Keeping Young Fundamentalists In The Camp

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In recent years, many independent Baptist preachers have lamented the loss of younger preachers from our ranks. We have watched as preachers who were trained in our institutions of higher learning have left for non–denominational churches that are often characterized by Calvinism, looser living, and progressive, entertaining styles of worship. We have looked at some of the poster pastors of the new evangelical movement and criticized them for luring our young ministerial students. In addition, we have pointed the finger at those we have labeled “neo-fundamental” and accused them of opening the door by giving our younger ministers a taste of what was available in the other camp. I confess that both of these accusations may be true.

I have, however, come to a startling realization that the biggest factor in driving young ministers into the progressive movement may not be new evangelicals or neo-fundamentalists. The biggest factor may be a more “lunatic fringe” of the fundamental movement. In recent years, this caricature of fundamentalism, which is not fundamentalism at all, has sought to define us. And to some degree, more balanced fundamentalists have stood by and watched it happen without saying a word. We have watched as preachers screamed about women wearing britches when they could not keep their britches up. We have passively listened as preachers hollered for the King James Bible, but refused to use it to form their sermons or govern their lives. We allowed our young men to sit around “gurus” who had problems with gauchos but not with gossip. And the result has been catastrophic. These young preachers have said, “If that is fundamentalism, I want nothing to do with it,” and to be honest, I would have to agree with them. I am simply saying that fundamentalism is hurt the most, not by the opponents of the movement, but by the supposed friends of it.

The time has come for us middle –aged fundamentalists to take a stand. We are not going to allow men who have french-kissed little girls, video-taped girls changing clothes, or invented heretical doctrines such as continuing inspiration to define us. We will not allow such men to grace our pulpits, and we will not speak with them or for them, regardless of how much honorarium is offered. The time has come for us to refuse to keep the dirty bath water just because we love the baby. I would like to direct your attention to Colossians 2 and suggest several ways that this can be done.

First, we will not live in fear of our friends (vv. 16-17).  We will let no man judge us on items that are not specifically addressed in the Bible. When I graduated from Tennessee Temple, I continued to have my Sunday evening worship service at 7:00 pm because Dr. Roberson believed that earlier church services were a move toward new evangelicism. This is not hearsay.  I heard Dr. Roberson say it with his own lips. And so I continued to have my Sunday evening worship service at 7 pm and did not change it until Dr. Roberson went home to heaven. The fact of the matter is that I lived in fear of his judgment, fear about an issue concerning which the Bible says nothing.

When I went to my first church on the outskirts of Philadelphia, this assembly was heavily involved in the Word of Life Fellowship. I had never been involved in Word of Life up to this point, but I quickly recognized that their dress and music standards were different from that to which I was accustomed. I went to a dear pastor friend to ask his advice about whether I should pull the plug on Word of Life or not. I will never forget his counsel. He said, “If you are dropping them because you feel this is the Biblical thing to do, go ahead, but if you are dropping them because you are afraid of what the brethren will think of you, this is no reason to drop the program.” So often we have allowed the judgment of others, rather than the principles of Scripture, to guide our decision making.

We are independent Baptists for a reason. We have been historically opposed to denominationalism. We believe that every pastor has the right under the Holy Spirit to make decisions for his church without suffering reprisal from a hierarchy. I am afraid that in some segments of fundamentalism, however, denominationalism abounds. We live in fear of what a certain school, camp, or periodical will think of us. This fear of man has brought a snare (Proverbs 29:25). And young fundamentalists have said, “I am not going to play this game.” I applaud them for their courage. Some of us cannot even retweet a statement without suffering an instantaneous rebuke from the Twitter police. I wonder how these self-imposed authorities would have responded to Paul when he “retweeted” heathen poets (cf. Titus 1:12). We cannot live in fear of man any longer. Such fear of friendly judgment strikes against the very tenor of an “independent” movement.

Second, we will not adore angels (v. 18). Sometimes the word “angel” is used in the Bible of a celestial messenger. Sometimes the word is used of a human messenger (cf. James 2:25, Revelation 2:1). The point, however, is that no angel, whether celestial or human, should be worshipped. Indeed, a friend becomes no friend at all when he vainly puffs up our fleshly mind. The messenger of God can never replace the God of the messenger. Hero worship is wrong.  So often in our movement, we have worshipped men while merely admiring God and such adoration of messengers has left our younger pastors empty. They have shaken their heads as we donned our “100% Hyles” buttons. The excessive applause that has been given to men who have feet of clay is unsettling. If pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18), why are we setting our pastors up for disaster through unwholesome adoration? I would argue that some of our earlier heroes died prematurely and are now being eaten by worms because they “gave not God the glory” (Acts 12:23).

Third, we will recognize the usefulness of unity (v. 19). Unity is not an ecumenical term. It is not a new evangelical term. It is a Bible term. Christians only grow and flourish with the “increase of God” when they remain knit together within the body. When God rather than man is seen as our spiritual head, we all recognize our need for mutual dependence upon Him. No body part is preferential to another. We need each other. Unity, rather than meanness, is the order of the day. The Bible says that it is good and pleasant for brothers to dwell together in unity (Psalm 133:1). Jesus prayed for the unity of true believers (John 17:11). And even when I am compelled to break fellowship with a brother because of his disobedience, I am not to count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother (II Thessalonians 3:15).

Pastor fellowships and conferences should not be for the purpose of ripping fellow Christians apart through salacious gossip. When I first graduated from Bible college, I did not hold a King James position, and the reason is because I had met too many preachers who were King James nasty. Several years after I was in the ministry, I came upon a very gracious man at an ordination who had a King James position but held it with the right spirit. He was the first man I had ever met who held to the Received Text with a right attitude. I asked if I could talk with him about textual matters, and he agreed. He did not put his hands around my throat, but rather put his arm around my shoulders. I changed my position through my talks with him. And that is because he used his position to bring us together rather than wedge us apart. We must believe that compassion is not compromise.

Fourth, we must recognize the glory of grace (v. 20). In short, holiness does not come from the outside in, but rather from the inside out. We cannot reduce our movement to a matter of simply abstaining from “the dirty dozen.” Christianity is more than merely being “subject to ordinances.” It is a matter of a relationship with Christ. A failure to understand this results in disaster.

Let’s say, for example, that I am battling lust. And therefore, I submit myself to ordinances. I don’t go to R-rated movies. I avoid the beach. I throw away my television. The problem, of course, is that lust is still there. My rules have caged my lust and given it less opportunity to leap out, but lust is still there. Legalism cages the animal, but does nothing to kill it. Only the grace of God can kill the illicit desires. Rules alone will never be able to accomplish this.

This is why we have seen so many pastors who have had strict rules against “sensual music” or “sensual dress” commit fornication. Standards address the outer appearance, and there is no denying that the outer appearance needs to be addressed. But true holiness is always from within. Therefore, external standards should be for the purpose of revealing true holiness, not concealing inward depravity. Jesus spent much time criticizing the Pharisees for being whited sepulchers (Matthew 23:27). God wants to do more than cage illicit desires; He wants to kill them. And only the grace of God can accomplish this feat. When Christianity becomes nothing more than an itemized list of abstinences, then nothing is done to address heart attitudes. But out of the heart are the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23). Because we have constantly preached on the outward appearance by magnifying things such as hairstyles and clothing styles to the exclusion of the fruit of the Spirit, we have caused our younger ministers to wander into other camps seeking spiritual victory.

Fifth, we would be remiss if we did not talk about the bewilderment of boycotts (vv. 21-22). If we function according to legalism and the mentality that “rules equal spirituality,” then we are forced to ask, “Whose rules should I follow?” When I was a child, certain men were denied speaking engagements because men on their platforms were allowed to wear wire-rim glasses and bell-bottom britches. More recently, whether women wear pants or not has become a test of fellowship as certain fundamentalists have shouted, “Witches wear britches.” It has even become so looney that some fundamentalists are now counting the number of pleats in culottes to determine their acceptability. This all becomes numbing. What is in this week and what is out? Am I allowed to go to Disney World or K-Mart? Can I eat Little Debbies because they are made by Seventh-Day Adventists? It can all get quite mind-boggling to determine what I can touch, taste, or handle.

We can become so worried about what we are supposed to eat or wear, when Jesus said these are the things we are not to worry about (Matthew 6:25). Life is more than food and clothing. The problem, of course, with a constant infatuation with boycotted items is that we are always looking to men to find the latest list. We succumb to the clothing police, and if we listen to them long enough, we begin to practice Baptist asceticism. We are the Urban Amish. Jesus said that we are not to be of the world, but we are to be in it (John 17:15). There is no value in being frumpy for the sake of being frumpy. But legalism always seeks to expand the rule list for it is always easier to monitor hem length than it is heart attitudes. The boycott list and its attendant bewilderment has driven many into the camp of progressive Christianity.

Sixth, we must seek to abolish the problem of pride (v. 23a). Grace is important because it gives all the glory to God. Legalism is dangerous because it gives all the glory to man. The will of man becomes worshipped. Man is praised for what he has been able to accomplish through his true grit. We love to take the credit for our own volition. Legalism puts the emphasis on the externals because that is what we control! But God wants to work beneath the surface where only He can work. Spirituality is “not of works lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Independent Baptists often spend much time focusing on measurable, external statistics, for these are things that can be manipulated. We promote men who have achieved these measurable goals, and the thought is sown that if we follow them we will have the same measure of success. This success, however, is only success in the marketing sense of that word. A church may run thousands but be a seedbed of carnality. Prosperity and success in the Biblical definition of the word is not numerically achieved, but spiritually achieved. If churches have been built or standards implemented for the fostering of pride, this is failure. Pride is hated by God (Proverbs 6:17), even if it is pride over religious attainment. Such egotism has driven men into other camps of Christianity.

And finally, men have left us because of the exhaustion of effort (v. 23b). Martin Luther when climbing the steps in Rome wondered how much is enough. If he climbed thirteen steps, what if God wanted him to climb fourteen? We are always in bondage when we wonder how much it takes to please God. The flesh is never satisfied. It always feels like it has to do more.

The day my father was saved, as a twenty-something alcoholic, God answered his craving for beer. Beer never had left my dad satisfied. The day Christ entered His heart, my dad stopped drinking beer and drew from the well of water that God had placed within his soul. In the words of Billy Kelly, “He didn’t stop drinking; he just changed fountains.” We understand that things of human invention, like beer, can never satisfy.

Pastors understand this with beer, but they don’t understand it with regard to baptisms. They understand it with regard to dope, but not with regard to decisions. We can never make human achievement the measure of our satisfaction. Our ecclesiastical achievements can never be the measure of our happiness. Fleshly achievement never satisfies the flesh. And young ministers who have been taught differently either leave our camp over frustration of having not achieved, or over emptiness of having achieved and finding it unfulfilling.

In summary, I too am concerned over the amount of young preachers who have left the independent Baptist movement. But as I have listened to them, I have come to the conclusion that they were not so much coerced from without as disillusioned from within. This disillusionment finally resulted in them affirming that they would be a part of camp where they would not have to live in fear of their friends. They would reserve adoration for God alone, not for any of his messengers. They would not see unity as a weakness, but strength. They would not be content to reform the outside by legalism while refusing to transform the inside by grace. They would not succumb to the bewildering list of imposed boycotts. They would not be a part of a movement that was characterized by pride. And they would not exhaust themselves in effort only for a goal that would leave them empty. And thus, they left.

We could write them off and say, “Good riddance.” We could continue to blame the new evangelicals and neo fundamentalists who lured them away. Or we could say, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” My heart is not to eradicate the fundamental movement but to correct the abuses of it. These words are offered as a friend from within, not an enemy from without. But if the caricature of fundamentalism that we have presented is not replaced with an authentic model, my fear is that we will lose even more young preachers in the coming days. And though part of it may be attributable to the “coming apostasy,” a good portion of it may be because of the raging lunacy. God help us to keep the baby but get rid of the bath water, for the bath water is indeed dirty.

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167 Responses so far.

  1. I normally ignore posts about the Millennial generation, especially by those not in our generation, and for many reasons. I feel we so often are found guilty, for any number of reasons, before even being given a chance to speak. However, this was not the case with your post. I have to say, I’m impressed by the insight you have into where so many of us find ourselves. Indeed, the problem is much more a distasteful “push out” by those within than it is a “pull in” from those without. May God help us to maintain a proper, honest, biblical perspective on where we Independent Baptists are, whether young or old, and on where we’re headed. Thanks for the breath of fresh air! I much appreciate it.

  2. Pastor Wynn says:

    Well said, my friend. You have accurately stated a very serious and crippling problem that is spreading havoc throughout the IFB. I’m not a “young” preacher, but I am equally disgusted with the problems that you address. Thanks for your courageous article. You are certainly a great blessing!

  3. John Keeter says:

    One of THE best articles I have EVER read, that every Pastor should drop everything and read right now

  4. Bro. Dan says:

    Praise the Lord! This has needed to be said for a long time. Thank you Bro. Amsbaugh.

  5. CD says:

    Great article and very true! I am a young preacher who is sick of this type of “fundamentalism.” By the grace of God I still hold to the truth of God’s Word and was able to discern between God’s truths and man’s preferences. Tragically, many of my friends from youth groups and college weren’t so fortunate and are throwing God out of their lives all together. We need to get back to “Real Christianity” and follow Christ again. Thanks for this!

  6. WDUDDING says:

    No, the reason we leave the movement is because it doesn’t preach or believe the gospel.

    • Pastor Cox says:

      This is certainly not true, unless your Gospel includes works. There are those that are guilty of preaching a social or easy believe-ism Gospel. But a blanket statement such as the one you made is exactly the Problem Bro. Amsbaugh is addressing.

    • Matt W says:

      That’s a pretty board, and ignorant, statement.

      • DJW says:

        Perhaps, he left the “lunatic fringe” the author’s writing about! Sadly, that ‘camp’ isn’t as small as we’d like to believe!

  7. Amen, my dear Brother Pastor, amen and amen!

  8. As a young preacher serving in an independent Baptist church I want to say thank you for recognizing this and stating it so clearly. From my generations perspective the “old paths” have become to look like a dark hallway full of closets.

    All the points you made , especially the excellent paragraph on legalism, caused me to rejoice. It is a shame that when I young guy like me reads a blog like this by a middle age brother of the camp we are shocked. When in all reality it is most likely the norm, but we just haven’t heard it stated often enough.

  9. Nathan Allen says:

    Pastor Amsbaugh,
    Very insightful, and very helpful. Thank you for presenting the truth in a non-confrontational, non-abrasive way. May God shed His grace on churches like yours that want to follow His Word in all areas. Perhaps in the future you can do more segments, expanding each of the points that you mentioned. Thanks again!

  10. Amanda says:

    Thank you! I fully agree and really appreciate that you spelled it out. I know why I am a Baptist, but I have a hard time teaching my students to look past what seems not to make sense and focus on doctrine. It is hard to do right, when those around you try to tell you following the Bible is not enough. Thanks again!

  11. David Gates says:

    Pastor Amsbaugh,

    I deeply appreciate your willingness to write about issues that matter with the Bible as your basis. I believe the article was Biblical and dealt with the issues at hand. This was helpful. I thank you for your love for The Lord and we will be praying for you in the work of Christ.

  12. Larry Bartlett says:

    Most of what you said is true… However, I have been against much of the “wrong” disposition that some in our ranks have had for most of my life. I wasn’t “raised” around the attitude you spoke of …. Dr. G.B. Vick was not that kind of individual!

    In many ways you saw the weaknesses of these men and “movements” and colleges and you unwittingly acquired some of them yourself for a while, as a younger more impressionable man. We tend to emulate our “heroes'” “weaknesses” and not their “strengths”!

    You have given a few “reasons” for these young preachers “boys” leaving our ranks and going off to “what they view as ‘greener pastures’ “. I can “see” some of your reasons. However, there maybe other reasons that are just as valid as some if the ones you have given!

  13. Jeff,

    Good article. Back in the late 1990’s, I did some investigation about this while I was an Assistant Pastor in Jacksonville, Florida, as I was learning that Independents were going into the SBC.

    Here is what I learned. The SBC takes care of their pastors. The bigger local associations conduct financial planning, marriage enrichment/counseling, pastoral leadership development, church administration, seminars, etc. This all occurs away from the local church which provides some privacy to pastors who may be struggling in some these areas.

    Another aspect that is closely related to the above is that most ministerial students graduating from our schools are NOT SOUL-WINNERS. This makes denominational affiliated churches alluring to the lazy and unmotivated. The reason for this, is that most denominational churches do not require their pastors to be soul winners. As long as they visit the hospitals, the elderly, and are available for counseling and spend the rest of their time in study of the Bible, sermon preparation, and prayer, they remain in good standing with the congregation. Administration of the church, for the most part, is left up to the Deacons/Elders?/Trustees.

    Additionally, our young people are attracted to CCM-style churches because that is what they are listening to when they are not at church, regardless of how separated our congregations appear. Thus, when they get through our colleges and/or seminaries they are all too interested in becoming associated with churches that are seemingly less demanding (i.e. “legalistic” in their interpretation).

    Thanks for your article.

    Bro. Bill Lavender
    Trinity Baptist College (’97)

    • Dan says:

      Let’s see now….”alluring to the lazy and unmotivated”, ” most denominational churches do not require their pastors to be soul winners”, “As long as they visit the hospitals, the elderly, and are available for counseling and spend the rest of their time in study of the Bible, sermon preparation, and prayer, they remain in good standing with the congregation”, “Administration of the church, for the most part, is left up to the Deacons/Elders?/Trustees”, “when they get through our colleges and/or seminaries they are all too interested in becoming associated with churches that are seemingly less demanding (i.e. “legalistic” in their interpretation)”

      Someone didn’t read the article very carefully, did they? THE ABOVE is just one of myriad reasons I have fled the IFB camp and have no intention of going back. This kind of knee-jerk ignorance just permeates the movement and absolutely shuts-down any meaningful attempt to dialogue, express concern or disagreement and just wears many of us out. (I’m not a millenial and I left the IFB before leaving the IBF was cool. If one doubts my fundy credentials, I have degrees from two leading fundy colleges and have served as the senior pastor of what was one of the historic mega-churches of the IFB.) Some of us simply refuse to be condescended toward with this kind of rhetoric which we know to be false and irrational. Interestingly, the exalted pastor of Trinity when you graduated was sticking his tongue down the throats of little girls and groping them as they sat on his lap and when it was finally exposed, he was hustled to the mission field and even when tracked down, was never really dealt with Biblically and sadly, didn’t live long enough to be dealt with legally.

      Jeff, you made some points, but missed more than you made. There is no simple list for any one of us who have fled. For me, it was the sheer corruption of morality and integrity, combined with the harshness and hatred, added to an anti-intellectualism that scorns such things as expositional preaching (I was taught that expositional preaching will destroy a church), the unsupportable case that the KJV is the only preserved translation, the latent racism that was rampant, the worldly use of pragmatic revivalist techniques turned into art forms by Hyles and Roberson and denounced loudly when Hybels, Warren and Stanley adopted the EXACT same strategy, the celebrity cult-like worship of certain pastors, the inbred faculties of their colleges, the fear of external thought, the peer pressure of camps and kingdoms and the discovery of the definitions of grace, depravity, mercy, sovereignty and devotion that drove me out.

      I’ve counseled scores of young men in ministry who grew up in IFB churches who have a sense of guilt, fear, loss, confusion and doubt because they have determined that there was something wrong with this system and yet didn’t know where to turn. I’ve been happy to offer them a fresh perspective on their faith and ministry. There is life after the IFF and it is abundant and joy-filled.

      Now a non-denominational pastor, I’m still as doctrinally fundamental as I ever was. Hopefully, I’m also less arrogant, judgmental, graceless and fearful than I was previously. I no longer serve from duty, but devotion. I still don’t drink or smoke or dance, but that’s personal and not a temptation. My struggle is with pride and impatience and a lack of compassion and not pushing away from the table soon enough and many other sins that are far more clearly addressed in Scripture. I still regularly lead people to Christ, but I don’t keep count of them. I also find it richly fulfilling to disciple and mentor men personally and methodically. I appreciate being confronted by my fellow-pastors in humility when they see something in my life that isn’t right. I enjoy our church’s love of ancient hymns and doctrinally-sound contemporary music that is enthusiastic and uplifting. I value conversions rather than decisions. I like the fact that shouting while one is teaching is no longer a sign of passion or dedication and that I can be treated like an adult when listening to preaching and the people in the seats in front of me respond without having to be berated or manipulated.

      I appreciate the article. I hope it is read by more than cynics and sycophants — I hope it will actually encourage others to question their allegiance to a movement that has become unredeemable and realize that God is moving in other circles in exciting ways. Sadly, the moral scandals, the charlatans like the Westboro Baptist people, the harshness of the Sword/Hyles/BJU groups have completely destroyed the identification of Baptist in the area where I live. You might was well declare yourself a Jehovah’s Witness or a Mormon — it is a door and not a window. Thus, non-denom has become a far more effective “tag”. My prayer is that those of us who are convinced we have sound doctrine will make the propagation of Truth more important than the moniker and lexicon we personally prefer.

      • Paul says:

        Amen, Dan. I wish I could have said this as well myself!

      • Glenn says:

        Well said, Dan. Well said.

      • Aaron says:

        Just one thing. “Sword/Hyles/BJU” is a little bit outdated of a brush to use. I get it if you’re from a previous generation, but you gotta admit that BJ is (thankfully) a little bit more balanced in their philosophy and practice.

      • Zoe Moore says:

        Wow Dan! Good words. I applaud Pastor Amsbaugh in that he is headed in the right direction with his thoughts, these are things that should have been thought about years ago. I grew up in an IFC, and have seen so many from my generation turned off to church because of many of these reasons. The sad thing is Pastor Amsbough, still does not see how divisive some of his comments can be. He is assuming like so many in the IFC, that if your music or dress is more progressive, or the word this group throws around is “worldy” that they can not possibly be on the right path. These group is reaching many that the IFC will never reach. Instead of constantly putting down other denominations for their methods, we should be praying for each other as we seek His Kingdom, not our own denomination. When we all get the heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be! It will not just be the IFC there. There will be nondenominational’s, Southern Baptists, catholics, Calvinists, AG, Pentecostals, Episcopal’s, I could go on and on, and we will not be categorized as denominations. We will all be His son’s and daughters, saved by grace. We segregate ourselves into groups here on earth, and so many look down on different denominations, or even others in their own denomination. Isn’t it time that we stop this divisiveness?

      • Vet says:

        Dan, I appreciate your comments and can, to some extent, identify with them. I came from the old northern branch of Baptist Fundamentalism that left the Northern Baptist Convention over doctrine back in the 1920/30s. I received my initial Seminary training in one of the flagship schools of that branch of fundamentalism.

        We were taught that the “fundamentalism” of Hyles, Roberson, et al were sadly compromised and would most likely be a short lived “flash in the pan.” That prediction seems to have come to pass.

        I spent 40 years in vocational ministry in IFB churches, pastoring my last church for over 26 years. I have not seen our young preachers abandoning fundamentalism. I have seen them abandoning the personality cults and “doctrinal” absurdities such as KJVOism, Secondary (and even tertiary) separation, the limited definition of what constituted a “fundamentalist” which ignored the true meaning of the word as found in “The Fundamentals” (1910 to 1915, the Bible Institute of Los Angeles) and far from being exclusively Baptist.

        I have seen young preachers abandoning pastoral dictatorship that raised pastors to the (self) exalted position of Old Testament Prophet (profit?) and adopted the idiotic concept of “touch not the Lord’s anointed” and applied it to the pastor rather than the King of Israel. And by so doing opened the door to the repeated moral failures all across “fundamentalism” due to the lack of any methodology of accountability.

        I too like the old hymns and songs. But I do not decry those who are brought closer to the Lord by the contemporary music we see in many churches today.

        And, even though I was trained as, and practiced, expository preaching, I find that the narrative style adopted by many of these young men to be very effective in proclaiming the word.

        Let’s not be too condemnatory of those young men who saw our shortcomings and attempted to, in an imperfect way, correct them. Let the Holy Spirit of God lead them into all truth, and remember that we are, at best, fallible men who may not have all the answers, in spite of our opinions of ourselves. 🙂

      • jay says:

        Who is Dan? A great reply to the retired major.

    • David Morse says:

      Please, for the sake of sanity, do not call what you just laid out “investigation.” Most everything you said was broad generalization with no evidence to back up the indecency or sinfulness of the assertion.

      What I mean is that two of your assertions (first and last) may be correct to some degree yet incredibly generalized, but you have in no way validated that those changes are bad. I am not saying that you explicitly said they were bad but you can tell that is what you are getting at.

      So, please explain what is wrong with any of the things you mentioned and in regard to your second point (which is totally false and in left field) please tell me what the mission of the elders of a congregation is?

  14. An interestng article which I came upon through an IFB pastor linking to it on Twitter. I am not so sure though why you gave it the title which you did. The title speaks of Fundamentalism while the whole article dealt with the matter of IFB’s. Fundamentalism is a lot wider than IFBdom (to coin an non offence intended phrase while acknowledging the need of a better word) and therefore the idea that some folk drift along to Calvinist churches is not an issue. Fundamentalism has always embraced both Reformed and non Reformed alike. Read any of the Fundamentalist History books and see who fought many of the great fights against modernism e.g. Gresham Machen etc. Indeed, it is not inconsistent even with IFBdom again to be Calvinistic in doctrine. Even the non and virently anti Calvinist wing of #IFBdom regularly quote them on Twitter as #oldpaths heroes.

    Overall, even with the above constructive criticism, I enjoyed reading this article.

  15. Jason Sykes says:

    Wow! is all I can say. This has been my heartbeat for so long, but just could never articulate it as well as it is articulated here. I too have seen the deification and leader worship that have lead to the demise of many of the leaders of fundamentalism and it sickens me. I am not so sure that the shift of the younger generation from “fundamentalism” is rebellious, but rather a true desire for biblicism and reality. That has been my heart. Thank you for addressing the elephant in the room!

  16. Bill Rudd says:

    Thank you brother for this article. It is spot on. You put into words what many FIB in our age bracket have been watching take place for some time.

  17. Jason Settle says:

    Thank you for posting this. I’m 42 but consider myself & my generation the first wave of casualties from the fundamental arrogance of the 80’s. Thanks again.

  18. Dr. Michael A. Smith says:

    Hello my Bro.
    It is not only the young men who are leaving. I was saved in a Fundamentalist church, and went to their schools. I was involved in some of the leading ministries, and worked for those who were adored in the 1980s. I pastored a church. At 38 yrs old (20 yrs ago now) I decided that i could not long take the idiotic abuse because every message I preached was not on women wearing pants, men’s hair touching their ears, or men wearing an earring. I left. It has been an internal struggle because the ideas of Fundamentalism were so deeply engrained in my DNA. It was external because I suddenly became a pariah. I had not changed doctrine, simple changed camps. Young men, whom I had paid the tuition to attend Bible school, never spoke to me again. Missionaries were forced to not talk to me with the threat that if they continued to be my friend, the churches would drop their support.

    After more than twenty years and lots of deprogramming, I have recovered from the cultic world, and watched as many of those angels ended up disgraced and a few in prison. I made the right choice, and these young men will have to make it as well, because the resistance to change within your camp. Fundamentalism is about dead as a movement. I live in Greenville, SC which was before the navel. All that has shifted West, be it the Ruckmanism, the KJV Onlyists,etc. Where once IB churches thrived they are now disappearing almost weekly. BJU has lost half its student body because if its resistance to change and transparency.

    While I wish I could be more hopeful, I know where the bodies are buried and the people involved. It is the worst of people worship and denominationalism and popery. Dr. Mike

    • Pastor Cox says:

      Dr. Mike- I have seen several reply’s such as yours. I have been a KJV fundamentalist for some 25 yrs. I have always felt the freedom to be independent. I have always felt the freedom to voice my opinion. Some of my opinions and standards might be a little south of what is usual in mainline fundamentalism, but I have never once been shunned. Your reply sounds to me like you were more fearful of your peers than of God. Any group you associate with is going to have extremists on both sides, as well as those who absolutely neglect the faith. I imagine whatever camp your in now, the problems are probably the same.

      • Steve says:

        Thank you Bro Cox, i like your perspective.
        I don’t see why it matters what you call yourself. IFB, southern baptist, evangelical, christian, community church….Titles should not define you. I would be called a Catholic if that meant that I believed the right things. I would be called a Muslim if that meant I believed in the Deity of Jesus Christ, the Trinity, The virgin birth, etc.
        Titles don’t make me believe in the preservation of the Word of God (which I feel is the KJV), getting people saved from Hell including soul winning, Salvation by grace alone through faith alone, Godly and Holy living including modesty and biblical standards whatever a person believes that should include or not include, Faithfulness to God and the church you attend and serve in. Reading the Bible and trying to practice what God teaches me and commands of me is whats important.
        Pleasing God all the way to Heaven is what is important.

        We could wipe out all the titles and denominations and fellowships and religions and just concentrate on believing and obeying the Bible and loving people everywhere and maybe we could all just be called Christians.

  19. Cliff Player says:

    I liken the IFB movement to the children of Israel, and the tower of Babel. The IFB movement was so full of pride, they built towers of it, and then God came in and confused them, He messed with them.

    Instead of seeing this as a God ordained shuffle, out of pride they turned on each other because they didn’t all speak the same language anymore. Because of pride God has destroyed a whole movement, and scattered the people that once boasted the largest churches in America.

    The best advice I could give you, is to quit trying to get your IFB brethren to be friends, it ain’t going to happen. They don’t speak the same language anymore, God changed the rules, and messed it all up for you/them.

    Your sons and daughters don’t speak your language anymore, because they have tasted the sweet simple freedom of living for Jesus without all the legalism, pride, and hypocrisy.

    Kind Regards,

    Cliff

  20. Jerry favor says:

    I have been encouraged to leave the independent baptist camp for years but have been determined to be a biblical fundamentalists and not a legalistic / hero worshiper fundamentalist. I have been viciously attacked by some and have been greatly encouraged by others. You took the words right out of my heart. Thanks for your courage to write the truth.

  21. Pete Ruble says:

    Thank you Bro. Amsbaugh! This says so eloquently what I have felt in my heart for several years now. I have always been an Independent Baptist since my salvation, but for the past several years I have been ashamed to tell anyone that, and for the very reasons you have spoken in this article. May God help us to see these things through the eyes of Christ!

  22. Chris says:

    I left the “IFB” movement, and I’m so glad I did. You couldn’t pay me enough to go back.

  23. Ben Pearson says:

    Thank you for your insight. I fear that there is another group of young fundamentalists who seem to follow and exceed the negative examples you mentioned. This concerns me greatly as young fundamentalist who is already disillusioned with the movement. What will it become in twenty years if this slide towards the extreme doesn’t stop?

  24. Ryan Hayden says:

    Amen!
    I haven’t left the independent Baptist movement. But I’ve been pretty vocal in my condemnation of it and want absolutely nothing to do with much of it. I’ve found that most independent baptist pastors my age feel the same way. We want people like you to take a strong stand against unbiblical preaching, hero worship, and the small minded partisan junk we see so much of. Thanks for doing that.
    I would say to those who have left the movement that I just left a conference of a couple hundred independent Baptist pastors in the midwest where the preachers said almost exactly what you just said and got a lot of amens. The lunatic fringe may be big, and they may be vocal, but there are many IFB pastors who feel just like you do.

  25. Thank you for clearly stating the truth. This truth reaches much further down the food chain into the rank and file. Our youth are leaving by droves for the same reasons as our young ministers. Thank you for leading and thank you for not letting fear keep you from speaking truth.

  26. Bro. Jeff,
    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this article. You have articulated this argument well. I sincerely appreciate the balanced perspective that you have given to this topic. God bless you.

  27. Marty Moon says:

    Thanks for the article!

  28. Ricky says:

    Hey, man. I appreciate the work and care that you invested into writing this post. My heart resonates with so much of what you said here. I have posted this to my facebook page, and it has generated a healthy discussion. I appreciate the grace and humility that it takes for someone like you in your position to say some of these things. I pray that God grants your ministry blessing.

  29. Joseph Coe says:

    I believe that the first thing that a student in Bible College should be taught is that they will give account of themselves to God according to his word. As we all

    That all their Judgments are to be made in accordance with the Bible alone.

    I’ve been saved thirty one years and have seen Pastors who uphold to their Camp if you will, it leaders and their pet doctrines. I found it astonishing to see their ignorance of What sayeth the Lord.
    In Bible college our Pastor challenged every believer with this question:
    “What ever education you received or source of information you have taken in ,even in Christian institutions, how to you know you’ve be told the truth?” I learned that we must know the world of God and live it out. Regardless of what the world thinks.

    There is a lot controversy in the world but very little Light.
    This is the cause if the Spiritual Road Kill of our day, Christians run over by the world. Because they are ignorant, worldly, not separated, rebellious, ungrateful, self deceived.
    Eternity is a long time to contemplate where we went wrong.

    May the Lord have mercy on us.

  30. Ex-fundy says:

    What is so amusingly sad and sadly amusing is that I found this post via a fundy pastor’s Twitter feed. He doesn’t realize that he, his dad and mom (who run the church he’s part of), and his unaccredited Bible kawlidge are part of the system that is decried in this article.

    My family left Fundystan three years ago because we were sick of the rules and double standards — one for the beautiful people and one for the peasants in the pew.

    Following rules won’t make for better people. Just people who can hide better.

    I left religion altogether because if the Kings of Fundystan were wrong on so many levels, maybe their holy book shouldn’t be believed either. Congrats, Fundy Kings! You’ve lost my mind and my money.

    Kudos to you, Mr Amsbaugh, though. You’ve brought up some great points and I hope the people of Fundystan realize they are harming their deity — and the neighbors they are commanded to love — with their rules and behavior.

    • David says:

      Ex-Fundy, I’m saddened you and your family experienced a bad-egg church. And doubtless there are a lot of them in the Fundy circles. I just wanted to say that you can’t really define the Bible by the abuse of a few. Those bad-egg churches have set up their own laws and give little regard to what the Bible actually says. I would encourage you to read it for yourself rather than defining it by what others do with it. Make it yours, don’t let it be theirs. There are lots of people out there that deal correctly with the Bible. We should not let the abuse of a few define the whole of Biblical Christianity.

  31. Dan Marvin says:

    This post will get a lot of interest and everyone will agree but nothing will change. The guys over on Sharper Iron will continue their many part discussion of the nature of the “wine” Jesus made at the Marriage of Canaan and whether John MacArthur is a heretic.

  32. Patrick Nix says:

    Dear Jeff,

    I appreciated what you wrote. I grew up in a good, sheltered home – Christian parents, Christian school. I’ve only kissed one girl besides my wife and it wasn’t even a good kiss! I grew up in a fundamental church and attended a fundamental Bible college. I appreciate my heritage but I’m coming to place where I don’t want that to give that heritage to my children… I am tired of the politics, the comparing, the judgmentalism, the legalism, the self-righteousness, the law-without-grace, the truth-without-joy, the all-light-and-no-heat, the minors-that-are-majors-mentality.

    I am a Baptist, I believe the Bible literally (I like the KJV, but I’m not an KJV-only-er because I still haven’t heard any answers to my questions that satisfy, but my questions aren’t difficult). I love creative outreach. I love communicating the Bible’s principles, its stories, its good news to believers and unbelievers alike. I love it when the gospel breaks through! I enjoy serving more than selling. I enjoy some contemporary worship music as much as I enjoy hearty, doctrinal hymns. I’m not a Charismatic (gifts of tongues, etc.), but I’m quite tired of participating in dry, dead worship. I’m not a Calvinist, but I believe in sovereign grace (that God glorifies the justified, justifies the called, calls the predestined, and predestined those whom He foreknew).

    I’m not a independent, fundamental Baptist, but I am a Baptist who believes the fundamentals who tends to be pretty independent. I’m more like a non-denominational Baptist. I don’t even want to tell my old IFB friends just so I can be black-balled from their groups. I can’t turn to them for support… So where do I go? I think I’m a network-guy, not really a denominational-guy. I don’t have a tribe and I need one. I don’t have a mentor and I need one. I’m tired of living isolated and insulated from mentorship and partnership. Do you know of any networks / ministries for people like me?

    *I wrote this about 18-months ago while pastoring in Kentucky. It was not the ‘allure’ of worldliness or new evangelicals that led me ‘out’ – but, as you said, a disillusionment from within. But I beg to differ about the ‘fringe’ aspect. I had two GREAT pastors: Lonnie Mattingly and Clarence Sexton. These men, for the most part, didn’t fall into the categories that you define as fringe. To add to that, what is most concerning is that the movement itself seems to be led by that ‘fringe.’

    The IFB movement in general is still defined by culture of the decade that it separated from the convention… hymns, pianos, skirts, theaters, etc. While the fundamentals have NOT changed, our world has… and people need some updated preaching. Why are we stuck preaching about Blockbuster, tobacco, and music with drums when the biggest problems in this world are over-eating, porn, and debt? Why are fundamentalists so jealous? Why can’t a preacher stand up and preach without bashing the church down the road? Where is the grace? Why had I never heard a message out of Romans 14 until I preached one in my 30’s? I’m all about the TRUTH – but where’s the mercy? I’ve found little of that, in reality. It was all about performance and law. That’s why I left. That’s why most leave. Grace is refreshing and magnetic… the hard IFB mentality will soon isolate itself to death. I know they are a soul-winning force, but they aren’t winning enough to replace what the back door and the funeral home are taking. The 50’s were great, the good old days – I get it. But this generation doesn’t care about that. That’s why they’re leaving.

    It’s hard to believe, but when I left the IFB movement, I didn’t leave the truth. That might be hard to believe – but I didn’t even compromise or weaken my convictions… not any! If anything, I feel strong about my faith than ever before. When I was an IFB, I didn’t know why I was told to hold to certain things… and there wasn’t much room for me to decide (if it contradicted with the collective).

    My friend, Jimmy Reagan, (who might not call me a friend after today!) wrote a series of articles about the IFB Truth Revolution here… they are much in line with what you have said. I suggest everyone read them (BTW – he’s still a KJV, IFB).
    http://reaganreview.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/its-time-for-an-independent-baptist-truth-revolution/

    • Malissa says:

      When you said this (and much of the other things you said)
      I appreciate my heritage but I’m coming to place where I don’t want that to give that heritage to my children… I am tired of the politics, the comparing, the judgmentalism, the legalism, the self-righteousness, the law-without-grace, the truth-without-joy, the all-light-and-no-heat, the minors-that-are-majors-mentality.

      You summed up my thoughts as I’ve changed which church we worship at. That and “when I left, I didn’t leave the truth” exactly

    • Love this – “When I left the IFB movement, I didn’t leave the truth. That might be hard to believe – but I didn’t even compromise or weaken my convictions… not any! If anything, I feel strong about my faith than ever before. ”

      I appreciate the spirit of your response. You are an encouragement to me. Let’s connect again soon.

    • Miriam Matson says:

      This was a refreshing post for one of the bloodied victims growing up in IB circles. I love Jesus with all of my heart, and long to serve Him with my life, but most IB can’t hold a 5 minute conversation with you regarding a deep daily life-changing relationship with the Lover of our souls. They’d rather discuss the KJV and women wearing pants.

  33. Mercy says:

    My husband is one of those young men you describe. Thank you for not just writing him off as a reprobate (which he is not) but for acknowledging some of the serious issues that influenced my husband and others like him to make the decisions he has. I feel that you wrote with courage, wisdom, and balance, and I appreciate that.

  34. Brian says:

    I agree with your assessment but with a slight correction, I don’t believe that these problems are a “reason” as much as an “excuse” for these guys to leave fundamentalism. The departure has been ongoing since new evangelicalism formed in the late 50’s and there will continue to be departures until the Lord comes. There have always been problems (more specifically sins) and there always will be for we all live with a fallen human nature. Those who have left have just traded one set of problems for another set.

    • SCPastor says:

      Your use of the word ‘departure’ and ‘excuse’ make it seem like you believe the Independent Fundamental movement is “THE” way and all who have left are apostate. Is this what you believe or did I miss it?

    • David says:

      I think there needs to be a differentiation between “leaving fundamentalism” and leaving “the independent fundamental baptist circles.” There are plenty of people who are fundamentalists who are not IFB’s. Those who believe the absolute fundamentals of the faith, however they may not have the same practical application of other Scripture as most IFB’s do. So to call it an “excuse” rather than a “reason” is quite short-sighted. Why stay somewhere that is absolutely wrong about everything but the fundamental doctrines when there are plenty of other places that are also right about those doctrines, but right about much more as well? I’m still an IFB but not because I agree with all that goes on. I am because I’m committed to my local church and I am happy to say that my local church is not one of the big abusers discussed in this article. There are lots of genuine people here. But if I was at one of those abusing churches, I would have left long ago. Not because I wish to leave the movement, but because I want my family to be in a place they can grow and thrive. Sadly, IFB churches are not a place where many families can do that.

    • That is exactly right. The problems that are mentioned here are simply excuses. Some of them are real problems, but most folks leave because of internal reasons within their own hearts, minds, and spirits and not because soemone forced them out. It is tempting once you leave though to let bitterness cause you to blame others.

      • Glenn says:

        Blaming victims of blatant spiritual abuse is never a good way to make friends and influence people.

        You want to believe these are merely “excuses” to avoid the difficult task of letting the spirit search and know you concerning these matters.

        I pray you change your heart.

  35. Greg says:

    Well said, Brother.

  36. Well Done!

    The best article I have ever read on the subject. Having come through these very struggles myself, I completely concur with your conclusions. The young men coming into the ministry today are often ridiculed for their questions. They are made to feel guilty for daring to question the “Old Guard.” I say shame on the “Old Guard!” The problem is not the questions being asked, but rather the fact that the “Old Guard” doesn’t have any real Biblical support for there answers, and therefore they are offended by the questions. It is time for some men to stand up and demand truth.

    Thank you for your insight.

    Pastor Max Graves

  37. Eric says:

    Wow. Simply excellent. It’s too late for me, but you may keep a few with commentary like this.

  38. Pastor Rick Wilson says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, my brother. I am a 44 year old pastor of an independent Baptist church with a wonderful 75 year heritage. But it also has had in the past, relationships with men and ministries that have encouraged the present foothold of vain traditions. I struggle to fit in with the men and pastors that I want to look up to because of their faithfulness, wisdom, and scriptural knowledge, knowing that we would disagree on the issues that I would love to talk about, issues not addressed in scripture. So I live in a bit of fear of my friends. This was incredibly encouraging and I would love to hear from more like us. Until about a year ago, I thought there was something wrong with my thinking, like I was the only one. Since then, I have been blessed by men like you, willing to open up, and it has been “liberating”. Thank you again for exposing and expressing this deeply troubling cancer in the body of Christ.

  39. Rodney Kelley says:

    Thanks friend for a very insightful article. Oh how we all need a true touch of grace, a new vision of Jesus, and hearts on fire with His Spirit as we serve Him for His glory.

  40. Caitie Sheppard says:

    Thank God for you! What a tremendous article…blessed by you when I was a student at PCC several years ago. Thank you for your loving transparancy… This was a breath of fresh air!!

  41. C. Williams says:

    I am a “young fundamental Baptist” and am so thankful to say that I have lived and flourished in a wide circle of Fundamental Baptists who are not about rules, though God’s standard is held high, but who are about reality. Reality of relationship. If this were not the case, if this had not been my experience growing up, it is true that I would have left. Reality. Truth. Not religion. That is what I seek. That is what I have found in God and I see it reflected in so many lives, leaders, and independent, fundamental Baptist churches, praise God! Reality of relationship takes away the need for external rules. The reality exudes from the heart and is manifested in the actions and avoidance of evil. Closeness to a Holy God causes and requires holiness of life. The need for rules simply highlights the need for the reality of the relationship. Reality of relationship should be the focus.

  42. Pastor Alan says:

    Brother,
    I was afraid to read your article. A fellow-pastor friend of mine who bailed on IFB used to remind me frequently that he had always thought “independent” was an adjective.

    Thank you for your gracious and wise words.

  43. Jason Kenney says:

    Pastor Amsbaugh,

    Encouraging article! It gives all of us hope that men like you are speaking up and addressing issues that have spent way too many years under the rug. No doubt your words, spoken with bold truth and grace, will help many men struggling with the decision to jump ship, to grab the helm instead.

  44. Bryan says:

    I very much appreciate the article Pastor Amsbaugh! I’m a 30-something who has been a member of a handful of IFB churches and continue to be a member of an IFB church. I’ve witnessed much of the “mess” you described (though thankfully not from the pastors where I’ve served.)

    As Patrick did above, I’d also HIGHLY recommend a series of articles by Jimmy Reagan, about the IFB Truth Revolution here. They hit many of these exact topics, and more, and in a little more depth.
    http://reaganreview.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/its-time-for-an-independent-baptist-truth-revolution/

  45. Ryan Livingston says:

    Well said…. Glad others see it the way I do on of those young (at least I consider myself young) preachers like me

  46. Marc likins says:

    Amen and amen!

  47. Jon Lands says:

    Pastor Amsbaugh: This article is spot on! The independent movement on the whole has been marginalized for the very reasons you cite. It is refreshing to know that I am not alone in my concerns about the Independent movement. It is time we stand and say enough is enough.

    Pastor Jon Lands
    Fellowship Baptist Church
    Parkersburg WV

  48. Youth Pastor says:

    Wow. Funny how I just wrote this . . . http://reversediscipleship.blogspot.com/

    Glad to see an older man saying the same from his side. I have to hope in religion of any kind. Jesus is the answer. When our religious practice supersedes Jesus we need a gut check.

  49. Don Heinz says:

    What you attribute IFB attrition to is accurate in part. The hero-worship scandals are numerous and damaging. But, I think you miss the point. IFB pastors can gather a crowd because they are charismatic and the people they gather are unbalanced in their understanding of the scriptures. You have too many “doctrines” based on circumstantial interpretations of a couple of verses. That doesn’t build healthy Christians. For instance, the dress/skirt standards held by many are based on two verses that can barely be twisted to say what many IFB’s demand of their female congregants. That kind of shoddy interpretation is only attractive to a certain type of person. And, what is more, it is typical of how other doctrines and practices are treated by IFB’s across the wide spectrum of truth. Then when sincere people question it, they are shunned and ridiculed, because the preacher doesn’t actually have an answer. At the same time whole portions of scripture are ignored and avoided, such as the truth or the leaven of the pharisees and Christian liberty. Liberty from man-made doctrines, often twisted out of the Old Testament, is a large part of what Paul and Jesus warned about, but IFB’s just continue down the same road without even touching the brakes. I was an IFB missionary for 15 yrs. and a member of an IFB church for 27. But, I am thankful God showed me true love and understanding to be able to guide my family out before it was too late.

  50. Steve Dwire says:

    “He did not put his hands around my throat, but rather put his arm around my shoulders.”

    Oh, that we could all be that man – in all matters of disagreement.

    Thank you for the time, thought, and prayer that you have put into this post.

  51. Stan says:

    One thing not mentioned are the embarrassing honorary doctorates so rampant in IFB circles and the ease at which so called real doctorates are earned…many times from unaccredited institutions or basement bible colleges.

  52. Mike Tourangeau says:

    This is a good article. I was raised IFB, planted a church as an IFB and pastor it today 12 years later. I no longer consider myself IFB.

    In our day the T4G, 9Marks etc represents the orthodox faith. A good example is get any issue of the Sword and compare it to the stuff coming out of Southern Seminary or Gospel Coalition. There is no comparison.

    • Mark Lawrence says:

      To be fair, the representatives of the orthodox faith you address have their own problems and phonies.. Two words. Mark Driscoll.

  53. Rick Dressler says:

    Thank you for the article. I always appreciate sound voices from within. Thanks brother

  54. Nathan says:

    Thank you for your article Pastor Amsbaugh. I have counted it an honor to be part of your ministry and truly value you as a friend and brother in Christ. I know you knew this would be praised and condemned but I appreciate your writing it because of who you are and your heart for God. May He bless your efforts to shed light on what He truly wants from us while we are here on this earth and use it to further the kingdom down here and beef up the ranks. Love you brother.

  55. Charles Bakker says:

    I really appreciated this article. I am currently attending a Fellowship Baptist church that is pretty progressive by Independent Fundamentalist Baptist standards. This is where God has called my family and I to and we are watching Him do some amazing things in our lives and the life of our church (Hughson Street Baptist). What is equally as exciting for me however is to watch God doing just as amazing things in the lives of the Independent Fundamentalists that I know (such as my parents and siblings) and the churches that they are in. I can clearly see the work of the Holy Spirit in this article and others like it.

  56. Jon Jones says:

    Brother Amsbaugh:

    I read your article with much interest as I am barely hanging in the
    Indy/Fundy camp by a thread. I was one of them, a minister of ministers, leader of popular and unpopular ministries. Desired God, and also the flesh – and ultimately fell in an inappropriate relationship. Inexucusable and wrong, deceitful and harmful was my deed.

    My greatest drive to leave my roots comes from their greatest display of desire to have me leave. When the “Neos” can accept and restore such a putrid one as I, and mine own can not/will not, don’t blame the Neo movement. Some sins are tolerable and some aren’t. I understand; but I’m glad God doesn’t see it that way.

  57. Jarred says:

    Let’s see….when PCC and BJU were fighting about the KjV issue, John MacArthur wrote “The Vanishing Conscience.” While the IFB was concerning themselves with “britches” on women John Piper was writing “Desiring God.” While the indie-fundie schools and churches were wringing their hands over worldly music, D.A. Carson wrote “How Long O Lord: Reflections on Suffering and Evil.” Do you see a pattern?

    The independent Baptists were answering the questions that I wasn’t asking. Meanwhile these other men were writing about issues I was grappling with: Spiritual growth, love for God, and thinking through real-world issues that people struggle with everyday, like evil and suffering.

    • David says:

      I think one of the points was hero worship is bad. Regardless of it is Hyles or Piper, PCC or SBC. I’m not sure I would point to “new spiritual heroes” to highlight what is wrong with IFB-dom.

    • If you couldn’t find good books by IBF preachers and teachers then you weren’t looking.

  58. Pastor Alan Sinclair says:

    I must be weird. I was saved as a young man of 23 and started Bible college a year after that when the Lord called me to preach. I heard and was taught all the things that you and others call “legalism” and it ENCOURAGED me and still does! I saw it then and still see dress and hair standards as Biblical. I do not try to “ram it down peoples throats”, but I do preach and teach it as the Lord leads.

    There are many parts of your article that I agree with. We do have a problem with “preacher worship” and have had for many years. I never did like the whistling and all that went on when Dr. Hyles arrived to the pulpit. We also do indeed have a problem with young people leaving our ranks. However, I personally think that it has to do with much more than what your article points out. I think, first of all, that young people are being “expected” to dress a certain way and to listen to a certain type of music without being taught as to why it is that way and where it is found in the Bible. Unfortunately, I stand guilty of this through the years as well. Secondly, they are again given “rules to live by” at Bible college instead of being taught “why” and what the Bible says about the rules. Most of the standards and convictions that I have, I learned in Bible College from a man by the name of Dr. Fred Andrews and I praise the Lord for it!

    Third, and most important of all, I have to agree with Bro. Lavender that many of our young IFB young people are more interested in a “job” with benefits and money when they graduate college more than a ministry. Not all of them of course, but many are. I spent 4 years on deputation as a missionary out of college and finally got to the field that the Lord had called me to. I spent almost 14 years as a missionary to Germany and then the Lord called me back to the states to Pastor a local church. He called me to a small church in Alabama that could not afford a “full time” Pastor so I have been working various “full time” jobs just to make ends meet for my family. I am not seeing many college graduates doing that today. I am not lifting myself up, just stating what I see.

    In closing, let me say that I have followed you and your ministry for many years and appreciate what the Lord has done through you. I just disagree with you (and seemingly many others!) on this particular subject. May the Lord continue to use you in the days ahead is my prayer!

    • Mark Lawrence says:

      You cannot be true to the context of scripture and preach to people that contemporary Chrisian music is all evil and that modesty means men’s hair can’t touch their ears.

      If you do preach those “as The Lord leads”, then you are no different than the Jewish people, who took simple commands about keeping the sabbath and turned them into burdensome extra-biblical, and yes, legalistic, rules. Modesty and even shorter hair for men can be seen argued as biblical. Hair off your collar is not. Honoring Christ through music is biblical. Proclaiming all CCM artists with a guitar and drums as unpleasing to God is not. It seems your standards go “beyond that which is written.”

      While we are using the word, legalism, let’s properly define it. Legalists always want to say that they aren’t legalists because salvation isn’t conditional on their commands, which is a msdefinition of terms. Legalism is more simply illustrated by snobbishly thinking you and your hair off your collar is more pleasing to God.

  59. Mark Lawrence says:

    Great article! I would only add that I think weak doctrine is just as much of a part of pushing young fundamentalists away as anything you mentioned.

    So much independent Baptist preaching is a mile wide and an inch deep. So young men and women with a passion seek something deeper. And they find people like Macarthur, Piper, David Platt, Francis Chan, etc.

    Historically, fundamentalists separated from mainstream evangelicalism because of liberalism, for good reasons. But along with that separation came skepticism of education. The lack of education turned into a pseudo-education by basement Bible colleges and unaccredited Bible colleges headed by your local pastor-hero. And the staff of those colleges were men and women with degrees not worth the paper on which they were printed. (Honestly, my own seminary degree wasn’t 1/100 as difficult to obtain as my undergraduate degree from the state university, and even the best fundamentalist college doesn’t provide a comparable education.)

    All that to say, we’ve had many people given “qualifications” to preach and teach who are not very theologically astute. And that is a turn off to anyone who is seeking to learn more about God’s Word. And not only is it a turn off, but the ignorance in our camps has led to bad and sometimes outright false teaching. (easy prayerism, etc.)

    • Steve Linskens says:

      Wow. Bingo! You hit the nail on the head. The shallow preaching that is common in IFB circles is probably the main reason I left the IFM only to learn of all the other problems that Amsbaugh mentioned in his article. I went to PCC from ’04-’08, and 95% of the preaching didn’t mean anything to me. Halfway through my college career a friend gave me a John Piper sermon to listen to on my computer. I was blown away when I heard his rich expositional preaching. Later I found John McArthur, Alister Begg, Tim Keller, Paul Washer, and even Mark Driscoll. There expositional style of preaching was so captivating to me because I was finally learning the Bible and not just hearing some quaint anecdotal stories that filled the preaching hour. Needless to say my college experience was a tremendous eye opener to me, not because of the things that I learned at PCC, but in spite of it. When one starts to hear true expositional preaching that takes joy in the glory and majesty of God, they quickly start to loose interest in anything else.

    • Mike Pelletier says:

      Sounds a little arrogant Mark. PAUL told Timothy to commit the doctrine to faithful men who would carry the message on to others. Timothy was not accredited. I would be careful about belittling good men who are simply trying to serve God, and to train others to as well.

      • Mark Lawrence says:

        I’m sorry you find that arrogant, but I think it’s a fair assessment based on the history of the rise and fall of the independent baptist movement.

        I’m not saying you need to have an accredited seminary education to be a good preacher, but to be a pastor, you are required biblically to be “apt to teach.” And the IFB movement is all to often characterized by preachers who know nothing about the Bible, but have phony credentials from a Bible College to help others think they are experts.

        There are other denominations who eschew seminary education, and even ordination or titles. But independent baptists have tons of people with “advanced” degrees, who are barely literate and could not pass a community college English class. I would suggest local church training instead of going to a seminary to get master’s degrees and doctorates that are not credible.

  60. Thanks for a very thoughtful and well-reasoned assessment of our movement. It was spot-on.

  61. Roger Powell says:

    Thank you for your article. I was in Bible college during the height of the era of “Fighting Funfamentalists.” Much of what you say is true. Many were full of grit but greatly lacking in Grace. The human worship was shameful. However, most of the pastors I knew had an honest concern that the people for whom God had given them responsibility were embracing or at least excusing carnality. I agree that the Bible does not address women wearing “pants” but it certainly does address modesty. And I am concerned that there will be “over correction” in reaction to the pants issue by folks saying that it doesn’t matter how a woman dresses. I do not believe that it is legalistic for the expectation that we dress modestly to be emphasized. In the ’60’s, the principle of my public high school sent girls home because they were immodest and were violating the “rules” but no one called him legalistic. And then there’s music. There is a style of music that honors God and there is a style that honors the devil. My wife and I have been involved in church music ministry for over 45 years. I will admit that the line between what honors God and what honors the devil isn’t always as easy to identify as I once thought. But I appreciate those who taught me to not try to live on the line and I applaud those who had a heart to show us how foolish “line living” is.

  62. John says:

    As one who left decades ago I frequently comment my backsliding was the best thing that happened to me. Because when I washed I even washed behind my ears.

    today’s fundamentals were yesterdays heretics. It has been that way for thousands of years. If we are truly interested in fundamentals:

    And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.
    (Deu 4:13)

    Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
    (Deu 4:2)

    Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
    (Mat 5:17-19)

    And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
    (Deu 6:5)
    These are the fundamentals, everything else is man, heresy. Deut 13.

  63. David M. Coe says:

    Is there a reason that my first comment was passed over and not approved for publication?

  64. Stan says:

    Years ago right after I was saved I attended an IFB church. At the time a mixed-race couple in the church announced their engagement. I remember so clearly someone saying to me “if Dr. Bob [2nd] were still alive he would never allow this.” I remember thinking to myself, who’s Dr. Bob?, why would he have any authority over this local church?, and what biblical reasons would he have for this couple not to marry? As the years went on I started to grasp the issue more and more. There was an incredible fear of man in IFB circles, where you didn’t want to cross a Jones, a Hyles, a Horton, or whatever IFB ‘camp’ you were in. We’ve been out of the IFB for a few years now and would never go back. Articles like this are too little, too late. The man-centeredness of the movement is one of the reasons it died.

  65. Thanks for the well-thought and well-written article. I agree whole-heartly with your assessment of our current situation of those leaving our ranks. It was a blessings to read and a good reminder. God bless

  66. I think many here need to be reminded that the Lord Jesus did not found a movement. He founded a local, visible New Testament Baptist church.

    If I was in a “movement” like you described I’d leave it too. Fundamentalism is a man-made sect. Of course it is filled with all the sin you have mentioned. You are actually familiar, and dealing with a small sliver of Fundamentalism–the Hyles/Roberson/Gray version.

    Friend, they didn’t really preach the Gospel. They produced thousands and thousands of “professors” of faith in Jesus but didn’t preach the Gospel that The Lord Jesus and His Apostles preached.

    You’ll have to understand that before you figure out where you are going with all of this. Think about another Gospel, another Spirit, and another Christ that Paul warned about. It might be a good idea for you to just get in the Bible for a while, get totally purged of all of your Hyles/Gray/Roberson etc. influence and then decide where you are going based on the Scriptures.

  67. Good stuff thank you for posting it!

  68. Rebecca says:

    Dear Sir,

    In the first paragraph, where you describe the churches that young people are departing the IFB for, I’m wondering what you mean by the young people being attracted to churches that are characterized by “looser living.” Do you mean churches that don’t have the culotte rules and the hair-not-touching the ear rules? Is that what you call looser living? This would describe my current church, though they would come down very hard on people who French-kiss little girls or commit adultery. The young people you describe as leaving the IFB for the Carson-Piper-McArthur circles are looking for something real, that is, not the Pharisaical hypocrisy condemned by Jesus Christ. They are trying to escape the world that ignores and covers for the “loose living” that is enjoyed by some in the upper echelons of the IFB world.

    “A taste of what is available in the other camp,” you say? Are you talking about the real gospel of grace of the power of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ? That gospel, rather than the false gospel of do-and-do-and-do-and-it’s-never-never-enough? The gospel that as Jesus described in John 7 flows into us through the Holy Spirit and flows out of us to the souls who are dying of thirst? Yes, perhaps they are attracted to that other camp.

    When you say “lunatic fringe,” it appears that you’re trying to distance yourself from the evildoers in your midst. But they are *in your midst,* not on the fringe. There have been voices who for years and years have been asking, “Why aren’t the passive IFB pastors and evangelists crying out against the heinous sins in their midst?” It took a huge amount of courage for Bob Sumner to speak out against Jack Hyles back when he was the arguable King of Fundamentalism—certainly not considered to be part of any fringe, lunatic or otherwise. That was 25 years ago. Where have been all the many voices from within fundamentalism that needed to cry out all these years? Will you now start crying out against these evildoers in your midst, calling them by name as Bob Sumner did?

    You said, “External standards should be for the purpose of revealing true holiness, not concealing inward depravity.” This very statement is problematic. External standards *cannot* reveal true holiness. They *cannot.* The only thing that can reveal true holiness is the fruit of the Spirit of God, the love, joy, peace, etc. that are not “standards” but outflows of a life lived in the power of the Spirit.

    You keep referring to fundamentalism as a “camp,” and any other church that the departees may have departed to as another “camp.” This non-Biblical language fosters the us-vs-them attitude. Instead, I hope we can think of all of us as the church of Jesus Christ. I would ask, then, that you reexamine the reasons that you are an independent Baptist. To put your commitment to the glorious gospel of the life-transforming grace of God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ above every other commitment, and see where you end up.

    I realize that my willingness to post my real name will result, among many independent Baptists, in a discounting of what I have to say, since I am only a woman. I don’t know if the fact that I was raised independent Baptist and have traveled a very difficult road out of it will make any difference. But I am 56 years old, and I must speak. I pray that some will listen.

  69. Jonathan Trojan says:

    Urban Amish – haha! I like that…

    I appreciate the spirit this is written in. As a former fundamentalist myself I have to respectfully disagree though – further isolating yourself by taking yet another stand against a particular group of people who have committed sin is not the answer in my opinion. Who doesn’t commit sin? I sat in a men’s meeting last night in what would be considered a crazy liberal church with rock-bands and the whole 9 yards last night and listened to men within that ministry confess their sins of lust one to another. People sharing stories about problems with pornography, etc. People that were still involved in the ministry. Never in a million years would you hear something like that in a fundamentalist church because the mantra seems to be, “keep calm, wear your suit, and pretend you’re ok”. Guys were talking about anger issues, and on the list could go. Mind you this wasn’t some sort of recovery group, but rather a group of solid guys who get together to hold each other accountable and be honest and transparent – that alone would help so much, if people like Schaap, Gray, and others actually had people they could have been accountable to who wouldn’t have ostracized them the moment they confessed to having a lustful thought or looking at porn.

    In my opinion, Fundamentalism is broken at its most instrinsic level. Yes all these guys “take a stand” so to speak, but they’re standing on soap boxes while lying to themselves and others calling their “stance” biblical. I think for it (Fundamentalism) to have a valid place in Christianity it needs to undergo a major overhaul. But then, take away the petty preferences – dress, music, Bible versions, etc. and what are you left with? Now you’re just one of the many other Christian churches around the world who stand for Biblical principles but don’t divide and devour one another over meaningless issues and a lack of sinless perfection. The fundamentalist label doesn’t really appeal to anyone other than fundamentalists (from my experience) and so I have to ask, “Who are you really going after by maintaining this name, appearance, and movement as a whole?”

  70. The author almost completely dismisses the possibility that internal factors could be involved in the hearts, minds, and spirits of those leaving Fundamentalism. He only explores external possibilities. I think that is a huge mistake. There is a big possibility that many, whether they be clergy or laity, are leaving not because they are being pushed out or because they are being lured out. Many are leaving because they simply want to leave and follow a more liberal path.

    The author says, “holiness does not come from the outside in, but rather from the inside out.” Maybe the same can be said for the impetus behind so many leaving Fundamentalism. Maybe it is based on internal factors and is being blamed on external factors by those anxious to cast dispersions against the “lunatic fringe”.

    That term, “lunatic fringe” seems to be a strange one to use by someone promoting unity.

  71. Jay Faubion says:

    Jeff,

    My 17 yr-old daughter recommended this post to me. I’m a former thirty-year missionary (BIMI, BBF), so I believe I’m sufficiently credentialed to make a simple comment.

    I agree 101% with your position. All that I would add is one thing: Lots of preachers, when they get together in relaxed conversation, will say the same things. Often these remarks are couched in humor, but there’s an implied, underlying assent to their truthfulness. Better for us to admit it openly and make room for heartfelt repentance.

  72. N. Scott says:

    Very interesting and well written article. I have seen many leave IFB circles for the very reasons cited. Not just young preachers, but godly ladies , who have seen the legalism, and have searched their hearts and find that what the Holy Spirit is telling them from the Scriptures , is not what is being toted from the pulpit. I understand preferences,but when those preferences hinder the Gospel, and become soap boxes that stand higher that the one we use to reach souls from, then it becomes legalism and hinders the Gospel. I almost left IFB churches myself because some preferences were being preached, that went against the working of the Holy Spirit in my life. Thank the Lord, He moved me out of that church and town and brought me to a IFB church that helped me stay on track, and avoided the legalisic preference preaching. I was told there that I could always find a church that would believe what I wanted to believe, but I would be getting away from God….but I found a church that believes The Word, and He has drawn me closer to Him, and helped me guide my children through the darkest valley we have ever faced.
    Thanks….God Bless you!!!

  73. Matt Waskey says:

    Thanks for this article, this resonates strongly with many preachers in my age group and generation and many conversations I’ve had with them who thought that they were alone in thinking these things.

  74. Timothy Long says:

    Bob Jones, Sr said some wise words. ‘Do right until the stars fall.’

    We have a young man Dr. Max Fernandez at Grace Baptist Church in Middletown,

    Ohio who is a strong Fundamentalist and yet preaches with great power

    emphasizing the total grace of God as the only remedy for a lost sinner.

  75. Chris Armer says:

    I’ve heard far too many pastors attempt to defend Fundamentalism by assuming that people are leaving because of the “lunatic fringe.” Unfortunately, no pastor honestly evaluates themselves and then concludes, “I am one of the ‘lunatics'”. There is nothing but a subjective standard by which they judge themselves. So every pastor thinks they are OK and the problem is with the other guy. They think, “If the problem is the other guy, then no reform is needed here.” But the problem isn’t just the other guy.

    The fact is, Baptist Fundamentalism is characterized by certain beliefs and actions. The problem is NOT just the “lunatic fringe”. The problem is the movement as a whole. Fundamentalism is replete with unscriptural dogmatic assertions that then alienate themselves from other godly Christians.

    Are there some good guys in the movement? Absolutely. But unscriptural and illogical ideas permeate the movement. If a family is moving from your church, you can no longer just tell them to look up an independent Baptist church in their new area and trust that it will be a good one. That fact alone should be a clarion call for reform.
    But unfortunately, good men will think the problem is just the other guy. Many of us who have left the movement would kindly disagree.

    Having said that, I thought the article addressed some first steps to true reform. That is a huge positive.

    But in the end, the admonition is to not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Unfortunately I think some of the babies of Fundamentalism have been adopted without realizing that they are only plastic dolls. Plastic dolls crafted through faulty hermeneutics and reactionary decisions. Those babies need to get thrown.

  76. Dan Philgreen says:

    Hi, I posted a rather lengthy comment and I don’t see it. Is it being moderated or did I loose it somehow? I really did want to respond to this. Thanks.

  77. Dan Pelletier says:

    Read this.

  78. Former Fundamentalist says:

    For all these reasons, and several others, I left Independent Fundamentalism. I went K-12 at a Christian School and 3 x per week to church. I have a Bible (KJV) signed by dozens of Pastors, Evangelists, and Missionaries. I worked bus routes and went on youth group trips. I still love many of the people I grew up with, but have never been more spiritually fulfilled and convicted than I am now in my more progressive Baptist church (SBC & CBF). All of these fights between PCC vs Bob Jones vs Crown, and the alignment of churches behind one camp or another wore me out. Frankly, it was stupid and insignificant to the outside world. Once I got out of “the bubble” I realized a dying and sinful world didn’t care anything about such squabbles. After one year at PCC I went to a state university and joined a Southern Baptist church. I wish all of you well, for you are brothers and sisters in Christ, but I thought I would share my story. Most of the people I grew up with are very similar to me. A small number went on and are still involved with independent fundamental churches.

  79. Wayne Porter says:

    Excellent article! Keep up the good work and God bless you!

  80. Josh says:

    Thank you, sir. As a man that is new in the ministry, I can relate to the frustration expressed. However, praise the Lord for articles like this one. What an encouragement it was to read.

  81. Samantha says:

    I left because of burnout. So many dos and don’t that are not even biblical. I want to live a biblical lifestyle not some IFB movement. And the IFB tend to be a bunch of sheep worriers than edifying the believer. Once I left I actually went to a church where you can see the love of Christ in peoples life. Oh I went to one of the good IFB colleges they all question my salvation. Really your not the only ones that do it right. Good thing Salvation is a gift of God and not from the IFB Movement. Yeah you all do have problems to fix…

  82. ericbrindamour says:

    great article but the independent fundamentalist baptists are waking up a day late and they are more than a dollar short. they are being destroyed by their own leader’s immorality, pride and greed.

  83. David Teis says:

    I really appreciated your article. It was right on. I thank God for faithful, independent, Baptist like you. Who know how to speak the truth in love.

  84. What a great article!
    I think these truths apply to more than just pastors – they are the reason many church members are leaving IFB congregations as well.

    I grew up IFB but my husband & I seriously considered leaving for awhile after we got married. God led us to stay at our IFB church, but I in no way consider myself an IFB – because of many of the reasons you say.

    It seems that many pastors think that people leave for evangelical churches because they “don’t want to be separated” or “just want worldly music” etc – implying that they are not really searching for truth but following their own lusts. And while this may be the case with some, for many people it simply is not. In fact, just the opposite – they are searching for sincere truth, for an absence of pride, for a focus on what matters most, and – yes – an escape from some of the lunacy.

    While thankfully most churches do not go to the “witches wear britches” and “100% Hyles” extremes, many of these problems tend to appear in lesser forms way too commonly. I truly pray God will move mightily to reform the IFB movement. It has so many strengths…..despite its downfalls.

    I think the evangelical and fundamental movements could actually learn a lot from each other….if we’d stop criticizing each other.

  85. Aaron Babich says:

    “We believe that every pastor has the right under the Holy Spirit to make decisions for his church without suffering reprisal from a hierarchy.”. Wow. Unfortunately, the pastor is often the problematic, unbiblical hierarchy. This statement screams Nicolaitanism to me. No one but Christ makes decisions for his church. It’s his church, made of his people. A meddling “church” is a toxic “church” that drives people away. There is a place for being helpful and edifying to other believers, but God will move his people, not coercion. …and if “church” in the above quote is referring to staff, buildings, and programs instead of individual believers, that also has its issues. Good points in the article, but if anything has messed up ifb as well as other “camps”, it’s the usurpation of real pastoral authority. “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” John 10:16. Jesus is the shepherd. All others are bossy sheep at best, wolves at worst.

  86. Blogs on what’s wrong with Independent Baptists are so rare and refreshing.

    Not so much.

    Local Churches preaching Christ, loving the brethren, and reaching people have no time for or concern with the lunatic-fringe of fundamentalism.

    Yawn.

    Disgruntled former Independent Baptists unite!
    Wondering if Ephesians 4:29 will be obeyed?

    Read it. Bro. Amsbaugh is a good brother and is always worth listening to. I have known Preachers that have been kicked by the brethren. Sad, but that’s humanity, not fundamental Christianity. I personally do not have much use for Camp Meeting Christianity that does a lot of tearing down and not much building up, but that doesn’t have the least bit of effect on my stand or standing as an Independent Fundamental Baptist Preacher.

    Dr. R. B. Ouellette gave me a great piece of advice years ago that has helped me as a Pastor. He said, “Get around those that are doing it (Preachers that are doing something for God) and doing it with the right spirit.”

    As expected, Bro. Jeff makes some very valid points, but I disagree with a good deal, particularly, with his illustration of, “Let’s say, for example, that I am battling lust. And therefore, I submit myself to ordinances. I don’t go to R-rated movies. I avoid the beach. I throw away my television. The problem, of course, is that lust is still there. My rules have caged my lust and given it less opportunity to leap out, but lust is still there. Legalism cages the animal, but does nothing to kill it. Only the grace of God can kill the illicit desires. Rules alone will never be able to accomplish this.”

    I believe that starving your lust by not feeding it at the movies, the beach or other places that glorify and promote the flesh, is fulfilling Gal. 3:5, and mortifying that lust, not legalism, which adds something to the Gospel as a requirement of salvation.

    “Why young guys are leaving fundamentalism?”

    Here’s a few other reasons that apparently didn’t make the list.

    1. Satan’s Subtlety

    Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

    Satan is still as tricky and slick now as he was in the Garden; and his primary weapon, now as it was then, is doubt. He puts a question mark where God put a period. There seems to be more of that than ever!

    2. Seducing Spirits

    I Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

    Seducing spirits, like Satan, never take a day off and they are always trying to reach leaders. This one of the many reasons why one of the qualifications of a Pastor is that he not be “..a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” – I Timothy 3:6

    3. Sensual Seekers

    II Timothy 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

    This refers to the hearers. Many Churches wouldn’t call the Apostle Paul to be their Pastor because he might preach too hard, and might offend Brother MoneyBags or Sister BigOfferings. However, there also, men of God, that seek such “comfortable” places where they do not have to “.earnestly contend for
    the faith.”.

    4. Sin’s Side-Effects

    Matthew 24:12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

    The love of Men of God for truth can become cold.

    5. Sad Students

    Amos 8:11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:

    II Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

    Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

    I went to Midwestern Baptist College (Dr. Tom Malone Sr.) in Pontiac, MI in 1997 at the age of 25. I was a 1st generation Christian who was rescued from a life of sin. I went to school as a Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Christian. There were a few others, but by-and-large, I saw Christian kids who were raised in good homes, attended good churches all their young lives and were given every spiritual advantage, but they had no real love for the Word of God and no real desire to study it and find out what God, not just their Pastor or their parents thought about an issue. They never made “the faith” their own. This is one of the fears that I have for my children! These “Sad Students” have an anemic
    faith devoid of essential nutrients. Power Bible and Sermon Central aren’t gonna cut it for 4 a week for 20 years…a Pastor needs the power of God, and that is poured out when one loves His Word.

    Too many “preachers” today of the next generation, just like the last one (2nd, 3rd, 4th generation Christians) are not “God-Called”, but rather “Mama-Called and Papa Sent” to college and sadly, even into the ministry.

    Is any wonder why many wash out? It is not to me.

    • Dan says:

      Mr. Zawadski, I find it somewhat ironic that you incite Eph 4:29 in that post. So the main reasons that pastors are leaving the IFB movement is sin and weak faith? I’m just wondering how many of these individuals you have actually talked with personally. Your comments are a proto-typical example of how most IFBs approach dissent from their ranks. Disagreement seemingly can only come from sin and weak faith.

      • Dear Glenn,

        My statement was this…

        “Why young guys are leaving fundamentalism?

        Here’s a few other reasons that apparently didn’t make the list.”

        The phase “few other reasons” is not an all inclusive statement.

        Bro. Jeff listed several other reasons which other fine men have left. Perhaps, you “left” for one of the reasons the Bro. Jeff mentioned. I merely pointed out that there are some others.

        Pastor Rich Zawadzki

      • Sorry that you feel that way Dan.

        My statement was this…

        “Why young guys are leaving fundamentalism?

        Here’s a few other reasons that apparently didn’t make the list.”

        The phase “few other reasons” is not an all inclusive statement.

        Bro. Jeff listed several other reasons which other fine men have left. Perhaps, you “left” for one of the reasons the Bro. Jeff mentioned. I merely pointed out that there are some others.

        Pastor Rich Zawadzki

    • Glenn says:

      Rich,

      I doubt you’ll see this response but I’m going to put it here anyway.

      I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but somehow you did a great job (alliteration!) of giving us your notes from a sermon you preached. Not only that but it was complete with an personal illustration about where somehow you come out as a “blessed” one in the midst of sensual lovers of the flesh.

      Your comments reflect the very attitude that this article was written to expose and you don’t even know it. Even now (if you ever read this comment) you’re arguing with me in your head, barely reading what I’ve written, chomping at the bit to write the response you are formulating in your head.

      You claim to be the one hungering and thirsting after righteousness while the rest of us are just guilty of sensual, sad students. I think you are terribly mistaken.

      • Dear Glenn,

        My statement was this…

        “Why young guys are leaving fundamentalism?

        Here’s a few other reasons that apparently didn’t make the list.”

        The phase “few other reasons” is not an all inclusive statement.

        Bro. Jeff listed several other reasons which other fine men have left. Perhaps, you “left” for one of the reasons the Bro. Jeff mentioned. I merely pointed out that there are some others.

        Pastor Rich Zawadzki

    • Micah Spence says:

      The attitude of Rich Zawadzki’s comment above, is a major turn-off of Fundamentalism. I have no doubt that he is a well-intentioned and sincere man, but to attempt to say that people who have left are not “right with God” or are listening to the devil, is more of the same type of comments and preaching that contributed to them leaving in the first place.

  87. Ryan says:

    Decent article. Gracious in its dealings with the issues and cleverly crafted. I almost feel like I am reading something I have written ten to fifteen years ago. The writer seems to be honestly wrestling with real issues. He is actually thinking critically about his movement (a practice unofficially forbidden by the seminary where I earned my first seminary degree). Fundamentalists would do well to pay attention.

    I was as caught up in this movement as I could possibly be for the first 28 years of my life. Now I am 39, and have left. I left for some of the reasons this writer stated, but only after much prayer and searching. Ultimately I did it because I decided to follow the truth regardless of where it took me. It was a difficult transition–certainly not done for popularity amongst my friends and family. But I have peace now that I did not have before.

    I don’t claim perfection now, but I believe my perspective is where it needs to be. I had to get out of the “Baptist is best” mentality and I am a freer man for doing so–more free to follow truth, without the constraints of denominational dogma. I believe independent Baptists are very much like a denomination in more aspects than they realize. I have preached in several dozen IB churches and they all have certain things in common that are based on traditions rather than Scripture. These traditions are not instrinsically wrong, but they go a long way to defining the church. These traditions are held up by the churches and reinforced by the seminaries, colleges, and other para-church organizations.

    I am neither a Calvinist, nor do I follow all the latest trends. The last IB church I was a part of was probably a lot like this writer is describing. They did not make a big deal about the absurd issues, like women in pants, that the extreme militant fundies make. They even had a contemporary sound to some of their music. Yet, in time, I realized that this church was the same thing to a lesser degree. As a result, I left the Baptist church. I still preach at Baptist churches when I am invited. I graciously accept these invitations and faithfully preach the Word, yet upon each visit, I am reminded why I left this movement.

  88. Chris Callahan says:

    You forgot the complete lunacy of the Baptist Bride beliefs.

    For everyone who likes John Mac Arthur; isn’t he the guy who says that the shedding of the blood of Christ was not necessary for salvation but that Jesus could have been strangled and that results would be the same?

    Piper is a Calvinist. How nice that God forces some to go to hell.

    There are problems everywhere. What a pity no church is without fault.

  89. Dan says:

    Good article. Really appreciate it. Especially, the comments on sanctification and grace. I agree with some, though, that this is only the tip of ice berg. I grew up in an independent fundamental baptist church and knew nothing but it until college. My main issue with the movement is that it so often fails to be Christ-centered. I think that is what a commentator above meant when he said they didn’t believe the gospel. They assume the gospel and fight for other things. This has led IFBs into extremely narrow positions on almost all matters. The major error, I think, is re-centering around something other than Christ, whether that be the “fundamentals,” or “holiness,” or even “soul-wining.” All of these things become religions in and of themselves with their own codes and rules. For example, “soul-winning” means going door to door, passing out tracts, striking up conversations with strangers and getting them to say the sinners prayer on the spot, bus ministry, etc. Those who do not do these exact things are not “soul-winners.”

    I’m really not trying to bash, but most of the IFBs I know, even the pastors, don’t know Greek or Hebrew, know very little Church history past the last 100 years, have a limited understanding of systematic theology, often don’t even know what biblical theology is (and of course anything they don’t know may very well reek of “new evangelicalism”), and don’t even seem to know the difference between say Rick Warren, John Piper, Francis Chan, and Mark Driscoll. They tend to be very gnostic and don’t seem to be aware that Jesus was a man and rose forever as a man (body and soul), for they often believe that all things “spiritual” are vastly superior to all things “physical.” Thus, they win “souls” and not full persons (body and soul). They look forward to souls going up to glory, but don’t seem to realize that the ultimate salvation is the reconciling of all things in Christ, a new creation where God takes up residence forever in this world glorified. They don’t know what Catholics or Presbyterians or Lutherans believe, or even what “new evangelicals” believe for that matter. They don’t seem aware that any other end times view besides dispensational premillenialism can be argued for in the Bible. They don’t understand the culture they live in. They are hyper political and put false hope in republicanism. They are terribly offensive and arrogant in their response to homosexuals, Hollywood, or any other thing they deem awful in this world. They know little about music except what is not allowed. They think mission work is getting people in Africa to sound and dress like a 1950 American IFB church. And if you disagree with them on any of these things, they will call you names like “new evangelical” or accuse you of not being able to hack their high and demanding standards. They generally are not open to dialogue. I have know some very wonderful IFBs. Some very dear people. But in my experience, they are largely in the minority. To put it plainly, I’m not in the IFB because there were so many people in it who simply don’t look or sound any thing like a Christian.

  90. Dan says:

    One other thing. I think that the IFB fringe keeps the others in the IFB from realizing just how fringe the whole of the IFB is not only in contemporary Christianity but historical Christianity as well. Many IFBs blame the fringe, but many of the people here aren’t talking about the fringe. Furthermore, the radical negativity of some, leads IFBs to forget just how negative and critical they are as a whole. Unfortunately, the IFB was largely formed as a movement “against” things, and it’s primary identity still tends to be what it is against. Even some of the more gracious and helpful IFBs I have known tended to be more negative about the world, than hopeful about the victory of Christ. Even the author of this article, has a rather unhelpful and negative article on homosexuality on this very blog (and I agree that homosexuality is wrong!). In other words, I see something wrong at the very core of their identity.

  91. Glenn says:

    Dear Pastor Amsbaugh,

    I am one of the men you are speaking about. While I was never strictly IFB the school I attended was a strange Sword/Hyles hybrid. My pastor (at the time) was diving headlong in the same direction and I got swept up in it during my freshman year.

    However, as a freshman in a tiny bible school, my very first night was spent realizing the school I had joined was in great turmoil. By my sophomore year that turmoil turned into a death spiral. I went to school late and was a little further along in life than perhaps some of my peers which allowed me (though juvenile as I was) to be a bit more sensitive to what was happening around me.

    I won’t bore you with details nor disparage the many men and women who ran and taught at my school but I will share this – I graduated ten years ago this spring. I was a youth pastor for ten years and have now pastored that same church for the past six years. To this day I still have nightmares, wake up in a cold sweat, and deal with spontaneous feelings of anger that only fade after intense time spent in prayer. All this the result of my experience at my this tiny bible school. Some would call this bitterness; others refer to it as PTSD. Whatever it is, I wish it upon no man.

    I wish I could say I kept many friends from my college days but that would simply not be true. Yes, I have a few, and they are dear friends. Unfortunately most have abandoned me. This is not due to any particular sin but because I enjoy using an ESV in my personal study and would rather hear “How Great is Our God” sung by my congregation than “In The Garden”.

    Of those few friends who have not abandoned me all of them are still in the IFB. There are times when I believe there is no hope for your “camp” and simply wish for it to disappear for the good of men and women everywhere. It’s during these times when I think on the dear brothers and sisters I have in the faith who are still among your ranks and I find myself, much like Abraham, praying that “if only ten remain” for God to spare the whole. It is for these men and women that I continue to attend your conferences, try to establish friendships, engage in uncomfortable conversations, and fellowship with your camp.

    My desire is to provide them a safe haven should they desire to leave. Their desire is to reform from within. Whatever the outcome we all pray for a revival that doesn’t result merely in external expressions of programmed emotion but in stillness, confession, repentance, and restoration.

    As a man and pastor who frequently argues with you through your Sword of The Lord articles I would genuinely like to express my thanks for this article. While I do not agree with all of it, I am nonetheless grateful for it.

    In Christ,

    Pastor Glenn

  92. Andrew says:

    As someone who “left the movement,” we leave because you do not preach the Gospel, even when you think you do. We leave because we see men who swallow a camel and strain at a gnat. We see that the Pharisees did not live 2,000 years ago, they live today within the walls of IFB churches.

    Sir, your goal is not to keep the young “In the Camp,” your goal should be to have them see Christ. Yet – where they see Christ is not inside the IFB camp, but outside where He is most clearly preached.

    I appreciate the article. It is good to know that some from my old movement are noticing – yet it falls short of the ultimate goal.

  93. Dan says:

    Why I left and others have left with me.

    1. Cultic Tendencies (i.e., extreme separation from other believers, extreme loyalty to leadership)
    2. Rampant Abuse in every circle of the IFB: Sexual, Emotional, Spiritual and Physical. It is at Hyles, BJU, PCC, WCBC and FBF, GARBC and every other group out there.
    3. A lack of honesty or humility in addressing the issues of abuse.
    4. Legalism that is out of control
    5. Arrogance among the leadership that refuses to take any responsibility for the mess the movement is in.
    6. A disdain for academics, theology or any form of thought within the movement.

    Sadly, it does not work to say it is that fringe group and not IFB that is wrong. Why? Because the IFB is the fringe. They are so isolated from reality they cannot recognize it even when the movement is falling apart. They cry foul when one does anything with a neo-evangelical yet share platforms with those from Hyles, BJU or other institutions that are clearly corrupt.

  94. Dr. Altar Ego says:

    Jeff & Friends…

    I read this article and see some of friends from long ago comment (i.e, Trent Cornwell, Jason Kenney, David Gates, Cretzman)… I think you are close to hitting the issue, yet very far off still…

    The “lunatic fringe” isn’t the problem… Anyone who cares more about the IFB Tradition is the problem.

    KJV Only? Probably apart of the problem.
    Against women wearing pants? Probably apart of the problem.
    CCM gets your goat? Probably apart of the problem.

    Jack Schaap sits in prison today because of this movement. Jack Hyles has reputational problems. (Just google Jack Hyles) BJU has issues. (The GRACE Failure)

    Point is…. THEY are not the problem……. YOU may be the problem.

    I know and am friends with many IFBers… Not all are bad – but stop trying to blame the fringe.

  95. John Wells says:

    Enjoyed the article, but I think you are still ignoring around the elephant in the room. Who defines fundamentalism? I went to TTU too and have since abandoned any label of IFB or even “fundamentalist”. It has nothing to do with me not being Baptist, because I am, nothing to do with believing in autonomous local churches, because I do, and nothing to do with believing the fundamentals of the faith, because I do believe them.

    So why drop the labels? Because they’ve been hijacked. The fundamentals of the faith historically had nothing to do with Bible translations, women in pants, music preferences, social drinking, etc. (Read them for yourself: http://www.amazon.com/Fundamentals-R-Torrey-ebook/dp/B00DKDMA48/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395062195&sr=8-1&keywords=the+fundamentals)

    Somewhere along the way the fundamentals became not about protecting historic orthodox doctrine, but about promoting man-made cultural standards from the 50’s.

    People like Peter Ruckman are applauded for the “stand” for the KJV (a completely man-made standard) while all along the DESTROY the doctrine of inspiration by redefining it with double inspiration and throwing out the original languages all together – the very words the Apostles and Prophets penned!

    That’s called heresy folks. Any “doctrine” you base on extra-biblical sources, culture, or preference is not “doctrine”, and when you teach it as such you are a false teacher.

    Because of this, and a 1000 other similar (double) standards, I’ll just be an evangelical Christian pastor who teaches the fundamental truths of the faith. Why on earth should I identify myself with a movement that promotes heresy as orthodoxy and judges me for upholding the truth? Why should I associate with a group that judges my lifestyle, not based on Scripture, but based on what Dr. Roberson did in the 60 years ago? Why would I put a label on myself that you also slap on Phil Kidd, Peter Ruckman, Hyles, and a hundred other idiots who disgrace the name of Christ with their false teachings?

    I won’t. As you aptly said in your article, “I’m not playing that game.”

  96. wuming says:

    It is about time a leader within the IFB movement has openly raised these issues. For too long, anyone who has denounced the problems in IFB has been denigrated as an “angry blogger” writing criticisms while sitting in his pj’s at his mom’s house instead of going out soulwinning like he should be. And I cannot tell you how many times I have been told (in college, on staff, as a missionary) to not “talk about fundamentalism.”

    But I am very doubtful about what difference this article can make.

    The spirit within fundamentalism is going to stay the same. It is going to continue to be the “us vs. them” mentality, the “you are either in the camp or you are out” attitude that the author himself employs. It will continue to be defined, not by their belief but their positions, not doctrine but dogma.

    To illustrate, I recently had a conversation with a friend over what it means to be an Independent Fundamental Baptist. Who is an IFB? How can they be defined? How can one be recognized or identified? How do you know that you are one?

    I really wonder if anyone can provide an answer that doesn’t ultimately define people outside of fundamentalism as well. For as we all know, many people “without the camp” hold the same beliefs about Scripture and even practice ecclesiastical separation to the effect that they do not compromise their doctrine or cooperate with “heretics.”

    As my friend and I discussed this question, we failed to come up with an answer. What if you believe all of the write doctrine, practice ecclesiastical separation, but use CCM and allow women to wear pants? Are you still an IFB? Or what if your women wear skirts and you only use hymns but you preach from the NIV? Are you still an IFB? Or what if you preach from the King James but don’t wear a tie and don’t have a Sunday night service and don’t mind see anything biblically wrong with have a beer anymore than having a Diet Coke or a Red Bull? Are you still a fundamentalist then? And even if you think you are, will anyone else regard you as such?

    It wasn’t until some time after this having this conversation that I came up with what seems to be the only possible answer.

    When does one cease to be a fundamentalist (in the IFB sense)? When he no longer wants to be.

    That seems to be the answer, since, at the end of the day, being “in the camp” is simply a matter of association. As long as someone cares to associate with others in the IFB movement (any adhere to their unspoken/spoken prerequisites for fellowship) they are “in the camp.” But if their comes a day when they simply no longer care to hold those associations, to keep up the membership requirements, to stay in the camp, they are out.

    And that, I believe, is where a lot of young fundamentalists are headed. We are tired of the politics, tired of the attitude, tired of the hypocrisy, tired of the arbitrary standards, and feel very little connection with the “old guard.”

    So rather than run to some other “movement” that is replete with “the same politics and problems” as some would suggest, I believe many young fundamentalists will simply find themselves marginalized by older members and will stop caring, stop worrying, and stop trying to toe their line of acceptance.

    In a word, they will be out.

  97. James Aaron says:

    Wonderfully written. Growing up in Baptist churches, attending Christian schools, and graduating from a Christian college, I’ve seen/heard about/done these things over the years.

    While in college, I became increasingly disgusted with the whole “IFB” movement, and in recent months have really been studying it all out (with the Bible as my basis, of course).

    What I’ve found is that there are extremists on both sides, as someone had already posted above. I know wonderful, godly men & women who proudly wear the “IFB” label. I also know (and still respect and love just as much) godly men & women who are “non-denominational” Christians. Both sides have good and bad. Both sides have right and wrong. Both sides need balance.

    By the grace of God, I am what I am. I attend a Baptist church (and I praise the Lord that His Word and nothing else is preached). I also go to Bible studies with a non-denomenational family, and regularly meet and pray with others too. When I stepped away from IFB “legalism” and “rules,” I found that my walk with the Lord, my life, my relationships with others, and my general character was actually IMPROVED.

    John 1:17 says that the law was given by man (Moses), but through GOD came “grace & truth.” There has to be a balance in our lives… we need to be full of both. That’s where the extremists have come in.. too much “truth,” but no grace. On the other side, too much grace, but not enough truth.

    I can only praise God He is showing me the way to have a balance of both.

    Excellent article, brother. Reading this brought conviction to my heart.

  98. Ben says:

    I did not grow up in an IFB church, and many of the same problems existed. This is not an exclusive problem. That being said, I became a member of an IFB church because I came under the conviction that the doctrine that was preached is correct. This is why I will continue to stay in my church as long as the doctrines that Christ taught are followed. I have seen these aspects displayed in churches, the worship of a particular man, the hiding of discretions, etc., but it is so important to teach our young people the importance of having a personal relationship with God. It must be based upon spending time with Him (in His Word, and in prayer), and learning the ‘whys’ to what we believe and how the Word of God teaches this. We can’t be afraid to teach principles in God’s Word in fear of becoming too strict, but we must teach and preach truth in love that we may grow up into Christ. Let’s stop building kingdoms, and work to build Christ’s Kingdom. Let’s stop being concerned about monitoring every action of an individual, and start encouraging each other to love God, serve God, and let Him guide our lives. This is a great, thought provoking article.

  99. I am a 26 yr old fundamentalist in the ministry. I appreciate your article. I grew up hearing Dr. Paul Chappell say that its great to have the right “position” but you must have the right “disposition.” You have both, sir. I remember hearing you at WCBC in my college days! Keep up the good work and thank you for writing this needed article! God bless!

  100. Rudy says:

    The sad part for me is that Jeff Amsbaugh (like many of the less “lunatic” IFB leaders) while not “ripping” on pants, theaters, CCM, door-knockin’ and the KJV every service are still at heart IN AGREEMENT WITH MOST of the beliefs of the so-called lunatic fringe.

    Sure, they don’t subscribe to the Lord’s supper being symbolic of sexual relations with God and they may not physically abuse their young followers, but they still think you’re not right with God if you’re not following their system. For example, why would Pastor Amsbaugh call other styles of worship – “entertaining,” or people who dress modestly but not archaically “looser?” His language reveals that at the core he really isn’t that different from the “lunatic fringe.” He just has more class or more sensible arguments for believing the same way. (i.e. He would never say or shout “women shouldn’t britches ’cause they make ya look like a cow!” But he or others in his circles might counsel a woman they are discipling not to wear pants or “praise the Lord” when a woman in their ministry gives up wearing them. Why rejoice if it isn’t an indicator of “growth”?).

    (BTW, Some IFB leaders may say they can back up their beliefs biblically – as Jack Schaap in his book Dating with a Purpose proves from the Bible and a bathroom sign that women shouldn’t wear pants. I’m referring to legitimate and scholarly defenses from the Bible.)

    We leave for all the reasons He gives…and for one he left out. We start studying the Scripture for ourselves and living for an audience of One.

  101. Ryan Flanders says:

    basically the problem begins when the IFB preacher says “Thus saith the Lord” when the Lord has never said. That’s why people that know the Bible leave.

  102. R. Scott says:

    I came from the community church crowd. I jumped head long into the Independent fundamental Baptist movement, and after a while saw the hypocrisies of most of it. I did not see the grace it preached. I did not see the love for my fellow man that it should had instilled in me. It was after I rejected the fundamental movement that I found the rich history of the historical Baptist Church. I discovered who we really are, and how we are to act towards one another and to God. today I’m just a plain old Baptist preacher, that by the power and grace given me by the Holy Spirit, I seek after Christ. I care not what anyone thinks of me because I will stand before Jesus Christ that day, not them.

  103. Dave carney says:

    Bro. Amsbaugh,

    Wow! Spot on! I admire your courage to put in writing.

  104. Brother Amsbaugh,

    Great post my brother. Over the course of my “12” years of pastoring and my “25” years of being a part of the “fundamental Baptist” tradition, I could not agree with your conclusions more strongly. Thank you for lending your voice of reason and clarity to these “traditions of men.” Looking forward to having you speak on these issues and more at our Fall Preachers Meeting this September.

    Pastor Jerry R. Cook
    Freedom’s Way Baptist Church

  105. Donna says:

    Great article. My husband and I graduated from TTU; my husband also graduated from Temple Baptist Seminary. We lived in a small Georgia town while he finished seminary, and we sought a fundamental church in which to minister and fellowship. The abuse over non-essentials from the pulpit became so consistent from these churches that, after trying 11 different ones, if the sign of a church read “Fundamental, premillenial, KJV,” etc., we did not step foot in there because we were leary of the spirit behind it. We were welcomed gracously by a body of southern baptist believers who were a balm to our souls. We stayed with them 11 years.

    When we moved, we continued in this “camp” because of the emphasis on internals over externals, which attitude we believe to be at the heart of Jesus’ teachings. For example, the emphasis on modesty over specific clothing styles is stressed. Am I uncomfortable about what others in my church define as modest? Yes. But as I yield it to the work of the Holy Spirit so that person is given the opportunity to continue growing and is not cast out, I myself grow in grace. Does is bother me that some people with whom I fellowship think that it’s just fine to partake in alcoholic beverages and take their families to restaurants that serve it? Yes. But I share why God has led me to abstain and leave the work in their hearts to the Holy Spirit. I have grown in grace in these areas because I desire an intensely close and intimate walk with God and unity of vision and purpose with my brothers and sisters.

    If I could yet find a church in my area that is independent without the enormously spiteful spirit, I would gladly associate with it. We left because of the prideful, spiteful spirit and the emphasis on externals to the neglect of internal conditions.

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  107. Jake Goinge says:

    The single most clear article I’ve ever read. It makes perfectly clear that you are an cover-up artist.
    You work so hard to cover up the sin that is running through the IFB false religion.
    You are liars, thieves, adulterers, child molesters, builders of tiny towers that God Almighty will burn to the ground.
    Repent, you IFB sinners! And believe the True Gospel of Jesus Christ!

    … in case you are new to the IFB, this is what you do next. You respond to this comment with the notion that if someone like me points out your (IFB’s) sin, they must not be Christian.

  108. Enjoyed the article. I grew up in an Independent Fundamental Baptist church and still consider myself to be basically fundamental, if the term is taken in the historical context that first defined it. Having graduated from TTU, which has almost ceased to exist and is no longer independent; and having watched the results of the extra-biblical standards imposed on many within a great number of “fundamental” churches, churches that at times have moved to doctrinal positions that take them outside the realm of fundamental and at times outside the realm of true Christianity, I have became concerned enough to put my thoughts in print. For those who are interested, the book Robots or Rebels: The Dangers of Growing Up a Legalist and Biblical Motivations for True Holiness was written to encourage godly living based in godly motivations. Stay strong in the Word Jeff.

  109. Seth Meyers says:

    A short list of why young men leave fundamentalism:
    1. They desire for the gospel.
    2. They want to hear Bible teaching. (ala MacArthur)
    3. They want to think about many areas of life.
    4. They are tired of scandals and hypocrisy.
    5. They have become convinced of Lordship salvation and Calvinism.
    6. They have read a modern version and found their faith strengthened.
    7. They desire more popular culture.

    Though I don’t agree with the last reason I think that’s definitely part of the mix.

  110. Jeff says:

    I have a sincere question that I recently asked a well-known fundamentalist preacher, who gave me a political-like, non-answer. After perusing this good article, I thought I’d ask the same question: We call ourselves “fundamental” but what does that indicate? In other words, what are the agreed-upon “fundamentals” which gave rise to the term? Put another way, what is the bedrock meaning of our movement? Thanks so much for writing this. I just think we need to look a bit deeper.

  111. Mitch Allman, Savannah Ga. says:

    Awesome article.  Thank you bro. Jeff for your transparency and wise treatment of the state of things in our churches.  I equally enjoyed reading all the comments.  I am a member of an IFB church but have learned through some difficulty over the years not to allow myself to be defined by my church membership nor it’s peculiarities.  I’ve also learned by Gods grace that my primary “church” is the one within the four walls of my home, where myself, my wife, and my children abide, and where I believe God places greater importance.

    I also believe the biggest concern here is the ever diminishing influence of God’s Spirit in our ministries, our witness, and our own lives.  But we have a host of IFB brethren who have decided that they must continue with the same emphasis on standards, separation, doctrines, etcetera.  While all of this is necessary and commendable, the majority of these individuals are so hard at keeping the “old paths” that they don’t recognize that the Lord is no longer there; that His Spirit isn’t working in the midst, and therefore the end results in little more than man-centric, overbearing church clubs; despite all their best efforts.

    But let’s not put too much blame on the IFB’s because this problem shows itself in one way or another in the vast majority of Western Christendom.  The Protestant denominations, the other groups mentioned above, and non-denoms are all facing serious challenges of having a Godly impact on their next generation and their surrounding communities.  The only difference with these groups may be the extent to which they rely on methods and programs for evangelical outreach.

    The Enemy’s device here is to get us distracted so that we begin blame the decline in conservative Christian values on ‘things’ and ‘people’ while the truth stares us in the face.  When God’s presence departs from us we can be tempted to bring the proverbial Ark in our midst in hopes that performing some godly act of worship will woo His presence.  We have the biblical account to remind us that this will not work.  

    Unless we see a heaven-sent revival, a baptism of awakening and repentance —not of the unsaved, but of the saved; we will continue to witness more of this erosion of character, worship of men, elevation of standards, and reliance on partisan doctrine.  Humanly speaking, we are POWERLESS to stop this trend.  Without Him we can do nothing.  But we have grown secure in our religious tradition, our orthodoxy, our dispensationalism, and our sound exegesis of Scripture, so much that we’ve become independent of God and insensitive to the absence of His power.  May God deliver us from being so side-tracked by our lowly partisan junk and recognize that its His glory that’s being hindered, not the IFB position or some other carnal distraction.

  112. Rob McQueary says:

    I likely no longer fit the description “young”, but I am one who you otherwise describe. My leaving Fundamentalism was slow and ultimately painful. I still have a great love and respect for many who have chosen to and/or felt called to stay and try to walk it out biblically. This is my personal testimony – http://rethinkxian.com/why-i-left-the-fundamentalism-of-my-youth/. Thank you for speaking boldly and eloquently.

  113. Kevin says:

    The stupidity and narrow-mindedness of the IFB movement never ceases to amaze me.

  114. Dave C says:

    So I’m late to the conversation, just read this blog and totally identify. I never offer my two cents on blogs, but this one struck a cord like none other. I’ve been an independent baptist my entire life, went to a Christian school, graduated from Bible college, and have been in full-time ministry for 22 years. I grew up in a New England “NON-lunatic” pastor’s home with authentic Christian parents who lived by and enforced the IFB rules. We had all the well-known IFB speakers and countless IFB pastors in our home and church. My dad, the most graceful, godly man I have ever known, pastored faithfully for nearly my entire life. He lived at home what He preached in the pulpit. Never once in my life have I ever heard him criticize or demonize any pastor or church regardless of how they measured up. For that I am so very grateful.

    Growing up, I saw many dozens of families leave our IFB church and go to a church down the road that I considered “bad” because their girls wore pants. While our youth fit the mold, the seeming majority walked away from God through the years. We looked the part, but there were some real heart problems going on. Over the years, I unconsciously developed a self-righteous, proud spirit based solely on our identity and dress code. I never rebelled, never got into trouble, kept the rules, but unknowingly I became a Pharisee. While I had what I thought was a tender heart to God, I had little-to-no real personal relationship with God outside the rules and identity. It wasn’t touted that way by my parents, that’s just how it developed in my heart. After Bible college my wife and I served on a church staff full-time for a dozen years. During my time there, looking back, my Phariseeism grew like crazy. It was subtle, but we had this mentality that if you weren’t just like us, you weren’t right with God. We would never admit it, but we could find fault with anyone outside our four walls. I thought that if you didn’t use our Bible, dress like us, have high church music just like us, and dot your “i’s” like us, you couldn’t be doing anything for God, that God could not be that pleased with you, and that your serving God was a mostly a sham. It was to the point that in reality, though it was never said verbally, we thought we had arrived like no one else had. We had among other things that mentality, Jeff, that if a church had a Sunday evening service at any other time than 7pm they were compromisers. There was so much self-righteous pride in my heart and I didn’t even know it! Then, we moved across country to plant a church. While on deputation, I visited churches that didn’t do things like we had done in our church, and was amazed to find that they maybe, just maybe, they actually loved God and had a genuine walk with God after all. Some of the churches, on the other hand, that we might approve of based on their rules and such, seemed cold and even dead at times. Soon after our move, I visited a large IFB church in CA, which had been basically demonized where I came from, and began realizing something was not right with my thinking.

    Over the next decade, God began working on me while I disconnected from the IFB political machine in the busyness of church planting. He began showing me how shallow I have been. The biggest revelation came when God turned the mirror on my own heart. I had developed such a critical, hypocritical, arrogant heart and didn’t know it. I began studying/preaching expositionally through the Bible and as I did, God began turing the light on my own heart and pride. I had never thought of myself as a proud person because of such feelings of inadequacy in ministry, so it was a complete shock to discover my heart was so full of pride. As I studied the gospels, every time I came to the Pharisees I only saw the monster within me. I also began to realize that in our church plant, I was fostering and attracting the same attitude by maintaining the IFB way. The IFB’rs in our church plant were the biggest problem makers and gossipers. They would raise Cain and “concern” over the pettiest things and always had a more stricter view of Christian living than the next guy, while they could not see any beam in their own eye. They proudly held their KJV Bible high, yet could sit through sermon after sermon unmoved, unchanged. But how could I blame them? That was me!

    My personal pulling away from the IFB mentality, has not been because of being lured away by promises of greener grass in another circle or by reading some neo-evangelical’s latest book or some new theology kick or to be cool or accepted by the world, but a running from the pride and phariseeism that permeated my own heart and that seems to permeate the IFB to the core. How can I go on developing the same heart in my flock that has existed in my own chest for four decades?

    The problem is, the phariseeism is so much a part of my DNA, I still battle it at almost every turn. My view of God, what it means to please Him, and a host of other matters are still a struggle. There are many men in the IFB that I respect and believe are good, respectable men. But the man-worship is nauseating. I don’t believe that every IFB’r is a pharisee or proud, all I know is what was nurtured in my own heart having been in it for 40 years. Fortunately I am a pastor of a church I planted. I can set the direction. I can still be a baptist. I can still have lunch with fellow independent baptist pastors from time to time. I don’t have to find a new ship to jump on, but I do not have to steer the ship in the IFB direction or be on board with it either.

    What I am finding is that I am not as alone as I thought I was. There are more and more independent baptist pastors who are trying to figure out where to go from here. We are not looking for a new movement, a new leader, a new theology, nor to join the SBC or any such group out there. Personally, I don’t feel any compulsion to save a man-made movement. Let’s lift up Christ and love Him with all of our heart and spread His name abroad. Let’s put away the hypocrisy and pride, the man-worship, the hidden sin, the jealousy of other ministries, the demonizing of neighboring Bible-believing churches, the fake back-patting while gossiping and criticizing one another behind closed doors, the pharisaical man-made-rule-driven rule-measured walk with God, the fear of what the brethren think over the fear of God, the high-minded yet shallow extra-biblical preaching, the we’re-the-only-ones-serving-God mentality. If not, why should we stay any longer in such a corrupted and corrupting camp? Maybe it’s time our churchianity dies so that we can get on to living Christianity.

  115. Joe says:

    good article. I’m one of the young guys you’re talking about. I went to crown and was a good fundamentalist, but frustration with the short comings you mentioned led me to look else where, and I’ve landed about where you said many do. Reformed, missional, etc.

    I still don’t agree fundamentalism is the most biblical form of Christianity, but the perspective you’ve offered here, and the gracious way you’ve articulated it is a lot better than most everything else I’ve heard from the movement.

    Thanks for posting, and God bless.

    I’m actually planting a church in Providence. Perhaps we can get coffee some time.

  116. John Eddy says:

    Amen brother Amsbaugh.
    Independent fundamental baptists are indeed the greatest threat to the continuation of independent fundamental baptists.

    I was raised and remained in the same IFB church for 25 years until the lunacy got to the point where my wife and I were accused, insulted and humiliated before the congregation for a gossip that was going around. When we left and joined a ‘balanced’ IFB church, the original church pastor took our letter of membership transfer and tore it up in front of the Sunday crowd…in which sat my parents and siblings. The night of screaming insults and purposeful hate and humiliation is still the most hateful, wicked thing a person has ever done to me…and by an IFB pastor…

    Regardless, my God once again ‘out of the eater brought forth meat’ and shown my family in nothing less than a miraculous way that He too heard the screaming insults and hatred and has blessed us beyond measure.

    I pray for more independent Baptist churches that have a normal, balanced, biblical foundation. I pray for other believers who have left Baptists altogether due to similar bad IFB experiences.

  117. Vasily says:

    I am a millenial that left the Independent Baptist upbringing. But I know that in doing so, God brought me to the Truth that is His Church. It has been a long time, but multiple attempts at other Independent Baptist churches from several states showed me that it wasn’t a problem I had, but one that was ingrained in the teachings of their churches: a lack of connection to the Apostles upon whom the Church was built.

    I have been Orthodox for 2 years, now, and have never been closer to Christ. I am glad that I was rescued from my past and that Christ never left me. I praise God that He brought me here.

  118. Jariah says:

    Independent Baptists miss out on so much, because they don’t believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

    You will never see them raise their hands in praise, or say Glory to God.

    Having a form of Godliness, but denying the power of God is like robbing your own home.

    All the gifts given to the early church are available to believers today.

    Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise, as you will miss out on so much.

    Blessings to you all.

  119. Anonymous says:

    I am glad that you wrote this article. I have had some of the same thoughts. You articulated it better than I could.

    I have not been treated well by many pastors. I am divorced because my ex-wife left me for someone else while I was pastoring. I was ostracized by many brethren including most of the men I labored with in my region. This was done regardless of the well known fact that my ex wife left cold turkey for someone else without a single conversation of being unhappy.

    I received very little love from the IFB pastors. Thankfully I am convinced that the doctrine of the independent Baptist is closest to the teachings of Christ. While some methods are not good, the doctrine is solid. If it were not for that I would have left the IFB movement.

    I will say that I had some loving people in the IFB movement that loved me through my situation. I am thankful for that. I had an IFB church send me out to start another church. God has given me a wonderful wife and son. I have been grievously attacked, gossiped about, and ostracized; not just for pastoring after having been divorced, but also for getting divorced even though I had no say or control.

    While I pastor an Independent Baptist Church I really just consider myself a conservative Baptist that seeks to love people and reach folks for Jesus Christ. I have removed myself from the politics of fundamentalism and am now more focused on caring for people.

    Once again, thanks for the article.

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