The Doctor: Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

“For particularly sensitive issues ML-J [Martyn-Lloyd-Jones] was usually sought out by the Graduates Fellowship of the IVF. At their London Reunion on October 4, 1947 he was given the subject, ‘The Position of Evangelicals in their Churches’, and asked to make reference to the whole question of secession. At the conclusion of this address and the discussion which followed, he listed these questions: 

Those who are contemplating withdrawal or secession should ask themselves continually:

  1. Am I absolutely certain that Christ’s honour is really involved, or that my basic Christian liberties are threatened?
  2. Am I going out because it is easier, and am I following the line of least resistance? 
  3. Am I going out because I am impatient? 
  4. Am I going out because I am an egotist and cannot endure being a ‘Brother of the common lot’ with its disadvantages as well as its spiritual advantages? 

Those who are staying in their Church should ask themselves:

  1. Am I staying in and not joining others who may be fighting the Lord’s battle because I am a coward?
  2. Am I staying in because I am trying to persuade myself that I am a man of peace and because peace seems to be worth any price? 
  3. Am I staying in because I am just a vacillator or at a very low spiritual ebb?
  4. Am I swayed by some self-interest or any monetary considerations?”

—Iain Murray, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Fight of Faith (Banner of Truth, 2004) p. 184

The Apologist: The Real Chasm

A second problem of those who left the Presbyterian Church was a confusion over where to place the chasm that marks off our identity. Is the chasm placed between Bible-believing churches and those that are not? Or is it between those who are part of our own denomination and those who are not? When we go into a town to start a church, do we go there primarily motivated to build a church that is loyal to Presbyterianism and the Reformed faith, or to the Baptistic position on baptism, or to the Lutheran view of the sacraments, etc., etc.? Or do we go to build a church that will preach the gospel that historic, Bible-believing churches of all denominations hold, and then, on this side of that chasm, teach what we believe is true to the Bible with respect to our own denominational distinctives? The answers to these questions make a great deal of difference. There is a difference of motivation, of breadth and outreach. One view is catholic and biblical and gives promise of success—on two levels: first, in church growth and then a healthy outlook among those we reach; second, in providing leadership to the whole church of Christ. The other view is inverted and self-limiting—and sectarian.

As Bible-believing Christians we come from a variety of backgrounds. But in our moment of history we need each other. Let us keep our doctrinal distinctives. Let us talk to each other about them. But let us recognize the proper hierarchy of things. The real chasm is not between Presbyterians and everyone else, or Anglicans and everyone else, or Baptists and everyone else. The real chasm is between those who have bowed to the living God and thus also to the verbal, propositional communication of God’s inerrant Word, the Scriptures, and those who have not. —Francis Schaeffer, The Great Evangelical Disaster