"There is something childish and legalistic about churches in which all of the saints observe precisely the same standards. When all lives begin to sink into the same mold of denial and exercise of liberty, something is amiss.". Walter J. Chantry
Bob Jones Cheerleaders: Thanks to IFB Cult Survivors. Cute jackets!
About 10 years ago, while living in Dallas, my husband and I were contemplating making beautiful North Carolina our permanent home. Before making the final decision, we decided to visit Pensacola, Florida, since we were both enamored of the beautiful beaches in this region. Due to a myriad of personal reasons, we decided to educate our children in Christian schools. Well, the big one in that area was Pensacola Christian Academy, home of the Abeka curriculum and located right next to Pensacola Christian College.
With our 6th grade daughter in tow, we decided to take a tour. Having no experience with the IFB, we were in for quite a shock. The building was beautiful-that Abeka stuff must rake in the dough. Upon my arrival, I noticed that my daughter and I were getting evil stares from the adults. Apparently her above the knee jean skirt and my really cute pair of capris were just plain sinful! Girls in this school had very long hair and wore dresses well below the knee and the boys wore shirts and ties and very conservative pants.
They took us into a beautiful cafeteria in which about 30 kindergarten students were seated, eating their snack. What struck me was the utter silence. All milk containers were to the right, the apples to the left and napkins placed just so. I asked if they were having a prayer time. I was told that they were to be silent while consuming their snack. I felt like I had stepped onto the set of the Stepford Wives, Part Three: The Kids Are Robots, Too
My daughter, looking like she had seen a ghost, whispered to me, “Mommy, please don’t make me go here.” I replied, “Over my cold, dead body.” So, we bid farewell to the beaches of Pensacola and settled in North Carolina where, in her Christian school, she was able to wear her jean skirt.
I had heard stories of IFB churches and just assumed they were just a group of really strict people who didn’t like rock music. It is far more complex-they don't like regular Baptists, either!
Years ago, when spending time with a Mormon, I found it very helpful to read about their faith in their own words. I became quite adept on the LDS and BYU websites. In fact, it was on those sites where I learned some things I never read about in Christian apologetics books like the fact that Brigham Young believed that there were people that looked like the Amish who lived and farmed on the moon. I promise you, I am not kidding. Even my friend didn’t know about this so I showed it to him. His response? Young wasn't always right! Egads!
So, in search of IFB info as told by an IFB true believer, I found the following information. The questions are mine in order to make the material easier to read. I have not included all the information but bits and pieces that will help the reader to get started. I suggest reading the entire article. LINK
A Brief Survey of Independent Fundamental Baptist Churches: What are their Beliefs and History Compiled by Cooper P. Abrams, III
Why the name?
“The name Independent Fundamental Baptist Church is used traditionally by churches which pattern themselves strictly after the example of the early church, as found in the New Testament.
Why the need to differentiate on the Baptist moniker?
“Today the name Baptist is used by many churches that are not following the teachings of the New Testament. Thus the words "Independent" and "Fundamental" have been added by many Baptist churches to further identify themselves as true Bible believing churches and to show a distinction between themselves and Baptist churches that were not following God's word.”
What is the regular Baptist (I assume they mean SBC) Church doing wrong?
These other Baptists have “compromised the Word of God by their teaching, practices and church polity trying to conform to popular religious trends. These worldly churches still call themselves "Baptists," but in fact they do not believe or practice what true Baptists have historically believed and more importantly what the Word of God says”.
Is the IFB a formal association?
“The word "Independent" means the church is not a member of any council, convention or is a part of any hierarchy outside the local congregation. A true Independent Baptist church governs itself apart from any outside agency and would not be apart of a national or international denomination that would exercise authority over the local church. Thus, the name "independent" means the church patterns itself after the New Testament example and stands alone under the authority of the scriptures. Independent churches are autonomous assemblies having no organization over them in authority. “
How is each church governed?
"The organization of a New Testament church is simple. Christ is the head of the church, (Eph. 5:23) and its Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4). The local pastor is the under-shepherd (bishop), overseer, or leader of the congregation. (Heb. 13:17, Acts 20:28, Eph. 4:11) The Independent Baptist church has a congregational form of government with each member equally having the right of to vote on all the affairs of the church.”
Do your churches ever cooperate with one another?
The churches “have fellowship one with the other and often cooperate in such endeavors as evangelism.”
Do your churches ever cooperate with other non-IFB churches? What is separatism?
An IFB church “will not participate, as a church, in any outside function with churches which do not also strictly base their faith and practice on the New Testament. They will not engage in joint meetings, or evangelistic endeavors, with Protestants, Catholics, or other doctrinally unsound church groups, who do not hold to the fundamental teachings of the New Testament.”
“They practice the biblical teachings of separation as taught in Ephesians 5:11, which state, "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." Independent Baptists believe that to join with churches that teach and practice false doctrine is to tolerate and approve of errors. True, New Testament churches strongly believe that all doctrinal error is sin as the New Testament teaches.”
What do you mean by Fundamentalism?
The IFB disagree with perjorative, societal use of the word. They “use the name in its strictest sense as meaning to hold soundly the fundamentals of the New Testament teachings without error. True Independent Fundamental Baptist Churches uphold the purest teachings of the early church as revealed in the New Testament.”
Do those in the IFB consider themselves Protestants?
The Calvinists are going to dislike this one! They are characterized as murderers!
“Historically, Baptists were never a part of the Roman Catholic Church or the Protestant Reformation. In recorded church history there is not one recorded incident of a Baptist church being founded out of Roman Catholicism. Protestants for centuries, saw the Baptists as their "enemies" and murdered them by the thousands in the name of Protestantism. It is surely an affront to any historically informed Baptist identify to himself by the name of a group that has so hated and persecuted Baptists down throughout history. It is revealing that the reason the Protestants who hated the Baptists was that the Baptist would not compromised God's word or accept the Protestant false teachings and traditions.”
What is the IFB’s main beef with Protestants?
1.“Protestants have never accepted the principle of separation of church and state.”
Apparently the IFB believes that any sort of state church is a compromise.
2. Many Protestants believe in some sort of successions from pastors (or priests) down thru the ages.
However, the IFB believes that true succession is seen in churches who did not cave into unBiblcal practices. To hold to the "secessionist" position takes the authority away from the New Testament and places it in the hands of man.“It cannot be stated too often that the importance of these churches was not in their name, or their succession, but in what they believed and practiced. These churches patterned themselves strictly after the New Testament example, and this made them valid churches approved of God. This is the true heritage Fundamental Independent Baptists holds dear, that is there have always been assemblies which submitted themselves only to the sole authority of the Word of God. However, it is difficult to document these congregations because they were rarely in the spot light of history.”
3.Some Protestants adhere to a false teaching of communion.
“The idea the bread and wine (biblically grape juice) in the Lord's Supper being a sacrament and becoming the literal physical body of Christ which takes away sin, is a false Roman Catholic teaching. Protestants, although becoming separate from the Roman Church, only slightly changed this false practice.”
4. Protestants still practice some form of infant or paedobaptism.
It appears to be a belief of the writer that the stand against infant baptism is a major marker of who is IFB.“He states there were Baptists in England 1400 A.D., and mentions William Sawtre, who was identified as a Lollard and Baptist. He was the first person burned at the stake after Henry IV's 1400 A.D. decree to burn heretics. His "crime" was he refused infant baptism and rejected the Anglican church as being biblical."
What do you think of the Puritans? (I included this one for our Calvinist friends).
“One may admire their piety, but a true believer in the New Testament would have a great problem with their doctrines, church polity, and especially their persecution of Baptists and driving them from their colonies. The Puritans practiced a grace plus works salvation. One must correctly understand that when they preached piety, they were preaching salvation by works.”
He points out that everyone was forced to be a member of this state sanctioned church and pay taxes to said church and the IFB believes this means that the Puritans were not part of the true church.
Must you be IFB in order to be saved?
“(IFB) Baptists believe you do not have to be a Baptist in order to be saved and have eternal life, but a person must believe the Gospel and follow the teachings revealed in the New Testament. Further, if a person is truly saved and strictly follows the principles of the New Testament he will in a true sense be a Baptist whether he uses the name or not.”
How do you interpret the Bible?
“Baptists interpret the Bible literally within its historic, cultural and grammatical context. True Baptists believe, as the New Testament teaches, that Christ is the only head of the church.”
What are the five Baptist distinctives?
- “We accept only the New Testament as our authority in all matters of faith and practice.
- We believe the church is to be made up of saved baptized believers.
- We believe in strict separation of church and state.
- We believe in the priesthood of the believer.
- We believe in the autonomy of the local church.”
Hmmmm, let's see. It sounds all so simple, doesn't it? How can it be so bad with the priesthood of the believer and local congregational rule? Well, it's not and the number of survivor sites out there are pretty impressive. In fact, it sort of reminds me of couple of other groups of "autonomous" churches that we have written about. I found the following Facebook group enormously helpful. They call themselves the Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) Cult Survivors (and their Supporters). LINK This is how they describe themselves. "If you grew up indoctrinated under the aberrant religious teachings of Bob Jones University, Pensacola Christian College, Hyles Anderson College, or ATI (Bill Gothard) and are no longer "one of them," you understand the need for this group."
Below is a list of websites dedicated to exposing the radical beliefs, as well as the sexual, physical and spiritual abuses within the IFB:
On Monday we will discuss the myriad of issues that have defined the IFB over the years. These include: informal, rigid associations, separatism, literalism, and accusations of abuse. Tomorrow, we have a couple of videos for the Easter celebration.
Lydia's Corner: Joshua 19:1-20:9 Luke 19:28-48 Psalm 88:1-18 Proverbs 13:12-14