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,
9 thoughts on “Why I am not a Recovering Fundamentalist – Part 2”
Your the real deal Dave. I appreciate the example of godliness and what it can look like in the IFB world. Keep pressing on brother!
I appreciated most of your views & enjoyed your interview on RFP. Thank you for having a measure of grace while in the IFB world. I do have one serious concern! If you truly do not understand “why did so many stay”, with all due respect, that is a level of naivete as a pastor, you need to educate yourself on. ASAP! It’s the same as spousal abuse when people wonder, “why doesn’t she just leave”? You need to be educated on manipulative abuse, grooming tactics, predatory behaviour & cluster B personality disorders: Narcissist, Psychopath & Sociopaths. These people are in the church! The church is a PERFECT place for predators to find victims & mostly safe harbor! As a pastor, you must consider these things! The more I learn about them (for very unfortunate reasons), the more I find that God addresses it specifically all through the Bible. We just have always believed Satan was the only boogeyman… Wrong! Abusers in the church, under the control of Satan are the real boogeymen! Pastor, you’ve got to educate yourself!
Hello Karen. Thanks for reading my article. Regarding your comments: In the first place, I am not a pastor. In the second, it is a fair question and even with all of my counseling, experience, and talking to those who stayed – one I still struggle to understand. Rest assured, I am way more familiar with the issues you listed than I care to be.
I appreciate your perspective and your willingness to engage with people on this issue. I could give a whole lot of reasons why people struggle leaving those types of toxic, hyper-IFB churches / movements but I don’t want to commandeer your blog again! Lol. May God continue to bless you, your family, and your ministry.
Thanks for your comments and for reading my blogs. I also appreciate the email you sent me and I encourage you to post it here. It is worth reading and helps to bring some perspective for those of us who have wondered about this for a long time. I also appreciate you referring to “that group” with a clarifying title rather than lumping all unaffiliated Baptists into one group. -Dave
*Following is the text of the email that I sent to Dave with a few minor editing tweaks:
You mentioned in both of your “Recovering Fundamentalist” articles that you struggle understanding why people would stay in those toxic ministry environments. You especially stressed that sentiment in your second article. I didn’t want to commandeer your blog again to write a public response but I did want to share a few reasons why I think many people struggle leaving the toxic ministries of the hyper-IFB movement.
The culture in many of those ministries often resembles a cult: a sincere tight-knit community of “believers” who share uniquely distinctive religious practices (in this case hyper-legalistic dress & music standards & hyper-KJVO to name a few) with an irrational devotion to a charismatic, authoritarian “pastor” or leader. The leader and the movement are presented as the only hope to bring “revival” / “salvation” to America and the world. This group teaches that only those who adhere to their specific positions (on issues of preference) are true fundamentalists. The leader must never be questioned or criticized. The people are indoctrinated that to leave this “camp” is to leave fundamentalism for worldly compromise. Also, if you or someone you know “walks away from the faith” (leaves their camp) they are to be shunned. Many have extended family members within the group. So now you’re not just walking away from a movement within Christianity, you’re walking away from “the faith,” you’re endangering relationships with family, and you’re rejecting a “spiritual” authority when you’ve repeatedly been taught to trust & submit to spiritual authority. Trust me, I wish I had walked away from it all sooner. Staying in the hyper-IFB world as long as I did is one of the greatest embarrassments and painful regrets of my life. But if I can say or do anything to help anyone else find the courage to leave those kinds of ministries, to find true freedom and grace in Christ, to pursue genuine holiness through a heart consecrated to Jesus rather than a list of rules to please the “preacher” or a “camp/crowd” then I will do what I can to help them. I get it that a lot of people who leave those types of ministries become bitter people who only want to air their grievances. I battle with that myself. But I also get defensive when it feels like someone within the “moderate” IFB world looks condescendingly down on those who were drawn in to the hyper-IFB world (often in naïve, youthful sincerity and zeal) and then struggled to get out. I know that was not your spirit or intent to be condescending. And you have not been condescending. But the fact that you saw the craziness and walked away just adds to the painful regret of those of us who saw the craziness but stayed too long anyway. Thanks again. Sorry for rambling. God bless you.
What bothers me is that there is no mention of the believers who promote lewd and wicked men as men of God—when believers break fellowship over relatively minor matters like the rapture, the nuances of election and free will, and politics while tolerating blatant sin, it seems fair that we are straining at gnats and neglecting the weightier matters of the law.
I am thankful for both articles that you wrote. I stumbled across the podcast you did on RFB. I have to say it was a pleasure listening to you. It was a blessing to hear you share God’s love.
I grew up in the type of IFB church you did. Sadly, in the past 10 years or so, I have become aquainted with the damaging camp. It is sad to see the damage caused by them that spills over into good churches. Some of the ones hurt move to good IFB church which is a good thing. BUT they carry the hurt and bitterness with them. They are very suspicious and offend easily, and take their anger out on other people. We need to pray for them to forgive and heal through proper teaching and love from God’s people.
Thank you for the truth in love. We left a church, many years ago, over what we believed was spiritual manipulation and control and lording leadership.
Many of us were deeply convinced, from the pulpit, that the reason we had trouble obeying the “man of God”/ “God’s man” is because we “have a problem with authority.” That idea was planted week after week so that when we were asked to do something or “get on board” with something that didn’t seem right (not illegal activity but blind, unquestioning follow-ship) we were programmed to quiet the question mark with the thought plant that it must be because we have a problem with authority. After all who doesn’t have that problem, at times.
Any sincere Believer who longs to be right with God and man would consider that statement (that appeared to come across the pulpit with wisdom from above) and and apply it as that same Pastor asked for his leadership to ostracize anyone who disagreed with him. “We isolate them until they leave.” We were always given a scripture that seemed to support whatever we were asked to do- but being asked to ostracize local, like minded/faith missionaries without clear explanation was something that vexed our conscience. Whether it was a problem with authority or not- we couldn’t obey.
We all have our stories, but we left (after being isolated ourselves) because we could not agree and obey that leadership. Because we left without an explanation except to the Pastor- rumors ran amok. At the end of the day, we had peace in knowing the LORD allowed it, and He was in control. We learned a lot about ourselves and people and we continue to trust God’s Word for guidance and to reveal our hearts in the matter.
Many of us who remain in IFB churches are there because of the reasons you mentioned in your first blog post, so we wait on the LORD, we continue to heal from lording leadership, and at the same time, we wonder how deep the brainwashing went and who’s really at fault? Even as I write this, I question my motives I guess I hope maybe there are others like us- who continue to wonder if it’s somehow our fault and wonder how to get true, biblical help for the way forward.