Another reason why I am an independent Baptist! https://open.substack.com/pub/thedissenter/p/sbc-pastor-who-writes-for-wapo-suggests-597?r=pbjs4&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web
There seems to be a considerable amount of people who have come forward publicly saying they have been abused by someone in a local independent Baptist church. This should never be the experience of someone attending a church that claims to be “the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” The following is a review of a book written by one who suffered such abuse!
‘Sheltered but Not Protected is the story of a young man that was raised in an independent Baptist church (probably listed in our database) and who did all the right things just like the preacher said, but nevertheless was the victim of a female predator in his church. The church culture around him not only permitted but protected this sort of behavior, and instead of reporting the abuser as a child molester, the pastor forced the victim to repent in front of the church. Sound familiar? As the author says, not every church is this way, but there are enough of them out there that it deserves serious attention.
Justin Woodbury is the author of the book Sheltered but not Protected (affiliate link throughout), his story of abuse in an independent Baptist church, both sexual abuse from a trusted adult, as well as the emotional and spiritual abuse that was standard behavior from the leadership. The book begins with a foreword from Justin’s wife Emily, describing the pain and struggles that she experienced as a new wife dealing with the emotional trauma that her husband had suffered. While there’s a “happy ending” of sorts to the book, the scars–spiritual, emotional, and even physical–created thanks to a system of abuse that came from or was at least enabled by good intentions nevertheless will remain with Justin and Emily, and innumerable other victims, for the rest of their lives.
The Best of Intentions
Justin’s childhood is described as wonderful, with loving parents and a great sister. Even his church was a place full of (initially) love, people seeking to serve the LORD from a pure heart. Unfortunately, the way in which they went about trying to serve God became more about control and rigid compliance with rules than seeking God’s will. The writer of this review grew up in a church that shared some similarities with the church described in Sheltered, though I can’t remember things being quite so over-the-top with regards to pastoral control.
However, the whole idea of the pastor being “the Man of God” and that his opinions were actually the leading of the Holy Spirit (Justin’s job at the church was threatened continually if he disagreed with or disobeyed the pastor) is very familiar, and is unfortunately a very common aspect in many independent Baptist churches. I personally recall a significant emphasis on “she-bears” and calling down fire from heaven on disrespectful people being part of the birthright of the pastor. While my pastor didn’t go so far as telling people which color of car they should buy, he certainly interfered in family matters and felt that he had some sort of special line to God and knew better than everyone else how they should live.
What also resonated with me was the repeated detail that the pastor didn’t believe that there was ever a good reason to leave the church. I remember hearing that there were only two good reasons for leaving church: getting called out (to a ministry somewhere), or dragged out (a la Ananias and Saphira). This now seems like a parallel universe compared to my current pastor’s opinion on the matter: if you can’t serve God here, then please find a church where you can serve God; we’d hate to be the reason you can’t be faithful. Perhaps nine times out of ten, the reason they can’t serve God here (wherever that may be) is because they don’t really want to serve God anywhere, but there’s always the possibility that someone just isn’t a good fit and the LORD wants to use them somewhere else. That apparently wasn’t acceptable in the church where Justin grew up.
Ultimately, out of a desire to prevent the young people from experiencing the same disappointments and sins that the church’s founders had been through, they put in place draconian rules all with the intention of preventing impurity. As the rules evolved, becoming ever more restrictive, extreme, and ridiculous, most of the church members just followed along, since after all, “the Man of God” apparently knew something that they didn’t.
In his teen years, Justin’s mom became close friends with a woman in church, who was a predator and groomed him for about two years. I’ll let you read the details in his book (again, buy a copy and read it), but the abuse scarred him for life. Of course he felt pressured to keep it secret, since all of those people who had to “confess” in front of the church (whether perpetrator or victim) were publicly shamed and humiliated, and then once he finally opened up to the pastor, he was made to feel as if he were the responsible party. Moreover, the pastor, who is by law required to report sexual abuse, especially involving a minor, did not report, but instead forced Justin to apologize to his abuser’s husband.
So, not only was child sex abuse covered up, but the victim was shamed into admitting fault that was not his. Of course Justin was not the only minor affected by sexual abuse in that church; you’ll read about many other situations of leadership overlooking, dismissing, or mishandling situations to such a degree that it almost seems a caricature of reality. After several years of working in the same church, he faced another public humiliation for a private (and rather chaste) relationship with a girl in the church, and finally left to start a new life elsewhere.
Unfortunately, escaping the place doesn’t change the past, and Justin’s long road toward healing was hindered by the fact that “counseling” in his mind was a series of meetings with the pastor to make sure you were sorry and humiliated enough to be “restored.” He was never encouraged to seek professional assistance for his abuse, partly because the church had no real concept of what damage the abuse inflicted, but mostly because they didn’t see it as abuse, just some sort of adulterous affair–even though the aggressor was an adult woman close to twice the age of the minor that she molested.
God’s Grace is Always More than Sufficient
In the last chapters of Sheltered but not Protected, Justin describes his journey from bitterness to forgiveness, along with the various ways that God stripped away the judgmental, spiteful tendencies that had been inculcated in him throughout his upbringing in a cultish Baptist church. Of course I personally wouldn’t move away from the King James Bible as Justin has, nor would I probably feel comfortable in the church where he believes the LORD brought them, but those are irrelevant points. He overcame the sexual abuse from a child predator, the emotional abuse from a system that was designed to create perfect clones, and spiritual abuse from the men that he should have been able to trust, and has come to a place where he can forgive even the unrepentant abuser in his past.
This brings me to the real point that King James Bible-believing, independent Baptists have to face: why is it that we can have the right Bible (and we do), and the right doctrine (at least for the most part), and yet the fruit of so many ministries is complete destruction of families and individuals that should have been helped? How is it that we, like the Pharisees of old, can have all the right forms and technicalities (even if I disagree with many of the traditions purported to be “Old Time Religion”) yet the end result is one train wreck after another? Where in the Bible does it indicate that every believer should look like, talk like, act like, and sound like “the pastor” or else they should be shunned and ostracized by the church? Where exactly does the Bible say that the “proper” male haircut is a crop-top or a high-and-tight comb-over? Or are we allowing the culture around us to dictate what we do and how we do it, even if it is simply to be opposite of said culture?
Sheltered but not Protected is a gut-wrenching story of abuse, while at the same time a gleam of hope in a world with a church that is “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17) and where churches actively protect child abusers and rapists. There IS something that we can do, and maybe it starts with reading and understanding the truths that Justin Woodbury shares in this book.
Sheltered but not Protected: Learning to Love, Forgive, and Heal After Emotional and Sexual Abuse can be purchased on Amazon, and Justin Woodbury can be contacted through his website or his Facebook Page.’https://www.kjvchurches.com/review-sheltered-but-not-protected-learning-to-love-forgive-and-heal-after-emotional-and-sexual-abuse-by-justin-woodbury/
‘The old saying is that men never learn from history, with the addition that those that do learn from history are doomed to stand by and watch it repeat itself. Mark Twain said that history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme. Regardless of your opinion on the repeatability of history, as we already saw in Part 2, the church itself follows a certain cycle that appears to be unbroken since the first century. It’s not very likely for that to change any time soon.
The Inverse-Square Law
Growing up I loved listening to Kent Hovind’s Creation Science seminars. I still remember distinctly his description of the inverse-square law and how it pertains to orbital mechanics, specifically as part of his theory on the Flood and the collapse of the theorized ice canopy that may have surrounded the Earth before the Flood. Simply put: the closer an object approaches to a mass, its gravitational velocity is affected inversely-squared proportionate to its distance; moving the moon 1/3 of the distance closer to the Earth would increase its gravitational pull 9 times (32). Hovind’s application was (is) a comet that struck the ice canopy and collapsed it onto the poles, the comet’s velocity being increased exponentially as it approached the Earth.
I can just imagine the reader scratching his head, wondering what in the world this has to do with anything. Never fear: I shall explain.
As a premillennialist/pre-trib dispensationalist, I believe in a precipitated decline of everything before a catastrophic apocalypse, preceded by a “rescue” of Christ’s church. It’s not “escapism” as such since the church has endured and will endure any amount of tribulation as a sign of her faithfulness, yet “The Tribulation” as an event is for Israel, not the body of Christ. After all, it’s called “the time of Jacob’s trouble,” not the church’s trouble. As we approach this “event horizon,” it would appear that the processes and cycles seen throughout church history are accelerating. Here I offer two examples as observed personally.
Peter Ruckman is widely held to be one of the staunchest proponents of the King James Bible, as well as pre-trib premillennialist moderate dispensationalism. His work sparked a movement that started Bible institutes on just about every inhabited continent, published hundreds of books, some of which have been translated into multiple languages, and sent hundreds if not thousands of pastors and missionaries into the ministry. He himself fleshed out the very cycle that we are discussing, as quoted in Part 2. So, why is it surprising to anyone that the “ruckmanite” movement has evolved into the machine that spits out identical clones, something that Dr. Ruckman himself denounced vehemently, and (I have it on good authority) the leadership at Ruckman’s former church (Bible Baptist Church of Pensacola, Florida) dislikes even the mention of the “cycle” that Dr. Ruckman himself warned of? While the Pensacola manifestation of this process hasn’t reached the point of creating a bronze-cast statue of the founder or a three-story mural of the deceased pastor and his wife complete with cases of their favorite soft drinks left as an offering, the reverence with which Ruckman’s positions, teachings, and even attitudes are held has created its own kind of “monument” in the Florida Panhandle and in the “ruckmanite” camp around the world, all within the span of a few decades, especially during Bro. Ruckman’s decline at the end of his life.
More recently and even more visibly, Steven Anderson made a name for himself using social media, railing on homosexuals and forging a patented brand of theology including aspects of antisemitism/anti-zionism, calvinistic replacement theology, post-trib “anti-dispensationalism” (clearly misunderstanding that premillennialism is itself a dispensational position), his “reprobate” theory, and other bizarre private interpretations of the scriptures, all with a view to generate friction and create notoriety for himself. With the help of a professional video producer, he created “documentaries” slyly promoting his strange doctrines, even going as far as titling the Arabic translation of his film Marching to Zion as The Lies of the Jews. However big his following at one time, he quickly splintered his movement into numerous factions thanks to a series of “excommunications” and executive decisions about churches established under his ministry. Many of his former allies have distanced themselves from him, especially after an attempt to hide some abuse by members of his own family. Others fled his authoritarian-style grasp and started churches espousing various false doctrines from modalism to teaching that salvation can be “lost” by ceasing to believe on Christ (as if it were the individual’s faith that saved him). This particular cycle-within-a-cycle had a very short lifespan, basically petering out within a decade of its inception.
While previous manifestations of this cycle have dragged on for decades or even centuries, more recently they appear to have a more rapid lifespan, exhausting themselves quickly. My pet theory is that it’s a spiritual “inverse-square law” leading up to the catching away of the church, where heresy becomes more common even among believers as the great falling away accelerates. After all, Christ did warn His followers about being deceived in the last days, and we are certainly getting close to the end, so it stands to reason that deception would be on the rise.
Just Another Brick in the Wall
When the younger fundamentalists started leaving churches and the “Recovering” moniker was adopted, I had some hope that this movement would be different, and that churches would start seeking a move of the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, my cynical side won that wager. There are undoubtedly many sincere believers that are truly seeking a recovery, whether from the frequent abuse in churches, or to figure out what is real as opposed to the religious fakery that is so rampant in churches today. Yet just as we see throughout church history, the sincere are promptly overshadowed by the ambitious, and the progression of the cycle can only be delayed, not prevented.
In this case, the “Family” that grew up around the various anonymous Twitter parody accounts and moved to a Facebook group started to feel a lot like the very “fundamentalism” that these participants had left. Getting kicked out of the group without notice or appeal has become a common occurrence, while the leadership have assumed a kind of control that is little different from any authoritarian religious movement out there. When Eric Skwarczynski, the founder and host of the Preacher Boys Podcast, announced that he no longer considers himself a Christian, the reaction from both sides of the “Recovering” discussion was about what you would expect. While some aspects of the response were measured and reasonable, others bore the distinct markings of the us-vs-them division so common among fundamentalist churches.
Eric’s defection would require its own series of articles to address, and that’s something we have no interest in doing. Suffice it to say that after detailing scores of instances of abuse, cover-ups, manipulation, and obfuscation in Baptist and evangelical churches, he decided that he had had enough and renounced his faith. We could talk about John 6:66 or apostasy in general, but the reality is that the behavior of professing Christians led this man to renounce his faith. He will give an account of himself to God at some point. What is truly at issue here is the system that he saw, the filth that he exposed, and the results of his experiences, both at the hands of “fundamentalists” and the “Recovering” crowd.
Of course there were responses; what else is a podcast good for? Instead of focusing on the church’s responsibility for Eric’s apostasy, The Church Split decided to argue moral standards, saying that an atheist or agnostic has no authority, lacking an objective moral standard. The point is valid, but irrelevant to the topic at hand. What is at issue here is the same issue that caused the “Recovering” group to head out in the first place: the body of Christ is in direct disobedience to its Head. As a result, the church has no objective moral standard now, since her behavior is diametrically opposed to the commands that Christ gave us to love one another.
There is absolutely a place to oppose false doctrine. It is certainly necessary to warn against apostasy. Objective morality is without question a fundamental issue. However, Eric’s departure was due to the failures of the church. Again we refer to John 17:
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
Christ’s prayer to the Father indicates that our role in this world as Christ’s body is to give evidence of Christ’s authority as the Son of God. Simply put: if people don’t believe in God, it’s the church’s fault. You don’t have to like it, but those are Christ’s words on the matter. Eric’s apostasy is ultimately the church’s fault. But since it’s easier to call for someone else’s head than call for repentance within our own “camp,” we see the standard response: finger-pointing and the blame game. How is this different from the hated “fundamentalists”? How is it not hypocritical to point at Tony Hutson’s carryings on or John Hamblin’s vapidity, while in turn blasting a victim of the church’s REBELLION against her Saviour? No, Will and Brian aren’t attacking Eric’s dress standards or the length of his hair, or the music he listens to; yet the end result is the same: ignoring the root issue to point fingers at the fruit of the problem. Granted, their treatment of the situation is nowhere as “cringe” as the typical IFB pastor’s response to an internet sensation, but it still misses the root issue completely. Eric’s problem isn’t that he’s logically inconsistent: Eric’s problem is that the church is logically inconsistent. As he stated in an interview with Jimmy Hinton:
My faith has been hurt very deeply by, again, not by Hollywood or rock stars or all the people I was told were the threats. Like, for me, you know, I struggle to see people who claim to be transformed by the Holy Spirit, living in a way and acting in a way, covering for things in a way, that far exceeds what I see happening in places like Hollywood, or places like, you know, places like secular places that I was warned about. And so for me, you know, it’s affected my ability to believe in there being some radical, transformative “power” to this.
I totally understand Galatians 5:16-17. I get it, the “in Christ” of 2 Corinthians 5:17 is the saved person’s spirit added to the body of Christ. I know all the doctrines; that’s not where the issue is. The issue is the part about walking worthy of our Saviour. It’s the practice, not the doctrine. How can a person behave like a lost person, or even worse than a lost person, all the while claiming to have the Holy Spirit residing inside of him? How can churches ignore child rapists in their ministries, cover up for serial adulterers, and fellowship with peeping toms, all the while pointing fingers at Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein? Eric’s point is absolutely correct: the gospel calls for repentance, something that has been thrown out the window in IFB churches in exchange for bigger ministries, larger bus routes, and more “conversions.” We see the fruit of this cheap, flippant approach to God’s holiness: a church that is poor, wretched, miserable, blind, and naked.
Eric Skwarczynski grew up in IFB churches and left because of the hypocrisy. Unfortunately, that hypocrisy didn’t disappear once he stepped outside of the circles in which he grew up. While it may seem attractive to point fingers at the other group, everyone that claims the name of Christ is equally responsible for the way in which He is portrayed. The “Recovering Fundamentalists” aren’t the enemy, the “IFB” aren’t the enemy, and Eric or lost people aren’t the enemy. Do you want to know who the true enemy is? Let’s ask the apostle James:
James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
When you do the world’s work for them and distract from God’s glory, you become the enemy of God. When Eric is discouraged and walks away from the faith, it is the church’s fault, and instead of attacking him, we need to take some time to look inward and see where we went wrong. Our bickering, dissension, backbiting, and overall disobedience is doing the devil’s work for him.
All These Lives
I am still an independent Baptist. I believe the doctrinal positions espoused by the Baptists to be closest to the Bible in any organized group of churches in the world. I have no intention of changing my position or taking “Baptist” off of the name of any churches that the LORD sees fit to allow me to plant in my field of service. As such, it’s important to take stock of our situation as believers and make sure that we truly are following the scriptures as we claim to do. If our wake is littered with broken families, bitter wounded, and discouraged former believers like Eric, then we can only assume that we missed something somewhere; it’s certainly not the Bible’s fault.
Let’s look at an example from economics. “Capitalism” has become a dirty word in politics and the legacy news media, and is constantly blamed for everything that might possibly go wrong in any country with even a modicum of economic freedom. Of course, the real problems are caused not by capitalism which is simply the free exchange of goods and services, but instead are caused by corporatism which is the interference of the state (government) in commerce, preferring certain corporations over others. There are all sorts of issues that arise once the state begins to regulate business: regulatory capture, the use of regulations by established companies to prevent competition from entering the marketplace; lobbying, purchasing preferential treatment from politicians; and collusion, establishing virtual monopolies with government assistance, are among the many tactics used by entrenched corporations to use the power of the state against the consumer.
When these tactics are employed, immediately the socialists condemn “capitalism” as the culprit and insist that more government intervention is the solution, ignoring that it was government intervention that created the issues in the first place. Ultimately, it’s not actually “capitalism” that caused these problems, but it is always the scapegoat.
Let’s apply this truth to the church. The “church” is a called-out assembly of believers, assembling for the purpose of the One that called her out of the world. The “church” is never a construction, a 501(c)(3) corporation, a convention, or a “camp,” yet these are always what the world perceives as “the church.” Therefore, when those organizations that call themselves “churches” hurt others, lie, steal, manipulate, or misrepresent Christ, it is unfortunately Christ’s body that is blamed, even if that body wasn’t even involved.
It is not Christ that does these horrible things, yet He gets blamed for them. Much like Nathan told David:
2 Samuel 12:14 Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.
There is a price to be paid when Christ is reproached by our sin and wickedness. When churches cover up and marginalize sexual abuse in the pulpits, when spiritual abuse is the norm in churches, and when those who hold the truth do so in unrighteousness, Christ is dishonored and there must be a reckoning.
The answer is not nor has it ever been to split or separate from the body of Christ, form a new denomination, start a new movement, or attempt to distance ourselves from the problem by claiming independence. Yes, we’re independent Baptists, but we’re still in the same body and we will still stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ alongside every other believer regardless of what name was on the church sign (or if they even had a church sign). We’re all in the same boat together, and Christ’s command that we be as one in Him is still valid, even if your brother uses the wrong Bible version.
Unfortunately, sin in the camp will eventually affect everyone, just like with Achan and Ai. The 36 dead at Ai had obeyed God’s commands perfectly; they hadn’t stolen anything from Jericho: Achan did, and he survived the battle just fine. His sin affected others, and the LORD withdrew His hand of blessing and protection from the entire nation. As with Daniel’s prayer, a collective repentance is required before we can expect God’s blessing on our churches.
Daniel 9:5 We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:
6 Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
Even though Daniel himself was a godly man, he recognized himself as being part of the problem. We will never see God’s blessings on us until we realize that WE are the problem and repent.’https://www.kjvchurches.com/recovering-part-5-more-of-the-same/
If you have read the “About” me for this blog you know I am an independent Baptist. I was saved (accepted the Lord Jesus Christ) when I was a very young lad through the ministry of an independent Baptist Church where I also followed the Lord in baptism and heard some good preaching from His Word. However, having now walked with the Lord these many, many years I have seen a lot of “things” within “Christianity” that did and do bother me. Today, I came across the following and thought I would share it with you. This is only the first Part so i will share the others later.
‘Over the last few years there has been a significant movement to rethink “fundamentalism,” a term often applied to churches that would qualify to be listed in our database here at KJV Churches. Largely driven by younger believers, mostly Millennials, this movement has questioned many of the positions and attitudes held by a number of prominent figures who purport to hold to “Old Time Religion” or the “Old Paths,” and without a doubt there are many valid questions and rebukes necessary in many sectors of “fundamental” Christianity.
In this series, we intend to deal with a number of the real issues that should be addressed with regard to the supposed “Old Time Religion” and “fundamentalism,” but at the same time it is our desire to inspect the attitudes displayed by the “Recovering Fundamentalist” movement. As with most things, there are ditches on both sides of the road, and while a strong argument can be made against the traditional model that frequently covers up sin, overlooks abuse, and welcomes “fallen” men while ignoring and blaming the victims, we must be careful not to allow a knee-jerk reaction that will result in the same rotten attitudes, ungodly spirit, and combative approach that is many times the fruit of the “fundamentalists.”
The generational divide between the majority of the church leadership, made up of Generation X and Baby Boomers (of disrespectful “OK, Boomer” fame), and the up-and-coming Millennials, the generation to which this author belongs, has been the cause for a lot of conflict. We Millennials have a very different approach to certain things which makes us appear to be a threat to many people, especially those who appreciate their authoritative positions and perceive any question as a threat or assume that any disagreement is an attack. The older generations must understand that a person presenting a question is not necessarily seeking to supplant whoever is in authority. Often it is done in a spirit of reconciliation, hoping to correct a wrong, perceived or real, and to restore respect for whoever was in error. Simply put, most Millennials aren’t interested in sweeping things under the rug, regardless of the consequences.
My generation experienced the Internet as young people, so we remember the days before instant, worldwide communication was possible even though many of us met our spouses and best friends online. We’re the pre-Internet generation that has in a very real sense shaped the Internet as it exists today. Our unique experiences have created a group of people, from 25-40 years old, that believe that respect is earned and can be lost, authority does not automatically deserve respect, and that age does not automatically mean wisdom (Job 32:9) when it departs from the word of God. As a result, our generational perspective does not automatically follow that of our predecessors. We are more likely to investigate a man’s character and testimony, and not just assume that he was a great man because he was a “great soul winner”. We’ve seen too many “great men” go to prison to assume that large numbers of “conversions” or a big Bible College are the marks of spirituality.
Personally, I’ve long since stopped identifying with men or movements, since many that I respected as a child turned out to be problematic, to say the least, once I reached adulthood. It’s true that there are Biblical commands to respect those that have positions of authority, but all too often the warnings and responsibilities of those tasked with those positions have been ignored, while the man in question hides behind a “man of God” moniker and rejects all criticism as an attack on “the ministry.” I don’t even know how many times as a child that I heard my pastor preach grave warnings about speaking out against the pastor (him, of course), talking about she-bears, lightning strikes, and leprosy attacks, as if he himself were Elisha, Elijah, or Moses. Another shocking recollection is of the pastor (same man) claiming that the church funds were low because he had chosen not to receive his salary, and that God wasn’t blessing the church as a result.
It is the unfortunate reality of modern “Christianity” (“Churchianity” is much more accurate, since it’s more about the “church” than it is about Christ) that those in places of authority heartily accept the “benefits” that come with being the CEO of a government-recognized 501(c)(3) charity, yet ignore the stern warnings in the Scriptures about how to deal with God’s flock (Acts 20:28-29; 1 Peter 5:2-3; 2 Peter 2:3; Hebrews 13:7, 17, etc.). Too many pastors have assumed the right to skin God’s sheep at will, abusing Christ’s flock and manipulating the LORD’s heritage for their own benefit, be it physical (just look at the average BMI of Baptist pastors), monetary, or spiritual, seeking the preeminence that belongs exclusively to the LORD. Now, lest the reader assume that fingers are being pointed at Generation X or the “Boomers,” allow me to clarify: this danger exists in any generation, for any pastor, who ignores the scriptures and seeks his own benefit instead of that of the body of Christ.
Assuming anyone is still reading at this point, there may be some anger in that so far nothing has been said against those meddlesome “Recovering Fundamentalists.” Don’t worry, we’ll get there. But since the “Recovery” movement is a response to the real problems in so-called “Fundamentalism,” those issues should be addressed first, which will allow us to see how this new movement started and why, and we’ll be better prepared to address the issues that they themselves face and the problems they are causing for themselves and for the body of Christ. Don’t worry: there are plenty of problems to go around, and there is plenty of blame to be shared.
What’s the Big Deal?
Over the last few decades the focus of self-professed fundamentalist churches has shifted from the glory of God, edification of the body, and the evangelization of the lost to a pragmatic approach to maintaining the status quo of church attendance, bus ridership, and financial giving. Paris Reidhead’s warning against pragmatism in his famous sermon Ten Shekels and a Shirt (listen to it if you haven’t already) has been completely ignored by the body of Christ. While it may be easy for “conservative” churches (traditional music, KJV only, etc.) to point fingers at “megachurches” with their sports complexes, coffee shops, and polo-shirt-wearing “campus pastors,” we must take stock of our own attitudes and recognize that our own religious system focuses on itself and its own self-propagation more than the glory of God and the spiritual edification of the body.
The results of this sad state of “Christianity” is that young people have started to look behind the curtain and realize that the “Holy Spirit” that is talked about so frequently is really just emotionalism dressed up as spirituality in order to sell a religious program. Thus, it’s no wonder that the sales tactics of a sleazy used car salesman are employed to fill the pews, and that the same approach to maintaining the membership is used, despite the differing content. Don’t believe me? Consider this question:
“What if we take away the cool music and the cushioned chairs? What if the screens are gone and the stage is no longer decorated? What if the air conditioning is off and the comforts are removed? Would his Word still be enough for his people to come together?” – David Platt
The question is valid regardless of who said it; many “fundamentalists” revere serial adulterers and child molesters, so I don’t care what you think about Platt, nor does it matter what I think about him. Consider about the question and imagine how many of the “members” of your church would still faithfully attend if there were no comfortable seats, if there were no heating or air conditioning. How many of the young people would come if it wasn’t for the goodies or fun activities? If all your church did were to assemble, stand together for two or three hours, sing a few hymns a cappella, and listen to the word preached and Christ glorified for two hours, how many would be left at the end of a year? What would the tithing records look like? How many missionaries would you be able to support? How would you pay the mortgage?
You see, we Millennials were sold a bill of goods. We were told that Christ was all that mattered, but we saw that the reality was very different. Just so that we’re clear, that’s called hypocrisy and it’s one of the things that irritates the LORD the most. And, it’s not very appreciated by young people that believed you when we were young and then saw the results of your hypocrisy. So, it’s understandable when young people who would have served God wholeheartedly if they had an example to follow, instead leave church, develop a resentful attitude, or look for a place where they can truly serve God without the humanistic impediments that are so rampant in many “fundamental” churches.
Conclusion (don’t worry, there’s more to come)
So, we haven’t gotten around to bashing those pesky “Recovering Fundamentalists” yet. That’s ok, there’s plenty of blame and rebuke to go around. In a future post we will start to unpack the response, good and bad, of the Millennial generation to the problems we addressed in this post. Just keep in mind that the most important problem to deal with is OUR problem, just like Christ said:
Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye. (Luke 6:42)
Do you want to “see clearly” to deal with the issues that someone else has? Great! Start with yourself, just like I must start with myself. When you recognize and deal with the problems at home, you’ll both be more objective and more merciful with the errors of others (Galatians 5:1). But if you start in the flesh and only look at the mistakes of others, you’ll just create more strife, division, and contention (Proverbs 13:10).’https://www.kjvchurches.com/recovering-part-1-meet-the-millennials/
As the video said Charles Emerson became a pastor in the Ozarks. There the Lord used him to help others come to Christ and also provide a place for retired independent Baptist missionaries to have a home. Here is that story. ‘The concept for such a place was born in the heart of a caring pastor named Charles Emerson. Brother Emerson and his family purchased 63 acres of property, built a chapel, established a ministry among the local residents and called this special place: “Missionary Acres”. Due to advancing age and health problems, Brother Emerson graciously donated the property to Baptist Mid-Missions in 1962. Baptist Mid-Missions shared Brother Emerson’s idea to establish a retirement center for independent Baptist Missionaries. The idea was to develop a place where inexpensive housing could be provided for missionary retirees. The ministry still bares the name that brother Emerson gave it so long ago: Missionary Acres.’ https://www.missionaryacres.com/what-is-missionary-acres/