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The answer to "Who Said This?"

Saturday, November 29, 2008

In my last post, I posted a comment that I had recently read and asked people to guess who was the author. I also asked whether you agree with the comment or not.

The quote was:

"Separation is not isolation, it is contact without contamination."

No one guessed it, although some of the guesses were pretty good. Andy Efting's guess of J. Vernon McGee was pretty good, I thought, as both individuals had significant radio ministries and commentaries on every book and the commentaries from both are more on a "popular" level than on a "deep" level.

A couple of you commented that you would like more context in determining whether you agreed with the statement or not. I think there is wisdom in that, so I will give the context for the three places I found it.

The quote is from Warren Wiersbe and shows up in a discussion on 1 Peter 2, Psalm 1, and in a book entitled God Isn't In a Hurry.

The first place I found this was attributed to Wiersbe in a discussion of 1 Peter 2:5. Unfortunately, there was no context to this use.

After looking it up, I found this quoted in a discussion on Psalm 1:1

The context of the quote in Psalm 1:1:

First, we must be separated from the world (v. 1). The world is anything
that separates us from God or causes us to disobey Him. Separation is not
isolation but contact without contamination. Sin is usually a gradual process.
Notice the gradual decline of the sinner in verse 1. He is walking (Mark 14:54),
standing (John 18:18) and then sitting (Luke 22:55).

The last place I found it was quoted from Warren Wiersbee's book, God Isn't In a Hurry.
A church on the move must confront reality and meet people where they are.
Separation is not isolation--it is contact without contamination. Jesus
was the friend of publicans (tax collectors) and sinners. Many church
members don't have any unsaved friends, or if they do, they keep them at a
distance. Jesus was crucified outside Jerusalem, where the crowd was so
cosmopolitan that the inscription on his cross had to be written in three
languages. Many churches today have abandoned the marketplace and spend
their time reminding one another of the gospel. -- Warren Wiersbe, God Isn't in
a Hurry
(Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1994), p. 89.

In the lack of context of the first quote, I would have to say that I have concern for the statement without any context.

I would obviously agree with the idea that we can impact the world without being contaminated by the world.

I do wonder about a couple of things regarding the quote, however.

1. The picture of Haggai 2 seems to point out that connecting something holy to that which is unholy does not make the unholy thing holy, but instead makes the holy thing unholy. (The example is of the priest's garment and dead bodies.) This would clearly indicate that the type of contact is definitely in play in regards to this concept.

2. I am not sure that "contact without contamination" is really an accurate description of "separation." While it may be true that we need to have appropriate contact with those that are lost, etc., I really don't see how this relates to separation. In other words, I think by juxtaposing the two ideas "separation" and "contact with contamination", he is bringing into the idea of separation that which is not really relevant.

The NT idea of separation seems to be more restrictive than simply "don't be contaminated." For instance, in 2 Corinthians 6, where we are told to be separate, the same context includes "touch not the unclean thing." And the question of "what fellowship hath light with darkness"?

Anyway, thanks for participating. I may add more later, but I need to get to bed.

Just my thoughts,



Jim Peet said...

You got us thinking. Thanks