Tag Archives: IFB

Baptist Dysfunction #3

As we walk through the list of Baptist distinctives, we come to an issue of church polity and practice. Jesus Christ entrusted the church with many things, two of which get a special spotlight (and rightly so): Believer’s Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. There’s not a lot of controversy here, but I’ve got a few questions about these…

SacramentsStainedGlass01Two Church Ordinances

#1 – Believer’s Baptism

I know why we baptize believers – in obedience to Christ, for identification with His death and His church, and to proclaim the gospel. I also get the picture from the New Testament that baptism symbolized rebirth, so why can’t a believer be re-baptized when he rededicates his life? What would be the issue with re-preaching the gospel or identifying again with the church if one has become distant? Why can’t a Christian be baptized again? I mentioned that idea one time to some Christian leaders and they shot it down with disdain. Their answer was, ‘Well Jesus only died on the cross once, so you should only get baptized once.’  Not only does than answer lack basic logic, but it also implies an unhealthy connection to salvation.

Furthermore, at what point did churches get so particular about ‘receiving’ the baptism from other churches? I understand that some baptisms are given under false pretense (as if it is part of salvation) or by the wrong mode (sprinkling instead of immersion), but why do we dismiss baptisms from other brethren? Is it to pad our numbers? Is it because we are that distrusting of their water districts? I truly don’t get it!

Also, why don’t we work as hard for baptisms as we do salvation decisions? Why do we compare our baptism numbers (isn’t that a little self-aggrandizing)?  Some don’t, but many IFB pastors worship the numbers… or rather worship themselves through the numbers. They judge their entire lives by how many are in the pew on Sunday. If we count, we should count how many families had devotions this week, or how many people showed real patient love with a difficult person, or many hours our church spent praying for their co-workers… Those numbers are worth counting (if you’re gonna count)!

#2 – The Lord’s Supper

The Lord’s Supper was given to the church as a sacred sacrament. It’s one of the major things that we are urged to do together that reveals the gospel. Some churches practice it once a year, others once a quarter, while others once a month. So why don’t we do it more often? I’ve know…because we don’t want it to get old / ritualistic… Right! So why do we do it exactly the same way every single time? We read the same verses and the same people pass the trays the same way. Every. Single. Time. Why? Would it be a sin to be creative with communion?

With regard to the ordinances, why -in most churches- are only ordained men allowed to participate?  I have never seen anything more beautiful than a father baptizing his child or when parents lead their family in communion.  Just because the church was entrusted with these doesn’t mean we get to monopolize them! Agree? (And by the way, I think foot-washing should be considered… maybe not as an ordinance, but at least practiced occasionally. Humility & soap would go a long way to clean up some of the stink in our churches!)

 

Article by Patrick Nix

@patchnix

Other Articles  |  Bio

Advertisements

Baptist Dysfunction #2

phariseesI was raised believing in the old BAPTIST
acrostic (below). These are the things that supposedly made us ‘distinctive’ in our faith. But as I’m reading and learning, I’m discovering that most -if not all- of these do not mean what they used to… what they’re supposed to. If you haven’t yet, you should catch up by reading Part 1 here.  This post will focus on the Priesthood of the Believer & Individual Soul Liberty. (I’ve decided not to go in the order below, but to group them by their logical sequence.)

B- Biblical Authority
A- Autonomy of the Local Church
P- Priesthood of the Believer
T- Two Church Offices
I- Individual Soul Liberty
S- Saved & Baptized Church Membership
T- Two Church Ordinances

NOTE: Some readers of my last article noted that I write with an evident hurt buried deep inside.  I can’t really identify one singular pain… but I do recognize certain ‘sore spots’ that are sensitive to me. This article, in particular, will really reveal a couple of issues that can affect my blood pressure in a negative way.

P – Priesthood of the Believer

The Bible teaches (1 Peter 2:5) that believers are priests, each having his/her own access to God.  Since Jesus is our High Priest, we need no other mediator (1 Timothy 2:5).  So why do so many IFB pastors stand in this role?  Why do so many say things like: “Before you buy a home or change jobs, you should consult your Pastor.”?  Why do they set themselves up as some kind of ‘priest’ that can divine and/or discern God’s will for the membership? I’ve heard preachers use a church member who didn’t get his advice as an illustration for foolishness or rebellion! I’m a firm believer in getting counsel, but I also believe that Christians don’t need to ask their pastor for permission to buy a car!  Then they take it a step further and take the initiative to assign standards for every family (what to wear, what to listen to, where not to go…), leaving little room for the Holy Spirit to convict.  I believe our standards are far too low & too many!

In addition, the IFB movement has become so governed by a ‘performance’ theology. We’ve lost touch with grace. Why do we continually allow our leaders to set the measurements for us?  Doesn’t the Bible say that when we compare ourselves by and with ourselves we are not wise? Yet we continue to do it – we feed off of it, and it becomes a way of life. Read more about this here.

We define our spirituality by checklists of do’s and don’ts and we let other the fear of man dictate the lists. It’s more human to call a suit & tie your church clothes than to really obey Colossians 3:12-14. After all, it’s easier to measure the visible than the unseen. I still do it (far more than I even realize) and it is sin. The fear of man is a snare! For me, it took a long time to “find myself” after leaving the pretense that I was under, in large part because I had always defined myself by another man’s opinion / approval. It was a terrible mixture of my own insecurities fostered by the emphasis on performance by those surrounding me.

I – Individual Soul Liberty

Much of what defines IFB churches are ‘standards.’  Unknowingly, churches are bound in the culture war more than they are in a war for doctrinal #oldpaths. In the 1950’s, when the Convention was going south (waffling on major fundamentals), a remnant of Biblicists separated from the whole and became Independent, Fundamental Baptists.  In so doing, they became defined by their culture. Women wore skirts, churches used only hymns (with piano music) and black-bound King James Bibles, and preaching against ‘movie houses’ was common.

Examples abound… A pastor-friend was asked to leave his church in the 70’s because his son wore a white belt.  I know a man who wouldn’t let his wife wear pantyhose because they were ‘split-legged.’ I heard about an addiction program which required all participants to wear proper attire. If they didn’t have any, they were provided with disposable plastic skirts (for the ladies) to wear during the class.  No wonder it never got off the ground!

We have become so wrapped up in the externals. How refreshing would it be if we could go to a conference (IFB) and not to hear messages entrenched in legalistic manipulation. (Is Legalism a Bad Word?)  We’ve used some Biblical words to justify our shallow preaching when — according to Jesus himself — there are far weightier matters to attend to!!  The IFB movement is becoming known for its Pharisee-ism, and it doesn’t seem that much is being done to turn that around.  That’s not the fringe, that’s the mainstream. And, thankfully, the younger generation of new fundamentalists are not willing to stand for some of these non-essentials or die in a culture war that their parents / grandparents started!

Romans 14 provides limits for Christians who are ‘strong’ in their faith as they help the ‘weaker.’  It clearly states (v5) that we need to let every man to be fully convinced in his own mind.  What that means is… Give people the space to come to their own conclusions and form their own convictions.  I can hear it now… “But I’ve given them 3 months and he still hasn’t cut his hair. “Well that’s just crazy! Do you expect people to make up their own mind? What if they don’t decide to give up _________, what then?  “I don’t think that she’ll stop wearing britches unless I talk to her about it.”  I know, right!!  Christian liberty is a dangerous thing.  Sticky stuff here, folks.  Which is precisely why we can’t get too far from Matthew 7… the splinter & the plank.

Brothers, we’ve lost sight of grace and become lost in our religion that emphasizes fancy footwork and performance.  Let’s get back to grace and leave the condemnation behind (Gal. 5:1). Just because you change doesn’t mean you’re compromising. Jesus was hated because he was too far ‘left’ for the Fundamentalists of his day… so that puts you in good company!

 

Article by Patrick Nix

@patchnix

Other Articles  |  Bio

Baptist Dysfunction #1

I have so encouraged to see a resurgence among young independent fundamental baptists calling for a revolution back to truth. It is encouraging to hear the stories from so many who are prayerfully seeking balance in their faith, their families, and their ministries.  For too long, legalists have ruled, dictators have oppressed, and ignorance prevailed. [If you’re a rebel, don’t click here.]

church_clipart_whiteI sincerely apologize if that sounds condescending – I know it’s hard to interpret tone on a blog – but I can vouch for the guy at the keyboard… it’s not at all condescending. I am very much a student. I am in process. I’m still growing – hopefully – toward Christ. But I do find issue with some things that many of my IFB friends continue to practice and preach. I have been silent, had quiet conversations with gentlemen in dark corners (okay, that’s a bit overstated and dramatic); but seriously, I feel like it’s time for me to step up and speak up…

I was raised on the old B-A-P-T-I-S-T acrostic.  The one that supposedly made us ‘distinctive’ in our faith. But as I’m reading and learning, I’m discovering that most -if not all- of these are not exactly as they seem. So, today I’m kicking off a 4- or 5-part discourse on our dysfunction. I will seek to be open and not authoritative, subjective and not snobbish, truthful but not negative. These first two deal with the F and the I of IFB…

B- Biblical Authority

Can I still be included as a “fundamentalist” – even if I don’t ascribe to all the extra standards? I had a preacher tell me once that the issue of women wearing pants should be included with the fundamentals (as in: biblical inerrancy, deity of Christ, etc). True story! Why can’t we fellowship if we aren’t exactly the same? (If Amos 3:3 applies like you say it does, then our churches should be a lot smaller.)  Speaking of that, why do we intentionally exclude people from our church?  For example, a friend’s church has a statement like this on their wall: “If you like the KJV, you’ll love this church!” What about someone who doesn’t know about Bible versions, will they love it? What if someone just loves the Lord, will they love your church… or just like it?  Why do we do that?  It sure doesn’t seem like the Bible is the ‘sole authority’ any more. (Speaking of the KJV, I’ve got Bible version questions, do you?) Seems more like Bible+ or Bible*! It’s as if I’m in the twilight zone and I’m the only one who sees that we are doing what we accused everyone else of.

We are not the only bastions of the truth. There IS more than one right way. Yes, there is right and wrong, black and white, and absolute truth. There are right ways to do things, just like there are wrong ways, but God’s will is not a tight-rope to be walked. Why am I saying this?  Because I was told many times that there was only one right way, but many wrong ways.  That’s nothing short of a lie.  God didn’t just create butterflies, He created over 12,000 varieties.  He loves variety.  Why do we demand sameness in our pursuit of unity and agreement?  Why do we force Borg-like assimilation? ‘Comply or be destroyed.’  Why is there no room for discussion, disagreement, or debate?  (More to come on this in the next few weeks… the P & I)

A – Autonomy of the Local Church

Why was I told that Southern Baptists (and other baptists, for that matter) are not autonomous? Unless you think autonomous means isolated, there are many other kinds of churches besides IFB which are self-governing. Baptists are not the only sovereign group. There are independent Christian churches, non-denom, and even autonomous protestants (settle down, that’s not an endorsement). When I was starting a church outside of Louisville, I was told there were no “gospel-preaching churches” in the county.  That was a lie! There were several.  Just because they aren’t IFB doesn’t mean they don’t have the gospel. I can name you at least 3-4 pastors in that county preaching the gospel and teaching evangelism (and practicing it). I regret not working with these great men many years earlier.  The tragedy is that I bought the lie that I couldn’t be ‘equally yoked’ with these men.  Lies!

IFB preachers are lonely and their fellowship meetings are growing boring. (Sorry for being Debbie Downer here, but we continue to isolate in the name of Biblical separation.)  There are great men who passionately love the Lord who are quickly discounted because they carry an ESV, sing a song written after 1950, or wear shorts in church. The term “ecclesiastical separation” has been egregiously misused and, therefore, been the tool of many a leader to abuse a congregation into cultish tendencies. Calling a man a heretic because he believes in God’s sovereignty and election (which are both Biblical terms) is sin. He is a brother – treat Him like one (but not like you treated your brother growing up, that probably wouldn’t be good!). I’m a firm believer in defending the truth, but destroying kingdom relationships and firing your #oldpaths bullets at brothers MUST cease.

Last year, I attended a conference where a prominent IFB pastor from Southern California was preaching.  He was very organized, very classy… until he proceeded to turn his message into a bash ‘Saddleback Sam’ (his words) session.  Three different times, he kept going back to it. Why? Is he jealous? Did RW do something to hurt him or his children? This guy isn’t fringe, he’s a leader.  He’s respected; his church is booming.  So why? When I wrote to him, he didn’t respond back.  I just don’t get it.

Conclusion

I’m NOT writing this to stir up stuff. In fact, for the last year, I’ve been almost totally out of the loop – and I LOVING it!  The P4G blog has sat quiet as I (and many other contributors) have been very busy for the kingdom, and that’s okay.  But two things have stirred this up in my heart: 1). Recent weddings/ funerals which have caused me to cross paths with several good brothers with genuine concerns;  2). Recent conversations with former church members with multiple questions about these very issues.

I am not a leader, so don’t follow me (Ha! Like I really needed to say that anyway!). I’ve found my tribe and it’s not in the IFB… although I’m still very much I, F, and B! So many men are considering deep questions. Questions that their peers don’t want to hear.  They are weighing the evidence. and nothing could be better for the movement. They shouldn’t have to choose between old paths and right paths!  Could a Truth-Revolution be on its way?

Feel free to leave a comment – a positive one. I’d love to hear how your pastor is different from the ones that I keep hearing about. Surprise me. Please be solution-oriented.  If indeed our movement is sinking, should a Christian jump ship or try to bail water? Is it too late or am I just not patient enough? What is the future of ‘fundamentalism?’  What do you think of this new fundamentalism?

Article by Patrick Nix

@patchnix

Other Articles  |  Bio

A Right Response to the Jack Schaap Scandal

You’ve probably heard the news by now. It’s hard to grasp how big this is in the Independent Baptist world. I assure you I’m no rabble rouser, but this demands reflection. I sense a tsunami running through the ranks, bowling things over and destroying as it goes. Many of the thoughts I’m hearing, however, miss the whole point.

First, I take no pleasure in another man’s fall. Some out there are not doing as well as they imagine in hiding both their glee and the fact that it’s all a political game to them. You know the type–I stand taller when my enemy falls down. I know we are told it is doctrinal issues, but I haven’t been convinced it is so.

I know Mr. Schaap has literally wrecked his life. I always pity that sort of thing. I know there is an innocent wife who has been shamed beyond what any lady should endure. I know there is an ashamed congregation that is feeling all kinds of pain. I also know there are many pastors and college graduates who are horrified to answer for something they are in no way responsible for. Finally, and this is the worst, there are many who looked up to Mr. Schaap to such a degree, who hung on his every word, who followed his counsel, who are now struggling with the idea of walking out the church door never to return. Of course, we can wax eloquent about how they should never have looked up to a mere man to such a degree in the first place, and of course we’d be right, but it won’t change the fact that they did and that they stand bewildered today.

I do not, nor have I ever, counted Mr. Schaap an enemy. I have no desire to pile on, but we must call a spade a spade. What he did is egregious sin. That the girl was young enough to be his granddaughter makes it abusive and more perverse. Worst of all, he took the highest calling, a call to be a pastor of God’s people, and abused it.

Having labeled it the sin that it is, I pray he is restored as a Christian man in the spirit of Galatians 6:1. I pray someone is ministering to him. I do believe we need to feel something of “there but for the grace of God go I”. I pray for Mrs. Schaap and her family for healing. I pray for First Baptist Church of Hammond because a church crashing hurts us all. I pray for those who are feeling carried out to sea on the wave of this tsunami and can’t quite get their hands around what to think. I pray that they can see that Jesus Christ stands as tall as ever.

Let’s get this straight–we can’t change it. It’s been in the news and that can’t be erased. We must be on record as being on God’s side and make no excuses or cover up for such a grotesque thing. People are hurt and there’s no magic wand to take it all away. We must love and encourage and lift up those hurting and struggling as the Lord gives us opportunity. This is no time to have a marketing campaign to convince the world how great Baptists are. No, let’s just humble ourselves, go on, and be as Christlike as possible.

This should cause us to look at ourselves more carefully.  (Gal. 6:1c)

There is, though, one more thing we need to do. We need to look at ourselves more carefully. Everyone is doing it to us and, perhaps, you feel defensive. Corrective measures are needed. We need a debriefing time here to analyze how did we get here. Every Christian group has scandal–such is the nature of sin. Still, what positive steps could be taken? Would you permit me to suggest a few-especially to the church’s leadership? Here they are in random order:

1. Church Leaders must have accountability.

I know we are told that “the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers” (Acts 20:28) and that we are to take the “oversight thereof” (1 Pet. 5:2). We do have a leadership role in the local church, but what New Testament example could you honestly cite that allows us to scold, yell, or manipulate? In fact, that same 1 Peter passage tells us that our ministering and leading not be that way, “neither as lords over God’s heritage, but being an ensamples to the flock.” Please don’t imagine that it’s fine to degrade in the pulpit either. It’s the coward’s way to attack an individual under the cover of God’s sacred desk. We must be ethical and our leadership is open to honest scrutiny in the church. We should have honesty, integrity, and be fully above reproach in all we do.

2. We Pastors must extend that accountability to our personal lives.

When scandals like this come to light it tells me that the fallen pastor was able to go around with no one knowing where he is. It’s clear the wife wasn’t allowed to know either. Gentlemen, that is an abuse of our husband role. My wife always knows generally where I am and who I am with. She knows every password for my email, facebook, or any internet thing I do and can check it any time she likes. She can pick up my cell phone and look at any history she likes. In fact, if she picked up my phone in front of me, it wouldn’t even cross my mind to be concerned. She has full access to all bank or credit card information. There’s no way I could wine and dine another lady unless that woman paid for the whole thing! Plus, I’d still have to account for my time! It’s not that she even demands all of this, but I know accountability is a good thing.

3. We Pastors must maintain a sense of decorum and purity in all we do.

There’s a crudeness that is being accepted that is fully unacceptable. This is the age of shock value but we surely realize that we don’t have to take up all the habits of the age we live in. There are details of sin that don’t inspire us away from that sin. In fact, those details do the opposite. They fascinate us and lead our thoughts down dusty, dirty paths. A pastor trying to outdo the shocking statement he made last sermon not only puts himself under enormous stress, but also pushes himself to the edge of places dangerous to be. No wonder that circles that start doing this more find themselves in a rash of scandals. The pureness of God’s Word is greater than the filth of the world. That is doubly true in preaching.

4. We Pastors must cultivate our own marriages.

The Lord knew we men would need a lady in our lives. And yes, the sexual side is part of it. I encourage us all to look again at that beautiful lady we already have. Focus on her. Love her, romance her, enjoy her, immerse her in all areas of your life. You might find that you can have all the thrills you could ever want with the lady you already have. Look deeply into her eyes, really kiss her, praise God for her, and enjoy a wonderful part of life the way it was intended, and for the record, without sin.

5. Pastors must put the sheep first.

It’s time that every independent Baptist pastor quit imagining that his every thought is superior to those of the flock. The people I pastor (be careful here, read slowly, this may be a great shock to many of my fellow pastors) might know more than me about which house or car to buy, or who to date or marry, etc. A good pastor will show you when something is clearly a sin, but he lets you run your own life. You know what we have done? We are robbing those we pastor of something Baptists historically have died for–soul liberty. Instead of shepherding them into becoming stronger Christians, we stunt their growth by taking away that which is vital to becoming a stronger Christian–the ability to seek God’s face yourself.

6. Church Leaders must quit riding hobby horses.

Some like to ride some subjects to death. If you preach in great detail more than twice a year on adultery, you are a little over the top. If a preacher man preaches on women and their dress, etc., particularly with emphasis on body parts, all the time, then you are obsessed. We know where your thoughts are most of the time! People everywhere are starting to figure out that when you work things like that into every sermon it is likely because you are struggling personally in that area. Before you get angry remember that a day before a fallen pastor gets caught he likely would have ripped your head off for saying this. A word to the wise–make Jesus your hobby horse and that will never shame you. Emphasize the Gospel and you will never have any backlash. Could I put a little plug in for expository preaching here?

7.We Pastors must remember Who we serve.

Pastors face peer pressure just like anyone else. We want to be loved by the group we run closest to as much as anyone else. We must, however, live by principle. We must have an allegiance to God’s Word, not what our clique says is God’s Word. We must get to where we only need His smile upon us and then we will be free. Free to be the pastor the Lord asks us to be.

The tsunami has rolled through. Destruction is all around us. Let’s rebuild with Christ’s aid something stronger than we had before.

Follow-up Post: –The Backflow of the Schaap Tsunami

 

Article by Jimmy Reagan

fb:jimmy.reagan.5

Articles  |  Bio