As the Ray Comfort saga unfolds, my friend Pastor Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries and Ingrid Schlueter of Slice of Laodicea has called upon Ray Comfort either to separate and not go for this conference, or to warn the Word-faith wolves. Coram Deo has responded by stating that we should not place any conditions for the preaching of the Gospel, upon which I replied based upon an exposition of Mk. 10:17-22 that sure, there are no preconditions for the preaching of the Gospel, but we MUST preach the Gospel in such a way that the Gospel is understood.
Up till now, I have not been discussing the issue with regards to the doctrine of separation which Pastor Ken has been mentioning quite a lot, and that is because I was waiting for Ray Comfort to get through the conference, or at least his slot for the conference to pass, so as to give him the benefit of the doubt. Now, the conference is more or less over, and the fallout has began since Comfort did not truly share the Gospel in the way that Jesus did and the false 'gospel' of the Word-faith cult (which is antithetical to the Gospel) was not addressed. I cannot say I am surprised, and although I may sound cynical, it is to be expected since that is the way of human nature, which thus bring in the doctrine of Separation.
The emergence of the New Evangelical movement in the 1950s/60s rejected the historic Protestant and Fundamentalist doctrine of Separation and through this, reap the bitter fruits of compromise and apostasy in the coming generations. They regarded the doctrine of Separation as being something that was bad; in that it was restricting the good that the church could possibly do if we just jettison it and compromise in various areas so that the Evangelical movement can have a larger platform and wider crowd to minister to. At least that was the intention of the founders of the New Evangelical movement, which was never about doctrinal compromise but about allowing some leeway in ministerial associations etc. so that "we can win more people for Christ". The commands of God in 2 Cor. 6:14-18 and other texts were therefore disregarded in the name of pragmatism and mostly a true desire to expand the work of Christ's kingdom. After all, God does not keep from His people any good thing, right? How can He begrudge me when I am sacrificing much for the growth of Christ's Kingdom?
The doctrine of separation is therefore regarded as restrictive, like the command that God gave to Adam and Eve not to eat of the fruit of the garden of the knowledge of good and evil. And just like Adam and Eve, Man is always tempted to believe the lie that God's commands are not good. Yet, the commands of God are always for our benefit, and the command of separation from heretics in ministry likewise, which Ray Comfort demonstrates negatively.
So why does God tell us to separate from heretics and even compromisers in certain instances? God told us to do so primarily because it will smudge our testimony for Him before God (2 Jn. 11) and Man, of which Comfort now is smudged because of his association with the Word-faith heretics in that conference. This could very well not be, however, if Ray had confront and denounce their heresy in that event, which he didn't. The reason? The fear of Man, which all of us suffer from. It is simply extremely impolite to attack your host and fellow speakers as heretics and call them to repentance in their own territory, not to mention the wrath you will engender from these people. And let's face it: nobody likes to make themselves hated.
It is because of this reason that God gave us the command of separation which is to be obeyed even with regards to preaching of the Gospel, for He knows our weaknesses. So should there be any conditions for the Gospel to be proclaimed? No. But can you proclaim the Gospel the way Jesus did it? A cursory glance through the Gospel accounts will make it very clear that any ordinary person would not want Jesus to be his/her guest, because Jesus will probably offend someone with the Truth just as He offended the Pharisees who were dining with Him (Lk. 11:37-44) and in fact also the one who invited him. How rude! As it can be seen, Comfort did not do it Jesus' way, and therefore becomes a negative object lesson as to why we should obey God's command of Separation.
Through this episode therefore, we can see the reason why God gave us this command to be separate from heretics and compromisers in their compromising. God commands this of us for our good, yet we refuse to obey and reap the rotten fruits of compromise. Comfort, through participation in such events without speaking out against the Word-faith cultic teachings, have lent legitimacy to their beliefs through his silence as if they were no big deal. Furthermore, Comfort is leaving the flock there exposed to soul-damning heresy which could destroy their faith in Christ. What a horrible thing to do! One sin begets another sin, and in this case, the sin of compromise by Comfort begets the sin of leaving people under the teaching of soul-damning heresy without correction!
Let us therefore learn to treasure and obey God's command of separation, which is for our good. Let the negative example of Ray Comfort show us the dangers of compromise, that we must learn that disobedience to God's commands always causes destruction to ourselves and others, and good motives are never accepted by God as a valid reasons, ever. As it has been said (in another context): The road to hell is pathed with good intentions.
Crosstalk: John Avanzini/Word of Faith False Teachings, with end segment on the Ray Comfort issue