Any Christian should have an idea of what idolatry is. Idolatry is rendering to any other thing what is due only to God. Usually the actions run deep enough that the word “worship” comes to mind. Using the words of the Ten Commandments, it includes “bowing down” and “serving”. In the broader sense, I saw it defined as “immoderate attachment or devotion to something.” I believe idolatry is a battle for us all, and clearly for every group or denomination, and Independent Baptists struggle with their own flavor. Here are our prime ones, our brand of idolatry:
1. An Idol Of Independent Baptist Itself
Beyond folks who are Independent Baptists because they just feel it most closely aligns with the Scriptures, there are those who feel it holds an inherent superiority in and of itself. First, there are those who hold to what is known as a “Baptist Brider” position that believes that Baptists are the Bride of Christ and any other saved person is, at best, a friend of the Bride. We will sit at the table at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb while others stand at the side and watch. While Baptists have a longstanding and amazing legacy, this is without any Scriptural warrant and is ludicrous. The so-called “succession” can be no better be provided all the way back to Christ as a list than other groups who claim the same thing.
While I hope the “Brider” stuff is not too widespread, there are others who have come to believe that we have grown to be something so special that now only we have the truth. The rift between us and everyone else is now so large that they are the enemy. To be in some other group is a sign of either spiritual immaturity, or worse, backsliding. Many now make prominent their separation from everything not Independent Baptist and feel this so pleases the Lord. We size people up quickly not so much on what they believe about Christ, but whether are they Independent Baptists. That is to say, the question “Are you an Independent Baptist?” tells us more about a person than the question “What do you think of Christ?” See what got switched around? Is that not idolatry?
2. An Idol Of Standards
It appears to me that standards started out as simply deciding how one ought to live before the Lord. Everyone has to seek the Lord and answer those questions on many levels, but in some circles in the Independent Baptist world it has grown into a standardized list. No longer a thoughtful look at various issues to honor Christ, it is a package deal. Some subgroups have a slightly different package, but the package must be accepted as a whole. Any major transgression of any point is to break the whole package and bring the wrath of the whole group. The package is held up as what makes us right. Some over time confuse the adherence of the package of standards as the thing that makes God love them. Some vehemently deny that conclusion, but can’t explain why so many they have trained are so confused. In this situation, we look at ourselves and ask “Am I keeping my standards?” instead of “How is my personal relationship with Christ?” Is that not idolatry?
3. An Idol Of Associations
Another thing you see at times is some being obsessed with certain leaders in the Independent Baptist world. Make what you will of the leaders in those situations, I am more troubled by some who come so close to worship. Those leaders can do no wrong. Scandals must be hushed up. Slander of those against your leader is offered up without proof. This is not the same as friendship, or even appreciation. It is something much more.
Then there are the associations gathered around these persons (I do not mean if you happen to have gone to a school or church of one of these leaders and love and appreciate them that you are guilty of this, or that any particular leader is guilty!) There is a problem, however, if you yield a blind allegiance to such groups no matter what. If you are not willing to say that your favorite group, which is made up of fallible people, could be wrong, you have given an exalted status that should only be given to the Infallible Christ. If, on some matter, you say someone or some group is right when Christ says they are wrong, what have you done? This is not about turning into a critic, but having everyone stay firmly in the human category they are in. You even see younger guys working every angle to get higher up the totem pole of the group. Isn’t this one the most hideous transposings of worship? And is that not idolatry?
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