Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cross-Examination of Daniel: Q6

Q6: While I would like to see more detail from you in your answers as I am enjoying them, I appreciate your candor. So far we have clarified expressly that separation is not about salvation, and it’s not about personal holiness. Those are spectacular insights regarding your objectives in promulgating this doctrine.

In your opener, you explicitly said, “the doctrine of separation permeates the entire Scriptures, seen in the motif of holiness especially in the Old Testament theocracy of Israel,” and you reference 2 Cor. 6 as your proof text.

I think you can’t have it both ways. Using the proof text you have already referenced, how is it possible that “Separation has to do with the Gospel and the proclamation of the Truth, not (individual) personal holiness or the lack thereof?”

Again, I offer you an open word count to make your case.

A6: Maybe I should have been clearer in my previous answer. The doctrine of separation has to do with public (or ecclesiastical) piety seen especially in the witness of the Gospel and the proclamation of the Truth. It does not pertain to individual private piety. Therefore, by “(individual) personal holiness”, I am referring to attending to the means of grace and growing in holiness of character as such is the default definition that Evangelicalism tends to have when it talks about holiness.

However, Christians while saved individually are not saved and left as individuals. Christ brings believers together to form the Church. As members in the Church therefore, God calls us to exercise public piety in relation to other Christians. This public piety is external as opposed to internal, and pertains to the obligations we have to others which God obligates us to. It is called “public” because such obligations do not exist if one stays in an island alone, whereas private piety such as holiness and reading the Scriptures are necessary even if one is alone on an island.

Included in this category of public piety are contending for the faith, evangelism, discipleship, rebuke, correction, the diaconal ministry of compassion and others like them.

In this light, the lists in Gal. 5 which we have been looking at are lists of private piety or vices. This is not to deny that any of those on the lists have a corporate dimension, but that they are primarily personal not ecclesiastical.

I do not know where you are trying to go so my answers would generally “lack detail”. Regardless, I will put it forward that there is a difference in kind between private and public piety. Failure in the former generally is a sin of commission whereas failure in the latter generally is a sin of omission.

Separation as an act of public piety therefore is external, just as the Gospel is an external fact outside of us, and as the Marks of a true Church is an external fact outside of us. The link with holiness, as I have mentioned in the Old Testament and 2 Cor. 6, is due to its corporate public dimension. Just as Israel had to be separate from the nations, and Christ from Belial, so the Church is to be separate from false religion and Christians from false churches and false believers. Such separateness is one of witness and not to be done for any other reason; for the witness of the Gospel so that the Gospel message will not be compromised.

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