TThere is a fierce battle raging within the Independent Baptist (IB) movement between those who are committed to the 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, Plains Baptist Challenger, The Baptist Challenge, O Timothy, and others. Even the Sword did some serious warning, particularly tearing into the SBC with no holds barred.
Many of those publications are defunct. Most significantly, there has been a sweeping change in attitude toward plain 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 likening it, to demonizing it. (A pastor who wrote recently to say that he thinks demons led me to write the way I did in warning about the direction of Lancaster Baptist Church of Lancaster, California, is a glaring example.)
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’ve got the message." Creating some godly divisions within the IB movement (and wherever Bible-believing churches exist) 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 IB 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” more about unity. (They say they believe in fighting, but they never fight, and they say that they believe in warning but they rarely issue clear warnings.) They say we should focus more on evangelism and missions; we should back off of 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?
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 refused to do it. I refuse invitations that I know would require me to narrow my message and keep my mouth shut on anything whatsoever.
Last year, 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 a bit loose on standards across the board and are not careful enough about what teachers they bring on board and just have a “soft” philosophy that is not compatible to what God has taught me from His Word. I actually wanted to accept the invitation, but I knew that by so doing I could only either compromise or cause trouble by. Further, by speaking at that place, those watching would think that I was putting my stamp of approval on it and I could cause some to stumble.
It's 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 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. 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 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 BBFI. They are on the cutting edge of IB 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 people have been great haters of my warnings.
Today the softness is spreading everywhere and only those churches and missionary works that are properly informed and educated and are not idolatrously committed to some empire builder are standing firm.
The weight of opinion among Independent Baptists has already swung decisively against the spirit of Psalm 119:128. Godly hating 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 SBC, and the IB movement in general is rapidly moving in that direction. Most IB churches are already there.
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