Well, it is a fair question. I am aware some are asking it too. For that matter, I realize how the articles in this particular series might be hitting some readers. In fact, let me name each category of those who may cross paths with this series, followed by a word to each.
They simply would have little inclination to read this series and rarely do. It is likely too far removed from their lives to hold more than a momentary interest. To them I say that while we have our issues, our Savior, Jesus Christ, has none. In fact, He can help each of us with our issues.
2. Non-Independent Baptists
They might on occasion read to see what weird things go on in our group. It can be perversely therapeutic to read other’s problems to feel your own are not quite so bad. Probably they find some similarities within their own groups, just on different issues. I read often where other groups have their own foibles. For example, I read where some (not all) Calvinists absolutely rip each other up over some minute detail of their theology. I have even heard when one tells the other that they are not really a Calvinist (one held a ‘forensic’ view of justification while the other held a ‘transformative’ view). That sure sounds familiar! I mean if you switch our quirks for theirs. To them I say, please pray for us as we pray for you.
3. Balanced Independent Baptists From Balanced Ministries
They read this series and it feels dark. This is the group that I feel most awkward about. I must seem an unbalanced, rabble-rouser to them. They know nothing of what I am talking about. They probably will choose to stop reading and I don’t blame them. To them I say, be thankful for your church and the wonderful pastors you have had, but please know that others have had a far different experience than you have had.
4. Balanced Independent Baptists Who Have Suffered In Unbalanced Ministries
They love reading these type of articles. Their deliverance means so much to them as the casting off of bondage has liberated them and they want to see others delivered too. Christ means everything now and denominational politics and outward conformance never will mean anything again. My prayer is that the Lord would use my attempts at writing to help a few others move into this category. To them I say, “To whom much is given, much is required” applies to us.
5. Former Independent Baptists
They may love reading these types of articles too. They may hand my articles to show someone why they left. (I have actually heard of such occurences). They may be either: a) folks just like #4 above but who just felt they should move out of the Independent Baptist world, or b) someone who is bitter toward Independent Baptists. To them I say, either a) sorry to lose you, but may the Lord bless and keep you, or b) I do not discount your pain but Christ can move you past it. To live a life of ridicule (like stufffundieslike.com) is but to fall prey to the same lifestyle that hurt you. Ugliness will not cure ugliness.
6. Status-Quo Independent Baptists
They may or may not be aware of the abuses I have written about. They probably dislike this series and articles like it. It rocks the boat. It causes discussions they don’t want to be part of. When the discussion gets rather intense, they resent being forced to address these issues. To them I say, sorry I make you squirm, but the great issues, those that demand a right or wrong label, deserve to be addressed. If more banded together to address abusive behavior in our ranks we might live to see it changed–come help us.
7. Abusive Independent Baptists
They despise this series. I am glad. Others have cowered at their feet and let them have a reign of terror. I will not! If we can help some who are abused to see these abusers for who they are, lives will be helped. To them I say, you have hijacked certain segments of the Independent Baptist world and I will continue to do my bit to stop you as long as I am able. I believe the pen is far mightier than the abusive sword you wield and you will lose in the end if you continue on this course. Still, Christ stands ready to help you too.
8. Hurting, Confused Independent Baptists
They read this series as just one of the many ways they sincerely try to find direction for what they deal with. Their letters will break your heart. Often, every step to stop the mistreatment they face is met with more intense abuse. If the Lord will enable me to help any of them, even a little, I will be so grateful. To them I say, Christ has better for you than this. Walk out of the dark bondage into the light of His grace. Your soul can feel His warmth again. You must only shut out the voice of manipulative men and listen only to His voice. You will heal when you only listen to His voice.
I can not explain why the Lord has led me to write this series, but I know He has. No amount of criticism, nor even as bad as I hate it, no amount of misunderstanding of my motives, will stop me. As an Independent Baptist, I look back to the John R. Rices and Lee Robersons who felt compelled to stand against a convention they believed to be drowning in liberalism and unbelief and took great heat to make their stand. I follow in a long tradition. There are many more like me and we are not going away. May the Lord help us away from a new sort of denominationalism, from a slaughter of soul liberty, and from abusive practices of the most unchristian sort. God bless you all!
Find all articles in the series here.