Hopeless Inconsistencies (IBTR #39)

Sometimes when we institutionalize rules that are not actually mentioned in the Bible, nor can be honestly inferred from its pages, we can fall into the most hopeless inconsistencies. Likely many Christian groups have their own set, but as an Independent Baptist, I can share several that I have seen in that group. None on the list apply to all, and we would hope they were only on the fringe. Some will ridicule some things on this list and hold vehemently to others.

While I realize the list might make us laugh, and that is one of the ways error can be broken down, it could really be sad if you thought about it. By the way, I am NOT criticizing you holding a position on any of these issues, but that you and I DO be careful to be consistent if you are holding it strongly enough to make an issue out of it with others.

In any event, here goes:

1. It is wrong to watch a movie at the theater but the same movie can be watched on a disc from Redbox.
2. It is wrong to wear a fireman costume on Halloween and go trick-or-treating but it may be worn in the church basement if called a harvest party.
3. It is wrong to listen to Christian music containing drums but you may listen to other music with drums.
4. It is wrong to go into a restaurant that sells alcohol but you may go to a gas station that does.
5. It is wrong for a woman to wear pants unless she cuts them off at the knees, shows her calves, and calls them culottes.
6. It is wrong for a man to wear shorts at the mall, but he may wear them at church athletic events.
7. It is wrong for a woman to wear man’s apparel unless it is shirts, socks, jackets, etc.
8. It is wrong to listen to contemporary Christian music but you may listen to Southern gospel.
9. It is wrong to have a non-independent Baptist in your church to minister unless they are part of a really good singing group.
10. It is wrong to have a guest preacher that some have labeled “liberal” unless approved by your favorite leader.
11. It is wrong to have a divorced man teach in your church, but you may have a divorced woman come and teach on Bible versions.
12. It is wrong to…

Would you who have seen such things in our Independent Baptist world offer your choice for what should be number 12 in the comment section below? I am asking my readers to finish this article for me!
While we laugh, however, let’s ask the Lord to deliver us from hopeless inconsistencies!

Find all articles in the series here.

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48 thoughts on “Hopeless Inconsistencies (IBTR #39)

  1. It’s wrong to use projected media in God’s House unless it’s reel to reel film of “The Burning Hell” or “A Thief in the Night”

  2. It’s wrong to send the youth to secular universities, but it’s okay to be impressed with an adults secular credentials. Especially if he is a giver.

  3. It is wrong to ask congregants to forego McDonald’s and instead use that money to support a missionary, but it ok for you to be seen at the Wendy’s Drive-Up Window getting a chocolate Frosty after the Missions Conference.

  4. It’s wrong for a woman to work out side of the home, but ok to ask her to volunteer to “serve” in the church 12 hrs a day. All for The Lord of course, He alone will supply her need and not the church.

  5. The movie thing was probably the first inconstancy that I figured out on my own. Except then it was blockbuster, and not redbox so that one has been around awhile.

  6. I have an addendum to Daniel James Duncan above:

    It’s wrong for a man to have facial hair unless he is depicting Christ & the Disciples in a Passion Play.

  7. It is wrong for a man to have long hair, unless he is playing Jesus in the Easter Pageant.

    It is wrong (nay…an abomination) for a woman to wear pants because “the woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man”, but men can wear pants even though Jesus didn’t (and pants weren’t worn by anyone until the late 1700s AD).

    When singing a solo in church, only the piano can accompany said solo; but it’s ok to listen to the full accompaniment soundtrack when played in your car or at home.

  8. I think it’s important to consider the deeply rooted issues behind these inconsistencies. I liken them to how I view “corbin” went. This is just my view on it though – there was the law, and then there were the practical applications of the law. We all know that life gets messy and even though the Law was very particular, there were still some things that were not defined. I view the “corbin” rule to be one of those things where people wanted to obey the law, but they didn’t know what to do in the case where their parents needed something, but the only thing you had was something you’d already dedicated to the Lord. To make this not a full blown sermon, basically, it seems that it started with genuine intentions to be holy before God and to obey His law, but quickly turned into a rote rule that people started taking advantage of and pushing their own agenda and justifying their own selves. The rule was not directly something found in Scripture, but it started out as a genuine attempt to walk holy even though the particular messy situation was not detailed in the Law. It then turned into something that people used to defy God’s law to love and honor and be justified in doing so. Many of these inconsistencies are the result of something that may have been a genuine desire to be holy at one time, but now years have passed and these things have turned into rote, heartless rules that in the end cause division, animosity, and a sense of religious superiority, all of which are against God’s intent for the church. The fact that these are also in the bucket of inconsistencies show that they are not of the Word, no matter how genuine the intent that started them was, just like the Corbin rule was. It is an appeal to each of us to never judge another person according to our own standard of living. We all do it, we cannot deny this. Fundamentalist churches are just concentrated, unhindered, and bold sources of it. But the only true judgment that we can cast is the one that God Himself already cast. And we would do well to find expertise in the judgment by which God calls each of His children redeemed by grace through His Son! So to me, the ultimate source of these inconsistencies is a sincere desire to be holy that has deteriorated into something that is no more than religious elitism and rote, heartless law. “this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men”

  9. The movie theater thing always bothered me. In a sermon I heard as a teenager, the preacher said “Don’t go to the movies, wait until it comes out on video!”

    Where did this mentality come from? I think it is a compromise. The old-time preachers of the early 20th century preached against the “Movie Houses,” etc. But in their day, there were no VCRs, DVDs, Blue Ray, Netflix, etc. So what were they preaching against? I think the old-timers were against movies period…no matter where you watched them. If alive today, they would preach against watching movies in the theater, on television, on netflix, etc.

    Fast forward to our current IFB culture. Many have a fervent desire to take up the “mantle” of the old-time preachers. They heard the preaching against the movie theaters, and they want to preach the same thing. The problem is that they are not really interested in living that message.

    The old-timers preached against movies by preaching against theaters.
    The next generation preaches against movie theaters while accepting movies. The point has been missed!

    To be honest, I do watch movies at home, but I also attend one or two per year at the movie theater (Dinesh D’Souza’s “America” was awesome!).

  10. #12) It’s unacceptable for girls in the youth group to wear athletic pants (Men’s attire), but they may wear athletic shorts when they play volleyball for the Christian School’s team. They may also wear athletic shorts for activities (boy’s shorts because girl’s shorts are too short), but said shorts are not men’s attire.

  11. #12) It is wrong to claim the gift of prophecy, but one may say “The Lord laid this on my heart” and then proceed to speak “Ex Cathedra” claiming Holy Spirit inspiration for one’s opinion, emotion, or unbiblical sermon.

  12. It’s wrong to say that any contemporary (meaning belonging to or occurring in the present) Christian music could be doctrinally rich and biblical, because after 6000 years of history, we believe that God prefers the style of music of the late 1800’s to early 1900’s:)

  13. I don’t normally ever comment on things I read online, but I wanted to say that I agree with Chad Buhman on the movie topic. Growing up in church since a child, this one was very confusing to me. However, I was personally convicted of going to the movie theater as a teenager because of a bad movie decision (I chose a movie that I ended up being embarrassed to watch – anywhere). Since that time, it is rare that my family & I have gone. The issue is not about watching movies, but about influence… what are we allowing to influence our families through the avenues of entertainment. Because of this truth, I am very careful & cautious about what I allow myself and my family to watch. For this, and financial reasons, my family stopped having satellite & cable TV in our home years ago. Our only visual entertainment are DVDs. We only purchase them after we had rented them, and then, only if we deem them worth watching again more than once. A couple of years ago, through a family in our previous church, we were introduced to Clearplay (which is a DVD player that goes beyond removing just bad language, but nudity, sex, cursing, questionable scenes, etc. altogether). It was a little pricey, but I saw it as an investment to help guard the purity of my home. This Clearplay system is now invaluable us… we don’t watch a single movie without it. Too many Christians are comfortable with language, and brief nudity from average TV shows and commercials, and, to be honest, when my family & I are ever in a hotel, I am amazed at how much, and how often it is heard and shown on “regular” television. I’m not on a crusade here for everyone to rip their cables out of their walls & throw down their “evil” satellite dishes (some preachers are); all I’m saying is that it’s easy to be inconsistent if you’re not sure of “WHAT” you are fighting FOR and AGAINST. It goes much, much deeper and is a much more important issue than sitting or not sitting in a movie theater for an hour, it encompasses your way of living each and every day – in public and in private.

  14. Here’s my favorite Mission’s Conference inconsistency:

    It is wrong for you to count the cost of your Faith Promise giving (just make your pledge by faith), but we need you’re pledge by a certain time so we can count it and increase our missions giving by sight.

    So, the pew is to give without thought of income or bills, but the pulpit is only to support what can be afforded? Never mind that the entire Faith Promise giving program isn’t Biblical, you just do what our emotional special speaker says, okay.

    There’s another: Never trust you’re emotions absent truth, except during Faith Promise time.

  15. It is sad to see this article written with such misrepresentation of people who have convictions and standards. (I am not saying that you are wrong on all points) But to say that a pair of culottes is a cut off pair of pants is emphatically wrong. Why are you fighting against Christians who want to live for the Lord and please Him with their lives? (I am not arguing that you are not trying to please the Lord) I believe you are fighting the wrong people. I have seen people get saved in their 30s and 40s who give up their immodest clothing, worldly music, and some of their movies (home or out of home) without being told, (I believe the Holy Spirit is at work) they give these things up because God has changed their lives,they understand the difference between a Christian and an unsaved person. I am saddened to see people who have been Christians for many years, and even pastors who embrace the world’s ways and philosophies. I would be careful misrepresenting people who truly love the Lord and have convictions and standards. Fight the world and it’s destructive influence upon our churches and homes. Holiness is not creeping in the church but worldliness is.

    • I am not even arguing against standards per se, but I must make two observations. First, If you are strongly for standards, then holding completely inconsistent ones is the worst possible move for your cause. Your stand can not be considered sensible unless you are consistent in the area you make a big deal out of. Secondly, one must prove their standard is biblically required and actually more holy. You cannot say that a higher standard automatically makes you more holy unless you are ready to become Amish (those with the highest standards I can think of). If the Bible is clear then the course of action needed is clear. If it is not, then Holy Spirit discernment is needed in every believer’s life, not proclamations from those who would decide for us.

      As for the minor issue of the culottes, I would maintain what I said in the cases of some Independent Baptists. One lady could have baggy pants to the knee and another to her ankles and the one showing more skin is more holy. That is inconsistent.

      • This quote by Emerson has been in my mind since reading this article. “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.

      • I see what you are saying! Still, To be misunderstood on the deep end, as those you cite, is quite different than not understanding my own positions on the shallow end, or so it seems to me.

      • What I meant was When a man adheres blindly to thoughts or opinions he has vocalized in the past, purely for the sake of seeming true to his principles, Emerson argues that he violates his nature. A man must be willing, every day, to open his consciousness to his intuition, whether or not what it tells him is in conflict with his past conclusions.

    • All of us are guilty of these things. If we can’t laugh at ourselves, then who can we laugh at? And you really do need to approach your own convictions critically. If you just accept everything because you were told it by your pastor, then are they really “convictions”? A conviction means it is something you are convinced about–it is a deeply held belief–something you would die for. Most of the IBF “convictions” are actually a reaction against the trends of the sixties, and nothing more. They aren’t biblical in the sense that the Bible tells us something specifically, but are a reaction to cultural trends that appeared (seemingly suddenly) in that decade. And they are tied into the politics of that era as well, and some of it is rather ugly, when you get to the bottom of it. How deeply have you examined your own convictions? What would happen if you examined them deeply, and found them wanting? Would you abandon them, especially if it meant that you would be in disagreement with your pastor? Or would you continue to hold to something you can no longer biblically support? Inconsistencies most frequently are the result of people either doing this, or simply not understanding what they believe–they just go along without questioning the biblical basis of what they are believing. Yet they call themselves Bible believers, and say that they only believe the Bible, and wear it like a badge–but the truth is that they are more held to extra-biblical beliefs than they are to the Bible! Is this the life _you_ want to live? If you truly are a Bible believer, then your standards and convictions out to be based _solely_ on the Bible, not on cultural standards that shift and move (I was told I couldn’t preach in my glasses because they were wire-rimmed glasses–the reason? John Lennon, who had been dead well over a decade, wore them, and wire-rimmed glasses were “worldly” because of that association).

      I suppose I could also remind you that we can’t please God with our lives. There is nothing in us that pleases God. Paul said that everything he counted as worthwhile in his life was garbage. He sought one thing, and one thing only–to know Christ, and the power of His resurrection. The most important thing you can do in your life, is remove yourself, remove your attempts to live a life pleasing to God. Those “pleasing” things tend to pride, and pride is about segregating self from others, because you think you are better. What we call “separation” in our circles is most of the time nothing more than this–pride. The point of these articles is to reveal that to ourselves, to examine ourselves and our lives and ministries, and remove what is dross (self) so that which is gold (Christ) can remain pure. That is true separation and conviction and standards.

    • Misrepresentation? Really?

      I have been in IFB churches my whole life. I have retained most of the standards that were pounded into my head while I was a child. However, some of them are just silliness that somebody dreamed up and then hammers from a pulpit. They have no biblical backing whatsoever, and the best people can do is usually a verse pulled out of context.

      For instance, saying that women shouldn’t wear men’s clothing so women can’t wear pants. In many parts of the world pants are both men and women’s clothes. In many parts of the world both men and women wear dresses (robes). The no pants on women thing is entirely and American IFB thing and not a Bible thing at all.

      There are tons of standards like that.

  16. My children attend a great Christian school. On field trip days at the park the boys must wear jeans, yet the girls can wear athletic shorts. Makes no sense. Hot is hot whether you are a boy or girl and the last time I checked boys are more likely to be checking out the girls legs.

  17. It is wrong for men to wear athletic (or any) shorts, but ladies can wear men’s shorts and call them culottes.

    Thank you for your honest post… Always refreshing…

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

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