How to be an Independent Baptist and Get-Along With Others at the Same Time

 

In the Fall of 1994, Bethlie and I stepped out together to enter a ministry of full-time evangelism.  We have traveled thousands of miles and ministered to churches of all sizes in almost every state in the USA and in a half dozen other countries as well. Most of the churches have either been Independent Baptist or were very close to it.  I think our smallest crowd was seven and our largest just under seven thousand. We have met some of the greatest Christians this side of eternity as well as a few knuckle-heads.  We literally have loved almost every minute of this journey.  Almost is a key word there!  After interacting with so many different people in so many different places, I would like to make a few suggestions on how we can be Independent Baptist and still get along with others!  Here are my thoughts:

1.  Remember that good men can do things differently from one another and still be the real deal.

It would be an understatement to say that we serve with men who hold to a variety of views, practices, and positions.  I have served with my good friend Jim VanGelderen who would be a bit farther to the right than many other men with whom I serve.  I have also served with Josh Teis.  He would be somewhat to the left of where I am.  Dr. Paul Chappell is likely somewhere between the two.  All three of these men are the real deal!  They are genuine men, husbands, and fathers.  They love Jesus, love the Bible, love people, and love souls.  I have prayed with each of them.  I have heard them give the gospel.  I have served with them.  I have shared my heart with them and have heard their heart as they have shared it with me.  I have seen their hurts and heard their laughter.  They are the real deal.  If we are not cautious and wise in our movement, we can think (or at least imply to others) that those who are different from us are not as spiritual, not as fundamental, and certainly not as right as we are.  May God help us to never forget that Independent Baptists can do things differently from one another and still be the real deal.  Remember the words of Jesus.  In  rebuking his disciples over the way they viewed others who were ministering differently than they were, Jesus said, “He that is not against us is for us.”

2.  Remember that good men can do things differently simply because they are independent.

I have been part of the Independent Baptist movement since I was a youngster.  Our movement is somewhat BIG on the idea that we are independent.  Each local church is independent.  Each local church pastor is independent. Josh Teis is a local church, Independent Baptist preacher.  So is Dr. Wayne Vangelderen and Dr. Paul Chappell.  Each is responsible to God to pastor and serve his local church and as a result, answers to God and to the people in his local church family.  Would there be some things my friends might do that I would not do were I in charge?  No doubt.  But I am not and they are!  Would there be some  areas where they and I disagree and can even discuss our disagreements.  Absolutely.  But I am not called to serve their respective ministries!  So each man can lead as he feels the Spirit is directing him and as he feels is in the best interest of his local church family and ministry.  May God help us to never forget that Independent Baptists can do things differently because they are independent.

For instance, can’t good men vary in areas of music simply because they are independent? Or in areas of dress? Or in camp philosophy?

When I was in college in the late 80s, I heard a powerful preacher from Michigan who was introduced to our student body as a major leader in the Independent Baptist movement. He was a board member at Bob Jones University, was a major leader in the Christian School movement, had served as a professor in several Bible Colleges, and was loved and respected by thousands.  His name was Paul Vanaman!  In the early years of my ministry, I spoke in the Christian School chapel hour of the church he has pastored for many years. It was then that I “discovered” that he had a rather large drum set in his church.  Not just a bass guitar, an instrument that I have been known to call the Baptist Drum, but real ones! They were even bigger than the ones at Josh Teis’ s church in Las Vegas. They were not the “orchestra” type drums used in service at Lancaster Baptist in California. They were real drums!  Real ones!  Apparently it is possible to be loved and respected and Independent Baptist and a fundamentalist and a soul-winner and King James and all of that and still use drums in ones church!  At least it was true of Dr. VanAman. May God help us to remember that Independent Baptists can vary in areas simply because they are independent.

3. Remember that neither the gospel nor the future of the Independent Baptist movement is dependent on everyone doing ministry the same way!

My friend Wayne Vangelderen separates Beethoven from Bach. I had no idea that was even possible.  My friend Paul Chappell reportedly uses a group to help lead congregational singing  instead of just one man.  He uses recently written songs that teach truths he believes are important and that he believes ministers to the hearts of his church family.  Josh Teis uses some hymns, some contemporary songs, and some southern gospel.  I will  occasionally minister in churches where holding a microphone is considered worldly and where anything other than a hymn is cause for frowning.  I have been in other churches that sing primarily modern choruses and only occasionally use the older hymns.  Some dim the lights to draw attention to the choir and orchestra.  Dr. VanGelderen’s home church will do that at times.

My point here is this.  Good men have always differed.  Dress standards?  Independent Baptists have a variety of positions.  Bible Versions? Independent Baptists have been known to have a variety of views (how many degrees of “King James” views are there anyway?).  Music preferences? Every local church is unique.  Some will use a background CD with drums in it but would never have real ones on their platform.  Some will use Southern Gospel songs that were written by people from liberal denominations but will not use CCM songs because they were written by someone from a liberal background. Sunday School? Some sincerely believe that the early church had those!  To tie or not to tie?  Some act as if this is one of the fundamental doctrines of our movement and yet it is nowhere mentioned in Scripture.  Nowhere at all.  None!  So shouldn’t I simply follow my conscience, seek the Lord as to what He wants, and receive my brother, “but not to doubtful disputations?”  Sounds Biblical almost, huh?  We must remember that neither the Gospel nor the future of the Independent Baptist movement is dependent on everyone doing ministry the same way I do.

What do you think?  Do you agree with these first three? What would you add? I will add two more next week!

46 thoughts on “How to be an Independent Baptist and Get-Along With Others at the Same Time

  1. Great views! I was born and raised an Independent Fundamental Baptist ,went to PCC and was Bethlie’s roommate freshman year, and I still go to a Baptist Church (not Independent Fundamental). I agree with you 100%!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Brother Dave—-thank you for writing this. Thank you for sharing in the straight-forward, honest way that you always have. You have hit the nail on the head. Glory to God on this one. I understand these are not just your words, but words that come out of a heart to share what God has put on your heart. You’re so very right in my opinion on this. It’s so important that people understand this from the perspective that you’ve shared, knowing and understanding that the heart of the matter, is the matter of the heart, and that has no bearing on truth. This is in no way compromising truth. I struggled for years trying to find the place where I could justify certain things that never were taught as absolute truth in the Bible. There are too many different things that just “were”, and in my heart I knew that any of those things that were not clearly recognized as sin in the word required me to take responsibility to go before His throne and seek Him for my convictions in areas that are not clearly laid out in the Bible. Thanks for sharing. Hey, do you have a youtube page, or somewhere that you keep copies of recorded video messages that you have done over the past number of years? Praying for you and your family, and your ministry.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with the points you’ve shared here. Even more amazing…I know a number of people BESIDES Independent Baptists who are “real deal” believers, passionate about serving and glorifying the Lord and making Him known!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Love this article and agree whole-heartedly! — and I must agree with Alice! I grew up in the pastor’s home of a God-fearing, soul-winning, compassionate church full of people who love the Lord and strive to share the Gospel with a lost world — and it wasn’t an IBC! (Gasp!) 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I like it even though I hate drums in church…and I am a drummer (from high school band and attempted elsewhere). I don’t require my friends to be as right as I am, I allow them to be wrong of they choose (kidding of course!). Do you think all of the apostles (including Paul) were identical; cut out with the same cutter? We have a kindred heart brother, I like the way you walk….in the Spirit!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Then there are some who think IBC’s are the devils tools. After being in my church for 60 years, I have found that things are different with every pastor we have had. Basically we sing the old hymns because that is what we love. But some of the special music is southern gospel. We used canned music before but not now. As I said, most of the time the pastor makes the difference.

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  6. Pingback: How to be an Independent Baptist and Get-Along With Others at the Same Time | Micah Self: Pursuing Jesus

    • If we were willing to throw away so many of the labels that aren’t even in Jesus’ earthly vocabulary we’d be so very far down the path of true “godliness”. I.E. DON’T be referred to as a IFB! Jesus himself wasn’t and wouldn’t be if he was walking the earth today! These ways of thinking “I’m an IFB, I’m this, I’m that, blah, blah, blah” is reminiscent of Paul’s rebuke of the Corinthians who were running around saying “I’m of Apollo, I’m of Christ, I’m of Peter”. That’s why it’s so critical to note that Jesus didn’t walk around labeling this or that or identifying with this or that. He just simply said “I do only what I see my Father doing.” What was his Father doing? RECONCILING THE WORLD TO HIMSELF (and no doubt to each other). Jesus reconciles, not divide. “…that they may be one even as we are one.” It’s EASY to split something, it’s DIFFICULT to bring it back together…yet this is exactly what God, His Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit have been attempting since man fell and brought devastation to the entire creation. Thoughts?

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      • Mark: you may have a point. However, labels aren’t wrong and simply identify us. Labels can be good: male, female, democrat, republican, etc. They can designate location, uniqueness, distinctives, doctrine, and even differences. My intention is to address a group of believers with whom I identify and to challenge them in relation to each other. And much of what I said would certainly work in relation to other believers.

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  7. Good thoughts friend! Here is perspective we try to live by:
    Just because we are not ‘for’ someone does not mean we are ‘against’ them.

    This perspective has helped us get along with other people. That is the beauty of independence.

    After all; “We are on the same team.”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yes, yes, yes!

    I so love this.

    I have seen the division caused because churches do things differently than others. The worst part is how a church that views themselves as conservative, feels as though they are superior to those with a more liberal view on things. When doctrine is the same, we are on the same team, regardless if we sing hymns, ccm, Southern gospel, with drums, a band, a full orchestra, or just a piano! This crosses into so many areas.

    I recently had a friend publicly criticize fellow independent churches and Pastors for cancelling Sunday evening service on Easter! I don’t think he realized just how much division and discord he stirred up, especially when the criticism was directed at other independent Baptist churches and Pastors!

    It’s a whole lot harder to reach the lost when we are trying to do it alone. Imagine the power of fellow Baptists, of sound doctrine, would work together to reach the lost instead of bickering over service times, dress, and music!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great Article, Brother Dave. Loved hearing you at the Men’s Prayer Advance. My wife, children, and I love praying a “different” way with our hands in the air. Keep serving the LORD.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I was redeemed in an IFB church in N.C. (Camp Lejuene) back in 1984. Having come from an unchurched home in the mountains of Northern California everything was new and different! As a young believer (19) I assumed everything the preacher said was right.
    Unfortunately there are sects of the IFB that are ‘cult-like’. If your outward standards don’t line up with theirs you must not be ‘right with God’. I have had to overcome being judgmental in the area of women in pants. In my early Christian life I heard it preached on so much. God dealt with my heart and I personally feel more comfortable wearing skirts and dresses, and I do strongly believe that modestly is important. But I began to meet these Godly ladies who loved Him deeply, and they wore pants. So I had to search my own heart and come to my own conclusions and not a preachers personal preference.
    My husband and I have been hurt deeply many times in the last 24 years by other believers because we didn’t see eye to eye on every little thing.
    We are learning more and more how to love as He loved and to meet and minister to people where they are…just as He does with us!
    My husband, Ralph (Wayne) Brown, and I were at PCC the same time as you. I believe their philosophy in training the preacher boys to follow God and not a man or a ‘camp’ is vital.
    Too many IFB churches are ‘man-centered’ instead of Christ-centered. Pulling ourselves up by the boot straps and stickin’ by the stuff, is not what we need. We need to be God dependent everyday for everything.
    We serve a loving, and merciful God.
    Thank you for this article. Looking forward to the next one!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I read your article and have one thought. Why do we classify ourselves as IFB, GRBC ,SBC, Methodist, Lutheran….etc. Why can’t we be classified as the Body of Christ,True believers, The Church, Christians? Having labels which refer to different church affiliations brings attention to that affiliation. If we have been saved by the blood we are part of the The Church. Why can’t we get along no matter our affiliation? I have met true believers who are part of many different churches. Our church label should not define us only the fact that we are children of God who should go forward as one army to fight the forces of evil and win souls for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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    • Hi Max. Good question. Labels occur because we are all unique and it is normal and natural for us to identify in that way. Gods Word is filled with instructions about to handle theses differences in love and truth and grace and peace.

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  12. The cynical part of me sees this as nothing more than a defense of Josh Teis, whom I am rapidly becoming concerned about. The more reasoned part of me thinks the author, whom I don’t know, needs to remember that it is not just about where a man/movement/camp is – it is even more about where they are going.

    Those points aside, I largely agree with the premise.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Right on Bro! I think this article is evidence of a growing love for our Savior, a growing love for others, and a biblical perspective of exactly who we are apart from the shed blood of Jesus Christ! God Bless!

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    • Separation from doctrinal error and from those who are unrepentedly disobedient to God’s Word is certainly taught in several places throughout the New Testament. However, wouldn’t Jesus statement that “by this shall all men know ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” actually be our hallmark?

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      • Andrew Murray Humility and Total Surrender…. Christ did in fact teach this that above all other commandments we are to carry this hallmark. But I ask you, is attacking standards as extra biblical loving? It to me is very hurtful. I agree that standards have been taught in an unbiblical way, acted out with a judgmental attitude. But I think the sin is not the standards that comes from Gods principles, the sin is the heart. We will not fix this sin by changing standards, we can only fix it by letting God change our hearts.

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      • It took me awhile to realize that you were commenting here on another thread that appeared on Facebook. It is obvious that you have very strong standards. I in no way discourage you from having them or teaching them. I do the same. All the men I mentioned have standards – some are more strict and some are less strict and some aren’t very strict at all, but all of us have them. Remember that I am simply trying to challenge good men to love each other and stand for each other and encourage each other. And allow for the differences. As Baptists, remember that we hold dear such matters as Biblical authority; individual soul-liberty, individual priesthood of the believer, and so forth. The only way we can have uniform standards would be if we instituted a Catholic type system or a state church. As Baptist, we fervently oppose such, and as a result we will always have varied positions. I hope that makes sense.

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  14. “Whoso causeth the righteous to go astray in an evil way, he shall fall himself into his own pit” Proverbs 28: 10a
    The war on standards is fierce, we are not fighting flesh and blood we are fighting spiritual battles. Is preaching against gambling now considered extra biblical? Verse reference please. I am simply saying that the Bible may appear silent on the issue, until you apply clear principles of Gods Word, and then the way we should walk is clear. Before attacking people with standards as extra biblical, consider gambling… they may not be trying to draw attention to themselves as much as they are trying to walk closer to the Lord, in every way of their daily life. The further society drifts from the truth the more Christians will stand out. That is not Pharisaical pride. Catch phrases like “Legalism, Pharisee, extra biblical, prideful, self boasting”; this is what is said about Gods children that have standards, and choose to go to a church with like minded standards. The liberal Christian loves to quote Matthew 7 when attacking traditional conservative Christians. Well consider the list of attacks and read the verses in their text, I think it is actually very eye opening about who is actually doing the judging. We are to judge sin as sin, and leave God to judge the hearts. I think that is easily forgoten, we focus on what we want to hear about Matthew 7 but ignore the fact that we are to judge sin, so that we can identify it, and walk away from it. God will judge the hearts, I am so thankful for that. I am very concerned about this trend of dropping our standards, when they do in fact come from principles God left in His Word. God does not want us looking like the opposite sex (OT and NT agree) God does specifically address modestly louder than he even addresses music, gambling, movie theaters ect. (NT) God many times wants His children to be separate from the world. (OT and NT) I work as a nurse, and I understand separation in this way. I put on gloves to separate myself from disease, not to be better than my patients, but because I love them, and can only help them and do the work of healing if I am not sick lying in the next room with the same illness. Separation is not a pride filled walk, it is a Biblical mandate to protect us so that we can do the great commission, safely. Please prayerfully consider if this attack on standards is truly led by the Lord.

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    • Hello: I appreciate your desire here. Thanks for sharing it. Your closing line seems to indicate that perhaps you missed the entire heart of my blog. It is about brothers getting along. Specifically Independent Baptist brothers. It is not intended to attack standards. I have them. And to many people mine would be strictly conservative. I am for you having standards. Hope that makes sense.

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      • Bro Dave, thank you for your reply. I sincerely believe the sin is not dress standards, but the attitude with which they are taught and walked in. Bro Sam Davison preaches that you can do the right thing with the wrong attitude. I think we both agree that gambling shouldn’t be a personal preference, but when we look at it Biblically dress standards are specifically addressed while gambling is clearly only merely implied. The getting along with others is a fruit of the Spirit, grace and very very much a hallmark of a Christian, but please let me just be plain honest; why are standards being attacked as mere personal preference by our own Pastors now? It leaves confusion, and hurt. It might be that these pastors are reacting to what is an abusive attitude given by some, but maybe the reaction should be against the attitude and not the attack on standards. Honestly as a woman it is tough being set apart. I am not asked to go to my coworkers parties at the bar, they respectfully know I would not go, but I am keenly aware that I am different, and I count it as joy. My family who is not mostly saved view my family and our lifestyle with music and dress standards as different. I am used to that, I understand why, and I know my testimony needs to show grace above all else, but an uncompromising grace or they will be quick to write me off as a hypocrite. It is all too much to have like minded Pastors joining the chorus and attacking standards. Its almost as if the last 20 years of preaching about separation was simply a joke. Your article does not hint towards it, but the standard attacking preachers often will label people that hold standards as Pharisees, legalists, or pride filled teachers of doctrines of men. So now a daughter of the King, choosing to give even her daily decision as to what to cover, and what to leave uncovered, and choosing to be careful to not walk in the ways of the world, is different in the world, with her family, and now …..at church the one place you would expect a Christian to find like minded fellowship. You have a great deal of influence with in the movement. This article encouraged many people that I share facebook with to attack dress standards, whether that was the intent or not, to them you proved their point. I am simply trying to get you to reconsider if it is the attitude or standard that should matter. Does that make any sense the way I worded it?

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  15. I believe I can see your heart’s desire in writing this article. I gather from your article that you view yourself as a “centrist” on these issues. I would just like to confirm that you believe Josh Teis to be “slightly to the left” of where you are. Are you meaning where is now, or where he was when he started Southern Hills Baptist Church? Just wondered if you could clarify that point. I had never heard of him until now; so when I saw where he is currently, it was kind of shocking. I hope that makes sense.

    Also, you are coming to our church this next week for revival meetings. Praying that the Lord is preparing your heart to give us what we need to hear! I am excited to see what the Lord will do.

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    • Thanks for your comment. I think you correctly read my hearts desire! As for Josh, I am not evaluating him or his ministry. I know he is to the left, and seems to be increasing that more recently. My point is simply that he is an Independent Baptist and I can disagree with him and still get along with him. Hope that makes sense. Feel free to chat with me about it this week if you would like.

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  16. For those of you in some of the above referencing a “war on standards”, consider how that many of those same standards, while nice and even based on a certain Biblical principle or passage, have nonetheless often been weaponized against others who didn’t hold the same standard, becoming a pretext for a war against fellow believers, who, believe it or not, can easily defend their own positions upon Scripture. Standards became less about Christ and His Word and more about superiority. Be careful that confidence in standards doesn’t become mere arrogance and a desire for power over others.

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  17. Pingback: How to be an Independent Baptist and Get Along with Others at the Same Time Part 2 | TheDaveYoung

  18. One side of the coin is a generation of people (baby boomers) in IFB who raised the next generation (gen-x/millenials) under “high” standards. That next generation (genx/millenials) is seeing the “harshness” of “high” standard IFB churches, and thinking if there is a better way of doing things, which to the previous generation (baby boomers) IFBers seems like compromise. On the other side of the coin, those raised under “high standard” IFB churches (genx/millenials) want to see a more christ-like spirit that they percieve as existing in more “liberal Christianity” all while their country transforms. Their battles are different than their parents battles so to say. So, when they adopt these “new standards” they do not have any issues because they have been raised with “high” standards. However, the issue comes in when the gen-x/millenial IFBs raise their children under the new standard. The baby-boomers fear that their grand-children will be compromised. Does this make sense?

    However, in general, I think that many gen-x/millenial IFBers are creating more balanced churches and are learning from the mistakes of the baby-boomers. Their challenge will be to show those hurt by the IFB movement that their church can be both Christ-Like and hold to Biblical Standards. I think this is what Dave is getting at.

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  19. Aren’t we Independent in order to avoid oversight and influence from a conference or a governing body (i.e. the Catholic Church)? It seems you are redefining or at least emphasizing a very small part of why we are Independent. Being an Independent local assembly does not/should not give us license to pick and choose what doctrines we like or don’t like. God’s Word is supposed to be what sets us apart (or makes us Independent), not some man-made list. Unity apart from the Truth is not unity- it’s compromise. The example from Romans 14 is not referencing personal holiness or preservation of scripture- it is specifically referencing Jewish dietary laws. I find it all too common that the ‘unity’ crowd wants to use a very broad brush with verses like Romans 14:1, while condemning or mocking those that preach holiness and separation from Romans 16:17 or 1Cor6:19-20 as ‘old school’, ‘judgy’, ‘holier than thou’, etc. In Mark 9:40 and Luke 9:50 the ‘others’ casting out demons were doing so in Jesus’ name apparently- and this miracle was a very specific kind of miracle that outwardly demonstrated an inner faith in Christ. You take this verse and apply it to people with drum sets on their platforms. If these are similar acts or demonstrations of faith as you have used them- then a drum set or a softening of standards, etc. should demonstrate that same outward practice of faith that Jesus accepted. Where is your scriptural basis for anything you mentioned in any of these points? The church is supposed to be pure, set apart i.e. 2Cor11:2, this post seems to muddy the waters and blur the lines of separation based on very little scripture and a skewed definition of an Independent Baptist church.

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    • Hello Jeremy: Unfortunately your comment appears as somewhat anonymous since you only use your first name. As a result, I am unable to put a name or ministry with your post and that limits my ability to understand you better. However, I can say that I appreciate your concerns and have delayed approving them in order to evaluate your accusations about my mishandling the passages I cited in my post. I do believe that you are incorrect in your interpretation of Romans 14. It DOES discuss eating meats offered to idols PLUS holy days and judging other brothers because they do or see things differently from you as well as quite a few other matters. Every commentary I checked would permit its usage in the way that I used it. As for Mark 9 and Luke 9, most of those same commentaries would see similar applications to the ones I made, or even would go farther than the applications I made. However, I certainly respect your viewpoint and would not argue with you about your view. Because I am an Independent Baptist evangelist, I see a variety of ministries, just like all of the missionaries I know do as well. My heart is not to discourage your standards nor to judge them. As a matter of fact, mine may quite possibly be higher than yours! Of course, I wouldn’t know for sure because, as I said earlier, I don’t know who you are. At any rate, I respect your contention that we should NOT GET ALONG with brothers who are different from us. In our ministry, we will do our best to GET ALONG WITH
      those who are fellow Independent Baptists. -Respectfully yours, Dave

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  20. IS Josh Teis the pastor of an Independent Baptist Church? The website says “Shadow Hills Church.” That tells me nothing, except that usually if you are Independent Baptist you don’t try to hide the name….?? I’m genuinely curious as to if he *really* identifies as one? I’m guessing not?

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  21. I’ve listened and watched Josh many times online. And yes he is. His message is the same even if he is a little to the left.

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  22. Hello,

    While I’m normally not interested in the art of resurrecting dead comment threads, I felt compelled to comment here that this article is spot-on. I really appreciate the tone and tenor of this article (whatever that means. It sounds cool), and as a very conservative Baptist pastor myself I feel like printing this out and posting it where all my church folks can read it so they know where I stand. This is excellent, and we need more folks to break out of the bondage of tradition over truth. Thanks again, brother.

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