Scandal (Independent Baptist Truth Revolution #19)

Have you heard the tragic stories that came to light in the last few months? The first one involved Doug Phillips, president of Vision Forum. He was a legend in the homeschool movement and had a ministry that encouraged Christians in their family life. He went a little farther than some could agree with in his position that came to be called patriarchy. Still, he had a lovely family himself, he put out the most amazing catalog of family books and toys imaginable (my children and I loved it), and he was very influential. In November it came out that he had some sort of inappropriate relationship with the nanny he hired to help his wife. The 2014 Vision Forum catalog was printed, but never mailed. Vision Forum ceased to exist on December 31, 2013. (News article).

The other case involved Bill Gothard. He has been around since the 1970s with his writings and seminars. He had an incredibly wide ranging influence that included a certain generation among Independent Baptists (I will write on that later). Now over 70 years old, he is enveloped in scandal. Strangely, he has never been married or had children himself, but he has been accused by numerous young ladies of harassment and inappropriate touching. He has been removed from the presidency of the organization he founded. (News link).

Does that make you angry? Are you right now saying to yourself, glad they were dealt with? Most feel that way.

What should Independent Baptists learn from these scandals? (Neither of these men were Independent Baptists). There are two great lessons really. First, we shouldn’t wax too eloquent as we too are but sinners capable of falling into any sin ourselves. I pray the Lord will pour His grace into the lives of the victims and perpetrators alike. We have all sinned, but we must admit that some situations reach a level that they must be confronted. These two situations obviously reached that level. On the other hand, we have a reputation for being so hard on some. We have some ugly cases of broken confidentiality and public humiliation for some rather small infractions in some of our churches. Then there are the instances where that harsh standard is not consistently enforced. We have run some people forever out our doors over this unscriptural behavior.

Second, we must hold our own pastors and leaders accountable. I do not mean nitpick and be harsh on pastors. We pastors are but feeble sinners ourselves, but I mean deal with these major scandals including pastoral abuse. Since we are ready to lay the head of Doug Phillips or Bill Gothard on the chopping block, then why do we not hold our own to the same standard? Why would we ostracize one of our own if they fellowshipped with the wrong ministry while we look the other way if they have a real scandal or are guilty of abusing one of their sheep like the worst of hirelings.

Some pastors (an embarrassing, vocal minority) abuse their authority, that God intended to be limited and specific, by using “touch not mine anointed” beyond its legitimate usage. They make questioning of them, even in regards to actual sin and scandal, a sin when it fact the sin is theirs. Some church members have unfairly thrown out the label “dictator” on a pastor who only took a godly stand, but the fact remains there are some dictators out there.

The worst damage of this behavior shows up when scandal rears its ugly head. The sin deepens while pastors hide behind the misshapen shield of pastoral authority. The reality is that every authority has its limits under God for which the authority will answer to God. Every person under authority has a right under God to seek accountability for those in authority. That is why so many of us have something to say about our President in these days. The authority may not respond appropriately, but the Lord has written justice into the fabric of His creation.

For an outrageous example, I have read documented reports of a church where the assistant pastor/ pastor’s son had set up a secret camera and photographed young ladies changing their clothes years before. The videotapes were found and ended up in the hands of the police. The evidence was overwhelming but the sheriff said it had just past the statute of limitations. The news media made a big deal of it and it was known widely. What did the pastor do when church members approached him about this issue? He churched or excommunicated them and publicly ridiculed them to the congregation. This is a scandal itself!

Sadly, some make these type situations worse. In this example, some well known Independent Baptist leaders hold conferences at this church and hold it up as a model church. The bewildering part is that these same leaders have separated from so many other Independent Baptist pastors over personal standards, music, or personal associations. Is this insanity or what?

We should not relish scandal. We should be heartbroken about it. I consistently in this series try not to mention names of the Independent Baptists I am writing about from an issues standpoint. (Mr. Phillips and Mr. Gothard will never read this blog nor will those in their circles). Scandal will hit every group in Christianity. History proves it and the nature of sin guarantees it. Our scandals do not write us off, but how we deal with them very well could.

Find all articles in the series here.

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15 thoughts on “Scandal (Independent Baptist Truth Revolution #19)

  1. This right here is the biggest reason I’ve left the IFB and have no intention of ever going back.
    I’ve had five pastors in my life. Three of those had affairs, one turned out to be a real jerk to anyone who questioned him, and only one was a good, upstanding man who truly cared about the truth in sticky situations. Those are not odds I like.

  2. It’s no wonder why people don’t want anything to do with Christianity! I believe that whether someone is IFB or not if they stand in a place of leadership and are found to be ungodly they should be named. By not naming them we continue to hide the real truth.

    • True. Paul never backed down from naming names, and always named who the offender was… I understand why in this post the author doesn’t want to name names–that’s not the point of this post, but honestly, we allow fear to stop us from telling the truth, because the accusations will fly, etc. But, IMO, if it’s truth, and people act that way, they are simply showing their true colors–fire brings the rats out of the ship…

      • I appreciate your point of view, but in this case I feel personalities always swallow issues so I chose not to name names in this series. I agree that Paul did, but perhaps he did not always!

      • The reason there is so much corruption in IFB churches is two reasons . The Pastor is given to much power without accountability. The new testament talks of elders and deacons. Why do the IFB churches not have a group of elders that would help in the governing of the church?.More men in the leadership roles would help with the accountability. And when a Pastor is found in sin there needs to be a way to warn other churches so that they can’t relocate and take another church and do the same thing. The other reason is that there is no longer a fear of God. The fear of God is not a healthy respect but a fear of judgement. I can respect someone without fearing them. God is a god of judgement as well as love. It is a sad day for Christianity when so many put a negative name on our Savior .

  3. Every bit of what you say is true and heartbreaking.
    One more thing you might consider writing about. This is a day and age where everything that happens in church is subject to discussion and viewing on the world wide web. Technology has made the glass house of the church even more visible. Sermons can be streamed live or posted onto the internet without the knowledge of leadership. This reality ought to cause every preacher to be more faithful to preaching the truth of the word, not opinions. This reality ought to make every leader realize that happenings in his church, real or perceived, can and will be held against them in the court of public opinion.
    These are sobering realizations and every pastor and church leader should understand several things:
    Be right: You sin WILL find you out.
    Be gracious, humble and fair: Your inequity, harshness, pride and racism will be trumpeted to the world, whether you like it or agree with it or not.
    Be considerate: Every time you or I get in the spotlight b/c of sin or just plain lack of wisdom, we put a blight upon the Lord Jesus Christ and other sincere members of His body.
    I have seen too many of my peers go down in flames and end up topics of forums.
    Christians, especially IFB end up being the butt of jokes, ridicule and criticism (often just).
    I spoke to the president of a major IFB college about this personally about 4 months ago.
    I told him that I was heartbroken and tired of men I know and am peers with completely throwing their testimonies down the tubes.
    I wanted him to stress accountability, holiness and a real walk with God at his college.
    He reminded me that not all of our ilk was like that and that the vast majority are serving God faithfully.
    Yes, that is true, but in this day and age, it doesn’t take very many bad apples to spoil the bushel.

  4. Jimmy.
    Your post is appreciated. Two thoughts:
    1) You say there needs to be “accountability” of IFB pastors. What I fear you do not yet fully understand is that if the pastor were held accountable, he would cease to be IFB. It’s like saying that bars would be so much better if alcohol wasn’t there. Well, if you take away the alcohol, there’s no reason to call it a bar anymore. Unaccountability is woven into the warp and woof of IFB leadership. And it’s our fault for supporting it through the years. We gave them the power.
    2) You correctly observe that neither Phillips nor Gothard are IFB. Therefore, what is the commonality betwixt them and scandalous IFB leaders? It’s the big three – money, sex and power. These know no bounds – IFB, liberal, Democrat, Republican, agnostic, tree-hugger, Conservative – you get the idea. I truly believe we must turn away from these wolves, and make it clear they are not of us. The moment a man elevate himself as an authority or source of wisdom on anything, the end has begun. If we are Christians , we will not be drawn away to follow the Gothards, Phillips, Hyles, Schaaps, etc. of the world.

  5. While Gothard may not claim to be IFB, many of his followers are. Both the Duggars and the Bates claim to be IFB. Some of the Bates children attend Crown College.

  6. Jimmy – I’m in the ministry also – found this blog while reading your comments about the Complete Biblical Library – specifically what you said here:

    “My only complaint is that the indexes would be more helpful the other way around. I use Strong’s numbering system and wish I could look down a list of Strong’s numbers to find this set’s corresponding number. I hope I don’t have to make my own!”

    Well, I wonder if others have thought of creating their own indexes as well.

    I have started and have done a Strong’s – to – CBL index for the first NT Greek-English Dictionary Volume – Alpha – Gamma #1-1131. I could send this to you.

    Have you done any or do you know of others who have? We should get together. Let me know Dave lighthors@yahoo.com

    PS I’ve also done a complete Strong’s – page number – index of the new version of Trench’s Synonymns which I could send to you.

  7. Pingback: It’s Time For An Independent Baptist Truth Revolution! | The Reagan Review

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