Baptist Distinctives Day 7: Separation Ethically and Ecclesiastically

The hallmark of fundamentalism is that they don’t approach a person or group with the question “how can we work together to further the kingdom?” but rather “how can we set a new land speed record for finding fault with you and then never speaking to you again?” New records are set every day.

Of all the things fundies do well, “separate from stuff” tops their list. Their ecclesiastical separation criteria is actually pretty simple. If you’re another Independent Baptist of our camp, stripe, and clan then we can be nodding acquaintances. All others will be handed a gospel tract and then promptly given over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh.

There are innumerable reasons that a fundy may cut off ties to other people or groups. Their music or dress may be a decade too recent. Their pastor may have gone to the wrong school, hosted the wrong speak, or said the wrong thing from the pulpit back in 1978. Or it may just be that a person belongs to a church where they don’t spit on the ground every time they pass a neo-evangelical. Treasonous sympathy for the enemy will not be tolerated.

Now with your permission, I’ll close out this series by rehearsing a bit of doggerel verse from last year…

Presbys don’t witness
Methodists drink
Pentecostals use tongues
(demonic, I think).
Anglican pastors preach in a dress
(And some are actual women no less!)
Lutherans take the Lord’s Supper too much
And then there are Amish, so far out of touch
The Baptist Conventions just keep compromising
On the Old Paths and Standards and Version Revising
But as for me and my house we’ll stand here alone
And wait for the Rapture to come take us home
The Body of Christ we will be, compartmental
You say “anti-social,” we say “fundamental”

93 thoughts on “Baptist Distinctives Day 7: Separation Ethically and Ecclesiastically”

    1. I just wanted to thank Darrell, Beloved, Natalie, Tom K, Pastor’s Wife, Usedtobefundy and Camp Meeting Girl for this honor.

      Jack Hyles, Bob Gray and Steven Anderson were no help at all.

        1. Tom, I hope you didn’t study too much of your Bible today. Like I heard one preacher say, leave the thinking to the experts.

  1. Worldliness is far more than what we choose to entertain ourselves with. It is a focus and dedication on that which is temporary, on that which will not matter in eternity. So when someone places a higher value on standards and seperation over a deep, intimate and personal relationship with God isn’t that a worldly philosophy?

    1. This is SO true!!! I’m learning to readjust my thinking on this: worldliness isn’t wearing trendy clothes necessarily, but having a mind set that values the things of the world more than what matters to God. Thus a perfectly modest girl with uncut hair and no makeup could be worldly if she was full of pride or seeking recognition for her own goodness.

    2. Well said.

      “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant…” – Jesus in Matthew 20. I’m pretty sure that the way many churches are run would qualify as worldly, according to Jesus.

  2. in one of my “preacher boys” classes at BJU, there was this one guy who one day kept asking questions about how he could make it clear to people that he was separated from (of all people) John MacArthur. the prof even got a bit fed up and said “listen, he lives all the way out in California. unless you’re planning on moving there, i wouldn’t worry about it!”

    1. Heh-heh. Well, you could wear a button with the guy’s picture on it and red “X” over his face, at the risk of people thinking you’re kind of a nut. Oh, wait …

    2. You could preach that Christ’s sacrifice was for the whole world, not merely the elect. Or you could not wear a tie. Either way people would know you are separated from MacArthur. 🙄

  3. Way too true. I recall being told the reason the GARBC exists is because the SBs were too liberal. Where I live there there are at least 7 baptist churches and TTBOMK, they have as little to do with each other as possible. (and that doesn’t count over a dozen independent fundy churches not connected to anything but “God”.)

  4. I went to one church who criticized a fellow fundy church because they let their girls wear pants/shorts during gym class – sheesh!!!!

    This same church also had serious issues with it’s members joining other fundy churches because they happened to be closer to where the family relocated. Even though the church was just as good as their own, they found something to criticize and nit pick about that particular church to deem it unworthy to attend.

    1. I was told that God added you and distance and convenience did not factor into it. When I moved my membership to a non-Independent Baptist Church, I was told I was not following the Bible. 🙄

    2. Well, distance, job schedule, financial burden, common sense, and several other common decision factors are not to be practiced by fundies. The harder something is, the more spiritually valuable it is to you and so should be embraced – convenience and practicality are the hobgoblin of Satanic influence or Neo-Evangelical thinking (but I repeat myself)

        1. Yes, if you are naturally a more loving and kind hearted person, then you must try harder to be more judgmental and divisive. If you naturally tend towards pride and divisive things anyway, then try harder at that since you already are doing the right stuff. Either way it’s not going to be easy. You will never achieve fundy divisive perfection.

      1. In fairness, in a later IFB church, the pastor knew we traveled 45 minutes from a nearby state to come to church. Then he found out we went three months without a spare tire. His response: Loyd, there’s a difference between faith and foolishness. 😯

    3. My Christian school league was going to allow the girls to wear knee length shorts in sports but one school threatened to leave if culottes were no longer mandatory! So needless to say they are still wearing flaired hippie apparel to this day 🙂

  5. I remember a long time ago, it seems like we were part of some sort of fellowship called Southwide Fellowship. We would go to Tennessee Temple University for such a sweet time of good music and fellowship. And all the ladies wore skirts, so there was no immodesty.

    But, then, Tennessee Temple began playing some music that was more worldly. And then, they had some Southern Baptist (calvinist, I’m sure) preachers in the pulpit for chapel. That meant that we hade to break fellowship with them. I think that’s why the University went downhill so fast.

    We have a large Mennonite community around here. But, we can’t fellowship much with them, except the occasional Spares And Pairs volleyball game. There was actually one girl who left our church to become Mennonite. She never actually wore make-up, though, so I don’t think it was that big of a change for her. They believe that you can’t know that you are saved until you meet Jesus and he judges you. You’d think that they’d walk around scared all the time, but I guess it’s just a really good motivation to be good.

    We played a great hymn at church this morning, “I Shall Not Be Moved.” It reminded me of the importance of honoring the standards that our church and Pastor have set for us so that we do not “blow about with every wind of doctrine.” Pastor says, “Beware the Breezes of Compromise!” I think that sums it up pretty good.

        1. Yes. That’s why Camp Meeting Girl referenced it ironically, saying her pastor used it to teach that Christians shouldn’t sway from his man-taught standards.

        1. It might lead to clapping! Or toe-tapping at least! I think the rule of thumb is if the song sounds like it’s over 60 years old, it is acceptable even if it’s “up-tempo.” Time sanctifies, according to the IFB unstated rules.

        2. Oh, no. Not too lively. All the beats are straight on the 1 & 3 so there’s not even any swaying.

          There are some who get confused and think it’s meant to be sung with some notes starting on the “4&” or any of the other “&”s, but that makes it have more of a worldly beat. We had to sing it 16 times before the music leader was happy that nobody was trying to be Contemporary Christian in their music.

  6. I guess this is why I ended up a Puritan rather than a Separatist. I actually believe the other points of Brapsiss or Baptist, like the Bible is our final authority not the pastor or soul liberty over doctrines of men. So I guess it makes sense I turned out to be a Reformed Baptist 😆

      1. I am not sure about European Puritans, you could be right. I meant the Puritans that went on to America, founding of Jamestown, first Thanksgiving, those guys.

        Basically the difference between a separatist and a puritan was that Puritans wanted to reform the Church, where Separatists just up and left instead of trying to find common ground…although even the Puritans I am talking about did leave to another Continent. 😕

        My point is that IFBs tend to have a Separatist mentality about most things, where Puritans will separate, but it takes something like “religious liberty” rather than simply “women wearing jeans” to get them to separate. I guess you could say then I am a weak Separatist. 😐

        1. Jamestown was more of a government, “get rich quick” venture. The Pilgrims of Plymouth, MA, were Separatists (with Strangers sailing with them). As Massachusetts continued to grow, more and more Puritans settled the area.

  7. Don’t get me started. I don’t know HOW many ABC churches in our state have left the Convention, only to become hard-bitten, ultra-separatist, we-and-we-alone-have-the-Truth IFB churches. They treat their former Baptist brothers and sisters as though they had some loathesome plague. It’s disgusting.

      1. The ironic thing is, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of Roman Catholics preaching against anyone – hang on – I just asked my “flatmate” (that’s English English for roomie) and she looked at me as though I was crazy. Half the time I don’t think she believes the stuff I tell her – like the great pantyhose v garterbelt revelation of 1982. My Great Aunt Matilda felt well and truly rebuked by that one.

  8. The Earth is filled with Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Catholics.

    There are heretic Baptist churches on every corner.

    Mainline churches contain no Christians.

    If Fundamentalists wish to be truly separate, may I suggest another planet?

    1. This is totally off-topic, but upon reading your opening line, I couldn’t help but start singing:

      “There are Jews in the world, there are Buddhists, there are Hindus and Mormons, and then there are those that follow Muhammad, but, I’ve never been one of them…”

      1. And third and fourth and fifth… ect, an nauseum. IMO, most IBs won’t be happy until each is in his own little church all alone with his conscience and his well marked KJV(1611).

  9. My husband is the assistant pastor at a baptist church. Last year, we sent in our updated contact info to BJU along with our alumni association dues. We got a letter back from them stating that because our church was a part of the North American Baptist Association, we could not belong to the alumni association. They refunded our dues. They stated that, while there might be good churches in the NABA, at the national level in the NABA there have been unbiblical practices or associations.

    We were shocked that they would separate from us without any details about what the unbiblical practices or associations were. Initially we were hurt, but it was eye-opening for us.

    1. HAHAHAHA! Sorry for laughing a bit at your pain, but welcome to fundamentalism! The more you can separate the better! IDK what NABA is, but sounds EXACTLY like fundies to separate, and claim someone is being unbiblican in practice somehow!

      1. It’s the North American Baptist Conference, actually — the old German Baptist body, with roots in Pietism and the 19th-century revivals that swept Europe. They’re nowhere near as identifiably German as they used to be. They’re one of the groups of what I like to call “nice evangelicals.”

        I attended one of their churches in NY years ago when I was on choir tour in college. The service had a slightly Lutheran tinge, kind of like the Evangelical Covenant Church, which has similar roots.

    2. WORD! I’ve often thought it would be funny to send in our update to PCC on what we are doing now for the Alumni Magazine. I knew it wouldn’t be published but never thought that maybe it could be taken to the -nth degree like yal.

      Wear it like a badge of honor!

    3. Next thing you know Bob Jones will be calling you about the time your children are ready to enter college and will be truly astonished that you aren’t sending your kids there. What’s wrong with these people????

    4. We’re not in the Alumni Association either. However, despite our having moved 4 times since graduation, they STILL KEEP FINDING US! We’ve never signed up for any mailing list, yet we get all this trash- nope, sorry,recycling can filler. The mailers for the “Friendship Banquets” and other money-wanting really annoy me.

      1. A retired ABC minister whom I once knew — as much a conservative evangelical as a person could possibly be — told me that the church of which he was a member wanted to have a Word of Life Club. When Word of Life sent someone out to talk about setting it up, everything went fine until the pastor happened to mention that it was an ABC church. That was the end of that. The guy informed them that Word of Life could not set up a Club at the church because of the denominational affiliation. “Contamination by association,” y’know.

      2. So true Beth. I did not join the Alumni Association when I graduated, and have never communicated with the the University in any way. I have been graduated for over twenty years, moved across country two different times and they always find me. I still get all their beg-a-thon information.

    5. What do you bet though that they will have no problems sending you fundraising mailings? Does it bother them that it would analogous to “blood money” if you sent some? Of course not, because it would be used to build the next bridge to nowhere on campus.

    6. fundy-licious, getting a note like that would have crushed me, only proving that I’ve been too concerned with what other Christians think of me. I’m trying to learn to seek my approval from God alone, but it’s hard to change the habits of a lifetime.

      I’m sorry that they hurt you.

  10. Here is what bugs me about ethical separation – there really is none. If they wanted to be distinct and separate in their ethics they would start by having very strict rules about pastor misconduct. They would make sure that there was no sexual harassment, spousal abuse, religious abuse and the list goes on. Instead their ethics are indistinguishable from those of the Catholic church.

    1. Very cheap shot at the Chatholic Church, Christine. The Catholic Church has very strict standards about religious, child, and clerical abuse. All of us are aware and all of us work to prevent it. Everyone who wishes to work with children in any parish around the world has to undergo saftey training. And of the 1.2 billion Catholics around the world, and their priests, in the past year there have only been 6, count them S-I-X cases discovered with credible evidence. The Pope has done an outstanding job on rooting out abusers and bringing them to justice. The “new” cases you hear on the news are those priests who are accused of doing something 30-40 years ago. Many of the accused are dead. So I can’t help wonder if this clerical abuse thing has just become a money tree for accusers and their lawyers.

  11. If Jesus were on Earth today, he would get a pasting from the Seperatists for associating with the wrong class of Sinner. I have a feeling History would repeat itself (Has to. Noboby listens)

    1. You are 100% correct. If Jesus came to our day & age, instead of 2000+ yrs ago, I’m sure it would have been the Fundamentalists that would have called for his crucifixion. Fundies are the modern version of Pharisees.

  12. I was on vacation recently and attended a Fundy church service with a friend of mine. (She graciously offered to go alone, but I decided I’d go just to see if I could make it through an entire Sunday morning with no Fundy twitches.)

    The Sunday school lesson was about separation. The first point of the morning sermon was “God is glorified by unity.”

    Hmmmm . . . .

  13. this quote I found sums everything up adequately, IMO:
    “A man is accepted into a church for what he believes and he is turned out for what he knows.”
    – Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)

  14. “Southern Baptists think everyone else is going to hell. Independent Fundamentalist Baptists think everyone else is going to hell, especially Southern Baptists.”

  15. Am I the only one who misread the title as “Baptist Distinctives Day 7: Separation Ethnically and Ecclesiastically”? That would be a slightly different, though in my opinion equally valid, perspective on separation.

  16. I found that on average Presbyterians, Lutherans and Episcopalians are more cultured and better educated then fundie Baptists. Most of the fundie churches I grew up seem to be full of uneducated members of the white underclass. I can remember the first time I was invited to hang off with a Lutheran youth group, I met children whose parents were medical doctors, scientists, college professors, and Naval Academy graduates. They even had a church organist who could play Bach.
    The Lutheran youth group had visited the Smithsonian and attended a concert by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. They believe good music had been written after 1950. I never heard a Lutheran teenage girl talk getting married right out of high school. It was so refreshing to met people who enjoyed the positive things the world had to offer.
    I so badly wanted to change churches. But I knew what my parents answer would be.
    In the last year, I attended a fundie wedding and an Episcopial pancake breakfast. The Episcopalians were just all around better people.
    I believe fundies sometimes hate other religious groups out of jealousy.

  17. Wow! Happened across this site accidentally! I can’t believe people actually argue about this stuff. It’s like fighting over who has the fastest unicorn. It’s absolutely unfathomable to me that intelligent human beings in the 21st century still subscribe to bronze age mythology and story telling. I find it amusing that everyone thinks the “other” religion is wrong and they’re all going to “hell.” Every single one of you are so sure you’re right….Muslims, for example, are willing to die for their beliefs. Seems as though Christians throughout the ages have only been willing to murder others who don’t subscribe to their particular belief system. That’s an awful lot of hatred, bigotry and intolerance for a group of people that claim to be about love, peace and tolerance. Ninety-nine percent of religious beliefs are administered through fear, guilt, shame and intimidation. I have no desire to be associated with any person or “god” that considers these “redeeming” qualities. Of course, all are free to believe as they wish. It just seems to me that there isn’t enough love in the world for ANY of it to be wasted on imaginary beings. I wish you well on your quest for enlightenment……

  18. the old fundie cult i use to attend had a missionary couple who presented to the church. his background music had beats that were too liberal. the church, not only, did not support this couple…but they also held a meeting to discuss why…the hooting and amening when the pastor mentioned separation was truly an ugly ungodly sight..

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