But I don't disagree with Doran. Not at all. Not one word.
Like Doran, I was a bit disappointed with the absence of an article about separation from false teaching in the 2006 T4G affirmations and denials, and I said so at the time. I suspect that both Doran's and my expectations were raised when we heard John MacArthur talk at the 2006 Shepherds' Conference about T4G and how "there ought to be a price to pay" for an unwillingness to get inside the box of orthodoxy.
I simply cannot think of any way to improve on Doran's proposed addition to the affirmations and denials. I believe it would be an excellent addition, and I hope it's incorporated in 2008. Here it is:
We affirm that all genuine fellowship is in the gospel and that true gospel ministers and congregations must not grant Christian recognition or assistance to those who have denied the faith or turned away from the biblical gospel. We further affirm the biblical responsibility of elders and congregations to be vigilant in watching out for those who teach false doctrine and to turn away from and have no fellowship with them.Now, before I make my main point, I should clarify one thing. Doran calls for conservative evangelicals to repudiate "the 'official' strategy [to] work cooperatively with theological liberals from outside evangelicalism." If that is the official strategy, that is. Now, I think Doran is making a valid rhetorical point, but I suspect he actually knows there is no "official" strategy that is universal to evangelicalism at this time, any more than there is an "official" fundamentalist list of who we're to separate from and what we're to separate over (as he frequently points out in online discussions).
We deny that the biblical calls for unity and separation are contrary to one another, and that refusing Christian fellowship to false teachers and false congregations is schismatic. We further deny that confessional subscription necessarily contradicts soul liberty. We also deny that the glory of God and good of the church are properly advanced through theological and ecclesiastical union with those who have denied the gospel.
But here's the real point. Read Doran's proposal. Read it twice. Read his whole article ten times. There's something you will find several times: a call for separation from false doctrines and false gospels. There's also something you won't find once: anything remotely resembling a call for secondary separation. Doran's call to conservative evangelicals is to take a clear stand for cooperation around the gospel that excludes all who are unwilling to get inside that box of a biblical, historic, orthodox gospel.
This isn't a new concept. It's historic fundamentalism. It's Gresham Machen's argument in Christianity and Liberalism--that a false gospel is no gospel, that a church with a false gospel is no church, and that a religion without the biblical gospel is a false religion, not Christianity. And it must not be called Christianity.
Fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals should find fellowship on these grounds, as Doran has delineated them in the direct opportunity he accepted to define what could make T4G a success. If this is the test of fellowship and biblical faithfulness as fundamentalists now understand it, my hopes that confessional fundamentalists and evangelicals can come together for the gospel are as high as my confidence that the T4G organizers already affirm Doran's proposal.