Old Paths, Old Time Religion and Old Windbags Part I

Watch out for Jason, he is a bitter, backslidden, malcontented scorner!  And he is a fence jumper too!!

I want to caution those of you who dare to read this filthy blog.  I am a backslidden, fence jumping, malcontented scorner, or so I am told.  When someone makes the conscience decision to hurl labels and judgment like these, they are trying to effect a summary dismissal of anything and everything the embittered rabble rouser has to say.  The hope is we won’t think about what was said, or argue the merits of the charges made, we will label, judge and abdicate thought only to replace it with baseless uninformed rhetoric. 

I am not bitter.  Check my blog, and realize that I have not posted anything since September 2011.  There is a reason I have decided to post another blog and I will be dealing with that reason, on this blog, very soon.  I do however admit to being angry.  I am angry about a great many things, and I am getting them off my chest via this blog.  Why post it on the world wide web for everyone to see?   I am doing it because I know beyond any shadow of a doubt there are others who are angry.  Others who want their hurt to be acknowledged, they want a voice, but they do not or can not express themselves.  I am doing it for me primarily, but for you, wounded friend, as well.  IFB preachers do not have a patent on Christianity.  You have a voice, you have whispered encouragement to me and so I am giving this blog from my heart to you; enemy and friend alike. 

Some are waiting with baited breath for me to expose myself and do some kind of mea culpa about leaving the ministry.  These ecclesiastical dictators think I owe them some kind of explanation; they can hold their breath until their Napoleonic faces turn purple.  I do not owe you, and you (Dr. Preacher, Pastor, whatever) did not make me, you did not call me to the ministry, and you sure did not empower me to serve God.  You did not give me your permission, and I did not ask for it.  

Time to blow the hat off some of these ecclesiastical dictators.

I have not disqualified myself from the ministry whatsoever.  I could walk back into the pastorate tomorrow with a clear conscience and the power of God.  Furthermore, I could pastor an IFB church, without them having to change one jot or tittle of their doctrine, or me having to change mine.  In fact, I could go back to the church I resigned today and they would welcome me back with open arms. 

It is important to make a few things clear: Faith Baptist Church did not lose people as a result of my resignation, they have grown since I left, and they had people join within weeks of my leaving.  This is a direct result of those good people being committed to Christ, and not to Jason Little, or any other preacher.

What are the old paths?  What is old time religion?  Who are these windbags? These questions need to be answered, but first a brief statement about fundamentalism: Fundamentalism is a movement, Christ did not die for a movement.  Fundamentalism is a philosophy, Christ did not die for a philosophy.  Fundamentalism is a fellowship of like minded believers, but Christ didn’t die for a fellowship.  Christ loved the church, and gave himself for the church.  If that is true, where should our efforts be spent?  Building, nurturing, and protecting fundamentalism?  Or perhaps we should build, nurture, and protect the church?

Over the last several years, several men have forwarded the idea of getting back to the “old paths.”  Dr. John N. Hamblin uses Jeremiah 6:16 to preach many different messages with the same central theme: we need to get back to the “old paths.”  In Hamblin’s mind this means KJV only, soul winning (in the broadest sense) church attendance, tithing, treating preachers like demi-gods, listening to Southern Gospel music, being called to preach, having a mentor, and remaining fundamental throughout your life.  (Hamblin’s definition of fundamental)  However, Jeremiah, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, had something quite different in mind.  He was speaking about observing the Sabbath, sacrificing animals to God not idols, tithing of everything you own, and the increase thereof, and following the laws God dictated to Moses.  Dr. Hamblin has twisted these scriptures to fit his philosophical fundamentalism.  We err when we force our views into the Bible, and try to make it champion our cause instead of championing its message.  The “old paths” of modern fundamentalism have nothing to do with the old paths of Holy Spirit inspired Jeremiah.

He is asking for the Old Paths

It may sound like splitting hairs to you, but words mean things.  Every preacher should strive to be true to what the Bible says and not inject our opinion into the words the Bible uses.  Do we believe in verbal inspiration or not?  If you believe in verbal inspiration you should not twist the meaning of a word no matter how noble you claim your intentions are.  It is time preachers start to police themselves, and if you refuse to police yourselves, others need to stand up and get a little ticked and point out your error.  You may think you are the master, but you are just a student, like the rest of us, how about trying to learn something.  

Old Paths are what the Bible describes, not whatever meaning you attach to it.  So pretty please STOP IT! #oldpaths

The next phrase on our list “old time religion”  is not found anywhere in the Bible.  In fact it is a song plagiarized by Southern Gospel legend Charles D. Tillman, a former snake oil salesman, and minstrel show performer.  He published the song in 1891 popularizing the old Negro spiritual Old Time Religion reworking it for white southern Christian audiences.  Tillman first heard the song performed by a black choir in 1889 at a singing meeting held on a Sunday afternoon in South Carolina.  He promptly stole the words and tune thus starting a good old fashioned “old time religion” tradition many a preacher practices today.  A snake oil salesman, a minstrel show performer and a content stealer, oh year and this guy was also an evangelist.  I can think of a few snake oil salesmen evangelists!

Consider the song Old Time Religion; it tells you nothing about religion or faith whatsoever, it is just a catchy tune and empty words with the meaning being supplied by the singer not the song.  Truth be told, it is relativistic; and I thought we were against relativism.  Yet preachers near and far exploit this song and phrase putting whatever meaning they wish, at the time, to manipulate their audience.    

Preachers have variously defined “old time religion” with a wide range of ideas including but not limited to: carrying a concealed weapon, shooting dissenters (just like J. Frank Norris did… in their minds) flying first class, a Cambridge Bible, three button suit, Georgio Brutini shoes, Monte Blanc pens, receiving gifts, receiving love offerings, blasting young preacher “boys” from the pulpit, blasting old preachers from the pulpit, blasting singers from the pulpit, blasting church members from the pulpit, blasting organists from the pulpit, passing out tracts and calling it soul winning, cathead biscuits, red top milk, and Stamps Baxter.  You would think I am making this up, but sadly I am not.  Some preachers joke about things, and there is nothing wrong with joking.  However a good friend of mine, who has an earned doctorate but refuses to be called doctor, once said: “Too much of the 11:00 p.m. fellowship is making it into the 7:00 p.m. service.”  When that happens long enough you begin to actually believe some of the absurd things you joke about.  So now in my mind, everything I say, think or believe is Old Time Religion, if you disagree you are lost, a backslider, a liberal, or an idiot, you pick.  

A well known pastor from Tennessee said he is somewhat King James, but he is altogether Stamps Baxter.  This macho-mystic bravado is supposed to inspire the listener with the idea that if they are right with God, they will use Stamps Baxter music.  He attempts to turn his personal preference into God breathed doctrine.  These things, not biblical Christianity, is what “old time religion” has become in this fundamental age.  Preferences, not doctrine, macho-mystic bravado not Bible, and threats not godly urging is what is meant by  “old time religion.”

I got my old time religion, but I’m gonna need some of that red cap milk to get it down.

To Be Continued…….


9 responses to “Old Paths, Old Time Religion and Old Windbags Part I

  1. Justin Levine

    Hey, Bro. Little, I’ve read over your blog, and I’ve found it quite interesting. I don’t really know your situation, seeing how I live on the other side of the world. One thing that I have learned over here is that life is too short to get involved in “hurt-fests”. My own church went through a difficult time recently, but I wasn’t there for it. What happened exactly? I don’t know, but the bottom line is that it wasn’t good. People just got hurt, but to what end? I’m sorry that people have hurt you. I know that some pastors/preachers can be mean, they can be dictators! But please don’t take this as the absolute. There are a lot of good men out there. To one end your blog has given some valid points about how some IFB people can be, but sometimes it seems it is given with the same attitude of that which you are preaching against. I am an IFB preacher, yet I wouldn’t want to be grouped with everyone who is IFB, as I am an INDEPENDENT fundamental Baptist. I can’t allow others dictate what I do or how I do it, save our Savior and His Word. That means various publications, but also others’ hurtful words. Remember, when our Lord was mocked and crucifed he didn’t “bite back”. I would encourage you not to get distracted with the name calling and “word-flingings”. People believe differently, eg. I think pants on women are immodest, but I would’t think poorly of you if you thought differently, as this is merely preference. Alternatively, if someone wanted to become a Eunuch for Christ I would think he was crazy, but he would at least have Bible for it. I love you in the Lord, Brother. I pray that things are going well for you and your family. Let’s keep our eyes on HIM!

    • Justin,

      I appreciate your comments. From my experience with you I believe I can safely say you don’t have what it takes to be grouped in with those guys. First of all you have a very mild disposition, and that is a good thing. Secondly, you are a thinker. Thirdly, I believe you are actually trying to do a work for God and by God, not build an empire for yourself. I appreciate your disagreement with my tone and some of the things I have written. You have made reasoned arguments without being rude or calling names. As with all piles of junk, there is much more than meets the eye with my situation. I want people, some who are in a similar spot, to know these little men are not God, furthermore they do not speak for God. Sometimes it may seem harsh, but in all reality it is much more kind than what has been said from pulpits around this country by these men about you, me, and others. I sincerely thank you for your comment, and for reading my blog. I love seeing the good reports from ya’ll on fb, keep them coming. I hope all is well with your family. God bless you Justin!

  2. Keith A. Clark

    Wish we had had more time together. You of all people know that I know “HURT”. If there is anything I can do for you – I’m a phone call away. From the short time we had, this is gonna sound wierd, but I miss fellowship with you. Take care my friend.
    Keith Clark

  3. Hello Brother Little. This is from just another little Pastor at Hope Baptist in Huron Township, Mi. Brother, you are a good man, loved of the Lord and this preacher. The few times that we have met you have been a real encouragement to me and our church. I could fellowship with you for many hours about the way pastors and churches have treated me, but I thank God that I was called by God and not man. I have noticed this exact trend that you are speaking of for sometime now. Having a doctrate on the wall, whether earned or not seems to “demand” respect, of which I am not (nor have ever been) a fan of. Job 32:21 Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man. Men today have taken great license in using a verse or two and then using the pulpit for their own purposes instead of having a heart felt burden to warn the wicked of their wicked ways, and to preach the gospel to the lost. I want you to know that we at Hope will be praying for you and your family. I have heard nothing but good things about the ministry that you had, and I trust will continue until Jesus calls us home. If you would like to have coffee or fellowship, you know where we are at, and please don’t hesitate to give me a call. I love you brother Jason, and have been where you are now, but God is faithful!!!~ Brother Tim Ammon

  4. Stacie (Taylor) Morin

    Bro. Little ~~ I was SO touched to read this blog….and I’m so glad you wrote it! You and Rhonda are such wonderful people…. I can’t even tell you how many times your wife helped me get through hard times with nothing more then her words of advice. …. I wish you both the best and I hope everything is going great for y’all down in Texas! Love you all !

    • Stacie,

      Thank you so much. That means the world to me and Rhonda too. Things are going better, and looking forward to even better times in the future. Hope you and Chris and the punkins are doing well!
      God Bless,

  5. My heart hurts for you and Rhonda as you weather these storms. It can be so damaging dealing with some of the body of Christ.
    Through it all He is faithful and loving. It is hard to pray for those who wrong us, but He gives us grace for that as well. Ken and I understand your pain and pray for you and your family daily. God bless Jason!

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