — but let’s not go there, that isn’t what this thread is about.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  7. Don,
    That isn’t a matter of opinion between you and me about the gospel, since what I am talking about it is just pure decisionism/revivalism. 200 people were asked to pray a prayer in one week of personal evangelism. There were special evangelistic meetings each night. How many people showed up to the church for the evangelistic meetings? Nada, zilch, zip, zero. That would be a big fat 0. When I questioned those practices, a well-known fundamentalist told me, “Well, at least he takes a good stand.” That’s giving a pass to a very very poor gospel that wreaks of revivalism and not Holy Spirit power. 200 notches were counted though in evangelistic belts and people were gaga over the great “evangelistic zeal and fervor” of the missionary.
    It would be my persuasion based on Scripture that those people were inocculated to the true gospel by telling them that if they just prayed a prayer they would have “eternal life.” Now every time someone comes to one of those people with the true gospel, they will just respond with, “Hey, no problem man. I already did that years ago.”
    To be fair, I would bet that there would be a fair bit of that in what is not fundamentalism either. Giving a pass to fundamentalists on that point though, proves the point that many separate based on their views of separation, and not on doctrine and the gospel. That elevates that specific doctrine to an incorrect place.

  8. Ok, I understand what you are referring to now.

    However, is it fair to impugn all fundamentalists with this? And really, we are talking about how Wilson here is illustrating a fundamentalist principle. So what does that situation have to do with the point we are discussing?

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  9. You seemed to be generally referring to all fundamentalists in your original post, so I was generally referring to them too.

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