We believe that God desires unity within the Church (John 17:20-23; Eph. 4:1-6). We should strive for this unity because all believers are a part of the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). However, because of differences of opinion, interpretation, and practice, unity is best accomplished by believers who share the same beliefs, convictions, and practices (Acts 15:36-41). We also believe that there are situations where unity is not possible or appropriate, and where God commands us to separate ourselves.
- Personal separation
We believe that all Christians should live in a way that reflects the change God has made in them (2 Cor. 5:17; Titus 2:11-14), that is holy and acceptable to God (Rom. 12:1-2; 1 Cor. 6:19-20), and that evidences a love for God instead of worldly desires and attitudes (1 John 2:15-17). This necessarily requires Christians to keep themselves from certain thoughts, conversations, and actions but it should not result in isolation from unbelievers (John 17:15; 1 Cor. 5:9-10).
- Separation from a disobedient brother
We believe that a Christian should lovingly confront another Christian who has sinned against him with a desire for his repentance, forgiveness, and restoration. If the sinning Christian does not repent, the next step is to involve other believers and, if necessary, to bring the matter before the local church (Matt. 18:15-17). If the sinning believer refuses to repent, he must be withdrawn from to show him the seriousness of his sin (2 Thess. 3:14-15) and to guard against his bad influence (1 Cor. 5:6-7). There may be situations when a believer’s sin is so egregious (1 Cor. 5:1, 11; 2 Thess. 3:6) that immediate separation is necessary.
- Ecclesiastical separation.
We believe that a relationship with other churches, organizations, or believers outside of the local church can be beneficial (Col. 4:12-15; Rom. 15:26). However, these relationships should be carefully examined before fellowship is offered (1 John 1:5-7). The local church should not cooperate in a spiritual endeavor with unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1), false teachers (Rom. 16:17-18; 2 John 9-11), or believers who are worldly (1 John 2:15-17) or disobedient (2 Thess. 3:6). Such cooperation sends a mixed message about true faith (2 Cor. 6:14) and fellowship (1 Cor. 5:11-13).