Monday, May 04, 2015

An Honest Basic Assessment of Independent Baptists, pt. 3

When men stand before God, some might argue, what difference will it make what name or identity they were given on earth?  People aren't going to be called independent Baptist in heaven, so it doesn't matter what they're called right now on earth.  For the most part, I've written, the independent Baptists do represent heaven on earth right now, and that's based on what heaven has told us in God's Word.  It's not their name, but what they represent, what the name means.  I explained that.

Being independent relates to separation from error.  Being Baptist relates to a position on the Bible.

With that being said, there are variations between independent Baptists.  There are reasons why not all independent Baptists agree with one another -- doctrinal and practical differences.  The more they agree, the more they get along.  It's normally like that with all human beings too.

Some people say differences are minor between independent Baptists and should be ignored.  That is a different subject than what I'm writing on, but anyone who has read me will know that I believe unity to be about the truth. Truth is the only right basis for unity.  We are not unifying by ignoring truth.  We might call it unity, but it isn't unity.  We should be most concerned about what God thinks, which is what God said in His Word.  To elevate the church or individual who ignores the most truth in order to get along with one another isn't better than unifying and separating over the truth. Someone who looks for unity or fellowship based upon the truth is the person who really does want unity.

It is wrong too to separate in an unscriptural way on a non-biblical issue.  A lot in the Bible tells us that we should not be creating unnecessary factions and attempting to cause disunity.  However, it is also wrong to unify with someone who will not believe or obey the truth.  When I say the latter, I mean the belief of and obedience to specific truths of scripture.  God gives liberty on non-scriptural issues, not scriptural ones, and that includes, of course, the application of Bible truths, not just their interpretation.

I am saying that independent Baptists are the most consistently aligned with the teaching and practice of the Bible.  At the same time, I believe there is more wrong than ever with independent Baptists. There is so much wrong that I understand men looking for a different name or designation of themselves.  They don't want to associate with what they think that independent Baptist has come to mean.

Some of the new, alternative names or titles, other than independent Baptist, don't do anything actually helpful from my perspective.   As an illustration, I was looking at the line-up of speakers at what has advertised itself as a big "independent Baptist" get-together in Arizona next year in March, and one was someone I had not heard of, so I looked him up online and found that he has lead a new church launch in Salt Lake City, and has chosen the name "Gospel Grace Church."  There isn't anything wrong with that name.  Just because it has that name, should we assume that it represents the gospel and grace?  I would hope so.  What it says to me though is broad and inclusive and indistinct, welcoming people of varied doctrinal and practical differences.  I see the naming as a business strategy, the production of label that will work better in marketing, which is crucial for church growth.  In other words, it distinguishes itself by its lack of distinction.  It doesn't want to be too distinct.  It's leader and his team are also going for that same feel with their website and presentation and music.

If the grace of God is really what changes us, we don't need new measures to change people.  The gospel will be good enough, but it seems that churches today often think that a kind of visual ecumenism will work better than distinction, at least at attracting an initial group of people who are turned off by distinctions.  Will people looking for a lack of distinction finally turn to something distinct, which is what God's grace actually does do and what the gospel does?  It won't based on a lie, so it is better to tell the truth up front about who we are and then let God's grace work.  People shouldn't be ashamed of being a Baptist for instance, which speaks of the genuine history of Christianity.  If we are trusting God's grace, we know that the name Baptist won't stop someone from denying himself, taking up His cross, to follow Christ.

My main point in writing this series hasn't been to discuss why to be an independent Baptist, but I thought that part of the assessment should be positive.  I am writing to assess what's wrong with independent Baptists mainly because I am positive about them.  I don't want them to dwindle.  Everything that is wrong is a departure from scripture and the first and most damaging to independent Baptists in my assessment is....


As much as anything, independent Baptists should be distinguished by the gospel.  The gospel is what makes true churches.  People believe the gospel and become a church.  If people don't believe a true gospel, they won't become a church. Perversion of the gospel by independent Baptist churches results in less converts in the church.  Even though these churches have the name and the designation, they don't represent the Lord Jesus Christ, when they corrupt the gospel.  These churches are being destroyed by this.

Most of the revivalist churches have perverted the gospel and this has been a long time coming.  I don't think that most of these churches intended to twist and change the gospel.  However, under the influence of theological movements and pragmatic church growth philosophy, most of these churches now preach a perverted gospel.

Corruptions of the gospel have spread all over evangelicalism and fundamentalism.  This is not just relegated to independent Baptists.  Many evangelicals and fundamentalists, besides independent Baptist ones have been influenced by the same wrong teachers and teaching and church growth pragmatism.

I'll talk more about this in the next post.


KJB1611 said...

I believe it is noteworthy that in the history of early fundamentalism clarity on the gospel was not a major issue. Whether one believed in the virgin birth, yes; whether one believed in repentance, no.

Lance Ketchum said...

Brother Brandenberg,
I think you need to be more succinct regarding "revivalist churches." You may be painting with a broad brush here. There are "revivalist churches" who try to manufacture the Christ-life in church members because they have filled their churches with false professions of still lost people (one, two, three, say it after me churches). However, there are also "revivalist churches" that have a biblical view of Spirit-filled living and teach what is necessary to that. Certainly I Corinthians would be a "revialist" epistle dealing with repentance of carnality and Ephesians dealing with the positive issues of revival.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks Thomas.


Thanks. I'm using revivalist in a technical way, which is also how the dictionary defines it. I'm sure that Paul wasn't a revivalist in the dictionary sense, just the opposite.

My generalization, categorizing independent Baptists into mainly two groups, is my honest basic assessment. Some don't fit, I would agree, which why it is general. I didn't fit you into either of the two groups, because I don't see you as fitting either. I'm not BJU or revivalist, and I'm independent Baptist. I did not lump all independent Baptists together though, because they are different mainly in the way I characterized it. I was reading somewhere else "Sword of the Lord" and BJU. This was written in 2008 by a presbyterian evaluating independent Baptists. I didn't see that until after what I wrote.

Tyler Robbins said...

I'm very interested to see your definition of the "false gospel" in independent Baptist circles . . . !

Farmer Brown said...

Appreciate the clarification on the name issue. I agree with what you have laid out.

You said "IBs are the most consistently aligned with the teaching and practice of the Bible". I would like to turn that on its head and say, "Churches aligned with with the teaching and practice of the Bible are most consistently IB"

We travel a lot, and always try to find a church. We start with all the IB churches in the area. Then we cut the Hyles, BJ, CT, Calvinist, GARB, SBC, and other association churches. Then we dump the rockers, women led churches, race baiters, jew haters, and other aberrations. That leaves less than 10% of the original sample. Usually what remains is a great church.

The point is if we start with 20 churches, we might find 2 that are worth visiting. We have done this maybe 50 times over the last 6-7 years, and the less than 10% number has been valid all over the country. Except one SBC church (nothing else within 50 miles), the only good churches have been IB, but >90% of IBs are dead. Hence the reversed statement.

The Preacher said...

">90% of IBs are dead

How are they dead? Dead to what?

Please explain.

Farmer Brown said...

"Dead" was was hasty without further explanation. I was trying to be brief.

For those preaching a false gospel, dead is fair. Let them be accursed.

The rest are compromised, and their head is not Christ. Let me give an example. A couple I knew was big in a church I attended. Husband was running the christian school, doing a lot of preaching. They were BJ loyalist.

At that time BJ was under fire for their position in "interracial" marriage. BJ3 was going on TV to talk about it. The man and his wife made sure everyone knew that they supported the position and it was a Biblical position, and called for prayer for BJ3 as he went on TV.

Then, lo and behold, BJ3 went on Larry King and changed the position. The next time we were in church, these evangelists were making sure everyone knew they supported the changed position, and it was Biblical position. Biblical to them was whatever "The College" did.

Their head was not Jesus, but "The College". This reminiscent of most of the rest of the 90% that is not teaching a false gospel. They follow something other than the Word of God.