There is a fierce battle raging within the Independent Baptist (IB) movement between those who are committed to old Bible paths and those who are enticed by a new way. When I was saved in 1973 and joined an IB church a couple of months later it was assumed that practically every IB church was committed to the old paths. The SBC was universally condemned for its worldliness and theological compromise. A large percentage of IB churches had come out of the Convention and they tended to be plainspoken about its error. Today, a lot of former Ind. Baptists have gone back into the SBC.
In regard to “warning ministries,” they were pretty common in 70s and 80s. There was the Calvary Contender, F.B.F. News Bulletin, Foundation magazine, Plains Baptist Challenger, The Baptist Challenge, O Timothy, and others. Even the Sword of the Lord did some serious warning, particularly dealing with the compromise in the Southern Baptist Convention.
Many of those publications are defunct. Most significantly, there has been a sweeping change in attitude toward warnings. In the past 20 years a large number of IB churches in Canada and the United States and around the world have moved from appreciating or at least tolerating “a warning ministry,” to not liking it, to demonizing it. (A pastor who wrote to say that he thinks demons led me to write about the direction of Lancaster Baptist Church of Lancaster, California, is a glaring example.) A large number of pastors who once supported O Timothy magazine no longer do so.
There is a blurring and a blending. There is a desperate need for some clear divisions, and that is what I am trying to help create. For those who say Brother Cloud is divisive, I say, "Well done, you got the message." Creating some godly divisions within the Independent Baptist movement (and Bible-believing churches more generally) is exactly what I am trying to do. Drawing clear biblical lines in principle and in association and being consistent with those lines is one of the greatest needs among Independent Baptist churches if we are going to maintain the truth for the next generation.
The confusing and most dangerous element is that many are still saying the right things even as they are walking down the path toward emerging. They are buying into the philosophy that we should be more positive, be less about “fighting” and more about unity. (They say they believe in fighting, but they never fight, and they say that they believe in warning but they rarely if ever issue clear warnings.) They say we should focus more on evangelism and missions; we should back away from dividing over things like music and dress and entertainment and Bible versions and definitions of election (and the list gets longer as the compromise grows). They say we should focus on love and harmony.
What is all of this if not the New Evangelical emerging philosophy infiltrating Independent Baptists?
There have been many times when I have been tempted to keep my mouth shut about something in order to maintain the support of this or that man and to keep the invitations to this or that place coming, and by God's grace, and only by God’s grace, I have not done it. I refuse invitations that I know would require me to narrow my message and keep my mouth shut on anything whatsoever, if I consider it a biblical issue.
A few years ago, for example, I was invited to preach the graduation at a particular Bible college and I declined because they use some mild CCM and are loose on standards across the board and are not careful enough about what teachers they bring on board. In general, they have a “soft” philosophy that is not compatible with what God has taught me from His Word. I wanted to accept the invitation, but I knew that by so doing I would either compromise my message or cause trouble. Further, by speaking at that place, those watching would think that I was putting my stamp of approval on it, and I could thereby cause some to stumble.
It is time for some clear divisions. A lot of missionaries are going down the path of compromise because they refuse to break away from outfits like Trinity Baptist in Jacksonville, Florida, and Lancaster in California. They pretend that the compromise happening in such places doesn't affect them and that they themselves are above it, but in reality they are religious politicians refusing to take the kind of stand that will cause them to lose support, ministry opportunities, etc.
You don’t know what a man really believes and what his convictions really are until he pays a price for them.
In the early 1990s I was shocked to learn that some Independent Baptists were supporting the radically ecumenical Promise Keepers and were making ecumenical-type noises about unity (not Scriptural unity based on truth but unscriptural unity based on something other than truth) and non-judgmentalism. That crowd was largely the Baptist Bible Fellowship International (BBFI). They are on the cutting edge of Independent Baptist compromise and the path toward emerging, and a lot of concerned men left the BBFI in those days. The BBFI was soon followed by the Southwide Baptist Fellowship. Since the 1990s, the BBFI and Southwide Baptist Fellowship crowds have been great haters of my warnings.
Today the softness and compromise is spreading everywhere and the only churches and missionary works that are standing firm are those that are properly educated and are not idolatrously committed to some empire builder.
The weight of opinion among Independent Baptists has already swung decisively against the spirit of Psalm 119:128. “Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.”
Godly “hating” of error is not welcome. It is maligned. It is mischaracterized as “shooting the wounded” and other such nonsense. This has long been the climate within the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Independent Baptist movement in general is rapidly moving in exactly the same direction. Most Independent Baptist churches are already there. They are no different in separatist character from the Southern Baptist churches I grew up in.
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