Thursday, April 12, 2007

Would You Agree?

It seems that confusion in the areas of ecclesiastical and personal separation share a common cause, oversimplification. What should be a nuanced decision based on biblical principles turns into a simple one based on pre-established guidelines. It seems it is easier to categorically approve or disapprove than to practice discernment. Could it be that the way forward would be to recognize that undiscerning oversimplification in separation has negative consequences and continue to try to teach discernment as the guiding principle for personal and ecclesiastical matters? Would you agree or disagree? Why or why not? The implications of this would seem to imply that one who says that he intends to "take the high road" is often ignoring the dangers of such an approach, namely that he loses the practice of his discernment and establishes a rule of life that when applied to others does not flow from the principles of the gospel. It seems that "legalism" is a matter of what is the warrant behind one's decision. One would hope such an approach would lead to a greater degree of holiness and love, not a lesser one.


Ben Eilers (SBC) said...

This paradigm seem to be repeated in many different arenas (not just separation). We take principals and make them hard and fast rules, applying them to every situation. Perhaps the root is laziness -- we do not wish to exert the energy to be discerning? Or it may be a lack of teaching from the leadership -- often we hear that people can't handle the truth so we'll just give them 6 rules to follow in every situation. Perhaps the root is a lack of faith in God's ability to lead the people in personal discernment -- which boils down to fear that they won't separate where we or our friends in the ministry might want them to. Good Stuff!

Justin said...

Ben hit on everything that I was going to say. But I want to go a little further.

we do not wish to exert the energy to be discerning?

Could it be that it's not laziness in wanting be discerning but a lack of gull in raising the issue? I think most biblically minded people use discernment but I think that those who drive the separation issue have also created a sense of fear within the discerning individual, as to not bring it up. Would you agree?

That also then plays into the "handling of the truth." I don't think biblically minded people can't "handle the truth" but don't want to think different or have been told that "if they have come up with a new way of thinking that one else has, they are probably wrong." What is with that advice anyway? If the Holy Spirit reveals something to me that hasn't be revealed to somebody, that is wrong? Since when do we limit the Holy Spirit in that matter?

Ben Eilers (SBC) said...

Justin, I think your points are well taken! What I attribute to laziness you attribute to "gull" which may show a deeper root problem. The sense of fear you speak of is legitimate. . . we've all felt it! We fear being ostracized from the movement, perhaps? We should not hold the "threat of removal" over someone's head! This appraoch fails to deal with the theology presented (skirting the issue).

I also agree that all "biblically minded" people can "handle the truth". The issue then seems to be sourced in the willingness of the "preacher" (specifically those who drive the separation issue) to trust the working of this truth and release their "thumb print" from the moral (and therefore spiritual) pulse of the establishment (be it church or what ever else). When this is done we will be more willing to interact in the "realm of ideas" and not be relegated to dismiss the issue with a cursory, "That's new so it's wrong!" We must interact with the text and the theology represented in order to define the rightness or wrongness of a thought (not merely throwing it out based upon the faulty assumption mentioned).