The challenge here is found in giving an answer. In order to have an adequate answer one has to have done the requisite work necessary, and I am afraid many have not. Shame on us for taking stands that we know this world despises and not adequately preparing people by teaching them thoroughly as to why this stand or that is important. Shame on us for not encouraging them more in their efforts to understand certain stands we tend to take. Shame on us for having certain stands and not having, often times, a better reason than we do for taking them. You might say, "We don't have a choice. The Bible clearly teaches this or that." That is fine and good, but if the Bible clearly teaches it, then you and I need to clearly teach it so that the people we teach and preach to can make an informed decision regarding their position on that which has been proposed. That is our duty. It is also each individual's right and duty to make decisions on an informed basis!
Don't misunderstand me please. Many times the issue is not the stand itself, though there are some that perhaps simply need to be re-thought. The problem is almost always found in the fact that a particular right and good stand was taken by one (Preacher A) based on solid reasoning at one point and that stand was presented. Others (Preacher B) got on board based on the evidence presented. They (Preacher B or it could be person B) repeat the arguments they were given as their support for now standing in the same way. Now a question comes later from one not so thoroughly convinced (skeptic A), and though they (Preacher or person B) were able to adequately articulate another's stand and give some reasons for it, this question (from Skeptic A) challenges them (Preacher or person B) beyond their depth of knowledge because they never did the intellectual spade work themselves. Any preacher of the word and any teacher of any topic knows that the material presented in the classroom represents only a fraction of that which has been gathered in research, thought, and analysis. So for one to think that the information received during the preaching or teaching time alone will serve as a sufficient foundation for the governing of one's life is dangerous, and for a preacher or teacher to allow one to think that way is irresponsible.
The end result in the life of an individual unwilling to feed themselves spiritually and intellectually is an inevitable departure from one feeding source to another. This will happen each time there seems to be a discrepancy pointed out by the questions of others who are not themselves thoroughly convinced or by those who have already been drawn away and now are committed to exposing others to their new found "liberty." The other possibility is that they will stay where they are and never really grow into an individual who lives according to the truth of the Word of God for conscience sake. they will always live according to the designs of others. I hold the preaching of the Word of God in VERY HIGH REGARD, and any who know me can attest to that, but at the end of the day our preaching ought to turn people to Christ and His Word as the foundation for life. I ought to want to see the people I am trying to invest in WALK IN TRUTH themselves. That is the goal of any parent, is it not? A parent does their best to get their children to a place where they are capable adults on their own. That ought to be the goal of every disciple maker in Christ! I want to have people I am teaching come to me and tell me about the choices they are making or about the principles they are implementing because of the time they have been personally spending in The Book!
Paul declared a renewed mind as God's way of transforming us. Jesus preached that the first and great commandment included loving God with our minds! Peter urges us to be ready always to give an answer when we are asked a reason for the hope that is in us! The truth we stand on ought to be received in the mind as well as in the heart. It ought to be understood and accepted in the mind as well as in the heart. We must know not only what we believe, but why. We must not wait for another to tell us what we believe, but we must be proactive, People of the Book! We must think or else...
I hesitated as to whether or not I should include this, but it is a perfect example of what I am saying here. This is my response to an article a person posted on their blog site that I read and responded to this morning:
“But lets not only step outside of our emotions for a moment, lets even go a step further and step outside of the dictionary definition of a denomination and think completely logically for a moment. If there are several church/religious meeting congregations (to use a church word) around the country that teach similar beliefs, traditions, doctrines, etc., and each use THE SAME NAME to identify themselves, what else would you call it? a group? a congregation?, a union?, an organization? or can we not just use the typical word that’s used in our society to identify a like minded group of people with a religious preference – a denomination?
Logic dictates that ultimately this is nothing more than a semantics game that the IFBer use. The word “Independent” is really a misnomer if you think logically about it.”
Let’s consider that these teachings regarding local New Testament bodies are biblical. Because the authority for all faith and practice prescribes these principles then it would make sense for several churches basing their practices on the same authority to arrive at the same conclusions regarding them even if the churches never had any association whatsoever… That is perfectly logical, which seems to be a favorite word of yours.
“This simply isn’t true. The IFB would like you to think that of course, but most IFB churches are started as a “sister or daughter church” of another IFB church. My family helped start three of them. They weren’t allowed to operate unless they did things the exact same way as the “sending” church. There may not be a national convention that each church answers to or a corporate identity, but there is certainly not “independence” in the sense that the IFB would have you think. The term “Independent” is truly a misnomer. The idea that the IFB church is “independent” is a blatant lie at best and manipulation at worst.”
About the starting a church issue, you can no longer be the one to claim that IFB churches are the only ones hiding the facts. The sending church in this starting process does maintain a level of authority over the starting church until the new church is organized and becomes indigenous. At that point all authority is relinquished and it too becomes independent. Before that point, most often, the case is that the sending church is bearing the vast majority of the financial burden. I know our church, which sends out men to start churches quite regularly, supports their church planters at full capacity as far as a salary. They then encourage them to gain a bit more support for church expenses. SO it is to be expected that what goes on is of particular interest to the sending church. If the sending church in you r case was retaining authority beyond the organization of the new church then the problem is with the sending church, not with the process or other churches that happen to have the same name. The label on a can only represents the content of the can if the content of the can accurately reflects the label. The only way to find out is to open the can. I can assume all day long that a particular can only contains green beans because the label says so, but I can also be real surprised when I bite down on a stem. I know real quick that while a lot of the content lined up with the label, not all of it did. The fact is green beans aren’t wrong; therefore I don’t change the label claiming the can contains green beans. The content is wrong. So I either need to change the content to match the label or I need to change the label if I have no intention of working to keep foreign objects out of the can, like stems. The fact also is that the Grace of God needs to be considered because my best efforts to keep out stems, from time to time, are going to fail. Does that make sense?
“The IFB really is a brand – for lack of a better term. To think otherwise is nothing short of delusional. If a church doesn’t want the association of Independent, Fundamental, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian or whatever, then they shouldn’t associate as such. The error in association is the church’s not mine. This isn’t blame shifting, but simple common sense. If a church calls itself Independent Fundamental Baptist then it needs to be willing to accept the associations that go along with it – both good and bad.”
Has it occurred to you that the association isn’t with a group of churches? Is it not possible for the association to be with a group of beliefs? Again if those beliefs are Scriptural and several churches are based on the Bible then it isn’t illogical for them to have the same associations even though those associations aren’t directly with each other.
“It came to my attention by an astute reader that there actually does exist a “fellowship” of Independent Fundamental Baptist Churches in each individual state. Upon further investigation I’ve found at least 42 states have an organizational body called a “Fellowship of Independent Fundamental Baptist Churches” and two Global organizations.
The first one is the Global Independent Fundamental Baptist Fellowship www.gifb.org and the second one is the Independent Fundamental Baptist International www.fbfi.org.
So much for “Independent” eh?
It would be interesting some day to do a comparison of Arv Edgworth’s arguments about the IFB being “independent from any organizational body” and the mission of those global/international “fellowships”.
By the way, isn’t it interesting to see the word play here? The use of “fellowship” is a nice way to disguise an organizational body isn’t it? Hmmm…”
You go out of your way to show your ignorance here. I mean this not as a slander, but the fact is you really know next to nothing about your topic. This makes you appear to be nothing more than a bitter and disgruntled scorner. Whether that is indeed the case or not, I do not know. That is simply how you make yourself seem. The idea of fellowship from a biblical perspective (look the word up) is to labor together. This is a biblical principle. Paul the apostle started churches all over the then known world. His support came from several churches at different times. The idea of a fellowship is a group of pastors that get together based on a set of agreed beliefs to consider missionary and church planting or advanced training endeavors. The pastors typically go back the churches they pastor and present the works to the church, or a particular church planting or missionary family will be scheduled to appear at the church to present their work personally. The church will then vote based on its own constitution and by-laws to determine whether or not they are going to support the proposed work. Each church is free to make its own choices and to support or not support who and what it likes. Many pastors are a part of many different fellowships. The fact is they can do what they like with who they like because of their independence. You and I support the same government with our tax dollars, but we maintain our personal freedom and personal independence from one another. We obviously don’t agree on some things and it’s possible that would be the same in a political forum, and yet we are co-laboring to support the same government. My decisions are made without regard for you and yours without regard for me. We are independent of one another and yet we ‘fellowship’ in that way.
I have no problem with a person that disagrees with me as long as he has sound reasoning. You do not. That makes me sad for you because I believe that you are a part of a group of people that have made decisions because you have been hurt. I will be the first to admit that there are many churches that claim to be “IFB” that are not. If someone does things differently than they do they call them out for it and disassociate with them over it and talk bad about them and things of that nature. This betrays their claim to believe in independence. I have no problem with disassociation. That is up to a church to do as they please there, but beyond that the affairs of another church are simply not our business. Make your decisions and move on. That being said, because a principle is poorly represented does not mean that the principle is to be done away with. Principles are based on objective truth. So regardless of the misrepresentation of a principle the principle must stand even still. The worst example of this is a crazy church in Kansas (I believe) with Baptist on the name. It breaks my heart, some of the things they say and do, not because I care about them and what they are doing. This may be wrong of me, but when I think of them and what they do and say it makes me angry at them, but it makes me sad because of what people will say about something that is good being misrepresented. The church I am a part of is a wonderful loving church that believes the Truth of the Word of God and is serious about the work of the commission Christ gave to churches. Though it has Baptist on the sign and we hold to the distinctive principles that distinguished groups of people throughout history from other religious groups, we are nothing at all like that church in Kansas, nor do we believe the same on anything that I know of. So because of that let us all maintain our independence. [It is not a delusion or a trick or a lie or a misrepresentation after all] You find a church that teaches the truth according to what you can follow, but please be encouraged to know that there are good churches out there that are indeed independent in the way they are governed, they are fundamental in their approach to truth and stand firm on the fundamentals of the faith, and they are Baptist. They are also, to steal a term from another fabulous Fundamental Independent Baptist church, interested in Honoring God and helping people. These are just some things to consider. I am sure you probably have.