Sometimes in a series like this we discuss denominational pride, or in our case, believing that Independent Baptists are the only ones who are serving the Lord in an effective way. In recent articles we mentioned the extreme Baptist Brider position and its more common counterpart, the belief that we must separate from any who are not Independent Baptists. As you would imagine, once you start down that road the next step becomes separating from Independent Baptist who are not Independent Baptist enough.
I am on record as an Independent Baptist who finds that wrong, an example of misguided thinking and unbridled pride. Instead of exposing that as pride in this article, however, I would like to offer a fact that should be faced in any discussion on this subject. Maybe I should put it as a question.
How do you explain the mighty things God has done in other Christian groups? Further, how do you explain the incredible faith, love of Christ, and wonderful service of individuals in other Christian groups?
How do you explain Hudson Taylor, or George Mueller, or Jonathan Edwards, or George Whitefield, or John Wesley? These Christians were men of faith, but not Baptists. Human? Yes, but they are some of the choicest servants of Christ ever and only a twisting of the facts could state otherwise.
I began thinking of these questions as I was reading and reviewing The Korean Pentecost this week. It is the story of Presbyterians, some men I had never heard of, who took the Gospel to Korea. In 1865 Robert Taylor took passage on a boat up into Korea to take Bibles and be one of the first missionaries there. After being able to give out Bibles at a few stops, rumors took fire that this boat crew came to rob the Koreans. Long story short, when the boat grounded and was set on fire by the Koreans, the crew took its only chance and charged the shore with weapons. They all died. It wasn’t until missionaries returned years later that it was discovered what happened. They were told the story and how all the crew were killed. They recounted, though, that one man came ashore without weapons but arms filled with Bibles where he handed out all he could before he died.
The other extraordinary thing about that story was that the missionaries discovered many pockets of believers where that man handed out the Bibles. Who could deny that God’s hand was incredibly upon that man who gave his life for his Savior? As that Presbyterian work continued through the years, an incredible revival came, which was followed by persecution where many other bold believers gave their lives for Christ.
So back to our question. If God’s hand is only upon we Independent Baptists, how can this and the many stories like it be explained? God has blessed the work of Baptists. He has blessed the work of others. The Lord has sent revival to Baptists. He has sent revival to others. Baptists have given their lives for Christ. So have others. We have an incredible heritage, but so do others.
We can, of course, disagree on a few points in our efforts to be true to Scripture as best we understand it. In the case of those Presbyterians, we would differ from them on Baptism, church polity, and a few other things, but that in no way proves our superiority over them. Again, that tracing of God’s hand in both groups makes that an opinion that cannot be logically held.
So we must humble ourselves and drop a belief that cannot possibly be true. This is a truth we Baptists should never forget.
Find all articles in the series here.
45 thoughts on “A Truth We Baptists Should Never Forget (IBTR #68)”
Well, there are more than a few IFBs that would kick you to the curb over this. I am leaving the IFB. I guess I am just independent. The IFB could have been a major force for the Lord, but it has degenerated into much infighting, being extremely judgmental and some just plain crazy. I am in transition from legalism to grace and seeking balance, not extremes. There are some good men left in the movement, but the movement itself is a lost cause. Revival in this country will not come from the IFBs. Indeed, they are too independent to get along within the camps. They have forgotten what fundamental meant, but are least Baptists. Peace be unto you! You may be the voice of reason in the movement if they don’t kick you out.
Well, they may kick me, but I will only go where I want to go.
Some feel as you do, still there are many wonderful folks, pastors, and churches out there. They are less known because they ate less vocal.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
This one could get interesting in the comments. 🙂 Subscribing via this comment. (For myself, my entire family, with the exception of myself) is not independent Baptist, yet they love the Lord, serve him, and have been a blessing to many, and have led many to Christ and to service.
For myself, I am an independent Baptist because I believe, first of all, that the local church is where God desires to work and move. It is a political system/system of government which, when kept to scripturally, is probably the best means of avoiding doctrinal error. (unfortunately, far too many have politicized this beyond the local church, thus undermining the very thing they claim to stand for). I am also a Baptist because I believe that baptist distinctives best reflect a scriptural model of the local church as central to God’s plan.
None of this means, however, that God doesn’t and can’t use other means. If God can use this rather pathetic excuse of a preacher, then why can’t He use people who are vastly different from me, and in many ways my superior?
One thing I always keep in mind–When Moses disobeyed God in striking the rock, God didn’t punish the people by not giving them water–He gave them the water–and some would say that Moses’ method must have been blessed–but no, he was punished by not being allowed to enter the Promised Land. To me, that is a warning to myself first–just because God is blessing doesn’t necessarily mean I’m right! God blesses, or maybe I should say He _honors_ His Word, even when we are found unfaithful in fulfilling our duties. Those seem incompatible, but God knows how to reveal in His time the faithful ones. And let’s be honest, the time of harvest still isn’t here yet. Today is still the day to work! When it is all over, then we will know, and our fruit shall be revealed–and I suspect there won’t be a single person unashamed of his failures and shortcomings, and departures from God’s will when that happens. And then, afterwards, God will wipe away all our tears, and the Joy of the Lord, and our true Joy IN the Lord will truly begin. That’s the day I long for. In the mean time, I remember that we all answer singly to God and God alone for our work. (and that is a horrible, and woefully imprecise statement of my feelings. Before someone picks it apart, recognize that I probably agree with you, but just didn’t accurately express myself here.) 😉
I agree much with all you say here. Thanks!
If you are independent then there is nothing to be kicked out or really to leave.
That is how I see it.
While I agree with the reasoning in the article, I think one thing must be noted, lest those who are NOT Baptist should read the article. Besides the obvious doctrinal differences (and most DO matter), something not mentioned is the fact that while revival CAN happen in other denominations and HAS, it is getting LESS likely to do so in current years due to the liberalism in current issues…….i.e. women preachers, homosexuality promotion, allowances for immoral living, etc. Those in other denominations should still seek truth in doctrine and I believe Independent Baptists are the closest to Scripture. In fact, many do not even study from the correct version of the Bible.
I appreciate having an Independent Baptist pastor’s wife where you and your husband are NONE of the things I write about in this series comment here. I know the folks in your church are loved and treated with love.
I do realize that some in these groups actually deny the faith and could in no way be respected as Christians. Still, there are others who do.
I am sure I write some things you don’t agree with in this blog, but I still have the highest respect for you and your husband. In my opinion, if there were more like you, there would be no need for this series!
Thanks, Bro. Jimmy. I enjoy reading your page and like that you challenge us to think. I just caution that some reading are not firm believers and may swing “the other way” if we don’t clarify both sides. It is your blog, of course, but just don’t want to see others stumble along the way or you to be accused of liberalism either. There is a fine line and we must be careful not to fall off the edge or in this case, turn our backs in joyous fellowship while others fall off! 😉 The pen is mighty (and the keyboard as well!) and fortunately and unfortunately, things can come back to haunt us. We want to life others up, but without nudging others over. 🙂 Please tell the lovely wife “hello” from us and hug the kiddos too!
I will tell them.
I heard of a preacher who stood up and showed a map of the US. This map depicted the need for IBF churches in America. It showed the places we have too many for the population and the places there are no IBF churches. The point was the “gospel” was not getting out. To that I say hogwash. What was really being said was there is no one else in that area doing it our way or the KJV way, therefore the area must be a dry desert. Funny, you can google churches for these barren areas and see hundreds of non IBF churches. Pull up their website and some appear to be doctrinely sound, but because they don’t do everything the way we do they are in bad shape.
Spiritual Pride at its best or worst.
I am a KJV only guy, but I find help in men who are not. I enjoy Charles Stanley, Chip Engram and David Jerimiah. They don’t use the KJV, but they are sound men who help the sheep.
I agree with you too. Plus, some of the guys who push these negative issues actually listen to Stanley, Jetemiah, and Swindoll on the sly!
I know of a Southern Baptist pastor who did the same in order to raise money and to build a reputation as a church planter. While seeking to plant a church in one town that already had several Bible-believing churches but no Southern Baptist church, even going so far as leading supporting churches in the South to believe there were none, a person from a smaller town with no Bible-believing church asked why he wasn’t seeking to plant one in such places. Seems it really came down to money and the likelihood of ‘success’ rather than need. [sigh]
Not honest for sure!
I appreciate your honesty once again, Pastor Reagan.
Thanks so much!
What’s in a name? Apparently it is everything to some denominations. Recently, I had a printing ministry stop sending me Bibles for distribution here in Asia. Their reason, “We are not like minded.” They took offense at an online tool that I used for reaching out to lost and to encourage believers.
Irony: Their printing ministry does not include the word Baptist in its name, but it is operated by a Independent Fundamental Baptist church. The online page that I had on social media had the word Christian in its name, but not Baptist.
I am still amazed at how people will fight to keep their denomination branding and refuse to work with anyone else unless you are “Like branded”…at least in name only. I so wanted to ask the director of that printing ministry which one of 66+ Baptist denominations would he have me to list in the name of the online group?
The BEAM’s (get a clue here) in their eye has blinded them to the cause of Christ.
People are so inconsistent and blind to it. Sometimes missionaries suffer the worst for it. I pray what we write , both blogger and commenters on the blog, will help open eyes.
You hit on one of the KEY reasons why people are being turned away in our churches. There is no consistency in application of standards of godliness.
Many pulpits withing the IFB lionize Reagan (not you 🙂 and yearn for the days when our country had godly men in leadership. However, let’s just be very clearly about something. If a man like Reagan joined one of our churches, he would be immediately labeled as a liberal, wicked compromiser. The man was as worldly as they come with his love for movies and by allowing his wife to wear pants.
Truthfully, there are other denominations that have just as rigid standards, if not more rigid than IFBs, but they contextualize their standards better both within their own doctrinal system and also with applying it to outside parties.
We’re sowing the seeds of confusion in our own churches by are vacillation on how and to whom standards and godliness should apply.
I happen to love the Reagan you mentioned (not me 🙂 ), and I love your analogy about him coming to our churches. That is an instant classic!
This made me think of mark 9:38
38 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.
39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.
40 For he that is not against us is on our part.
Amen and Amen!
Honey, your sermon the other night nailed it. I may post it!!
When nit picking over these things happens, it kills. People are leaving not only the IFB, but also other churches that would rather squabble than advance the Kingdom of God. When my kingdom and causes become the focus, we lose the life of a church and it’s people. It becomes an institution instead of a living organism.
My King says there will be no other gods before Him. The fall of such gods is ordained of God.
When someone is trying to “biblically” write you off, they quote the verse in Amos that says “how can two walk together except they be in agreement?” The context of that passage is God talking about Israel and Egypt – two totally different God beliefs. We use that as a hammer to our own brothers and sisters who all believe and serve the same God we serve!
The IFB’s are being killed off by friendly fire. The decisions being made are purely out if self-preservation. Many are leaving to stay spiritually alive. That is sad, but certainly understandable.
I love the passage that JHB quoted – and one of my favorite! I am also so thankful that denominations are not mentioned in Scripture. My title is Christian – a Christ follower. My devotion is God’s Word. My leader is Jesus Christ!
Honey, I love your thoughts! Thanks for sharing them! I think “Friendly Fire” might be a soon post!
Thank you for the entry. Enjoyed reading it.
In response to the person above that said many of the other Christian groups are now allowing women pastors, homosexuals, etc., that is only partially true. For the purposes of being fair – most every Protestant denomination in the USA has a conservative branch. In the Presbyterian Church, the largest arm is the Presbyterian Church of the USA (PCUSA). Decades ago, conservative men and women became increasingly worried over the doctrinal changes, and they left the PCUSA and started the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). This comprised of people who do/did not compromise on the gospel or other core doctrines of the faith, like R.C. Sproul, James Boice, Ligon Duncan, and others. The PCA still exists today and it a very large and strong church in the United States.
I’m sure every major denomination has had a rift and split over doctrine.
So to say that the Presbyterians are by and large apostate is only partially true.
I agree. In fact, some Baptists have left the core doctrines of the faith. Great point!
Indeed. And many have added to the core doctrines. I’m not looking to begin an argument, but just give an example.
We state that the Word of God is the source of truth and doctrine. That we pull our doctrine from the Word of God. That we base what we believe on the Word of God and the Word of God alone. Yet, if you go to IFB church websites all across this country, at or near the top of their “Statement of Faith,” you will find the proclamation that they are a KJV-only church, and that they believe the KJV is the preserved Word of God for the English speaking people.
Now, I’ve read through the Bible, and I don’t ever remember reading where it said that the KJV is the Word of God for the English speaking people. Yet, it’s often listed right amongst doctrines such as Salvation by Grace through Faith alone, and the Deity of our Lord Jesus.
If you have an opinion on whether it is the Word of God for the English speaking people, that’s fine. I just think you’re going to have a bear of a time proving it from the Word.
There is no text for much of what is said for sure.
Again, we must be careful. I personally have a neice that was raised IFB and was the typical “Little House on the Prairie” type. She married an IFB. However, due to sin of another family member, she lost hope and joined a Presbyterian church that was not sound, but similar to us. She dipped her feet into the waters of liberalism. Not finding peace there, she left and went to another more liberal Presbyterian church. She is now, and has been for about 10 years, lesbian and proud of it and totally against Scripture in many things. Wait until it hits close to home and you may think different. While some MAY be “old fashioned”, to err on the side of liberalism just sends a weak Christian swiftly over the brink. To err on the side of “old fashioned”, keeps a weaker Christian holding on while they search for truth. I’ve seen too many swept away from truth never to return to sound teaching.
And herein lies the crux. So much of what is touted “old fashioned” is no older than 300 years. It is not Bible-based; it is tradition. When people are seeking truth, they are seeking Jesus. He is the way, the truth and the life. When their heart is searching and instead they find pettyism’s, division, backbiting, and much hypocrisy, the message of truth is lost in the meanderings of the messenger.
My heart breaks for your niece as her battle is bitterness – not truth. She has been hurt by the family member that sinned and gave up on God. Trust me, I have been tempted of that myself in my darkest times! But…keeping our eyes on Jesus…the Truth…is what keeps our vision single and full of light according to Scripture. No church can really be blamed for the shifting of our hearts, but it is a cry for us to keep pointing to Jesus and not our IFB churches.
Love you my friend and I will pray for your niece!
Jimmy – Great observations here. In your post you asked the question “How do you explain the mighty things God has done in other (non-IFB) Christian groups?” The answer I have always heard is “Well, God used them in spite of their error. Just think of how much He could have used them if they had all their ducks in a row! (i.e. – “if they were more like us”)
Beside the obvious infusion of pride in a statement like that, the biggest danger is that we fail to recognize that if God uses any Christian, church, organization, or denomination, it will be in spite of them, not because of them. It is almost like we create these levels of “rightness,” as if the more we have our stuff together, the more God will be obligated to use us. But what I see through past and current history is that God uses “broken” people over “right” people every time. And to be honest, it is rare to find “right” people who are also truly broken people. The very nature of our “rightness” lends itself to an entitlement mentality that hijacks brokenness.
I love the point you make here. Yes, He accomplishes in spite of us!
Here is why it is hard.
I see in the news that the Presbyterians have decided to allow gay clergy. I do not know any Presbyterians. So how am I supposed to take that? I don’t have time to research all the Presbyterian sub groups. I basically have to assume all of them agree with this choice because they don’t all get up and leave. After awhile it is easy to decide we IFB people are the only right ones.
If I may…
I think you do have time. And you owe it to your brothers and sisters in Christ that are good, conservative, Bible-believing Presbyterians to not lump them in with the apostate brand of Presbyterianism. It’s fair. It’s right. It’s glorifying to the Lord.
JBH, I see your point, but to be fair, a Presbyterian who doesn’t know any Baptists could watch the news and assume that all Baptists agree with child abuse, hateful spirits (Westboro Baptist), and other negatives that the media loves to report on, because they don’t get up and leave. If they don’t take the time to research Baptist sub-groups this could happen pretty easily.
“If you throw a rock into a pack of wolves, the one who yelps is the one you hit.”
Great article and keep them coming. Short of a revolution, the ship will sink even further. The missionaries I know making the biggest Kingdom impact are NOT IFB missionaries and none are KJV-only. I am personally, but somehow God is working greatly through these liberals! Lol.
(Please note my sarcasm)
May I never be a prideful, egotistical, legalistic and self-righteous follower again. Anyone here ever read the Wadoni Indians testimony in Ecuador? Their testimony is one of angels being shown in the clouds for hours after the murder of those missionaries. They fled to the hills in fear and trembling.
That’s the God I serve. A God without limits.
Let’s just get it out there, God is not a Baptist. He’s God Almighty.
I love “God is not a Baptist. He’s God Almighty.” He’s my King.
Thanks for the comments!
I have not heard of that story either, but it sounds great!
As a missionary / pastor here in South Korea, I can tell you that they have a rich heritage of faith. They also are predominantly Presbyterian. Many of the Baptist missionaries from the early days were in the Northern part of Korea, and the first Baptist missionary to Korea is buried in Pyongyang (the North Korean capital). They also endured, by faith, much hardship.
From a denominational standpoint today, the Presbyterian church in Korea is an absolute mess. They teach that salvation is by blood – in this sense: If I am a Christian and I have children, my children are also Christians. Thus, salvation can be passed down through blood lines. Most Korean Christians that claim Christ will tell you that they have been saved their entire life (from birth). This is one of the many problems that need to be fought against in this country. The Presbyterian church has blended with Buddism and a Korean cultural religion (I don’t know the name of it) to create a smorgasbord of bad doctrinal beliefs.
Also, Korea has seen a rise in cults: Catholicism, Mormonism, and Jehovah Witnesses all have strongholds here in Korea. They also invented their own religion called the World Mission Society Church of God. A Korean man taught that he was the incarnation of the Holy Spirit, and his wife is the mother of God. It is blasphemous and crazy, but since their inception in the 70s, it has grown to a world religion with churches in 170 different countries and membership just over 2 million.
This is always Satan’s method. When he can’t defeat a group of Christians with persecution, he moves on to dilution. If he can dilute the truth with enough falsehood and introduce enough competing ideas, he can gain ground.
To answer your question: How can you explain the mighty things that God has done in other Christian groups?
The answer to this question is quite elementary: God only uses one group of people – His church.
This sounds ridiculous to many people, but it is the only Scriptural truth. It doesn’t matter what man made label someone applies to their lives or what man made creeds or confession that someone claims. God only uses His children to perform His work, and His children that are trying to live by faith will be living by His Word. This is the only group of people that God uses. It is, however, our sinful denomination mindset (even among Fundamental Baptists) that would have us believe that God chooses sides among man’s carnal sinful groups.
When Paul was writing to the carnal Corinthian church, he penned the following:
“For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal” (I Corinthians 3:3-4)?
The application is the same with us. I am Baptist, I am Protestant, I am a Calvanist, I am fill in the blank. The Scriptural word to born again believers who think and act in this mindset is this, “Are ye not carnal?”
This reminds me of the time that Joshua circumcised the children of Israel after they crossed the Jordan. The Bible says:
“And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant” (Joshua 5:13-14)?
Joshua met the Captain of our Salvation that day. He learned a powerful lesson that we must learn also. Jesus Christ did not come to take sides – He came to take over. Christ is neither baptist or protestant or any other religion, and His people are His. We are to go forth in His name. We are Christians first and only.
How can you explain the mighty things that God has done in other Christian groups? God doesn’t use other groups! He only uses His assembly; the church; the body of Christ; the born again believers that have been washed in the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. This is why He alone gets the glory: Praise His holy name!
Amen and amen!!!
Really interesting perspective. Thank you for sharing.
I lived in London, England from 2008-2012. My experience was somewhat different.
Most Baptist churches in the United Kingdom are apart of a group called the Baptist Union of Great Britain. And the Baptist Union is apostate. They affirm everything under the sun, hold an agnostic view of the gospel, etc. So, when you’re in the United Kingdom, and you see “Baptist” on the church sign, you almost cringe. You have to be very careful with Baptist churches in the UK. Maybe 1 out of 10 are gospel preaching.
Conversely, the group that seems to be the most conservative are the evangelicals and the Congregationalists, which are Presbyterian.
The UK is a rather dark place, spiritually. But there is some light. It’s mostly being held up by Presbyterians. Thank God for them.
Thanks for your thoughts too!
These are awesome comments! Thanks!
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While fundamentalists in general bemoan the “redefining” of words, many have committed this error in the use of the word “INDEPENDENT”…
Either each church IS independent – in which case we MUST rejoice in the diversity of beliefs and practices (where those things do not violate an aspect of the moral law) – OR –
“we” must acknowledge that, de facto, IFB is INDEED, a RELIGION, with its own dogmas and denominational beliefs.
You CANNOT have it “both ways”. Choose…. but beware – you may be painting yourself into a corner that God does NOT visit.
Religion is ALWAYS a “dead end”.