Way of Life Literature
Publisher of Bible Study Materials
“The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25).
“And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, BUT SECRETLY FOR FEAR OF THE JEWS...” (John 19:38).
“For before that certain came from James, he [Peter] did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, FEARING THEM WHICH WERE OF THE CIRCUMCISION” (Galatians 2:12).
If Joseph of Arimathaea and Peter were susceptible to the fear of man and were inclined to be crowd followers, it is obvious that there is no preacher who cannot be tempted with this sin.
And it is a sin, because the believer is not supposed to follow a crowd. He is supposed to follow Christ as defined in the Holy Scripture, the sole authority for faith and practice. It is idolatrous to fear man more than God, and we are warned to keep ourselves from idols (1 John 5:21).
To a man, fundamental Baptist preachers claim to follow Christ and His Word alone, but after more than 40 years of experience in these circles I am convinced that most follow a crowd instead (e.g., one’s associates in some fellowship or mission board or some other organization, one’s fellow graduates of a certain school, some “good old boy’s network” of Bible conference speakers, one’s fellow admirers of some influential pastor).
When this is the case, the crowd determines the preacher’s position on “non-essential” doctrines and practices (falsely so called).
This explains the reason behind so much inconsistency and so much change. The “convictions” are only as deep as the crowd allows. The crowd followers can stand only as firm as the brethren allow.
If the crowd still says it believes in “dress standards,” but in reality it no longer cares about the matter, then that will be the crowd follower’s position. He might still mention “modesty” in his preaching, but he won’t define modesty and draw the same clear lines he once drew, because that is no longer acceptable to his crowd.
In that context, though the man says he “believes in dress standards,” he will not promote a good book on the subject. In fact, it is more likely that he will mark such a book as “legalistic,” even though the book is only teaching what his own crowd taught not that long ago.
If the crowd is truly opposed to CCM, then the crowd follower can be opposed to CCM, if he so chooses.
But when the mood changes and the crowd only SAYS it is “opposed to CCM,” but REALLY ISN’T opposed to it any longer and instead is more zealous to justify the “adaptation” of CCM than to identify CCM and separate from it, the crowd follower can no longer be consistent in his stand (assuming he ever had one). He, too, must be “opposed to CCM” only as window dressing while in practice he has to justify its use. And he will be irritated with men who try to oppose CCM consistently and point out his inconsistencies.
In this context, the crowd follower won’t educate his people properly on an issue even though he professes to believe in and care about it. He might preach against something like contemporary music, but it will be more in generalities and will not get so specific as to reprove the type of thing that his crowd is doing.
Regardless of his personal convictions, the crowd follower cannot take any sort of stand that would be unpopular to his associates.
When one’s stand is determined by one’s associations, the stand changes as the mood within the association changes.
Fifteen years ago the vast majority of Independent Baptists condemned CCM in no uncertain terms. Back then, the BJU and Lancaster and Pensacola crowds weren’t borrowing heavily from CCM, so there was no problem in speaking out boldly against CCM within those circles and letting the “chips fall where they may.”
Now that the climate has changed and it is popular to “adapt” CCM for use in the churches, the crowd followers are having to soft peddle and just plain ignore some things they preached and wrote a decade ago.
To continue to preach and write what they did in the past, when the climate was different, the crowd follower would either have to move away from the crowd of his own free will or he would continue to speak out and the crowd would move away from him. Either alternative is just too frightful for the crowd follower to bear.
The fact that so many fundamental Baptist preachers are crowd followers is yet another reason why most Independent Baptist churches will be emerging within 10-20 years.
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