"Legalism does not consist in yielding obedience to the law. Rather, it is to seek justification and good standing with God through the merit of works done in obedience to the law – instead of by faith in Christ." Jerry Bridges
Today we are continuing on in our quest to understand, as far as possible, the isolated and puzzling world of the IFB. It is my contention that fundamentalism/legalism is on the rise in many denominations and independent churches. I contend that this is due to a group of Calvinistas who have gained some prominence in the neo-evangelical world. For example, Al Mohler, president of SBTS, the flagship seminary of the SBC, is part of this movement. He is currently dedicated to establishing Young Earth Creationism as the only theologically viable Christian position.
What are the colleges of the IFB? Link
- Arlington Baptist College (Arlington, Texas)
- Biblical Institute for Theological Preparation (Amman, Jordan)
- Baptist Bible College (Springfield, Missouri)
- Boston Baptist College (Boston, Massachusetts)
- Chesapeake Baptist College (Severn, Maryland)
- Crown College (Powell, Tennessee)
- Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary (Allen Park, Michigan)
- Faith Baptist Bible College (Ankeny, Iowa)
- Golden State Baptist College (Santa Clara, California)
- Heartland Baptist Bible College (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma)
- Hyles-Anderson College (Lake County, Indiana)
- International Baptist College (Tempe, Arizona)
- International Bible College (Stony Brook, New York)
- Louisiana Baptist University (Shreveport, Louisiana)
- Maranatha Baptist Bible College (Watertown, Wisconsin)
- Midwestern Baptist College (Pontiac, Michigan)
- Mountain States Baptist College (Great Falls, Montana)
- Northland Baptist Bible College (Dunbar, Wisconsin)
- Pacific Baptist College (Pomona, California)
- Pensacola Christian College (Pensacola, Florida)
- Piedmont Baptist College (Winston-Salem, North Carolina)
- Pillsbury Baptist Bible College (Owatonna, Minnesota)
- Tabernacle Baptist College (Greenville, South Carolina)
- Tennessee Temple University (Chattanooga, Tennessee)
- Texas Baptist College (Longview, Texas)
- Trinity Baptist College (Jacksonville, Florida)
- Trinity Valley Baptist Seminary and College (Kennedale, Texas)
- West Coast Baptist College (Lancaster, California)
Why does it matter?
One of our readers, Tikatu provided the following insightful comment.
"True, they don’t belong to a “convention” and send messengers to a meeting each year. And they don’t make up a “denomination” that has oversight beyond the churches themselves. What they do have is a loose network, usually centered around the universities that teach the preachers.
Each of these networks has a slightly different “flavor”. Within the networks they share mission boards, camps, school associations, and quite often each faction is at odds with the others. For example, Bob Jones University people look down on Hyles-Anderson graduates, and Pensacola Christian preachers think poorly of Northland grads. Which is why those who are upset by the 20/20 exposé are accusing it of “painting with a wide brush”. I say that you need a wide brush to hit all the various different factions found in the IFB movement. They wouldn’t lump themselves all together, but looking in from the outside, there’s little difference to be seen."
There is a blog dedicated to exposing issues the IFB and other legalistic venues called Fallen From Grace. Link. Please note the dig at the SBC. Said blogger understands that things are hardly pristine in the SBC and gives testimony to my contention that fundamentalism/legalism is a pox that runs through many denominations. Sadly, this blogger, who was a pastor in this group of churches, is now an atheist
“… there is a behind the scenes connection between IFB Churches. While there is no such thing as an IFB denomination, churches do fellowship and unite around a particular college and groups like Bill Gothard, the Sword of the Lord, the Baptist Bible Fellowship, Independent Baptist Fellowship, and the Southwide Baptist Fellowship. (to name a few) They even have their own discussion forum, The Fighting Fundamentalist Forum.
Pastors support the college they attended and they tend to support missionaries and ministries associated with their alma mater and whatever particular fellowship group they are a part of. These associations are every bit as denominational as churches associated with the Southern Baptist Convention. (another group that is rife with abuse )
If a pastor gets crossways with the college he attended or fellow pastors he fellowships with, he can find himself ostracized and, in some cases, unable to find a church to pastor. (which is one reason IFB pastors start new churches).”
What is The Sword of the Lord?
This is a publishing house within the IFB. It publishes a newspaper, books and pamphlets. Dr Shelton Smith and two men who were fortunate to marry Smith’s two daughters currently run it. Link.
What is the Fighting Fundamentalist Forum? Link
This is an interesting discussion board. There are separate chat rooms for each college, which may indicate that each college has it own distinctives. There is a chat room for men only that appears to concentrate on gun ownership and one for women that had a rip-roaring discussion going on the best chicken spaghetti recipes.
Let’s take a look at two groups to understand how these affiliations between churches develop. There are a number of other such groups but I chose these two to demonstrate the points that Tikatu and others are making. Although these quotes are from Wikipedia, one can confirm this history on many IFB sites
What is Bible Baptist Fellowship? Link
“The Baptist Bible Fellowship International (BBFI) is a fellowship of Baptist pastors formed in 1950 by members who separated from the World Baptist Fellowship. BBFI Headquarters are in Springfield, Missouri. In 2004, BBFI reported 4,500 congregations and 1.2 million members in North America, with over 10,000 churches worldwide.
Approximately 100 pastors and missionaries were led of God to begin this new Baptist movement that would emphasize a worldwide church planting ministry. They chose Springfield as their headquarters and started the Baptist Bible College, the Baptist Bible Tribune, a clearinghouse for missionary support, and this fellowship of like-minded churches and individuals."
What is the World Baptist Fellowship? Link
“The Fundamentals was a series of twelve articles defending the 'fundamentals' of the faith, such as the inerrancy of the Bible, the virgin birth of Christ and the literal return of Christ. In 1920 Curtis Lee Laws, a Baptist editor of The Watchman-Examiner, coined the term 'fundamentalist' and defined a fundamentalist as one "ready to do battle royal for the Fundamentals of the faith." J. Frank Norris became a combatant in the fundamentalist/modernist controversy. He edited a paper entitled The Fundamentalist. Both the Southern Baptist Convention and the Baptist General Convention of Texas expelled Norris because of his controversial behavior.
Norris, C. P. Staley and others formed the Premillennial Missionary Baptist Fellowship in 1933 at Fort Worth, Texas. In 1938, the name was changed to World Fundamental Baptist Missionary Fellowship and then to World Baptist Fellowship (WBF) after the schism that created the Baptist Bible Fellowship International in 1950. The WBF was again divided in 1984, when a group led by Raymond W. Barber established the Independent Baptist Fellowship International and the Norris Bible Baptist Institute.”
Note the following characteristics of these two groups:
- Both groups established their own colleges.
- Both have churches affiliated with each group.
- Both believe that God called them to start these groups even though it involved disunity. One of the groups has experienced a second “schism.”
Here are some observations of the IFB.
- Most believe in KJVO Bible.
- Most share similar views of societal standards such as rules for interpersonal relationships, dress, etc.
- Most practice extreme separatism.
So, what’s the difference. I believe that Tikatu’s comment is most incisive. These groups center around personalities such as preachers, which, by default, implies the colleges that these pastors attended. In other words, their differences are not based on Biblical standards, per se. In fact, this sort of affiliation is not unlike basketball in NC. One supports only one of the following: The Duke Blue Devils, UNC Tarheels, or the NC State Wolfpack.
The IFB has churches that affiliate with one another but there does not seem to be much functional difference in the day to day life of these groups and their churches. The most telling testimony to the similarities of all these churches, regardless of affiliation, are in the IFB survivors groups. In TWW’s opinion, survivor’s groups on the internet have done the faithful a great service. Instead of hiding abuse in a dark corner, they shout the pain and the light shines.
We highly recommend that you visit the following Facebook group called “Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) Cult Survivors (and their Supporters).” Link.
The first page included the following information. I did not include all of the examples which can be found at the site. “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.”
“You're familiar with most if not all of the following:
- King James Onlyism
- The Bible says, 'Touch Not God's Anointed' and that means ME!"
- “Let me tell you something big boy, you rebel against your parents and you go down across town to that Southern Baptist Church and let me tell you something, you've stepped out of the will of God! You hear me? You just want to hear that mamby, pamby preaching from those preachers who water down the gospel of Jesus Christ and that is nothing more than your rebellious heart crying out in your SIN!"
- “Billy Graham has done more damage to the cause of Christ than any other man alive! He's a heretic!"
- "I don't care if she says she was beaten and molested. She's just BITTER!"
- "Well, good, godly men get accused falsely of molestation all the time now-a-days by people who hate what they stand for."
- "I don't care if she was 15 and he was 50, she was well known for wearing provocative clothing. And how do we really know who is telling the truth"?
- "Black people have the 'mark of Cain'."
- "Any counseling by a professional psychologist is of the devil! I don't care if they claim to be a Christian. If they are licensed and not a part of our group, they are not godly counselors. They are secular humanists ready and waiting to accuse every good man of doing something wrong. They want to see the destruction of the true church!"
- Your parents inscripted Bible verses in the wooden "rod" they used to beat you with.
- "Santa is really Satan in disguise!"
- You were a guy/girl beaten mercilessly in an unlicensed group home.
- You ran away from one of these group homes.
- You were one of the girls sent to a group home for "rebellion," but all you really wanted was to simply wear a pair of pants.
- No mixed swimming.
- Chick Tracts
You may also fit into the group well if you once attended or were reared/trained under materials available through:
- Bob Jones University (Greenville, SC)
- Pensacola Christian College (Pensacola, FL)
- Hyles-Anderson College (Hammond, IN)
- Advanced Training Institute-Bill Gothard
- Vision Forum
- Above Rubies
- Creation Research Institute
- The Wilds Christian Camp
- The Bill Rice Ranch
- The Roloff Homes
- No Greater Joy
Your spiritual gurus at one time in your life were most likely:
- Bob Jones Jr.
- John R. Rice
- Jack Hyles
- Jack Schaap
- Bill Gothard
- Doug Phillips
- Kent Hovind
- Michael Pearl
- Ron Comfort
- Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar
- Fred Phelps (Westboro Baptist Church)
- Or any other man who received a phony doctorate from one of the "colleges/universities" in the IFB.”
I love You Tube. Often times, people, not aware of their own weirdness, will post videos that so clearly demonstrate the ridiculousness of their positions. Some folks, like Ed Young Jr., then spend money for lawyers to deep six the videos. Here is a warning to Christians. The Bible says that what you do in the dark will one day be made known. Could it be the Internet is part of God’s plan to expose sin in the church?
The following are three videos that this pastor is proudly posting the following videos. Also, read the description of his church as found on the front page of the site. All I can say is…Good night!
Faithful Word Baptist Church-Pastor Steven Anderson Link
“We are a local New Testament church reaching the Phoenix area with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Don't expect anything contemporary or liberal. We are an old-fashioned, independent, fundamental, King James Bible only, soul-winning Baptist church.”
- Old-fashioned- Are they referring to advocating the use of lard in cooking or the use of outhouses, which build character?
- Soul-winning Baptist-Is there any other kind? I have yet to meet a Baptist who would cop to “I don’t believe in witnessing, let ‘em burn?”
- King James Bible only- How do you say "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani” in King James English?
Obama is a devil.
Jesus did not wear a dress.
Billy Graham is the enemy of God.
Lydia's Corner: Joshua 19:1-20:9 Luke 19:28-48 Psalm 88:1-18 Proverbs 13:12-14