Many denominations have problems. Some denominations have doctrinal problems, some have methodological problems, and some have identity problems. I submit to you that IFB churches suffer from identity problems. I know, I know, IFB is not a denomination. Oh really? We’ll get to the iBFers in a moment, but first let’s talk about the IFB, and why we are a denomination.
Let’s start with the how we describe ourselves. We all claim the name IFB. We are all happy with it and we all use it to one extent or another. This is a self identifier so we can know what to expect. Just like McDonald’s, there are some regional peculiarities, but you know they serve Big Macs at every single one. Even in France a Big Mac is the same, but they call it Le Big Mac.
We call ourselves independent, but most of our churches identify with a “camp” of some sort or another. Some IFBs are Sword of the Lord type churches; some are Revival Fires, some are Hyles, some are PCC, some are Midwestern Baptist College, some are West Coast, some are Shawnee, some are Crown, and some, even though we don’t like to admit it, are (hold your nose) Bob Jones type churches. Essentially we are not independent, because to be truly independent means we have broken fellowship with our “camp,” and probably taken, or replaced, Baptist from the sign. To be truly independent means someone thinks you are a liberal, compromiser, contemporary, or even plain ole lost. It seems to me most pastors take cues from some large entity, be it paper, college, or other IFB mega-church.
We call ourselves fundamental, the definition varies slightly, but essentially includes, KJV only, (except the wicked step child Bob Jones churches) hymns, soul winning, busses, Sunday school, (absolutely not devilish small groups) bible college, suits on preachers, special music, (no tracks allowed) passing out tracts, softball, dresses on women, Wednesday night go to prayer meetin’ (complete with children’s program: Master Club, King’s Kids, Patch, and (close yer eyes Ethel) Awana) a subscription to the Sword, and or Revival Fires, Southern Gospel, and (say amen right here) potlucks. These are in no particular order, but we all go to this church, so you know what I mean. Now keep your claws in, I am not saying there is anything wrong with any of that, but…friends, these ain’t the real bona-fied, pure D fundamentals, but we sure treat ’em like they is, and pert’ near all fundamental churches have these things.
We call ourselves Baptists, but we reject just about every other kind of Baptist in existence. Southern Baptists have gone liberal, as have American Baptists, Old Regulars are Calvinist, as are GARBCers, General Baptists do not believe in eternal security, neither do Free Willies, (that is Free Will Baptists for those of you not blessed with a sense of humor!) and every other Baptist denomination is somewhere in between. Yet somehow they all claim to be Baptist. We are not like any of them, but we are all the same as each other. Therefore we are an unofficial denomination. The problem is: we have no central leader, we have no confirmed uniform central doctrine, and we all seem to hold some contempt for those who are not in our specific “camp.” In all reasonable honesty there is very little difference between the various “camps.” I know, I know, you Hyles guys are better than the rest of us…but that is a whole other can of slimy worms, and I’m not touching that subject in this post…but stay tuned.
Ok, so IFB is like a denominational confederacy; a group of church or if you will states bound together by a weak federal type of government. The federal government consists of the big boys…too touchy to name, suffice it to say all the speakers at the National Sword Conference, plus a few others including (plug your ears Ethel) whatever Bob Jones we are on now. Now don’t scrunch yer face up like that, I’m not trying to be mean, I’m just trying to point out our inconsistency. We ARE a denomination…as my one time employee Shamika Spann once said, “get over some stuff!”
But how do you re-cog-a-nize an iBFer church? Let us begin with the pastor shall we? The iBFer pastor is a controlling man. He controls it all and slaps down the ace trump master mack daddy of all cards…if we played cards that is…the pastoral authority card. Like the race card, and the get out of jail free card, the pastoral authority card absolves the wrong-doer of any culpability, responsibility, or legal guilt. The pastoral authority card is used for all aspects of church administration.
The iBFer pastor is un-criticizable, he is not guilty of any wrong doing, and his word is as final as the KJV, because he is God to you on this earth…just ask him, he’ll give you chapter and twisted verse on it. He determines everything from the decorative soaps in the lady’s room, to the color of the church carpet, to what you should have in your CD player, Ipod and DVD player. He is the boss of all and no one is his master. He rules with an iron fist and nobody better ever address him by the name his momma gave him, not even his momma! The iBFer pastor wields his power as a despot, and there is no recourse for his extrication. There is no way he is ever coming off his throne!
He does however have a few mortal enemies; the deacon board, anyone stupid enough to leave his awesome church, common sense, good manners, thought, I Timothy 3, and a few preachers who despise his Nicolaitan actions. You should also become his enemy, not because you hold enmity in your heart towards him, but because you have real Christian discernment, and true Christian love. You see the iBFer pastor is not a biblical pastor. I Peter 5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock.
Notice the authority vested in the pastor is a spiritual authority, not a temporal authority. HOWEVER….iBFers falsely assume this verse, among others such as I Chronicles 16:22 Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm. gives them the keys to the kingdom to do whatever they want to do without any consequences being visited upon their swollen heads.
A biblical minded pastor sees I Peter 5:2 as a great responsibility to carefully feed spiritual food to the flock of God, not the flock of Pastor BOB…ooh we can’t call him BOB, it’s Pastor Snufallufagus to you! This food does not consist of endless topical sermons aimed at annoying church members, surly deacons, and unruly EX-pastors!!!! like me. This food is not a continual rant against everything the “anointed” pastor is against. It is a carefully wrought, prayerfully administered, thoroughly researched, biblical message which more often than not is expository. I can hear it now, I know what some of you iBFers who are big fans of mine are saying: “Oh yeah, you backslider…Jesus preached topical messages all the time.” Allow this backslider remind you of one key flaw in your argument; Jesus is God in the flesh, and even though you act like it…you ain’t Jesus.
I Peter 5:3 weighs heavily on a biblical minded pastor because it is a scary verse. The church, is GOD’s heritage, not Schaap, not Hyles, not Malone, not Spurgeon, not Sunday, not Snufallufagus, not even Peter himself, it is GOD’s! Pastors have the unbelievable pressure of being examples to them, and not lords over them. They already have a Lord, are you a better lord than THE LORD? Other men in your little church have good ideas about what color the carpet should be. Guess what…some of the ladies in your church are not completely stupid sex objects to be covered up with as much cloth as possible lest they cause all the men in the church to instantly have impure thoughts and mentally cheat on their wives. They are God’s heritage, and they too have an opinion on how the decorative soaps in the ladies room should look and smell. Oh, I know, only the pastor’s wife is smart enough and experienced enough to give an opinion to the pastor. H-O-G-W-A-S-H! Last time I checked the Bible it said there was one head, and that is Christ, and there are several body parts, and each body part has a job. Guess what you little iBFer pastor, you are not the head, and others in your church are just as important as you are. Never forget, a pastor is a church member too!
Now lest you think I am advocating an uprising against your pastor, let me caution you to proceed carefully and respectfully in regard to your pastor. Even if God did not place him in your church he has a staunch following of rabid iBFers who will defend him to the death. Do not seek to take over your church; if you can no longer live and serve under the leadership of your pastor, do yourself a favor and find a new church.
Next post…See Jack Run