Biblical doctrine on its deathbed!
There is one biblical doctrine that is on its deathbed, or at least it seems like it. It is one that some churches already consider to be dead and buried; while others hope this doctrine will die peacefully and quietly, without the requirement of a proper church funeral. You see: a proper church funeral would give this doctrine the publicity the ministers and committees of these churches are desperately trying to avoid. In the midst of this tragic scene, the deathly silence is sometimes broken by a few lonely voices who bemoan the demise of such a great doctrine. In response the clerical fraternal quickly brand those voices as crackpots of a previous era.
Of which great doctrine do I speak?
The doctrine of separation!
There are doctrines found only in the New Testament, others found in the Old Testament, but the essential ones span all sixty six books. Among those doctrines is the doctrine of Separation. In the world: but distinctly separate from it. Abraham was called to separate from family and friends to form a new nation who would be a people separated unto God for the rest of time. The nation of Israel were called to be separate in the God they worshipped, the style of worship required, the lives they led, their choice of marital partner. The New Testament believer is called to be separate. It is always a sign of decadence and spiritual decay, when the Separation issue was quietly ignored, and people began to practice the lifestyles of the world around them
Conversely, it was a mark of spiritual revival when that was reversed, and the way to separation is always painful and a battle. Picture Nehemiah going to the city gates and shutting them on the Sabbath against the traders, are asking the men to divorce their wives because they were from nations whom the people were not allowed to marry. Being separate in this world is not easy, but becoming separate is the immensely difficult task of all those with spiritual longings after God.
I could take all the space this article allows bemoaning the loss of Biblical separation today, a mark of our spiritual decadence. Surely every God loving heart would agree with me, over the loss of the following:
1) The distinct day set apart for worship, which is now a day for sport and pleasure
2) The distinction between the genders in terms of appearance and clothing
3) The distinction between the saved and the unsaved in manners, behaviour and appearance
As a University student I can remember entering a room of 120 engineering students and within a few days being able to pick out a dozen or more Christians by the way they talked, they way they looked and the approach they took to their work. Would there be anything distinctive in your life that would allow the stranger to identify you as a follower of Christ?
Since this is a Website dedicated to issues relative to the Orange Order, I want to ask those who aspire to being separated, or want to become separated some very searching questions relative to the Loyal Orders
1) There has been no issue relative to this subject that has disturbed me so much for years as the sight of fellow believers proudly walking in procession behind the band of a paramilitary organisation. These bands are the public front for organisations that has brought carnage, mayhem and death to the streets of our Province. These organisations have acted like God sending people out into eternity, sometimes a Christless Hell, without ever giving the individual a chance to get right with God and go to Heaven. In the pursuit of their goals, they have robbed, extorted and threatened, making thousands of their own community the captives of fear for life. Can I as a God fearing, Christ loving individual walk behind such a band, or even be part of an organisation that allows such bands to take part in their demonstrations?
2) In increasing numbers, Orange Halls are applying for licenses to sell alcoholic beverages. The sale of drink has been a common method of financing the refurbishment and support of the local hall. No one will argue with me, that drink claims more lives than any other drug. It is the single biggest inspiration for crime. It is the number one wrecker of marriages, families and homes. Any separated right thinking Christian, would want to have nothing to do with a “Christian Organisation” that sells it, or am I wrong?
3) Throughout the years, men of God have been exceedingly upset by the fact their minister was not saved and did not preach the Gospel. They viewed that as exceedingly serious, as it confirmed the congregation on a pathway to Hell through good works and good living. Disturbed by the fact that their denomination had compromised to the point that such ministers were tolerated, they left forming “separated denominations” where the ministry was Scriptural and the denomination evangelical. As a consequence these ministers do not exchange pulpits with the ministers of the compromised denominations as a protest. The exception is made for funerals and weddings. Why is it, that a minister will not share a pulpit on Sunday with a fellow cleric, yet will share a platform on a Saturday or a 12th July and listen to him making a speech? Is the platform more acceptable than a pulpit? Is the speech different to a sermon? Does the Orange make him an acceptable evangelical, or does it allow the evangelical to temporarily through off his evangelicalism? Minster: does your separated stance on Sunday, and your compromised one on the 12th not make your view look rather shallow and hypocritical?
4) Shamefacedly, Orangemen have admitted to me that men are initiated into the various degrees of their Orders in the midst of scenes of great hilarity. Nothing wrong with having some fun, except it is supposed to be a “meeting dedicated to the glory of God and brother Joshua”, many passages of Scripture will be read or alluded to, and the initiate on his knees will pray. All during scenes of where the initiate is partially dressed, where attempts are made to scare him, where animal noises and laughter are the order of the evening. In Scripture, worship is always treated with awe and reverence, and it is with fear and trembling that one went to the House of God. If God treats his worship in such a fashion, I tremble to think of the way he looks upon someone reading the Bible while his brothers’ laugh, and bleat like goats. The evangelical community rose up in disgust with the people who entered into the Toronto Blessing who treated the Word of God lightly enough to engage in hilarious laughter, catcalling and animal noises during their services. Is the Orangeman any different or any better when he initiates a new member in his meetings dedicated to God?
2 Corinthians 6:14-17 is one of the most explicit passages on Biblical separation. In it, the apostle compares the two groupings as complete opposites, believers/unbelievers, righteous/unrighteous, Christ/Belial, believer/infidel, temple of the living God/temple of idols and light/darkness. Into which of these would one classify a paramilitary, a supplier of drink, and a liberal minister. Surely for the happy coexistence of the Christian with such individuals in a brotherhood must mean the Christian has to compromise, sell his principles and keep quiet. The apostle’s teaching is simple, get out and stay out, “come out from among them and be ye separate.” Does that not apply to you?
Psalm 1:1-2 says, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”
Paul Johnston (Independent Methodist Pastor)