A recurring Independent Fundamental Baptist theme is that we know better than you. You are supposed to sit down, be quiet, and learn.
This means that your IFB pastor is supposed to direct the relationship [if you call it that]. IFB pastors say that the power is God’s. But demeanor, relations with members and ministry show that if God has all the power, it is IFB pastors themselves who exercise that power.
If members begin changing the direction of their relationship with the pastor and/or other members, that’s damning. That diminishes pastor power and weakens his stranglehold on members. As his ability to bully, intimidate, manipulate, cheat, cow and deceive members slips away, IFB pastors discern that God is calling them to another ministry.
Some of the lessons we’ve been learning are relevant to these things.
- Quoting texts at people and getting in faces for unbelief because issues and questions remain helps nothing. This alienates people from God. It is also an obstacle to faith. It is far better to formulate intelligent, rational questions and bring these to Scripture as we did with God’s gentleness.
- With a good concordance or Bible program plus time and effort, average believers can do competent Bible study without textbooks or pastors prompting and/or telling them what to find in their Bibles.
- By the time they study and meditate on several key biblical motifs and divine attributes, average believers will be better theologians than many, overpaid, broadly-recognized IFB preachers.
- Good churches attempt to impart those skills to believers. They are not threatened by the growing theological comprehension or the questions of the membership. Instead, they are thrilled by it.
- IFB self-promotion, denigration of others, schismatic tendencies, bickering, disputing, infighting and other forms of behavioral malfeasance manifest the very behaviors Phil 2 forbids. IFB pastors are on the wrong side of Phil 2 however 2:12 is translated. But they evade correction much more easily if members can only quote their Bibles and nothing else.
The Image of God Again
Fundamentalist sects err by not seeing that we all image God uniquely. In Fundamentalism, God’s compassion, mercy, justice, love, goodness, etc. are filtered from view. We are allowed to see God’s law, severity, rage, etc. Having discovered a wrathful, hateful God, they develop a twisted system of holiness/righteousness/justice to serve God with dutiful obedience.
This leaves those made to reflect such traits with little means to do so in Fundamentalist sects. Those God gifts for compassion, mercy, justice, love, goodness, etc. have minimal opportunity to edify others or to serve in meaningful ways. And under such circumstances, little growth or Christian maturity occurs.
Church, Not Sectarianism
Within the eternal fellowship of Trinitarian life, all of God’s attributes interrelate continually. As God’s image, we reflect few of those attributes, maybe only one or two. But in her unity, the whole church reflects much more fully the fellowship between Father, Son and Spirit. God’s attributes open a world of possibilities for love, life, worship, witness, peace, joy, justice, grace, glory, deliverance and incarnational living!
‘that they may all be one even as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me’ [Jo 17:21].
The tragedy of the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement is that by their ‘separation,’ they exclude themselves from this blessedness.