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In typical New Evangelical fashion, the 40-year-old church has dropped its dress standards in recent years as well as its former stand on the King James Bible. According to an open letter that he sent out on July 3, 2002, Pastor David Stokes of Bethlehem Baptist said, “With regard to dress and modesty issues, we enforce no rule on our folks. … apparel issues are really of no concern to us.” He also stated that he led the church to drop its “King James Only” clause from the by-laws about two years ago and he now preaches from the New American Standard Version and the New Living Translation, among others.
A paper published by the Bethlehem Baptist Church in March 2002 featured a photo of the church’s new Youth Pastor, Rob Hoerr. Bedecked with a goatee, an earring, and a P.O.D. T-shirt, this independent Baptist youth director is proudly promoting the Christian rock lifestyle.
P.O.D. is the rock band Payable on Death. In a 2001 interview with Theresa McKeon of Shoutweb titled “P.O.D. The Fundamental Elements of God Rock,” Sonny of P.O.D. said, “Jesus was the first rebel. He was the first punk rocker going against all the rest of it.” That is a false christ. Sonny went on to admit that he not only listens to vile secular rock music, but he watches R-rated movies. He justified that sort of thing, claiming that he has liberty in Christ to make such choices, and that Christianity is not “putting on shackles.” He is confusing liberty with license. It is the heresy of antinomianism. “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).
P.O.D. is heavily influenced by the anti-Christian Rastafarian religion and by the Rastafarian preacher, Bob Marley, and his reggae music. They often speak highly of Marley and do not warn of his false religion. The Marley song “Get Up, Stand Up” is an assault upon salvation by faith in Christ. Note these lyrics:
WE SICK AN’ TIRED OF YOUR BULLS—- GAME,
DIE AND GO TO HEAVEN IN JESUS NAME.
We know when we understand:
Almighty God is a living man.
You can fool some people sometimes,
But you can’t fool all the people all the time.
And now we’ve seen the light (What you gonna do?),
We gonna stand up for our rights! (Yeah, yeah, yeah!)
Most people think,
GREAT GOD WILL COME FROM THE SKIES,
Take away everything
And make everybody feel high.
BUT IF YOU KNOW WHAT LIFE IS WORTH,
YOU WILL LOOK FOR YOURS ON EARTH:
So now we see the light (What you gonna do?), We gonna stand up for our rights! (Yeah, yeah, yeah!)
P.O.D. actually plays this blasphemous song in concerts (Rolling Stone, Nov. 22, 2001, p. 35).
The Rastafarians call their false god “Jah Rastafari” and Marley’s music is filled with references to “Jah.” P.O.D. follows suit and borrows this pagan name for God in their songs. In “Tribal” P.O.D. sing, “I and I a Jah Jah warrior…” The phrase “I and I” is also from Rastafarianism, meaning oneness and unity. The name Jehovah is a biblical name for God, but the name Jah Rastafari is a false pagan god.
Shame on the Bethlehem Baptist Church for promoting such wickedness to its youth, and shame on the Baptist Bible Fellowship International for being associated with this church.
One of the speakers at the 2002 BBF meeting was Southern Baptist pastor Johnny Hunt. He said that preachers should not listen to critics much and should be more concerned about what lost people think of their churches than what other preachers might think. He said: “I would like to believe, that if a drunkard rode by the First Baptist Church of Woodstock, [Georgia] that he’d look over at his wife that’s driving the car cause he is so drunk, and he’d say to her, I’m not much on church, but if I ever decided to go to church, that’s the kind of church I wanna go to. I am more concerned in what the heathen are saying about our church.”
That, of course, is pure Willow Creek Community Church nonsense. How could unsaved people judge a church properly? The unsaved person cannot even understand the things of God (1 Cor. 2:14). While it is important that a church not have a testimony of hypocrisy and self-centeredness, if a church is truly faithful to the Word of God, it is impossible that the unsaved will love it. The unsaved person doesn’t want someone telling him he is a hell-bound sinner, that he is responsible to God for every word he speaks and every action he commits, that God is commanding him to repent and live a holy life. The Willow Creek philosophy is heresy and will lead to complete apostasy. Churches are not judged as to their rightness by what the unsaved think about it but by the Word of God.
Jerry Falwell, who led his church to join the Southern Baptist Convention a few years ago, was the featured speaker at Bethlehem Baptist on the Sunday evening prior to the start of the BBF meeting on Monday. Falwell has praised Billy Graham, one of the fathers of New Evangelicalism, and has brought Graham in to speak at his school, Liberty University. Falwell has also promoted the radically ecumenical Promise Keepers and has personally fellowshipped closely with Charismatic and Roman Catholic leaders. In his autobiography Strength for the Journey, Falwell referred to the “Catholic brothers and sisters in the Moral Majority” (p. 371). In an interview with the National Catholic Register published in the May 9, 1982, issue, Falwell said that Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II are “the greatest men in my lifetime.” He did not give any warnings at all about the pope’s false gospel that is cursed of God. While admitting that there are differences between Roman Catholics and “conservative Protestants,” Falwell made the amazing statement that Roman Catholics accept “the new birth experience.” [For more information about Dr. Falwell’s compromise see the article “Jerry Falwell: the Billy Graham of Independent Baptists” -- http://www.wayoflife.org/database/falwell_graham.html ]
Our friend Mark Bold attended the 2002 BBFI conference and made the following sad observation: “I am extremely displeased and disappointed in both the behavior and lack of truth preached. The event was a charismatic, feel happy, ‘contemporary worship’ social occasion. … I could watch this kind of stuff on Paul and Jane Crouch’s TBN at home. I must admit that this took me back to a time when I used to attend a Charismatic church before I was saved. Every song was what we used to sing in the non-denominational Community Church that I went to many years ago. The songs drew you in with the beat, tempo and rhythm; you almost didn’t pay attention to the words. … A Thomas Road Baptist Church singer named Charles Billingsley was the main feature of the show. Every song was followed by a rush of applause, and after his performance Charles received a great standing ovation with cheers.”
The same deep compromise is reflected in BBFI works overseas. In 2003, Benny Abante, head of the Philippines Baptist Bible Fellowship, was a speaker at the Jesus Saves Crusade in Manila, which featured evangelist Dave Janney. The final speaker of the crusade was Philippines president Gloria Arroyo, a Roman Catholic! She tried to use biblical words, but she does not understand what they mean. Dave Janney’s web site promotes the contemporary music group FFH. The group’s album “Ready to Fly” is described as “upbeat pop melodies over an acoustic, guitar-driven rhythm.” Using “quick prayerism” methodology, the crusade organizers claimed that 50,000 Filipinos got saved in one evening! Billy Graham himself could not have done a better job at compromise and confusion.
Many men have pulled out of the Baptist Bible Fellowship International in recent years, and this is the only path that will protect churches from being infected by the deep spiritual compromise that has permeated this Fellowship.
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Romans 16:17).
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