After a short time I found a little independent Baptist church in Bartow, Florida (now defunct) and was convinced that God led me there. Excited that they seemed to take the Bible seriously and were even a bit “fanatical” about it, I joined the church. Several months later I attended Tennessee Temple Bible School and was introduced to the wide world of independent Baptists. In those days Temple stood pretty much at the center of the movement, and Lee Roberson was highly regarded in most of the independent Baptist circles. We had dozens of big name IB speakers each year. I loved the preaching and grew in the Lord, though I was concerned even then with the biblical shallowness, the unscriptural exaltation of man, and the “quick prayerism” evangelism methodology.
What I did appreciate was the stand for separation.
That was more than three decades ago, and things have changed dramatically within the independent Baptist movement. The downgrade of separation, both ecclesiastical separation and separation from the world, is increasing at an explosive pace.
Yet in the midst of great compromise--with vast numbers of independent Baptist preachers supporting things that the vast majority of them once rejected, such as Contemporary Christian Music, contemporary Southern Gospel, sensual fashions, R-rated movies, mixed swimming, Rick Warrenism, Chuck Swindollism, Reformedism, textual criticism, and Southern Baptist Conventionism--there is an increasing call for unity and friendship among independent Baptists.
We are allowed to preach against the errors of those “out there,” such as the Charismatics, but we aren’t supposed to preach against the errors and compromise of our own Independent Baptist brethren.
It is divisive, they say. It hinders evangelism and missions and confuses the unbelievers, they say. Just keep it private, they say.
The following timely warning is edited from a sermon by Pastor Terry Coomer:
“Quite frankly, I am just amazed when I talk to Christian leaders and pastors. I recently conversed with a man who talked about a Christian college where he is the leader. He told me about wanting to turn things around. He talked about right music, right dress, and right stand on the Bible, which are very admirable things. Yet the leaders and teachers in this school do all the things that he privately admitted to be wrong. I ask you, how can a man take a stand for dress standards when he has none? How can a man take a stand against contemporary Southern Gospel music when he allows it right in his church or allows those to come to speak that promote it? How can a man take a stand for the Bible when he believes all texts are okay? The answer is that he cannot, and he allows these things in his church because it appeals to the flesh. Romans 6:12 says, ‘Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.’ Revival can never come to a church or a nation as long as the leaders’ lives are dictated by the ‘lusts of the flesh.’ I want you to know that the Bible calls these things sin, not a difference of opinion! It is the compromise of this wicked apostate hour!
“Folks, the real need today is not for more programs, but real Christian holy living. WE HAVE A MUTUAL ADMIRATION SOCIETY OF COMPROMISE TODAY. Our church takes a stand against the things mentioned above and will not compromise them. This does not mean that people need to be enemies, yet there are things I cannot and should not participate in and just call it a difference of opinion. If a person has a real desire to change and asks for help, we help them and provide information, but the idea that I should have compromisers preach in my church to try to help them or to be a political person is utter nonsense. Many do this under the guise that the people they invite do not understand the issues yet. No, my friend, they are Biblical compromisers, and if you invite them to speak or associate with them in the ministry you are participating in their ‘living for the lusts of the flesh’ lifestyle. It is a serious flaw that is killing the spiritual fervor of our churches, church people, Bible colleges, and our children. We are teaching them it is okay to live for the lusts of the flesh and to live a compromising life. It is shameful and a direct violation of the Scripture and is willful sinful disobedience.
“We need to remember that someday, maybe today, we will stand before God and give an account for how we have lived our lives. Titus 2:11-12 says, ‘For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men. Teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.’ So, my friend, my question is where is the living today that this verse describes?”
CONCLUDING NOTE FROM BROTHER CLOUD
The Mutual Admiration Society of Compromise is indeed well and hardy among independent Baptists. Leaders that allegedly have good standards for holiness privately and sometimes even in their own churches readily join hands with men who are responsible for flooding the movement with compromise. They join hands with men who love the worldly Contemporary Christian Music and the contemporary Southern Gospel that is merely countrified CCM, and who turn a blind eye to the sensual fashions their females wear and the vile television programs their deacons watch.
There is a growing call for an independent Baptist unity and “friendship.” We are all for friendship, but we are not for unity between Christ and the world, between truth and error.
Beware of compromisers, who often make a show of being strong and who take great offense at being labeled soft.
If ever there were a time NOT to promote unity with a wide spectrum of Independent Baptists, it is today!
You say, why don’t you speak to them.
In 2011, I tried to correspond with two of the most influential pastors in the movement, one of the west coast and one on the east. The east coast brother didn’t even acknowledge my letter. The west coast brother replied and claimed that he is a strong separatist and that I misunderstood his calls for unity, because he is opposed to worldliness and compromise and ecumenism among independent Baptists and that he does not support those who are going the way of the Southern Baptist Convention. Yet when I asked him to send me the titles and dates of the articles he has written on this subject and the sermons he has preached on it, he stopped replying. My pastor commented that he must be a “closet warner.”
In the 1980s, I corresponded with Don Jennings, after he was appointed pastor of Highland Park Baptist Church, the home of my alma mater. I explained that I was a Temple graduate and that I was a missionary in South Asia. Then I asked him if Tennessee Temple was taking a stand against New Evangelicalism under his ministry. In his reply he asked me what I meant by that term. I answered that I was referring to New Evangelicalism as it was traditionally defined by its own founders, such as Harold Ockenga. I was referring, first of all, to the repudiation of separatism and the positive emphasis. I gave him a list of men and institutions that I considered New Evangelical, including Billy Graham, Wheaton College, Moody Bible Institute, and Christianity Today.
Pastor Jennings thanked me for my clarification and stated that he and Tennessee Temple definitely took a stand against New Evangelicalism. I wrote back and asked him why, then, that the church and school invited Warren Wiersbe to speak, since (at the time) he was one of the editors of Christianity Today. I reminded Jennings that the problem with CT was very serious, that they were guilty of such things as promoting theological liberals and “evangelical Catholics” as true Christians. For Wiersbe to be directly associated with such a magazine was irrefutable evidence of his commitment to the New Evangelical philosophy. I told Jennings how that in a personal letter, Wiersbe had written urged me to stop taking a separatist stand in my writings and to “take off the gloves.”
Don Jennings wrote back one more time and it was obvious that his patience was exhausted. He brashly told me that not only was he having Warren Wiersbe in as a speaker that year but that he himself was speaking at Moody Church.
So much for his bold “stand” against New Evangelicalism!
I learned then, as a young missionary, that compromisers lie, and this has been confirmed many times since then.
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