I am interested in knowing if there are Christian churches or groups that believe in living separately or allow it, either in total isolation and independence or partial isolation to avoid contact with the people of the outside world, epsecially in view of the soon return of Jesus and the increasing wickedness.
Are there Christian churches that believe in isolated living?
The short answer is yes
First of all, there are the Amish. They more or less live separated from the world.
A central concept behind much of the Amish lifestyle and practice is the idea of separation from the world. Of course, the Amish would agree that this means to be separate from overtly wicked worldly practices like murder, adultery, fornication, deceit, fraud, idolatry, and a host of other things obviously condemned as sinful in the scripture. To most Amish, however, the idea of separation from the world extends far beyond this. To the Amish, conformity to the seemingly benign cultural norms of fashion, hairstyle, and certain comforts of modern secular life reflect a desire to conform to the world around you and open oneself up to worldly influence. Communication and transportation technologies encourage people to live further and further apart from one another, destroy community, and promote an emphasis on individuality that flows from selfishness and pride. An electrically powered home and all the amenities that come with it give one a sense of self-sufficiency that destroys one's reliance on family, neighbors, and the local church. This also promotes pride and self-interest. In short, the Amish believe that separation from the world does not only mean separation from the explicitly immoral aspects of the unbelieving world but separating oneself, as much as is possible, from the world's whole way of life and living utterly distinctly from them. There is a certain logic to this, but it, in fact, falls into a trap the scriptures warn us against. Ironically, the Apostle Paul points out that such teaching is itself worldly.
"If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence," (Colossians 2:21).
Interestingly, the biblical logic is actually that if you have died to the world, the result should be that you do NOT create extra-biblical commands regarding frivolous, material things. The ways of the world do not consist of what they eat, what they wear, or the devices they use. The ways of the world do include, however, the religious impulse to wrap our righteousness up in such things. While the believer can sin in the area of food through gluttony, no specific kinds of food are rejected by the New Testament. Similarly, though the Christian can sin in the area of clothing through immodesty and indecency, no particular style of dress is mandated. A Christian can certainly use technology to separate themselves from God's people, to distract them from God's word, or to access immorality like pornography, but the sin is not in the technology, it is in these particular uses of it.
This is not to say that we shouldn't take the biblical texts about separation from the world seriously. We absolutely must! But to do so, we have to understand what the Bible considers to be worldly. That is what we need to separate ourselves from. As we have seen, inventing new commands to forbid mundane aspects of material culture is worldly. The mundane aspects of material culture themselves are not innately worldly.
Come out from among them
2 Corinthians 6:14-18, "Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty."
This is unquestionably a call for Christians to be a distinct and separate people from the world, and this is a passage that Christian churches and individuals need to take very seriously. The call, however, is not to dress differently from unbelievers or to cook over a different heating source or ride a different kind of vehicle. The call is to be holy. Paul spells this out himself in the very next verse:
2 Corinthians 7:1, "Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." - The Amish and separation from the world
The Catholic Church permits her faithful to live separated from the world. They are generally known as monks and nuns. However, instead of living this life in view of the soon return of Jesus and the increasing wickedness; they live this way of life in order to be able to be dedicated to a life of prayer.
Some form of cloister is present in all types of religious life, even the convents of sisters who engage in active apostolates. In such communities, one area of the convent is "cloistered," reserved for the sisters alone. This type of cloister is called common cloister.
In the contemplative life, the concept of a cloister, a place reserved for the nuns alone, is expanded and deepened. Often the entire monastery is cloistered, and may even be surrounded by a cloister wall. The choir where the nuns sit in the chapel is sometimes hidden from the public who come to pray. And, depending on what form of cloister each monastery professes, the nuns may practice enclosure, which means they vow never to pass beyond the bounds of the cloister. There are three different types of cloister recognized by the Church: papal cloister, constitutional cloister, and monastic cloister, which are explained below.
Papal cloister is the strictest form of enclosure, in which a nun does not leave the boundaries of the monastery except for serious reasons. The norms defining papal enclosure are given by Rome. The most recent instruction on papal cloister is the 2018 document Cor Orans, which implements what Pope Francis outlined in his 2016 Apostolic Constitution Vultum Dei Quaerere. Cor Orans states: "The law of papal cloister extends to the dwelling and to all the interior and exterior spaces of the monastery reserved exclusively for the nuns in which the presence of strangers can be admitted only in case of necessity. It must be a space of silence and recollection, facilitated by the absence of external works, where the permanent search for the face of God can develop more easily, according to the Institute's charism."
Some of the orders which traditionally practice papal cloister are: Carmelite Nuns, Poor Clares, Dominican Nuns, Visitandines, Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters, and Handmaids of the Precious Blood.
Constitutional cloister is a form of cloister defined by the norms in the Rule and Constitutions of the individual order. It is generally less strict than papal cloister. This type of cloister is practiced if the community's charism joins to their life of contemplation some kind of apostolic or charitable work. They are still cloistered nuns, but they may have an apostolate attached to the monastery--such as a retreat house--which would be impossible to carry out if they practiced papal enclosure. Cor Orans says of constitutional cloister: "It must be a space of silence and recollection, where the permanent search for the face of God can develop, according to the charism of the Institute, in consideration of the works of apostolate or charity exercised by the nuns" (n. 205).
Some of the religious orders which traditionally practice constitutional enclosure are: Passionist Nuns, Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood, and Norbertine Canonesses.
Monastic Cloister is "a special expression of the constitutional cloister" (Cor Orans n. 211), one of the most ancient forms of contemplative life. Monastic cloister refers to forms of contemplative life which have always had a charism of hospitality, such as those stemming from the Benedictine tradition. This means guests may be invited to stay at the monastery, and the nuns interact with them much more freely than nuns who practice papal cloister. "For monasteries of contemplative nuns, the monastic cloister, while retaining the character of a more rigorous discipline than the common one, makes it possible to associate the primary function of divine worship with wider forms of reception and hospitality" (Cor Orans n. 210).
Some of the religious orders who traditionally profess monastic cloister are: Benedictine Nuns, Cistercian/Trappistine Nuns, Sisters of Mary Morning Star. - What is a Cloistered Nun?
Notwithstanding these two example of Christians living separated from the world for whatever reasons they have, history shows us that at least one Christian cult (group) lived separated from the world preparing for the Second Coming. They were the Branch Davidians.
The Branch Davidians are a religious cult founded in 1959 by Ben Roden as an offshoot of the Davidian Seventh-Day Adventist Church, which had been established by Victor Houteff in the 1930s. Houteff was a Bulgarian emigrant to the United States and Seventh-day Adventist who wrote a set of tracts entitled "Shepherd’s Rod" calling for the reform of the Seventh-day Adventist church. His ideas were rejected by Adventist leaders, and in 1935, Houteff and his followers settled near Waco and began preparing for the Second Coming. Houteff's group eventually moved to a farm near Waco, Texas, but by 1962 Roden and his followers had taken possession of the settlement, which was known as Mt. Carmel.
The Branch Davidians are most associated with the Waco siege of 1993, a 51-day standoff between Branch Davidians and federal agents that ended when the group's compound near Waco, Texas, was destroyed in a fire. Nearly 80 people were killed.
The doctrinal beliefs of the Branch Davidians differ on teachings such as the Holy Spirit and his nature, and the feast days and their requirements. Both groups have disputed the relevance of the other's spiritual authority based on the proceedings following Victor Houteff's death. From its inception in 1930, the Davidians/Shepherd's Rod group believed themselves to be living in a time when Biblical prophecies of a Last Judgment were coming to pass as a prelude to Christ's Second Coming.
In the late 1980s, Koresh and his followers abandoned many Branch Davidian teachings. Koresh became the group's self-proclaimed final prophet. "Koreshians" were the majority resulting from the schism among the Branch Davidians, but some of the Branch Davidians did not join Koresh's group and instead gathered around George Roden or became independent. Following a series of violent shootouts between Roden's and Koresh's group, the Mount Carmel compound was eventually taken over by the "Koreshians". In 1993, the ATF and Texas Army National Guard raided one of the properties belonging to a new religious movement centered around David Koresh that evolved from the Branch Davidians for suspected weapons violations. It is unknown who shot first, but the ATF surrounded and tried to invade the home of the Branch Davidians. This raid resulted in a two-hour firefight in which four ATF agents were killed; this was followed by a standoff with government agents that lasted for 51 days. The siege ended in a fire that engulfed the Mount Carmel compound which led to the deaths of 76 Branch Davidians inside. - Branch Davidians
Who knows, perhaps others may arise in the near future!