As you know, I am deeply concerned about the direction of most Independent Baptist churches today.
One of the fountains of compromise is Paul Chappell and Lancaster Baptist Church of Lancaster, California. Their Independent Baptist big tent program, contemporary music, and “lighten up” philosophy is spreading change in a large number of churches, and the change is always toward a looser, weaker, more contemporary direction and away from biblical separatism. This is irrefutable. Chappell’s own son, Matt, who started Rockhill, an out-and-out Christian rock “church," is a product of Paul’s philosophy. He is not an anomaly. A large number of Lancaster graduates are starting contemporary churches. It cannot be denied. (See “Lancaster Baptist Church’s Contemporary Fruit,” Way of Life Literature, Sept. 19, 2017.)
In Australia, Robert Bakss represents this unscriptural philosophy in its maturity, as you know very well and as I have documented in the free eBook A Baptist Church on the Slippery Slope. In forty-five years of ministry, Bakss’ Worship Wars is the most dangerous book I have read by an Independent Baptist pastor. It is a full-blown defense of contemporary worship music and the use of rock & roll. Bakss says, “The music styles that have captured the ears of our culture today ought to be harnessed as a powerful medium to convey Bible truths. ... Christian Rap, Heaven’s Metal, Holy Hip-Hop, and other forms, ARE PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE means of communicating with the devotees of those styles.” Worship Wars is an invitation to use the writings and arguments of Pentecostals, ecumenists, and other heretics, which has long been a New Evangelical practice. It is an invitation to young people to experiment with the world’s music. It is an encouragement to build bridges to the one-world church by using their music. Bakss even claims that a stance against contemporary worship music is of the devil.
I am convinced that any church that does not plainly denounce this error and compromise and denounce the leaders of it and separate from them will be corrupted. It is only a matter of time. This is taught in 1 Corinthians 15:33. “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.”
Recently Good Shepherd Baptist Church in Brisbane held a leadership conference that featured men who are well down the slippery slope. One of the speakers was Doug Fisher. He spoke at Paul Chappell’s “Spiritual Leadership Conference Asia" in the Philippines in February 2018 and had Robert Bakss speak at his church in California in October 2017. According to Amos 3:3, Fisher is in agreement with these men’s great compromise. Instead of publicly denouncing the compromise, he joins hands with them in ministry.
Having had a ministry to preachers in the Philippines for 10 years, I have seen firsthand the compromise that has spread among Independent Baptist churches there due to the influence of Paul Chappell and others who hold his philosophy of ministry. A large number of the Filipino churches are already contemporary in music and philosophy.
Other speakers at the Good Shepherd Baptist leadership conference were Nathan Lloyd and Wayne Sehmish, both of whom have supported Bakss in what he calls the “worship wars.”
I am outspoken against the compromise that is destroying the character of Independent Baptist churches, and I am therefore “divisive.” It is, in fact, my goal to be divisive. I am convinced that if there is not a clear division between those who are committed to a path of compromise and those who love the truth, that all will float merrily down the same river together into the broad ocean of end-time apostasy.
The only safety is for a church to be paddling upstream as vigorously as possible by strong biblical teaching, by solid education on essential issues, by plain, public denunciation of error, by earnest contention for the faith, and by careful separation. Churches committed to the truth should exhort and warn those who are foolishly and carelessly floating downstream, and they must steadfastly refuse to join hands with them.
I am convinced that we can have churches that are stronger today than the vast majority of those that have existed in the past century. The theme of our conference in the Philippines in January 2018 was “Steps to a Stronger Church for the 21st Century.”
When I was born in 1949, the strongest churches in America were Southern Baptist. But they were extremely weak. They were biblically shallow, lukewarm, worldly, spiritually careless. They were Billy Graham churches. They had a name that they lived, but they were dead. When I got saved in 1973, I joined an Independent Baptist church, because they were the strongest churches I could find. But Independent Baptists, for the most part, have never been as strong biblically as they should have been. Generally speaking, they have been too hasty in evangelism, too careless about receiving members, too shallow in Bible knowledge, too weak in separation, too neglectful of discipline, too infantile in discipleship. The result is that they have dropped like flies over the past two decades, falling prey to the contemporary evangelical philosophy or simply dying of powerlessness.
If the battle is to be won, we must have churches who are unhesitating, unflinching, unquestionable voices for Truth, and this requires strong, courageous leadership.
My message to every Independent Baptist preacher is, “Who is on the Lord’s side?”
Let the sons of Levi gather together against Israel's compromise.
“Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD’s side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour. And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men” (Exodus 32:26-28).
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