Same or different — While researching a topic yesterday, I ran across some thoughts about the IFB church that rang loudly within my being. This isn’t a ringing of something exciting and new but of remembrance and concern.
The IFB church is not a denomination, as we’d agree. The IFB church is an autonomous, local, and visible organism empowered by the Holy Spirit with the head being Christ. There is no outside organization that rules over the IFB church such as the Southern Baptist Convention, the American Baptist Church, and the General Association of Regular Baptists. The IFB church is committed to sound doctrine, the King James Bible, and the distinctive history of the Baptists.
This being said, many IFB churches tout their own doctrine depending on the Pastor in place at any given time. Wondering if the authority (the church) follows a man or the Man, Christ Jesus? For it seems, that different Pastors may sway the thinking of the church collectively. Come on, a local church may have many Pastors over and through the years. So, again, who’s running the Spiritual and doctrinal foundation of the church? The Pastor, deacons, the church collectively, or Christ? Upon whose authority?
“For it seems, that different Pastors may sway the thinking of the church collectively.”
Therefore, muse upon the list below and consider the words conviction and preference. Unfortunately, a church’s convictions and preferences are subject to influential change if the authority, the church, doesn’t keep their Spiritual eyes wide open. To be clear, convictions are those beliefs you will not change your mind about and preferences may be something you are willing to be flexible about. These 2 words (convictions, preferences) are the empowering drivers of most IFB churches and the visible evidence that supports the inconsistencies within the IFB church. Have you wondered why the IFB church is so cliquish? Why don’t we fellowship with each other as we used to? Why are the wonderful attributes of the church in Acts 2 a foreign object?
Now for your consideration, the list of Baptist’s preferences and differences:
- repentance and evangelistic practices, church growth practices, evolution, and abortion
- infallibility of the Bible (except there is a question of whether we have an infallible Bible anywhere today), female preachers, homosexuality
- universal church vs local church
- election, sovereign grace, calvinism
- music (piano only vs “canned music”), dress standards (skirts and dresses equal Godliness and pants does not), the Bible version-text issue, Baptist briderism or Landmarkers, charismaticism
- communion: open, closed, close
- alien baptism vs re-baptism (Baptist baptism is only acceptable)
- Pastoral authority i.e. unquestionable loyalty to Pastor (dictatorial) vs corporate church authority
- “old fashioned” doctrine of separation–modest apparel WHO DEFINES MODEST?), methods, music, movies, cards etc
- Peter Ruckman position that the KJV itself is infallible and unchangeable and even “advanced revelation” over the Greek and Hebrew, others holding to the King James Bible as a correct translation of the preserved Greek and Hebrew texts, and others using various modern versions and believing that the version-text issue is unimportant.
- ecclesiastical separation, with most being purposefully separated from Roman Catholics, New Evangelicals, Charismatics, Contemporary Christian Music while others are moving toward a more tolerant New Evangelical outlook and an inclination toward “conservative evangelicals.”
- pre, post, and a-millennialism; pre, post and mid-trib
- holidays: santa clause, easter egg hunts
- Christ crucified on a Wed vs Friday (observance of Good Friday)
- divorce and remarriage
- deacons as an advisory board or board of directors
Not surprisingly, It’s no wonder the IFB church has weakened during the past 30 years
Independent Baptists are independent and each should give an account to its only head, Jesus Christ. Baptists should desire dependence on Christ not independence from Christ!
Furthermore, the Baptist Church should want to fellowship with other like-minded churches. Autonomy doesn’t exclude fellowship. Fellowship doesn’t mean that independent churches are attempting to organize with each other. Obviously, the line will be drawn when an Independent Baptist Church holds to a tainted doctrine or practice.
The IFB church must focus on the fundamental doctrines, upon which we must agree. The distinctive Baptist doctrines are of utmost importance and need strict adherence.
Be careful about using your preferences to create a doctrine that the local church must swallow as a need for service.
We, as Christians, need to focus on encouraging each other to more astutely embrace the Holy Spirit’s wooing on issues not implicitly taught in God’s Word. This post may support my thought: Read it here
Therefore, be sure to wisely approach questionable issues when using it as a teaching method, for your preferences may not match the preferences of the Christian you’re engaging.
“We better spend more time learning the fundamentals of the faith! These are things we must agree upon and if not, separation may be necessary.”