Being Separate

RC Sproul Jr on being separate

I don?t know what shows are on TV, and I don?t know what songs are on the radio. I couldn?t name enough current NBA players to fill a single team?s roster. I?m not even sure if they still play the game in college.

So what have I lost? One of the ways we seek to spiritualize our worldliness is to see it as a tool for evangelism. That is, if I?m hip to the lyrics of the real Slim Shady, then I can help the homies be down with Jesus. If I devote my time and conversation to a disposable pop-culture, then maybe I?ll lead the poor deluded fools to a more permanent city. Trouble is, of course, when I spend all my time down at Pleasure Island, what should happen but that I begin to grow donkey ears, and begin to bray rather than pray. I end up worrying more about Valerie and Eddie?s relationship woes (or, to be slightly more current, Jennifer and Ben?s) than I worry about the relationship between Christ and His bride. Yes Paul quoted Cretan poets, but until we master the Bible as well as he did, I?d suggest we?d be better off learning David?s lyrics rather than 50 Cents? lyrics. Meeting people where they are simply leaves them where they are and moves us closer to them. Interbreed with monkeys, and you won?t lift them up. Rather, devolution will follow.

Our calling isn?t to mix and mingle, but to be set apart. That such scares us scares me. Where are they now? In a surreal world. Where should I be? Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. This is wisdom not from a dime-store poet, but from the very Spirit of Life. This is what?s best for me, best for you, and equally important, best for those yet outside His grace.

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5 Responses to Being Separate

  1. steve says:

    Separate or set apart? Sinning with sinners or dining with sinners? There is a difference, the latter in each instance being preferred. Be set apart, not separate; in the world, not of it; dining with sinners, but not “walking in their way”.

  2. Robert says:

    Steve, this issue would require a lengthy discussion. I’ve written about it before, but these discussions are usually more heat than light. 2 Corinthians 6:17 says “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” In the Old Testament, God did indeed call His people to physically separate from the nations around them. He did not leave Abraham in Ur.

    I do not see any scriptural mandate to geographically separate from unbelievers today, generally speaking, although there are surely cases where it would be appropriate. But our lives should be so different, so set apart, that we WILL be separate in all the important ways. We should be as separated in our lives, as Israel was to be physically.

    Light cannot coexist with darkness – the darkness is driven out. Christians are “the savour of death unto death” to those who are perishing. (2 Cor 2:15-16). Who’s going to stay around someone who smells like a rotting corpse?

  3. Phil in CA says:

    Sproul says?. “Meeting people where they are simply leaves them where they are and moves us closer to them.”

    That’s 100% purely self-christened personal opinion. Period. It sounds good and spiritual (especially to the choir to which Sproul so often preaches) but I beg to differ — as would Paul I believe: For example, Paul didn’t say, “Pagan Gods? I don’t know any of them! I could case less. I couldn’t name enough of them to fill even the smallest temple’s worship roster!” (echoes of Sproul there) Rather, Paul knew the culture in which he ministered: “Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.” He spoke to the culture they practiced, and spoke truth against it. When Paul said, “I see that?” it clearly shows he saw, knew and therefore understood fully what he was dealing with — he appraised their culture and condition accurately. It’s very difficult to minister directly to a culture we do not understand. I believe the more Biblical (and therefore more effective) way is to address the world’s nonsense with the Truth.

    I’m always wary of dogmatic Christian separatism falsely premised on a rigid dichotomy that says “you’re either separate (e.g., cut off and clueless) or else you’re just a carnal worldly Christian and no-good evangelist!!!!” (or some smoother-tongued version to that effect). This distinction is neither Biblical nor logical, nor does it often come without the requisite spiritual superiority complex and finger wagging (red flag right there). Knowing about and understanding our culture (as did Jesus, Peter, et al.) does NOT make one “of the world.” Also, even a Christian can understand and appreciate the struggles, pains, joys, etc. that non-Christian writers, lyricists, photographers and others express in their works. This doesn’t mean we endorse or internalize their world view, no matter what contrary accusations would be leveled by our separatist brethren. Indeed I have looked up lyrics or even bought a CD to address what it says. Knowing the lyrics of the “real Slim Shady” (Eminem) and being able to ANSWER those lyrics with the hope of the Gospel doesn’t mean I’m “worldly” in my evangelism, any more than Paul was worldly for knowing that there was a temple to an “unknown god.”

    I like Sproul’s theology (in most cases), but his sarcasm, tone and broad platitudes betray an underlying arrogance which so often taints his presentation.

  4. Please be sure to note this is RC Sproul *JR*, not the RC Sproul who teaches on the radio.

    I believe that a rigid dichotomy between Christ and the world, the elect and the reprobate, is thoroughly Biblical and fundamental to understanding how to function in the world.

    I believe separation from the world – of our lives, not geographical – is also Biblical and is also supported by our history.

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