Why I Don’t Leave the IFB

Posted: June 7, 2011 in Issues

Independent Fundamental Baptists have a long history appreciated by some detested by others. Over the years many have led their churches out of denominationalism and became Independent Fundamental Baptists (IFB). Others have more recently chosen to remove Baptist and or Fundamental from their name and disassociate from the IFB. Most recently, a notable IFB evangelist turned pastor has announced his departure via Facebook. He is a good man and a great preacher and I am sad to see him separate himself from churches like ours. 

Before I continue with this post, let me state that as a new blogger I have determined not to use this forum to bash others. I grow weary of those who think God has called them to be Watchdogs and warn Fundamentalists of other Fundamentalists. It has been my observation that they do not follow biblical principles but rather attempt to elevate themselves by criticizing others. This doesn’t mean that I won’t speak my mind when I believe it necessary but I choose not to disseminate gossip or to tear down godly men.

Having said this, I do feel compelled to take a moment and at least state why I choose differently than my friend. I have shared my pulpit with him and many of our members and visitors during our revival have friended him on Facebook. It is for their sake that I share this perspective. I am not writing to attack but rather defend accusations against who I am (IFB) and what our church stands for.

Personally, it is none of my business what he does in his own church as a pastor. However, as an evangelist I feel that he has not simply spoken for his church but against ours and  preachers like myself. If he had simply made this change and dealt with it as a pastor in his own church, I wouldn’t write a word. But since he felt it necessary as an evangelist to notify all his Facebook friends, including those in my church, and speak ill of what I stand for…a response is necessary.

Those who know who and what I’m talking about or recognize his photograph will understand. However, I’ve intentionality not used his name or the names of others involved. I’m not looking for this post to be discovered on Google searches and etc. But since he has directly addressed (via Facebook)  those I shepherd and influence, I feel compelled to respond.

As of this post there are 146 comments on his post which are mostly contentious. I’ve chosen not to enter that fray either (though I did “like” one post that was well written). Though there are some well intentioned posts for and against the overall flow does not honor Christ.

My friend enumerates a few reasons for leaving the IFB movement which are the typical reasons a fellow gives when leaving. They are not original with him. I have debated on whether or not to allow this post to be a rebuttal or just give my reasons for why I don’t leave. In order to strengthen young believers in the IFB, I have decided to respond first. I trust that this will help them to have the wisdom to be more discerning.

Accusations Answered

The Control Factor

He accuses the IFB of being a “mini controlling denomination” possessing a “legalistic mindset of man-made regulations.” I partially understand what he is trying to say, however, it is a completely unbalanced view. Through mutual friends, who are closer to him than I, I understand the he has experienced some confrontations with some of the “big names” of fundamentalism. Reportedly, they have leaned on him to conform to their desires and dictates.

Ironically, one of the principle men to confront him oversees a periodical that some have argued isn’t very Baptist. In fact, this periodical doesn’t carry the clout it once did. Whatever it once was, it is not the final word for fundamentalism. Furthermore, the last church this individual pastored didn’t have the name Baptist on its sign either. In this sense, he is not separating himself from this man but actually following his pattern.

The claim that the IFB is a mini controlling denomination or that he is compelled to submit to legalistic control  is laughable. He has been afforded greater opportunities than most. In fact, he has probably risen in the ranks of the IFB faster than any other young preacher. He says that he preaches in dozens of IFB churches. I would suggest that he has preached in hundreds and the biggest making lots of money doing it. (He has also been very generous with his income in helping others and giving to missions.)

I do not doubt that there have been some Pharisaical men who have tried to put him in a box. However, a few recognizable  names with some hostile words do not define the IFB. I won’t dispute that fact that some may have been harsh or treated him wrongly. I personally know men within our movement who can be contentious.  But what about the hundreds of churches that have welcomed him and the thousands he has preached to? They are the IFB. We are not defined by a few popular personalities but by a set of biblical values which I will discuss momentarily. Some of the supposed “big names” that trouble him are just written off by many others in the IFB. Because we are “indedpendent,” he is still free to do his own thing without asking anyone’s permission. Thousands of IFB churches do just that. I have a wide array of friends within the IFB who all do their own thing without submitting to anyone but Christ. They may like one leader and dislike another. They may chose one pattern and reject another. Certainly, my friend’s high profile has made him subject to more criticism than the average preacher. However, it is wrong to blame all of the good IFB people when his problem is really with a few.

He says that ” If others interpret this as an attack on IFB churches, then they have clearly read between the lines.” If that were true then he should have avoided phrases like mini controlling denomination and legalistic control. His statement, “The  IFB ‘movement’ as a whole is totally out of control,” isn’t between the lines. Those are his contentious words right there in black and white.

The Families We Are Reaching

He states that the “type of families/people we are reaching could care less about such an issue.”

Okay…..? If they could care less then why the change? You make a change because people don’t care????? Really?

He follows up with ” So many of our people are brand new Christians or are healing from an experience in the same type of church we are distancing ourselves from.”

This statement is simply pregnant with errors. It sounds good till you look at it closely.

In the first place, you reached these people as an IFB church. Apparently, the name hasn’t hurt you. Many IFB churches reach people from all classes of life. Our church does. Lost people don’t look at us when we show the love of Christ and say “Hey you’re really caring and compassionate but I hear you are an IFB church. I don’t think I’ll get saved or go to your church.” They could care less about the name, remember? They care about who you are. Being IFB doesn’t prevent anyone from reaching their community. That’s ludicrous.

Secondly, the young Christians in my church aren’t exposed to such issues. I don’t serve up trash talk from the pulpit. I don’t use it to address issues such as these. They are not edifying. Yet now thanks to his Facebook post they see a preacher that stood in my pulpit criticizing the biblical values I teach them. They have been discipled well enough to know better, but it is sad that they had to hear this type of trash talk from a preacher I set before them. Who is being contentious?

He speaks of “healing” from IFB churches. I guess Demas was busy healing from just such a church (2 Timothy 4:10). Simply being an IFB harms no one. I don’t dispute that there are toxic churches out there. In fact, I totally agree and some of them do label themselves as IFB. There is no copyright on the name. There is no association to control membership and no controlling authority to strip someone of the label. Are there bad IFB churches? Of course. Is it the fact that they are independent, fundamental or Baptist that makes them bad? Of course not. Is it even possible to say that the movement is characterized by these types? You can say it but you would be wrong.

Regardless of how you brand yourself, some will like it others will not. Disavowing the IFB will gain him some applause with the malcontent and contentious words from the militant but in the meantime the balanced IFB are caught in the firing line. He will have no less critics down the road. In the end, you will rise and fall based on who you are. A name change won’t change that. If it hasn’t happened already, time will reveal a few people who are “healing” from his type of ministry as well. Every group has its malcontents.

Bible is Better than Baptist

My friend suggests that he is being more biblical by changing “Baptist” to “Bible.”  It certainly is convenient that he can still use the initials GVBC. The fact is that many Bible churches are Baptistic in their doctrine. I have some good friends who pastor Bible churches. I agree that you don’t have to have the name on the sign to preach the same truth. However, I am all for “truth in labeling.” Furthermore, this discussion isn’t about the difference between “Bible” and “Baptist” churches but rather a false accusation against Independent Baptist Churches.

Anyone who has ever studied Baptist History and Polity has learned the Acronym for BAPTIST. The “B” always stands for Biblical Authority. Baptist have always been people of the Book! Replacing the name Baptist with Bible does not make you more biblical. In fact, you become more generic because it fails to define how you approach the Bible. Mormons and Jehovah’s witnesses use a bible too. Methodists and Presbyterians use Bibles but believe different doctrines. Then we could mention the Pentecostal and Apostolic churches. At least as a Baptist (or any other name is the sign) there is some concept of one’s approach to biblical interpretation.

Jesus was not ashamed to be associated with a Baptist.

“Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Matthew 11:11

Yet my friend is expresses his eagerness to disassociate himself from the name when he writes, “People say that to remove ‘Baptist’ will take away our identity.  Exactly!” [Emphasis his]

I have a friend who refuses to go to McDonalds because they would not simply give him a glass of water with his meal. They made him buy bottled water. This completely frustrated a man from his generation. Water should be free! So because of one bad experience at one franchise, he doesn’t venture past the golden arches any more. Likewise, because some have had a bad experience or two within the IFB movement, they alienate themselves from the entire group. This saddens me.

Reasons to Stay in the IFB

Anyone can find an excuse to leave. My pastor always said, “If you find the perfect church, don’t join it. You’ll mess it up!” The fact is that every group is made up of people. Where you have people you have problems because we still fight the flesh. The people of the IFB are not perfect but I can’t think of a better group to be associated with. Those within the group that I find troublesome I either attempt to influence for the better or avoid. Its that easy. I would rather influence a good group to be better than to abandon it because of a few.

The most important reason to remain IFB is quite simply for what it represents: Independent, Fundamental, Baptist.

Independent

This is the 1/3 of the IFB that my friend isn’t abandoning. The autonomy of the local church is a biblical principle. Denominational hierarchies do not have a biblical precedent. In fact, churches within the New Testament were all autonomous. The only council that ever met was in Acts 15 and it was held by the Apostles to settle the doctrine of grace versus legalism which erupted as a conflict between the Jews and Gentiles.

When a person says they are leaving the IFB it is really a misnomer. There is nothing to leave. There are no headquarters. There are no association dues. There are no elected officials. You can’t “officially” leave the IFB  because there is no “official” IFB. There is nothing to leave. He may disassociate with a periodical, a school, a fellowship, a pastor, church or  organization but you can’t leave an organization that doesn’t exist.

When a preacher expresses that he his leaving the IFB, what he usually means is that he is throwing off certain biblical convictions so that he can feel more welcomed by liberal organizations. Typically, they are not truly independent. They simply become dependent upon pleasing another crowd. I’m not accusing him of this but this seems to be the trend. Only time will tell.

Fundamental

How easy is this to defend? It hardly needs defending, yet it is under such great attach. The fundamentals are just the basics. A fundamentalist is simply one who believes in Basic Bible Truth! How can a Christian disagree with this? Really?

We teach the fundamentals of math, fundamentals of reading and writing. Coaches teach the fundamentals of baseball, basketball and so forth. What coach gets criticized for this?

Why should preachers be criticized for preaching the fundamentals of the Bible?

Fundamentalists include believers of various denominations and faiths who believe in the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, the resurrection, the second coming, the inerrancy of Scriptures and so forth. People love to mock fundamentalists with terms like “fundy” and so forth. Why would someone reject the term fundamentalist unless they don’t believe the fundamentals?

Our friend was a blessing to many by putting the “Fun” in Fundamentalism with his unique style and high energy. I regret his choice to disassociate with us but there is still fun in being fundamental. I enjoy the truth. I love the basics. I find no shame in believing the Bible and taking it at face value. The fundamentals are the foundation of true freedom in the Word of God.

Based on our brother’s past preaching, I don’t think he really rejects the fundamentals and therefore I would urge him not to reject the term fundamental simply because a few others who believe the fundamentals may have character flaws.

Baptist

I know many good Christians who are not Baptist. Through our Christian school we minister to several who share our faith in Christ yet believe differently in some areas. They are our friends. We are edified by them and pray for them. While I have friends and family who are not Baptist, I do not feel compelled to abandon what is precious to me. While we do not suggest that you have to be Baptist to go to heaven, neither do we shy away from our heritage or doctrine.

I believe that Baptist is more than just a label; it is a biblical heritage.  The best, most concise history is found in a small booklet written by J. M. Carroll entitled The Trail of Blood. The Trail of Blood chronicles Baptist history and traces our roots all the way back to Christ and the New Testament. It is a history of persecution, dedication, commitment and sacrifice. We have more than a name, we have a history that I will not quickly or lightly abandon. (Read The Trail of Blood online.)

Some have suggested that it is better to be called Christian than Baptist. I’m ashamed of neither. In fact, when you study our history you will learn that we did not choose the name Christian and we did not choose the name Baptist. They were both chosen for us by those who would mock us. New Testament believers were mocked for being “little Christs,” hence Christians (Acts 11:26). Ana-Baptists were ridiculed for rejecting infant baptisms and baptism of non-believers. In fact, they were more than rejected. They were beaten, fined and imprisoned. Some were martyred. We were labeled Anabaptists because we were accused of giving “another” baptism, though we saw it as an original, authentic baptism. Eventually, the “ana” fell off and we were recognized as Baptists.

The name Baptist represents taking a passionate stand at all costs on biblical truths. Abandoning this blood bought heritage would not make me more biblical.

The Baptist Doctrine is biblical doctrine. As previously mentioned, many use the acronym BAPTIST to describe what Baptists believe. While I’ve seen some mock this, these are all biblical truths. This list does not define everything or even the most important things that Baptists believe. It does not include basic biblical truths that a majority of Christian faiths will accept such as the virgin birth, deity of Christ, the resurrection and so forth. Those truths are covered in the fundamentals. Neither do we claim that we are the only ones the hold these truths precious. Other faith groups may be inclined to agree with some of these. However, the collection as a whole typically distinguishes us from other faith groups.

B – Biblical Authority (2 Timothy 3:16)

A – Autonomy of the Local Church (Ephesians 1:22)

P – Priesthood of the Believer (1 Peter 2:9)

T – Two Ordinances (Baptism and the Lord’s Supper) (Acts 2:38, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

I – Individual Soul Liberty (1 Corinthians 11:28, Romans 14:4-5, Mark 8:34)

S – Saved and Baptized Church Membership (Acts 2:41, 8:37)

T – Two Church Offices (Pastor and Deacon) (1 Timothy 3)

S – Separation of Church and State (Mark 12:17, Acts 4:19)

Final Thoughts

There is no part of INDEPENDENT FUNDAMENTAL BAPTIST that I am ashamed of. Don’t look for me to throw off this label any time soon. IFB pastors, churches and Christians are not monolithic. We have different personalities. We don’t share all of the same convictions on every subject. We take different approaches. Some of us are in large churches but many of us are found in smaller churches all across the nation and literally the world.

Despite our differences we find common ground in being Independent, believing in the Fundamentals and sharing a rich biblical heritage as Baptists. You will have a difficult time convincing me that God is is not pleased with this so I think I’ll just remain an INDEPENDENT FUNDAMENTAL BAPTIST!

Though I believe our brother is mistaken in taking this stand and I am frustrated with the manner in which he has done it, I have no ill feelings towards him. I hope that he will continue his passionate preaching and reaching the lost. I wish he would reconsider his stance in publicly renouncing the biblical position of the IFB. In his heart, I suspect that he is still Independent, Fundamental and Baptist. At least, I hope so. If he doesn’t believe the fundamentals and truly disavows Baptist heritage and doctrine, he has made the right choice. We don’t need chameleons. He is in my prayers.

Editor’s Note

Initially I allowed all comments in order to be “open minded.” However, some of the comments were not what I consider appropriate and the responses were being responded to rather than the article. They were going in a direction that does not please Christ so I have chosen to remove some. I welcome all points of view but will not allow the comments to be distasteful regardless of the view. Keep this in mind if you want your comment to appear.

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Comments
  1. Roger Tooley says:

    Thank you for writing a very balance reply. It’s a blessing to seeing other pastors taking a stand for God. It seems that churches have changed so much since we first entered into missions 19 years ago. Pray for us please as we plant Baptist Churches in England. I grew up in Clyde, Ohio at the Harvest Baptist Temple Pastor James Lewis

  2. Amen, brother. I do not know the person you are discussing personally. But I am saddened when someone with influence uses that influence to discredit an entire movement of independent Baptist churches. Thank you for taking a stand.

  3. Troy McGahan says:

    I am an Independent Baptist myself. I don’t know him but, God knows his heart and in time he will prove out what, who and where he is doctrinally. Well written and a good spirit.

  4. Ryan Garber says:

    You mention that Greg said that the people that they are trying to reach don’t care about labels and that some people there come out of bad IFB expeiences. You said that dropping “Baptist” or being labeled IFB does not help them heal. Do you know these people that Greg speaks of and their experiences? Then you mention Demas as if Greg of the people of GVBC are like Demas. You are so blind to your typical passive-aggressive IFB behavior to realize that this typr of attitude is EXACTLY why Greg left the IFB.

    If you look into what Greg preaches and believes (which I believe you have), you would realize that he still (as I do) believes in the Baptist distinctives. Name one that he doesn’t believe in. A person doesn’t need to have the label “Baptist” to believe in the Baptist distinctives. One would NEVER want to have the name “Bible” as the label of their church, right?

    When you said, “They simply become dependent upon pleasing another crowd. I’m not accusing him of this but this seems to be the trend. Only time will tell”, you again morph into passive-aggressive behavior. The unsaved see right through that and are turned off by it.

    We both know that calling yourself a Fundamentalist mean A LOT more than believing the fundamentals of the faith. To assert that is misleading. Fundamentalism is more than a doctrinal stance…it’s an attitude.

    Most of the groups in The Trail of Blood didn’t us the name Baptist either.

    Finally, you said, “Though I believe our brother is mistaken in taking this stand and I am frustrated with the manner in which he has done it”. Maybe you are frustrated with the public manner that Greg has done this. Thank God for the Internet where the whole world can now see as a light of truth can be shone on what is by in larger a corrupt movement–the IFB–that Greg (and I) have disassociated ourselves from.

    • garyclick says:

      In the first place, I still consider him a friend. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. ” Proverbs 27:6 I think you will find my article among the kindest criticisms he has received.

      Secondly, you should carefully reread. You took several portions out of context. Demas is not a reference to him or his church. I was simply making that point that just because someone leaves a church “hurt” it doesn’t mean they were wronged. Every church experiences people who leave with hurt feels. I don’t accept the fact that people have to “heal” from IFB churches.

      The difference between Bible and Baptist churches was fully addressed and not antagonistic. Your reference to churches in the trail of blood makes no sense. My point was not that all churches should have the name Baptist but simply that the name does not deserve to be discarded. It is not something to be ashamed of. I’m very happy with it and think others should be too. If you re-read, I think I covered that well.

      Thank you for your psychoanalysis of my passive-aggressive behavior.

      Fundamentalism is a doctrinal stance. I am not responsible for the attitudes of my brethren. Only myself.

  5. Thank you Bro. Click. very well written response. I was saved in a Southern Baptist Church coming from an Episcopal back ground. While in the Navy I met a great Christian man that invited me to an IFB church in Newport, RI. By conviction I’ve been an Independent Fundamental Baptist since.

  6. Thanks for your well written article. I have been thinking of writing something on my own blog, but you handled it so well that I don’t need to. I’m going to share on FB. I don’t know you, but I like your article, and I think I’ll like you when I meet you. MW

  7. Tony says:

    I have read both articles, the one from Facebook and yours. I was, to be honest, enlightened by both. Several weeks ago ABC did a lovely job (sarcasm intended) portraying IFB. With many accusations being made against IFB, that still doesn’t move me. I figured if there is something wrong with IFB, then I need to change it. If IFB is accused of being a dictatorship, then I need to work harder at not being a dictator. What ever we are negatively accused of then we need to work to demonstrate the opposite.

  8. You guys always answer the same way: “Don’t blame the whole thing because of a few bad apples.” The bad apples are never named, but the truth is, most IFB preachers are influenced and stained by the big rotten apples that run the colleges and big churches that keep all the little pions in check while claiming “Independence”. If IFB were really Independent, leaving IFB wouldn’t matter would it?

    • garyclick says:

      Once again, a careful reading would answer your questions from my point of view. I can’t answer for what others may say but I think I was clear. He has liberty to do as he wishes in his church. If he had kept it within his church I would have been silent. But when it affects my church through public comments, I have an obligation to address it. I did so without hostility unless simply challenging him is hostile. He is still my friend but we are on different sides of this issue.

  9. Rich Rienstra says:

    i have no dog in this fight. I have never visited/attended an IFB church. I am a big fan of church history though. I find it very interesting why churches split, when we have but one Bible, one faith and one baptism. I believe that God wants one church, Satan loves division. Divide and conquer. Even when you use the name “independent”, or “nondenominational” or whatever term is now popular and supposed to be “non judgemental”, that church still gets torn (it is never without pain) apart. We seem to be moving past the “post modern” era. (post modern being, question everything). To now, a ‘nothing matters’ era. The truth is that what you believe does matter. What you do, what you say even what you think does matter. Many are called, but few are chosen. What the Word says, should, has to be, what you stand on. If you are trying to get large numbers of members by saying smooth things, you are not helping them and you are hurting yourself. The Bible only! should be your cry and your stand.

    • garyclick says:

      Rich, thank you for your response in commenting. I’m glad that you take an interest in church history and specifically in this article. One area of study that doesn’t get as much attention in the history books is the history of the Independent Baptists. When it does get attention it is usually distorted or misunderstood. I would suggest that your read “The Trail of Blood” which is linked to in the article. When you refer to the terms “independent” or “nondenominiational” and classify them as whatever is now popular it demonstrates that you are indeed not familiar with our history or stance. (I don’t say that to be critical. There is no sin in not knowing and you confessed the same in your second sentence.)

      I really didn’t write this article with the intention of it being read as widely as it has been and I am surprised that it has received so much more play than my other articles. I wrote assuming that it would be read primarily by my friends and church family so some things were not explained, they were merely assumed. So I’ll take a moment to explain for you and others who may stumble upon this article.

      The term independent is not a “now popular” or “non judgmental” term. In fact, I wrote this article specifically because we were being accused of being judgmental. The fact is that sometimes some of our sort can get carried away and be excessively judgmental but that does not characterize our entire group. It is not new, it has been around for a long time. Though Independent Baptists are “nondenominational” we do not fall into the same category of the popular use of that term. We do not typically strip ourselves of the name Baptist just because some people don’t like it. We simply believe that the Bible teaches that the local church should be autonomous and not under the rule of any hierarchy. These are not new concepts; they are as old as Baptists.

      Everything you say after “The truth is that what you believe does matter.” sounds like a typical independent Baptist. You should really check out one in your area or look up a few sermons online. I have a few at http://www.light4living.org and you can find others all over the web. The fact is that IFB’s are known exactly for taking an uncompromising stand for the fundamentals.

      This is not a “church split.” This is really two pastors of two churches who have a different opinion on how we identify ourselves. Independent Fundamental Baptist is not an association or denomination or church. These are descriptive terms that describe the character and nature of many churches and believers. Many who share these values interact with each other on a non-official basis. There are some who develop influence and are looked to as leaders but there is no one who holds any official titles because there is no “organization.” It is more like a grassroots movement. There are churches, colleges, pastors, evangelists and independent periodicals that gain influence through their success, powerful preaching or other means. But no one is voted or appointed any position. In fact, many will disagree on a variety of things. Sometimes passions will run high just as with Paul and Barnabas. More often, however, two pastors will discuss their various views and help to enlighten each other, often agreeing to disagree on nonfundamental ideas.

      It just so happens that one pastor has decided not to be identified with those terms. I believe that he still holds those values. However, he has some issues with others who carry this label and does not wish to be associated even by a common label. Unfortunately, he has chosen to make some public statements that I felt unfairly characterized the whole group. Though he is my friend, I disagree with his characterization of everyone who identifies themselves as IFB. My article was simply intended as a statement of why I choose differently than he did and somewhat of a rebuttal of his false characterization of the whole based on a few.

      I do not consider this a “fight” unless simply disagreeing is fighting. I mad a strong effort to be as charitable as possible when writing. I don’t think you can find any malice in my words. In fact, I think I complimented him on his preaching, generosity and influence. I think he is a godly man who loves the Lord but is simply wrong here. I would not have even addressed what I believe is a mistake if his statement hadn’t essentially included me and every person who goes by IFB. I believe that his statement was simply a frustrated response that he didn’t think through carefully. If he had taken the time to think of all those he was including and sought a little more counsel, he may have moderated his statement. But we all make mistakes. I simply chose to respond in the same type of forum he used to make his statement.

      Finally, I would disagree with the statement, “God only wants one church.” Look up the word “churches” on your computer program. It appears 36 times.God wants many churches. I do not mean that he wants many different doctrines. But “churches” are each autonomous and accountable to Christ alone. Autonomous and Independent do not mean isolationists. We co-labor. But no church has the right to exert authority over another and no group has the right to exert control over a local church body. We may influence one another but never control.

      Thanks again for your interest. I trust that my reply has helped to enlighten you just a little on what it means to be IFB.

  10. Chris says:

    When you say “Jesus was not ashamed to be associated with a Baptist” are you implying that Baptists today are to be equated with John the Baptist?

    • garyclick says:

      That’s a loaded question. I know what you are getting at (I think) and no I am not a Landmarker as some have falsely assumed. But are today’s Baptists equated with John the Baptist? I guess I would have to say that I see no reason to separate from him. Why should we disown him? Of course, we identify with John. We also identify with Peter, Paul and so forth. But most importantly we identify with Jesus Christ. I don’t feel any shame for tracing our history and our doctrine back to the New Testament.

      The larger point being made was that Jesus didn’t throw John under the bus because he lacked in popularity in some circles. Can you imagine Him saying “John, I love you but your holding me back?” Of course the title “Baptist” is very convenient for the discussion. Jesus wasn’t afraid of that label. Is John the founder of Baptist churches? Of course not. But do Baptists identify with John? Of course. Is there a connection? Absolutely. He, like us, was branded with the title for the practice of Baptizing. Can we trace our lineage back through time and touch him? Yes. And the same is true with the apostles and most importantly, of course, Christ.

  11. J.Schmitz says:

    Gary,

    I appreciate your article, though I can see both sides of this coin. One point re:fundamentalism. You said “Why would someone reject the term fundamentalist unless they don’t believe the fundamentals?”

    I have spent my entire life of 33 years in fundamentalist churches and colleges. I am an Assistant Pastor right now in an IFB church. But being a fundamentalist today has almost nothing to do with the fundamentals. I am not saying they are unimportant – they are, after all, the fundamentals. But they are almost never the issue nowadays. Those were the battles of 50 – 100 years ago, and because of separation almost no one has to even consider those issues today. When was the last time you found it necessary to preach for belief in the virgin birth? Those are “minimum barrier to entry” issues.

    But being a fundamentalist today goes far beyond the 5 fundamentals. The largest issue today is separation. Then other issues like music and worship, dress standards, etc. They are so clearly-defining characteristics, that if you visit a church you’ve never heard of, and the sign says “IFB” on it, you can be quite certain what you can expect there.

    What defines the issue for me is this: if you went to a church that claimed to be fundamental, and had those 5 fundamentals in their doctrinal statement and preached them, but saw today’s popular music, a mixed worship team, no skirt in sight, a coffee bar in the back of the auditorium, and a small-group discussion in place of a sermon, would you really be willing to say they are fundamentalists?

    The fundamentals were a way to determine orthodoxy in a day when men were willing to say, “I believe in the deity of Christ,” but clarified (when pressed) to say “I believe we all have the divine in us.” We want orthodoxy to cover so much more territory today, that we’ve gone far beyond the original 5 fundamentals. That is why we see men reject the term “fundamentalist,” because it has come to mean so much more than what it started as 100 years ago.

    • garyclick says:

      This is a well thought out response and I understand what you are saying. However, I would have to answer that “Yes” they are still IFB even if they are modernistic in their approaches. I guess you might call them Contemporary IFB. I know churches that fall into this category. I may not agree with all that they practice in terms of separation but they still identify themselves as IFB. By the way, we do have small group discussions mixed with preaching/teaching on Wednesdays. I hope that doesn’t disqualify me.

      When I look around fundamental circles I see 57 varieties (just borrowing a phrase from a local employer). How many camps can you name? PCC & BJU both consider themselves IFB but they have publicly debated Bible versions. Neither carries the name Baptist. Both are scrutinized by others for their position on the local church. Ironically, we (IFBs) get scrutinized because we can’t get along then get accused of being monolithic.

      My article is simply my view and an expression of why I don’t intend to distance myself IFB. If others want to that is their liberty.

  12. Anthony McGavock says:

    Gary,

    I appreciate your response to GLs overtly public departure from the IFB and I think you have put into words exactly what I would like to say to him. Thank you for voicing what so many of us are thinking and for defending the majority of the IFB crowd.

    However, you have given credence to one of GLs points that I would challenge you to rethink.

    You state, “Through mutual friends, who are closer to him than I, I understand the he has experienced some confrontations with some of the “big names” of fundamentalism. Reportedly, they have leaned on him to conform to their desires and dictates.”

    “Reportedly” is an ambiguous word that puts you close to a position of partaking in GL’s own slander of those “big names”. To report something (or to repeat the report) you must know whereof you speak, and in this case you do not know. I am well acquainted with GL and those unnamed “big names” to which you refer and the fact is that those “big names” have only attempted to befriend GL and help him. They are grieved that GL has become uncomfortable with IFBs. The “recognizable names” to which you refer have never slandered him publicly or privately or hurled hostile words toward him.

    I wish you had not repeated that, because many will know to whom you are referring and will assume it to be true.

    The truth is GL is the one who has created the rift and responded with vitriol. He has sown the seeds of bitterness in his own heart. IMO this is what has prompted him to peel out of IFB circles.

    • garyclick says:

      Anthony, Thank you for your input. “Reportedly” is intentionally ambiguous. The accuracy or inaccuracy of those statements was not central to the point I was making and, in fact, I think that it would have distracted from the larger point. Furthermore, I believe that taking a public position on any conflict in which I do not have firsthand information and knowledge of those involved would be unwise. I have been blessed by those men and appreciate their ministries but do not know them personally. I have also been blessed by GL and am very sad that he has chosen to publicly and separate from us with hostile words. Had he done so in the privacy of his own church, I would have never publicly commented.

      AS far as giving credence to it, Those who know what I am talking about already have their opinions and I don’t expect my ambiguous statement to change that. Those who don’t know, are essentially still in the dark. My intent was not to attack anyone, including GL but rather to give a different perspective.

      Finally, I did not write expecting the amount of exposure this article has received. I wrote primarily for a close circle of friends and church members and avoided name references and tags that would make it more accessible to the general public. Ironically, it has been linked only by people who disagree with me and none who agree, with the exception of social media. As far as I know, I am the only one to write a non-approving article in response to his move. Although some have attempted to use my article as an example of intolerance, they can’t quote any portion that is hateful or with malice. I think the fact that the only article that they can find is from a little known pastor and written with compassion sufficiently answers the claims that the IFB is controlling or totally out of control. It appears that those “big names” have been very gracious on this issue.

  13. Randy says:

    Brother, thank you for a concise, well thought article. I am truly saddened to see men such as this depart from the fundamentals. We could speculate as to the reasons why, but that would not be fruitful. When we see events such as this (where one departs) we should be saddened, but it reminds us that we must work even harder to reach the lost as the day approaches!

  14. David Flagler says:

    David Flagler says:
    Very good article. I preached the same 3 points at Gap Creek Baptist Church a few weeks before this issue became such a hot topic. We will be staying an IBF Church and doubt it will cause anybody to write us off just because of our name. I appreciate your kind and thoughtful comments
    on this subject.

  15. dan morell says:

    Pastor Click,

    Thank you for your investment in this article. We are IFB by conviction. Moving away in name indicates a moving away in heart and position. We stand with you.

  16. garyclick says:

    No Apologies

    I recently became aware of a rumor that Greg had called me out and that I had apologized for this article. First let me say that this article was not an attack against Greg. It was an answer to some vicious words he used in describing an entire group of people. I did not attack but did respond to an attack. There is nothing there to apologize for and I did not apologize. Let me also assure you that Greg did not call me out. I was the first to contact Greg and give him the “heads up” about the article as a courtesy. There was one apology and it was for accidentally posting the link to his FB wall rather than in a private message. I did not intend to “stir the pot” in that way. But there was never any “calling out” or apology for the content of the article. None is necessary.

    I have traced that rumor to its source and dealt with it as kindly as possible rather than let the rumor go unchallenged. Much more could be said but I’ll let it rest. Suffice it to say that some people have more spiritual gifts than spiritual maturity and integrity. Samson was one such individual.

    Finally, let me suggest to you that the major problem isn’t that he chose the word “Bible” to replace “Baptist.” I wouldn’t do that but I have many good friends pastoring Bible churches. That wasn’t my issue with him, although I did explain why I choose differently. My issue is not with what he did (that’s his business) but what he said and how he said it so publicly and unChrist-like, hindering the faith of young believers in my church and many others.

    It has become very obvious that he likes to use incendiary language towards others and pretend to be wounded and persecuted when they respond. He sets himself up to be the victim. He believes that it is his God given right to challenge anyone and everyone. However, if you call him out, he’s being persecuted. In fact, you might even be part of a cult!

    I stopped allowing comments to be posted on here back in August. I got tired of some who were bashing Greg and others bashing myself. Many comments from both sides were uncivil and unnecessary. Furthermore, I do not consider myself his babysitter. I only add this now to quench the rumor that I no longer hold the position outlined here. I still stand by every word.
    I wish Greg the best and simply hope and pray that he would consider the impact of his words before he lashes out publicly. Matthew 12:36

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