Another - ISM

Warren E. Berkley
Fort Smith, Arkansas

Isolationism, according to The American Heritage Dictionary, means "A national policy of remaining aloof from political or economic entanglements with other countries." For the purpose of this essay, we propose a modified definition, "The practice of setting a passage of scripture apart from its context."

Isolationism became most prominent during the Reformation Era. Martin Luther, in his search for salvation, found satisfaction when he read Romans 1:16, 17. Disregarding the fact that the gospel is God's power unto salvation (which, of necessity, includes obedience), Luther isolated the phrase of verse 17, "The just shall live by faith." Thus Luther planted the seed of isolationism which would later bear fruit in the form of a divided religious world.

The list of isolationists following Luther is endless. Predestination, instrumental music in worship, infant baptism, impossibility of apostasy, and many other unscriptural teachings are supported (?) by isolated scriptures.

What could an isolated passage prove? To point out the inconsistency of this principle, consider the following scriptures ripped out of their context.

"There is no God." Yes, the Bible says that there is no God. Since the Bible is the word of God, the Almighty hath denied himself. Therefore Psalms 14:1, according to the isolation method, is sufficient authority for atheism.

"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." The only logical conclusion from this

Scripture (isolated from the entire New Testament), is that upon baptism, we are saved. If this be the case, why pray, attend services or attempt to live a godly life? Faith and baptism must be the only essentials that result in eternal salvation:

"He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself." Many sincere Christians have recently set this phrase apart in addition to several other scriptures that refer to the work of the Holy Spirit during the growth period of the early church.

Using this absurd principle, we have established that there is no God, belief and baptism alone will save, and speaking in an unknown tongue will edify today as it, did in the early church. If this interpretative tool were used to its limits, God's word would become a hopeless book of inconsistent statements. Human reasoning must be employed in systematically searching the scriptures. Paul used reasoning (Acts 17:2) and so should we.

December 9, 1971