In recent years, main-line denominations have moved their headquarters to Sodom, satisfying the culture, crusaders, and courts resulting in trials, trouble, turmoil–also empty pews and offering plates. Same-sex “marriage” is the most divisive issue facing churches resulting in hundreds of churches leaving their compromising denominations and thousands of individuals leaving local churches.
The “separatists” say that the corruption is too bad and they must leave as a protest and associate with others who are willing to practice biblical beliefs. The “stay-inners” are not willing to make the break with a lifetime association. Many don’t agree with denominational leaders but will stay in and fight the doctrinal corruption and refuse to conform to the unscriptural rituals. They are willing to work and fellowship with those who hold a low view of Scripture. We have seen this before: separatists verses nonconformists.
In church history, a nonconformist or dissenter was anyone in England who belonged to the Church of England but disagreed with it. Such people were militant advocates of religious freedom. They were banned from being in the military, civil work, or any college. So, the nonconformists started their own schools. Nonconformists were principled people who paid a price for their stand; however, they should have departed from apostate denominations. People who did leave were separatists.
The “stay-inners” (or nonconformists) were called “Puritans” and they were highly disciplined people who tried to reform or purify the Church of England from within the membership and Pilgrims were highly disciplined people who left or were never part of that denomination. They were separatists and later called “Congregationalists,” believing that each church was independent and autonomous. That is the biblical position and the position that all Baptists take.
Devoted Christian leaders had been seeking, even demanding, a reformation in the Church of England for a hundred years. The Protestant Reformation made an incredible impression on Europe but had limited impact on England. Puritans, seeking to purify the church from within, longed for a change especially by removing the trappings of the Roman Church. These Puritans had worked their way into places of power in the Church of England and remained in power because there was a consensus on the “the true profession of the gospel … the Protestant Reformed religion.” Because of that one basic agreement, the Puritans were fairly safe in their positions and many were highly admired scholars. They disagreed with the liturgical and doctrinal positions of the Church of England but were willing to “put up with it” for the sake of unity, peace, and convenience. That is the argument of all “stay-inners.”
About this time, King Charles I declared war on Scotland and asked Parliament to fund it but he was opposed by many, including Oliver Cromwell (an Independent Puritan) and a masterful military leader although without any military training. Charles’ policies were so hated that 30,000 Englishmen fled for the New World during his reign. After winning the Battle of Marston Moor, Cromwell became a highly admired hero by the soldiers and society. After another glorious military victory Cromwell was even more idolized and King Charles I was arrested! Cromwell was a major proponent of the beheading of the King in 1649.
Separatists left (or were never part of) the state church and supported Oliver Cromwell and the Commonwealth of England during 1653 to 1658. Sadly, Cromwell became an extremist closing the theaters and banning most sports. Children playing on Sunday afternoon were whipped. Adults were fined for swearing and for repeated cases, jailed. Makeup was prohibited and women wearing makeup had their faces scrubbed on the streets. The man who came to power being loved, was soon hated and died of malaria in September of 1658. It was said that, although not a king (he had refused the title), he wielded more power and authority than any king.
He wanted to restore morality but he used the law to accomplish his commendable desire. He was a good example of a good man out of control. His enthusiasm for morality trampled on the rights of others and his Puritan sympathies were obvious in his decisions and appointments. Yet, ina 2002 BBC poll in Britain, Cromwell was selected as one of the ten greatest Britons of all time! Even his biggest critics admit that Cromwell’s rule was the beginning of democracy in England.
When Charles II came to the throne in a restored monarchy, he had Cromwell’s body dug up, tried for treason and regicide, thrown on a garbage heap, and his head displayed on a spike outside Westminster Hall for decades as a warning to others. With the monarchy restored in 1660 theother religious bigots (Bishops of the Church of England) were back in control.
The newly crowned King Charles II desired tranquility and asked “can’t all of us just get along” but the Church of England thugs thought it was payback time. They wanted Puritan blood–and they got it. The punitive Act of Uniformity 1662 required all preachers to be ordained in the Church of England. The preachers who refused to comply were called nonconformists and dissenters but they were still in the Church of England. However, the act applied to separatist Presbyterians, Independents, Baptists, etc.
In the 1600s, the government of England started losing control in Wales when hundreds of independent churches and chapels were established by Independents, Baptists, Quakers, and others who refused to conform to the established church. The nonconformists and separatists were gaining too much influence in England and Wales so the Bishop-controlled Parliament decided to bring them under control. The Act of Uniformity of 1662 required all ministers to assent to the rites and liturgy of the Established Church. In fact, all clergy, college professors, and schoolmasters had to agree with everything in the Book of Common Prayer! However, few knew what was in the new edition but they had to agree anyway!
All who refused to follow the common prayer book were ejected from the Church. Out of approximately 10,000 preachers throughout the country, about 2,500 were ejected (and some went to jail) but 20% to 25% of the country continued to worship illegally, holding secret services in barns and other unapproved locations. This was known as the Great Ejection of 1662. Such people, both preachers and laymen, paid a price for their principled decision for about 150 years. All the nonconformists who disagreed with the Church should have become separatists.
Another act, the Quaker Act of 1662, required subjects to swear an oath of allegiance to the king, which separatists and nonconformists did not do because of religious convictions. The Puritans did not want to perjure themselves to satisfy the newly restored Bishops. The Puritans hadmade oaths to reform the church in Cromwell’s day; and they could not swear an opposite oath to satisfy the Bishops that they agreed with every single word of the liturgy. But it got worse.
In 1664, the Conventicle Act was passed that forbade conventicles (a meeting for unauthorized worship) of more than 5 people who were not members of the same household. The obvious purpose was to keep the nonconformists and separatists from meeting. It got even worse.
In 1665, the Five Mile Act was passed forbidding nonconformist ministers, who were forbidden from coming within five miles of incorporated towns or the place where they previously lived. They were also forbidden to teach in schools. The screws were getting tighter.
The king, remembering his daddy had lost his head, wanted to be less severe–even showing tolerance; however the Bishops were adamant: the law must be enforced to the letter. With the religious bigots back in control, they were merciless now that they were in the catbird seat.
The bigots are still in control but they are called “Progressives” or more correctly, radical leftists. They have silenced most of the clergy who don’t really believe anything; they have intimidated and sedated ordinary citizens; they climbed into bed with Hollywood and the media; and they have taken the culture captive.
Many outstanding Christian leaders refused to leave corrupt denominations such as John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church, who died in the Church of England. Clarence E. McCartney died still loyal to the Presbyterian USA, and W. A. Criswell and Adrian Rogers died loyal to the Southern Baptist Convention. All were among the greatest preachers who ever lived, yet refused to be a separatist. They refused to conform to the norm but did not break with corruption.
It is time for Christian leaders to bite the bullet and “come out from among them and be separate” paying the price such people have always paid. If they do that, then it won’t be the Great Ejection but the Great Rejection as they flee corrupt churches in protest.
Principled people who believe the Bible must flee false, failed, and fraudulent churches.
Dr. Don Boys is a former member of the Indiana House of Representatives; ran a large Christian school in Indianapolis, wrote columns for USA Today for eight years; authored 15 books, which can be purchased below, and hundreds of columns and articles for Internet and print media publications; defended his beliefs on hundreds of talk shows. www.cstnews.com, www.Muslimfact.com, www.thegodhaters.com.
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