Fundamentalism and Separation

I have added Mark Dever’s 9marks podcast to my iTunes list. Pastor Dever and I would agree very little with ecclesiastical issues (sacramental matters included). Still, I find his interviews helpful. One interview that caught my attention was his interview with Fundamentalist pastor Mark Minnick.

Pastor Minnick is a pastor in Greenville, SC and professor at Bob Jones University. As a Reformed minister, I listened attentively to the discussion. I grew up in a fundamentalist home. I lived four years in Greenville while my father attended Bob Jones (even wrote a book defending the principles of fundamentalism) and I, was the model fundamentalist in my college days ( I attended Clearwater Christian College; in many ways a daughter of Bob Jones University). Mark Minnick lives in a unique fundamentalist culture. Greenville is replete with fundamentalist churches of all sorts; in fact, even the Free Presbyterians find their home there. In light of his many years in this culture, he seems to be completely unaware of how evangelicals view fundamentalists. He was shocked to hear Dever’s stereo-type of Fundamentalists as “men wearing suits.” Yes, wearing suits is part and parcel of that culture, as Minnick affirms. The conversation would have been much more profitable if Minnick did not sound so ignorant of the way fundamentalists are viewed by outsiders. Though he asserts that fundamentalists are deeply aware of evangelical issues, he showed little familiarity with them. As a former fundamentalist, I sincerely doubt that to be the case.

But the central point of the discussion was over the fundamentalist doctrine of separation. For the Fundamentalist, it is common to hear the idea of second degree separation. First degree separation is the obvious biblical separation from unbelievers.  Second degree separation is a doctrine that affirms that Christians ought also to separate from fellow believers.  According to Minnick, it is legitimate to separate from believers if they are associated with false teachers, that is, those who do not hold to the fundamentals. Unfortunately Dever never asked for a list of these fundamentals. At one point Dever mentioned his friendship with Ligon Duncan, a paedobaptist. He asked Minnick if that was ground for separation. Minnick said no. I waas pleased to hear that, but I wished Dever asked the following question: “What about those who do not hold to Premillenialism? ” One of the fundamentals is a belief in a premillenial view of eschatology.

As the interview continues one gets the sense that Minnick is trying to prove that his version of fundamentalism is not as radical as the schismatic fundamentalists he condemns (KJV only, etc.). Throughout the interview he attempts to build a Biblical case for his form of separatism from Galatians and an OT example. Those passages prove that associations are significant, but the passages do not prove that his form of disassociation is Biblical.  The Bible indeed emphasizes that we are to diassociate from unbelievers (do not be unequally yoked), but it is not in any way concerned about disassociating with fellow believers who share the same Nicene faith. Minnick observes that there is a Biblical imperative of unity, but this is unity in truth. Agreed. But truth is apostolic truth, not some ethereal, non-objective  truth. Minnick mentions that the fundamentals are the truth, but his interviewer Mark Dever agrees to these fundamentals, yet the interview ends with Minnick denying the opportunity to minister at Dever’s Souther Baptist Church.  Dever presses him in the end for what kinds of things would be necessary for his church (Capitol Hill Baptist) to give up in order to have him (Mark Minnick) speak there. Minnick never gives an answer, except to say that the Southern Baptist Convention needs to give more attention to this matter of separation.

Minnick is clearly different from his forefathers (Jack Hyles, John R. Rice, etc.). In fact, he seems bright, slightly calvinistic (if there is such a thing) and articulate. Yet in the end, he ends up as divisive as his forefathers and the fundamentalist movementof which he is a part of suffers for it.

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About Uri Brito

I am the Pastor of Providence Church (CREC) in Pensacola, Fl.
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One Response to Fundamentalism and Separation

  1. Pingback: Separation and the Scornful, and Psalm 1 | Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

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