Thanks for reading my article last week regarding why I am not a recovering fundamentalist. If you missed it, you can read it here. I have been a bit overwhelmed by how many not only read the first article, but who also commented on it, some of you quite extensively. Today, I would like to post this follow-up article regarding the responses I received and what I have learned from those responses.
- I have learned that there are many, like me, in the IFB world who are happy there.
We have always known there were some who were angry spirited, legalistically minded, and unGodly. WE not only stayed away from them, we rejected them. I preach several times each month in IFB churches and the men and ladies with whom I partner are kind, gentle, gracious, and growing in and offering grace. My father-in-law was a wonderful and kind IFB pastor. He was strict (more strict than me) but he was also a real deal Christian who preached the Bible expositionally, loved souls, had an awesome marriage, and raised the most beautiful and wonderful lady I have ever met (my wife and best friend).
- I have also learned that those in the IFB world who were/are angry spirited and legalistically minded have done much damage, not only to individuals but also to the entire movement itself.
In fact, I perfectly understand why many have left the IFB world. If my experiences were there experiences, I would likely have done the same.
- I have learned that the word “fundamentalist” is defined in varying ways.
In its purest form it is referring to the Fundamentals (those doctrines that we deem essential to the Christian faith). In its modern form it is used by some Independent Baptists to describe themselves and their particular brand. As a result, it is also used in the same way by most who disagree with those same Independent Baptists and their particular brand. I, and many with whom I fellowship and serve, use it in its original sense. We are aware that our dress standards, music standards, and worship styles are not part of our fundamentals.
- I have learned that many leaders in our IFB world have been unwise in their leadership and in the application of their standards.
Calling fellow believers “whores, heifers, or hussies” (and I even feel awkward typing that) because they don’t wear culottes or because they wear slacks is both unwise, unBiblical, and unGodly. Straining at gnats on one hand, while practicing, ignoring, or covering up blatant immoral acts on the other hand, is wicked no matter who is doing it, how big their church is, or how close their friendship happens to be.
- I have learned that many have been wounded, disenfranchised, and deeply hurt by the actions of some in the IFB world.
I am sorry for your hurt. I am sorry that you found carnality instead of spirituality. I pray for you and would do anything I could to help you to find freedom through forgiveness and growth in grace. I have to be honest and tell you that this one is hard for me. I struggle to understand why! Why did so many stay in that environment? Why did so many permit that? Why did so many take so long to depart? I honestly don’t understand it. I became a believer as a teenager. Shortly afterward, I discovered a popular and very outspoken, entertaining, evangelist. His preaching was powerful and I heard several sermons that really challenged me and helped me. However, shortly thereafter I stopped listening to him and attending his services. Why? I went to hear him in person and he was rude to women, cussed in the pulpit, and was racist in several of his comments. I left the service and have never listened to him again. I remember when many told me about a “man of God” in a northern state. I never heard him preach in person, but I went online and listened to three messages. They were unBiblical, unwise, and one was even somewhat perverted. I never listened again. Did he and his particular brand hurt many? Apparently so and I am so sorry many of you experienced that. I still don’t understand why so many stayed, not just for a few weeks, but for years! I don’t understand, but I pray that all of you who were damaged can truly “recover” and become the believer these men should have been. I mean this with all of my heart – if I can help you, please reach out.
Finally, to you who are the real-deal Independent Baptist, I am on your side and we need more of you. We must do better than many have done in this movement. We must be faithful to God’s Word and full of grace at the same time. To you who have left the IFB world, I pray you “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:9). Men and movements may fail, but God’s grace never does. Men and movements may fail, but our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ never does either. He is a wonderful God! To you who have been wounded and damaged, I am on your side too. I pray that you will forgive those who wronged you, find healing in God’s grace and love, and discover the liberty that comes as we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth. I also pray that you will lead your family to become the loving, peaceful, joyful, gentle, Godly believers that all of us are saved to be.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for all the interactions. Thanks for responding with such kindness and grace.
I look forward to further conversations.
Your sincere friend,