A friend in North Carolina wrote recently to give the following observation in regard to the many independent Baptist churches he has visited over the years. The all caps are in the original.
“I don’t think 98% of Independent Baptist churches have ANY type of warning ministry in their preaching and teaching. I wouldn't be surprised if a large number of pastors have NEVER given a warning about anything or any person. I know that you know some preachers who giving warnings. But out in the rest of the Baptist world there is NO warning. Very sad. I’m talking about SIMPLE statements here, not a ministry of warning.”
Not only do most independent Baptist preachers not give warnings, they believe that warnings are largely unnecessary and probably wrong.
The prevailing attitude was exemplified by a blog published by Pastor R.B. Ouellette in June 2011 entitled “Chasing Buzzard.” Though he began by saying that it is important to chase off the buzzards of compromise and error, he spent the largest percentage of his blog characterizing a “warning ministry” as wrong-headed, dangerous, unfruitful, and “secondary.”
It is typical among fundamental Baptist churches today for godly reproof to be treated as cheap gossip, “throwing stones,” “hit pieces,” “shooting the wounded,” “touching the Lord’s anointed,” and other such things.
According to the prevailing thinking, it is OK to give private warnings, but it is wrong to “attack” a “man of God” publicly.
This is a tactic that makes it impossible to effectively correct public error.
If a preacher has a wide influence beyond the “walls” of his own church through his writings, conferences, college, music, etc., the only way to help those who are being influenced negatively is to deal with error and compromise in the public arena. This type of thing is not a Matthew 18 matter; it is a 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 2:15; 1 Peter 4:11; and Jude 3 matter. When we are commanded in Scripture to reprove error and to earnestly contend for the faith, we are nowhere told that we can do this only in private.
Churches that treat spiritual warnings as dangerous cannot deal effectively with the leaven of error and will therefore be corrupted. This is a law.
“Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” (1 Corinthians 5:6).
Independent Baptist churches are encountering the hurricane force winds of apostasy in the form of the emerging church and all of its elements, such as the contemporary rock & roll philosophy (“cultural liberalism”) that mocks strict holy standards of Christian living as legalism, modern textual criticism, Purpose Drivenism, self-esteemism, kingdom now replacement theology, Third Wave charismaticism, reconstructionism, ecumenical evangelism, C.S. Lewisism, Christian counseling psychobabble, Neo-orthodoxy, contemplative prayer, John Piper’s Christian hedonism, organic churchism, to name a few.
When warnings are given about something like the downgrade of music standards in certain influential churches and schools and how dangerous that is, or the error of building an Independent Baptist “friendship unity” on the basis of treating certain biblical issues as “non-essentials,” those warnings are despised and the reprover is maligned.
That is a recipe for spiritual destruction. When Israel demanded that the prophets preach only smooth things, her downfall was already sealed.
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