The cooperative policy of the Billy Graham Crusades has provoked the question, “How far should evangelicals go in the matter of cooperation in evangelism?” A few have labeled the Graham thrust as “ecumenical evangelism,” thereby implying that any gains made by the evangelical churches will be offset by advantages accruing to sects and pseudo-Christian groups. One writer says fearfully that “fundamentalism will be in shambles following the victory of this ecumenical evangelism.”
The whole matter, however, is a question of degree. Few, if any, “separationists” refuse to cooperate under any conditions with those who differ from them. The problem is whether there is a scriptural basis or historical precedent for cooperation with non-evangelicals in evangelism. Does biblical teaching on the matter of separation support an exclusive or an inclusive policy?
The Place Of Tension
Biblical Christianity will always have to fulfill its commission under tension. At the same time that Jesus called for an “invasion” of the world, he clearly stated that the believer must be separated from the world. The Christian is in the world but not of the world. Separation, therefore, must be of the heart, a positive response rather than mechanical insularity. Paul was thus “separated unto the gospel of God” in a positive sense.
The historical conflict between liberal and conservative thought has produced an atmosphere of criticism and suspicion. The “liberal” has been inclined to view the “fundamentalist” as obscurantist, while the “fundamentalist” has considered the “liberal” as dangerous. Early in the conflict the conservative was caught off guard and in a defensive position. The “higher critic” took an initiative that confounded the unskilled Bible ...1
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