Wednesday, April 29, 2015

An Honest Basic Assessment of Independent Baptists, pt. 2

The first post in what is a series of undetermined length laid out some of the setting for this analysis. Who are we talking about when we say, "independent Baptists"?  I did somewhat differentiate myself from independent Baptists by calling myself unaffiliated, but based on the most conservative definition, I'm still an independent Baptist.  I call myself one, because unaffiliated doesn't mean anything to most people.  With that being said, I think among the independent Baptists we find New Testament Christianity.

I wouldn't be a part of anything but an independent Baptist church.  The three words, independent and Baptist and church, represent crucial concepts for obedience to God's Word.  The true church is independent and, rightly understood, Baptist.  Since the church represents God in this age, then we are talking about what is most important on earth.

Even if independent Baptist churches are not in good shape overall, it still is the only place to be, if you want to be obedient to God.  True churches were and are independent.  They are autonomous, self-governing, and independent of a hierarchy, secular or religious.  Therefore, as well, they can obey biblical purity by keeping separated from false doctrine and practice.

By Baptist, I mean historic Baptist and characterized by New Testament distinctives, chiefly the Bible as sole rule.  I believe that only with Baptist churches is there divine authority.  The true church traces its history through the Baptists, so if you are not Baptist, your trajectory does not point to Jerusalem, but Rome.  The trend towards leaving out "Baptist" in a church name is a horrible one.

My honest basic assessment of independent Baptist churches is that for a multitude of various reasons there are very few that I would even recommend.  They are all that I would recommend, but even among them, there are few that I could.  You should look for an independent Baptist church, you should be in one, but most of them aren't very good.  Things are worse than ever, and when I say worse, I mean two or three times or more worse right now than at any time in my lifetime.  This also explains why things are so bad in the United States.

Is there any good news?  Even the good news is bad, because the good news is that things could be even worse.  We should all be happy that things aren't worse and they could easily be.  If I'm wrong in my assessment, I don't think it is in judging how bad things are, but that they're really worse than what I'm even saying.

The seeds for the major problems among independent Baptists go back a ways.  I'm going to talk about what I think they are and how we got into the trouble we're in.

More to Come

28 comments:

Jim Peet said...

We used on S/I here

Thank you Kent. I appreciate you

Jeff Voegtlin said...

I look forward to your development of this idea. I also hope you will develop a "prescription" for remedying the situation (for those that will hear).

I may be soft, but it is my belief that since we've been a long time in, and getting into the mess we're in, it will take a long time of biblical teaching and preaching to get ourselves (pastors and people) to make visible progress in the right direction even if we change our direction immediately.

Thanks,

Ethan said...

It's a sad commentary on our world's "Christianity" that true New Testament churches even need to use the terms "Baptist" and "independent." Those necessary labels in today's society are actually just synonymous with "Biblical"...but if we drop them and just use "church" (there is only one kind of actual church, as recognized by God), then we're inviting total ambiguity in the world's eyes. But that's the reality in spiritual warfare against the great counterfeiter.

George Calvas said...

Kent,

"I wouldn't be a part of anything but an independent Baptist church."

I would not even know where to begin. Church INDEPENDENCE is not taught anywhere in the bible. Just the opposite is taught. I would agree with you that what is practiced as unity within fellowships (GARBC, BBF, ect.) is not built on a framework of biblical unity or church government, but that does not preclude the fact that what the scriptures teach is a unified NT church made up of individual churches.

Proof? The teaching is found in both 2 Corinthians 8-9, with a small portion given here:

8:[15] As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.
[16] But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you.
[17] For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you.
[18] And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches;
[19] And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind:
[20] Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us:
[21] Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.

Who is this brother that is the praise of ALL the churches and has been given authority (by the churches!- How did that come about?) to travel to many of them and take MONEY from each one to help CHURCHES in Judea (knowing after Acts 5 that they had >8000 Christians!)?

1> Do you do that?
2> Are we not to practice all the bible, especially the part that helps all of the body of Christ?
3> Do you try to practice equality amoung the churches (8:14)? If so, how?

I know of NO Baptist that can honestly explain the above.

Jim Camp said...

I could not agree more, especially the first four paragraphs. The church I pastor is not everything it should be (mostly because of the pastor not being everything he should be), but things could be much worse. IMHO, the persecution which seems to be drawing closer will probably make all of us better Christians (or at least separate some chaff from the wheat)

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi,

This is introductory so far, and, of course, a blog series, not something quite as serious as a peer reviewed paper, an academic endeavor, or a book. It will have the seeds of that, and I am serious, not excusing where I'm wrong, but there would need to be a lot more editing (this isn't) if I were to treat it at that level. However, sometimes I think the blog level is better. Yes. For one, people will read this, like they would a tract instead of the entire New Testament plopped on their laps.

I know SharperIron picked this up, and I'm glad they did. One guy said that I've wandered around on part two here. I laugh at that. I wrote it like a blog post, that sometimes might seem like wandering. I would call it more interesting to most (maybe not him). It is more personal in this sense.

What part two is doing is actually being positive. So I'm being positive to start, as in, this is why you should be independent Baptist, before I start getting into the negatives (that will probably have some positives along with it). Why even talk about it if there is nothing positive. This is what is positive, so it isn't wandering around. That point, I think, should have been apparent.

I understood that people would argue against my GARBC/BBF and even SBC. I knew that. But that is not how independent Baptists, who call themselves just independent Baptists, think. I don't mind if GARBC call themselves and even think independent. Good for them. Many of those GARBC churches are actually better than many if not most independent Baptist churches, so that doesn't matter to me. I actually read the Faith Baptist little paper they put out, and get about 2 or 3 other GARBC publications that I read, so I'm not blind on this. I see them as conservative evangelicals with the Faith side of things more conservative than the Cedarville side of things. Some might laugh, but I know I'm not alone in that. That is a huge majority of those who see themselves as independent. Some don't even think one moment about GARBC. There is a wide gap between the BBF and the GARBC, but they both would say they are independent, not liking the other in general.

Phizzle said...

"Even if independent Baptist churches are not in good shape overall, it still is the only place to be, if you want to be obedient to God."

LOL

Farmer Brown said...

Why the loyalty to the label? I agree NT churches have always existed apart from Rome. It is a protestant idea that NT churches came out of Rome, and I am not a protestant. I planted a church, an independent baptist church, being sent out by an independent baptist church.

But something you said is problematic. You said, "I believe that only with Baptist churches is there divine authority." When you say that I assume you mean "Only with NT churches is there divine authority." When you substitute the word "Baptist" for the word's "New Testament", it seems irreverent towards the Word of God. You are renaming something God has already named.

Growing up in a Baptist church, no one ever elevated Baptist to the level it is now. No one ever stood in the pulpit and said, "Jesus was a Baptist (capital B)" It seems the name itself is becoming sacred, but it is only Nehushtan.

Kent Brandenburg said...

First Phizzle,

That comment Phizzled. LOL! LOL!

Actually, I thought it was very incisive -- about as good as it gets from folks like yourself. If you had "said" more, you would have been left exposed, so good move. Maybe ROFL, next time.

For anyone "reading" Phizzle's comment, the same could be said about the United States, country-wise. It's horrible, but there isn't any better. You could understand both sentences very similarly, so let me say it: "It's still the best country to live in!" And then, LOL. You get why it's funny, right? No? You've got to wear skinny jeans and bed head to get it.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Farmer Brown,

Loyalty to a label? Yes. Are you a man? What difference does it make? Why does the label matter? Call you woman, the label doesn't matter.

What matters is that Baptists represent the perpetuity of the church. You've got the line through Rome and then you've got what is independent of that, which is much smaller. Think about it. You want to mark yourself in some fashion. Will you get the proper marking with Presbyterian? What about Methodist? If you don't mark at all, does that mean nothing? I'm asking. If you are going to say that God preserved the truth, preserved a church, and it wasn't Roman Catholicism, what is it?

Maybe you call yourself, New Testament Church, or even, Bible church. Did a church start your church? Or did you just decide on your own to start? If a church started your church, and it was New Testament, it is going to get back to a Baptist church.

Here's another illustration. If you ask for five dollars for an item, and I give you a one dollar bill, because the label (the denomination) doesn't matter, do you believe that?

So a church calls itself, Adventure. No problem. Label doesn't matter, right?

I mean all this in a kind way.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Again, for anyone reading,

I don't care to represent anyone wrong. Is Virginia Beach Theological Seminary not BJU orbit. Orbit doesn't mean that they are controlled by BJU, and most people would know that, but I understand someone not knowing it.

It is under an independent Baptist church, Colonial Baptist Church, which isn't revivalist.

And its pastor and the leader of the seminary has this background:

MDiv, Central Baptist Theological Seminary of Minnesota
ThM, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary
ThD, Central Baptist Theological Seminary of Minnesota

I think in 2011, he represented fundamentalism at a Standpoint Conference. If he's a fundamentalist, he's not Master's Seminary. He may be closer to a conservative evangelical, but then again, this isn't an exact science.

Smiling.

Farmer Brown said...

You are conflating value and loyalty. I used the term Baptist in our name because it is temporarily convenient. That means it has value.

I am not loyal to it because the label is man made, at least how it is used. If you call me a woman, I can cite an authority. "Male and Female created he them" It has value and I am loyal to it because it is God's label.

If you call a $1 bill a $5 bill I can cite authority, the Dept of the Treas. They define those and are the authority. It also has value. As long as I am under the authority of the US I will be loyal to it.

The term Baptist has some (diminishing) value. But cite the authority that has made you loyal. Better yet, overcome Paul's objection to your loyalty. Paul, in writing his many epistles never uses a formal label. Paul shuns all labels.

I have had too many exchanges like this to believe it is not becoming sacred.
Them: "I believe in Baptist doctrine!"
Me: "Such as?"
Them: "Saved membership, autonomy, immersion. etc."
Me: "I think you mean Bible doctrine, since God authored those things."
Them: "Same thing!"

It is not the same thing. Those are Bible doctrines. IBs have adopted them, but they do not own them. To equate the term "Bible doctrine" to the term "Baptist doctine" is to literally make the term Baptist on par with the Bible as an authority on doctrine.

Back to Paul. "Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample." When you are loyal to your label, and Paul carefully avoided any such entanglements, are you walking as he walked?

Kent Brandenburg said...

Farmer,

I don't mind talking about this, but I don't know that we'll get anywhere.

Did you know that the name "Bible" isn't in the Bible? Biblion refers, for instance, to the book of John, but not in any technical way. John says there are many more signs than are written in this biblion.

When I talk about independent Baptist, this is totally about who represents New Testament churches. It doesn't happen to be churches called New Testament churches. The churches that are NT churches are independent Baptist churches. Could there be one that doesn't call itself independent Baptist? Sure, but I don't know of one.

Are churches called "New Testament churches" the actual New Testament churches today? Do you know of one church called, New Testament church. If it had that name, would that mean that it was one?

I do think this is getting off subject.

George Calvas said...

Are any of you government agencies by yielding the church to a 501c3 status? You are NOT independent, but are shackled in organizing the church to meet tax-exempt IRS requirements, rather than a biblical structure.

Why no go all the way and become Anabaptists (Another baptism- Acts 19)? In our case, we are a home church who has no name attached to a building, but rather have a way of life that represents the Lord Jesus Christ through the Holy Bible.

horace said...

The independent Baptists aren't going to be identical to the Anabaptists unless they adopt other distinctives such as pacifism.

George Calvas said...

"The independent Baptists aren't going to be identical to the Anabaptists unless they adopt other distinctive such as pacifism."

That is not a distinctive of Anabaptists. That is a distinctive of the Amish or others like them.

Most of the men conceal weapon carry, and even some of our wives conceal weapon carry. All of us have taken weapons training, and practice when we can.

We do not fight state battles by joining an ungodly army, but let any attack our families or even our neighbors and they will find out that hell is "even at the door".

KJB1611 said...

Dear Horace,

George is not really an Anabaptist; he is part of a religious organization that teaches that Jesus is the Father, that the Holy Spirit is like the spirit of a dead man, is associated with a hierarchical "church" organization that calls itself "Anabaptist" (at least when it can spell correctly and use correct grammar, which is often absent on the website of his religious organization), etc.; he also teaches that the Bible may not have been originally written in Greek or Hebrew, but in English, and he isn't a pacifist; so he isn't an Anabaptist, and if he really means what he says about Christ being the Father and God the Holy Ghost being like the spirit of a dead man, he isn't a Christian; but he is a Ruckmanite.

By the way, the people in Acts 19:1-6 were not saved, and that is why they were baptized by Paul. This is obvious by simply looking at the end of chapter 18, where saved people who had John's baptism were NOT "rebaptized."

If you want to see more about George and his corrupt false religion which is not Anabaptist but idolatrous, see here:

http://kentbrandenburg.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-anabaptists-did-not-get-trinity.html

in the comments. I am not planning to re-hash that discussion here.

George Calvas said...

"he also teaches that the Bible may not have been originally written in Greek or Hebrew, but in English"

Why lie?

"Jesus is the Father, that the Holy Spirit is like the spirit of a dead man"

Why take statements out of context?

"By the way, the people in Acts 19:1-6 were not saved, and that is why they were baptized by Paul. This is obvious by simply looking at the end of chapter 18, where saved people who had John's baptism were NOT "rebaptized."

That is not the point.

Those in Acts 19 were baptized into Jesus Christ according to Romans 6:3, Galatians 3:27. It was ANOTHER baptism into one "whose shoes I am not worth to unloose".

Farmer Brown said...

Well, this has really gone sideways. The Anabaptist debate is weird. They are a specific group with specific and well documented origins. They most certainly were pacifist.

Kent, I wanted to call the church we were planting "The assembly at (location)". The church that sent me wanted the name Baptist in the title. I submitted to that, and frankly appreciate the inclusion. It does still have value, for now. Because of the AoG churches, using assembly is problematic.

So we use baptist, recognizing the great majority of Baptists have corrupt doctrine. We (and you) are perhaps ten percent, the other ninety percent having given up on preservation, separation, holiness, true gospel, whosoever will, autonomy, or some combination of those.

My loyalty is to NT doctrine though, not the title. My issue with your statement in the original post is it elevates the title to an inordinate position. Divine authority is with doctrine, not titles.

Larry said...

Are any of you government agencies by yielding the church to a 501c3 status? You are NOT independent, but are shackled in organizing the church to meet tax-exempt IRS requirements, rather than a biblical structure.

Most churches probably aren't actually 501c3; they are tax exempt.

But nonetheless, where does this idea come from that being 501c3 or tax exempt makes something a government agency? That seems really bizarre and without basis.

We are tax-exempt as a church, but we are independent and organized biblically. We have never had any pressure to do anything or not do anything biblical because of our tax exempt status. We are completely free to preach the Bible, to assemble together, and to live out the Bible.

KJB1611 said...

Since George affirmed that I was lying about his view that the Bible might not have been written in Greek or Hebrew, but in English, I reproduce what he said below, where he said exactly what I am now supposedly a liar for affirming. I don't reproduce it because what he says is worth reading, for it is generally a tremendous waste of time, but because I have been called a liar (again; he has called me one many times before, as well as a lot of other very unpleasant things.)

The anti-Trinitarianism is a bigger deal than his bizzare and extreme Ruckmanism or the crazy and unjustified insults. Ruckmanites may go to heaven; people who falsely accuse on occasion may go to heaven; non-Trinitarians will not. Anyway, here is what he said (the "Kent wrote" and "gcalvas" are from what he said):


Kent wrote You should have strong faith, but strong faith in what the Bible actually says, and the Bible wasn't preserved in the English, because there was no English language at the time the New Testament was written, so if there is preservation, it must be in the language in which the New Testament was inspired.

gcalvas So, can you prove that any extant manuscripts in Greek or Hebrew wasn't itself a translation from some other language? For the only Greek and Hebrew manuscripts known to men are NOT from the originals, . . .

gcalvas The Lord God could care less what “the Greek” teaches since he already has the inspired bible in English

Pastor B replied:

Hi George,

I've never heard your position in my life. It's an absolutely novel one, that is, that you believe the Bible was written in English, was inspired in English, and that before the English, we don't know what language the Bible was in. Is that a Peter Ruckman position? It's not anything that I've read ever. The Bible is old and so new positions are almost always untrue. Unless there was a total apostasy of a biblical position, yours could not be true, because it did not exist for centuries. In fact, I'm just hearing of it from you right now for the first time. That's unusual if it is so obvious. And the King James Bible doesn't teach a total apostasy, so if you really do believe the King James Bible, then you couldn't take your position about this English position that you take.

I don't know how to characterize your position than to say that it is ultra, ultra weird. You are saying that we don't that the Bible was inspired in the Hebrew and the Greek. Did you know that the King James translators believed they were translating from the original languages of scripture?

KJB1611 said...


Calvas reply:

Kent wrote I've never heard your position in my life. It's an absolutely novel one, that is, that you believe the Bible was written in English, was inspired in English, and that before the English, we don't know what language the Bible was in. Is that a Peter Ruckman position?
gcalvas Whether it is or it is not, it is a BIBLE position. What is actually novel is the critics who deny absolute truth. What do you mean by, that I “believe that the bible was written in English”? What have you been teaching with in the last 20-30 years, brother?? . . . gcalvas You need to remember the “old paths” of those fore-fathers who began over 700 YEARS ago preaching an English text that brought forth the Reformation and an age of great persecution of those who believed ENGLISH bibles as the very words of God. The British Empire that was followed by America which brought some of the greatest revivals known to men had NOTHING to do with any Greek or Hebrew texts!! It had to do with the preaching of INSPIRED, PERSERVED, INERRANT and INFALLIBLE ENGLISH bibles!! . . . We have no clue what the first five books of the OT were originally written in. What is important to note is, God could care less! The Lord God moved his words forward to the present, and it is obvious by observation and scriptural evidence that these words are now found certainly in the English Holy King James Bible

(from http://kentbrandenburg.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-bible-teaches-permanent.html)

George Calvas said...

"But nonetheless, where does this idea come from that being 501c3 or tax exempt makes something a government agency?"

A 501c3 church status has a responsibility to the government and is created as an "entity of the state" when it signed itself up. You are a incorporated entity that has been GIVEN tax-exempt status and must follow government guidelines to exist as such.

> File a tax return on behalf of the church.
> Keep records of all the monies that are given.
> Send contribution statements to each member that gives
> Keep financial records of all the business of the church.
> Take out "employee" taxes on behalf of the government.

There are more requirements that are put on an "incorporated church" and just because the government has not imposed its will does not mean that it will not in the future.

Kent Brandenburg said...

George,

I think this topic is off subject, but I'm just curious about something.

Do you deduct charitable giving from your income? Do you record your giving on a Schedule A on federal income taxes? I would think that you don't, but I would be curious.

Maybe sometime, we'll write about this subject here. I have very little interest in it, but I am interested in your answer to those questions.

Thanks.

Larry said...

A 501c3 church status has a responsibility to the government and is created as an "entity of the state" when it signed itself up. You are a incorporated entity that has been GIVEN tax-exempt status and must follow government guidelines to exist as such.

Well, no. Most churches are (and should be) incorporated and we do keep financial records (it's a biblical practice) and give contribution statements. But there is nothing in that list of stuff (even if it were all true ... it's not) that causes a church to be unbiblical.
And there is nothing that makes it an agent of the state in any meaningful sense.

There is nothing in tax exempt status that requires a church to disobey God or to do anything that is unbiblical. There is nothing that prevents a church from doing everything it is required to do.

George Calvas said...

"Do you deduct charitable giving from your income? Do you record your giving on a Schedule A on federal income taxes? I would think that you don't, but I would be curious"

Yes, when I was attending a church that was a 501c3 (an Independent Baptist GARBC). I moved forward.

But, that is a red herring. I am assuming by your comments that you are a 501c3, thereby putting you LEGALLY under the an authority that is not NT. You MUST answer to the IRS if they have any questions, and they have the authority to check all of your financial records if discrepancies arise.

George Calvas said...

"Since George affirmed that I was lying about his view that the Bible might not have been written in Greek or Hebrew, but in English, I reproduce what he said below, where he said exactly what I am now supposedly a liar for affirming"

You know that you are a contentious individual because you completely go off the subject of this thread. But, I will answer the accuser.

What you quoted does not say that the bible was "originally written in English". You implied that because you intend to find fault where none exists.

I said we do not know for certain that the OT was ORIGINALLY written in Hebrew (the account of Moses and Pharaoh could have been written in Egyptian and other places in languages like Aramaic {portions of Daniel]) or that the NT was ORIGINALLY written in Greek (Book of Hebrews written to Hebrews?? or Book of Romans where Latin was prominent).

Yet, it is inspired in the English of the Holy King James Bible as it has been in former languages because the body of Christ recognizes that to be true for almost 400 YEARS. It put together all previous inspired manuscripts, texts and bibles into a language of the known world.

If you say that to be true, then you need no other. If you say that is not true, please provide a bible that is inspired and without error that is actually believed and USED by the body of Christ.

Farmer Brown said...

Kent, please delete this post if you want this to be done. I am submitting this to point out where George is wrong on 501c3.

George Calvas wrote: "I am assuming by your comments that you are a 501c3, thereby putting you LEGALLY under the an authority that is not NT. You MUST answer to the IRS if they have any question"

The government is in the NT. The IRS has the authority to do that to anyone or any entity in the US, whether they are incorporated or not. I am not 501c3, but they have the right to demand my records in an audit. They need good probably cause to do so, but that rule applies both to 501c3 churches and unincorporated churches.

Your information is wrong. You said a 501c3 church had to:

1. "File a tax return on behalf of the church".
Wrong. 501c3 churches have no filing requirements, just like all churches.

2. "Keep records of all the monies that are given" and "Keep financial records of all the business of the church".
Wrong in principle. Required whether you are incorporated or not if you have any church finances at all. If any money is given to any entity they are required to keep records of it.

3. "Send contribution statements to each member that gives"
Wrong. They can voluntarily do this but it is not required.

4. "Take out "employee" taxes on behalf of the government."
Wrong in principle. Any entity that has an employee has to withhold taxes, whether incorporated or not, for-profit or not-for-profit. If I hire a maid for my house I have to do that. No one is exempt, except pastors, and that applies to 501c3 and non 501c3 churches.

All points of your list are either flat wrong or misleading. If you want to check this, go here: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1828.pdf