Perhaps some of you are familiar with the so-called “expose” of Independent Fundamental Baptist Churches that aired recently on ABC’s 20/20. I will save you the viewing by calling it demonizing, a witch hunt or a smear campaign. The purpose of this blog entry is not to answer the questions raised in the episode, nor to dispute or agree with the claims made by disgruntled former members. What I wish to do is to shed light for those of you who may have never attended an Independent Baptist church, and to tell you what they are all about and what they stand for and against. First, I would like to give you an insight into how I became an Independent Baptist. I was raised in a Missionary Baptist church in rural Arkansas. At the age of seven I became aware of my sin and my need for a Saviour. I was led to accept Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour in my bedroom by my mother. I walked the aisle of that church the next morning and professed that I had been Born-again. My pastor wasn’t sure so he said we would wait to talk about baptism. After church I kept insisting that I had been saved, so he instructed my Grandfather, who was one of his deacons to get the baptistry ready for that evening’s service. I grew up in that church. It was old-fashioned and fundamental. It wasn’t independent, however.
As I grew into my teenage years, I was led astray by friends and acquaintances to the wilder side of life. I strayed for many years from walking with my Lord, years I can never get back. I did things that I am ashamed of, but I am thankful that on February 2nd, 1996, the Lord got through to me and I found forgiveness and restoration for my life in the service of the Lord. I had not lost my Salvation. I had lost my way. Thank God, He never lost track of me. I surrendered to the ministry and within six months was preaching in a Southern Baptist church. From the beginning I felt that things weren’t right, but I couldn’t put my finger on it, then things became clearer. Where was the King James Bible that I had heard preached from all my life? What was all the emphasis on making Jesus the Lord of your life instead of calling on Him to be your Saviour? I began to read and do research into the Southern Baptists and the more I saw the more I knew I was in the wrong group. I knew I was a Baptist, but what kind? I saw Southern Baptists with an earthly headquarters in Nashville, TN. I looked back upon the Missionary Baptists of my youth and saw their loyalty to associations. Both were filled with boards and committees that were unscriptural. Then God led me to the Independent Baptists.
My next-door neighbor had a tape album from a publisher called the Sword of the Lord by a preacher named Curtis Hutson. His message, titled “Christ and His Co-workers” set my soul aflame to witness about the saving Blood of Jesus to a lost and dying world. I began to be interested in the messages from these Independent Baptist preachers. They addressed sin in their sermons, that is, they called it by name. They didn’t tickle my ears. They stepped on my toes. I loved it, and I wanted more. I became convicted about the New King James bible that I had been influenced to buy and got an old King James. I began witnessing to lost people and began seeing Christ saving souls. To make a long story short, I have been an Independent Fundamental Baptist preacher for over 14 years. To say that I am offended by the 20/20 piece is an understatement. So please, let me define what an Independent Fundamental Baptist is.
First of all we are INDEPENDENT. Just as there are no two snowflakes alike, there are no two preachers alike nor are there two churches alike. We don’t all talk the same, preach the same, dress the same or have the same music. We reserve the right to be different when it comes to non-essentials. We don’t all have the same heroes. I have learned over the years if you want to fellowship with another brother, keep the men you admire to yourself. There are men within our ranks whom I greatly admire and then there are those who’s church door I would never darken. I have known some of the most humble, faithful, sincere, loyal, hardworking, dedicated men who were Independent Baptist preachers and I have known some of the most arrogant, stubborn, megalomaniac, controlling jerks as well. I suspect you can take a sampling of any group in Christendom and find the same results. Truth is, we are all men, we’re sinners saved by Grace and we have different personalities.
Second of all, we are FUNDAMENTAL. Many Baptists are frightened of that word. I for one embrace it. But why are they afraid? Is it because the national media began talking about fundamentalist Muslim radicals? It is because of the fundamentalist Mormons who dominated the news a couple years back? I tell you, I think some Baptists are scared of their own shadow. Baptists have let the Pentecostals scare them out of their shout and their use of the term “Holy Ghost.” They have forgotten where they came from and don’t know where they are going. We were all Fundamentalists until the 1950’s or so. But now for a definition. A fundamental is an integral part of something. For example, an engine is a fundamental of an automobile, a radio is not. Wheels are a fundamental, an air conditioner is not. Baseball has fundamentals, so does basketball. If you remove batting from baseball, you don’t have it anymore. It has become something else. There are things which make up Christianity. Without them it is gone. They are as follows: 1. The Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Jesus is the Only Begotten Son of God) 2. The Blood Atonement (His Blood paid the price for our sins) 3. The Virgin Birth (Christ was born of a virgin as prophesied in the Old Testament) 4. The Bodily Resurrection (He arose bodily from the grave) 5. The Inerrancy of the Scriptures (The Bible is perfect and without error and is preserved for the English speaking world in the King James Bible) That is what I believe. I would die for those things. Without them you don’t have Christianity. To believe them makes you a fundamentalist. Maybe you were and didn’t know it. If so, don’t be afraid to embrace the title.
Lastly, I’m a BAPTIST. It doesn’t mean that is my denomination. It means that I believe the Bible to be true and that I use it for faith and practice. I have a rich history of fathers in faith who have bled and died for the things that I hold dear. For more info on this point, see my Blog titled, “I’m a Big B Baptist.” So there you have it. I’ve told you a lot and yet I haven’t even scratched the surface. If I can sum it up in a sentence, we are believers who hold to the Bible and seek to lead the lost to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ while standing against worldliness, corruption and humanism. God bless.