As some have pointed out, there have always been weak churches that like to retain the label of IFB. The most irksome thing is that they refuse to simply leave the "movement" they so obviously despise.
I was in an IFB church for a short time where the pastor seemed to bash independent baptists at every turn. He used all the famous one liners: "We IFB's are the only ones that shoot our wounded", "We IFB's are the only ones that can't get along", "We IFB are the only ones that don't love the brethren", "We IFB's are the only ones that are late for church all the time", "We IFB's are the only ones that don't pray" and so on and so on. (Lies and misrepresentations, all.)
All the while, the preaching was lacking severely, the music was going downhill fast, sin was pouring into the church, and those trying to maintain some semblance of biblical separation were not welcome in that church.
From all he said, you would have to come to the conclusion that the worst people in the world were those who claimed to be a part of the IFB movement. I entreated him on the matter expressing my concern with the misrepresentations he was perpetuating for the sake of trying to motivate his flock, to which he responded that it was all true. If he had such a problem with IFB's then why did he insist on staying within the movement? Why not take it off the sign? Why not change the church name to Community Fellowship or some other ambiguous name type?
The same goes for the larger, more influential churches and schools: why not just move on? Why insist on trying to drag all of fundamentalism along with themselves away from, primarily, biblical separation?
It seems that most know that the day they leave fundamentalism, their religious influence will disappear or at least be so reduced that the current leadership would do anything than reduce their own sphere of influence. It seems to be a primary motivator in these situations. How much influence do they have? That equals power. It is power and influence described nowhere in the NT.
Having been the victim of covered-up abuse myself, a lot of what was said in the 20/20 episode and on this thread hits close to home.
I thought the 20/20 production was relatively balanced in its approach and they did not verbalize a conclusive view that all IFB churches are cults or that they all have the types of problems highlighted in their show. Near the beginning and again in the closing sequences, they equated having standards (specifically dress and music standards) with being a cult, which is dishonest, and they also edited the music and video clips of IFB churches to come across in a very sinister way. Those seemed to be the two most unwarranted representations of IFB churches in their show. They definitely could have gone much further in their attacks, but didn't, and for that I am thankful.
I had also already heard of the women who were interviewed and who seem to have made it their personal goal to destroy the name of fundamental churches through broad-brushing all fundamental churches as being evil and heretical. Their efforts are based mostly on separation issues and allegations of oppression. It seems to me that they add in and magnify the stories of abuse to make their other positions less assailable.
One of the best points raised by the interviewer was the disingenuous practice among most IFB churches of denying their common roots and spheres of influence. The pastor who so graciously granted an interview did a good job of answering most of the questions, but when questioned about the island-like facade adopted by most IFB churches when trouble arises, he dropped the ball. There are very few truly INDEPENDENT Fundamental Baptist churches left. In my opinion, it seems like the "I" in "IFB" most often stands for "Institutional." This opinion is based on the widespread practice of most churches to limit their fellowship to a very tight institution based sphere of influence. Along with joining in some sort of fellowship, most will also only defend those IFB's who are members in good standing with an approved ministry that has sprung from their own preferred institution or association or fellowship.
The thing that disturbed me most as I watched was seeing the letterhead of a prominent IFB lawyer (who, by the way, has helped some of the worst examples of IFB preachers, pastors, and evangelists out of a plethora of legal troubles, mostly having to do with sexual perversion) in one of the video clips of Pastor Phelps' statement to 20/20. To me, that only hurts the credibility of Dr. Phelps. Besides, he says on his own website that there are many particular things he would have done differently in hindsight, so he shouldn't be surprised that others would follow his own lead in finding fault with the way things were handled years ago.
The most encouraging part was seeing a relatively young IFB pastor not defending the lunacy that can indeed be found in some corners of IFB-dom. It was disturbing, however, that he had not figured out a way to let the folks in his church know that he had two registered sex offenders in his church. Every pastor should be aware of who is sitting in the pews of the church where he is the watchman and should find some way to properly warn those for whose very souls he is watching. In that regard, it should be every pastor's goal to keep the children in the watch-care of the church from having to find out the hard way who among their fellow church-goers struggles with sexual deviance.
One thing that all believers should know is that God's grace is sufficient for every need and in dealing with every situation. It will never be acceptable in His eyes for people to use their scarred past to attack those who would endeavor to stay true to God and His word. In fact, God isn't interested in leaving such scars in our past when He can so thoroughly heal us by His grace.
I am a testimony of His power to heal from such wounds. By the way, I am still an independent (not beholden to any institution), fundamental (desiring to be separated from this world unto God for his own glory), Bible-believing baptist.
Not long ago I was preaching at a local church and the Sunday school class I sat in on (ages 18-30 or so) was discussing spiritual discernment and maturity. The definition I gave to them for spiritual maturity was as follows:
Spiritual maturity should be the ever increasing state of a believer's spiritual life when he ceases to constantly attempt to justify what he wants to do by pointing to the things that aren't clearly spelled out in God's word, and he begins to seek only to glorify God through simple obedience to the commands that are clearly spelled out in His word.
Once the maturing believer is being guided by the Spirit of God in obedience to the Creator and not being constantly controlled by any other motivation, he begins to realize just how useless this world's wisdom and pleasures are when it comes to fulfilling the will of God. Neither Godly wisdom nor Spiritual discernment are required in order to accommodate one's own fleshly desires and it would seem to at least be close to blasphemy to attribute the pursuit of one's own desires through devilish wisdom to the discernment of scriptures by the power of the Holy Spirit.
That is why true discernment begins to manifest itself in large part when one realizes that the pleasures of this world, be they overt sin or "merely" omissions or just whimsical participations in the popular, are mutually exclusive from doing the will of the Father. It is simply not possible to serve two masters.
You are right in that the passages I had mentioned are speaking specifically about our relationship with our "brothers" and that does indeed change the dynamic of the warnings Christ was issuing.
However, your premise that it is impossible to "commit 'heart murder' or 'heart adultery'" is invalid based on the passage you cited. Jesus never claimed that one could actually outwardly commit any sin simply thinking about it or dwelling upon it. It is clear, though, that his instructions during the sermon on the mount are not descriptive of how the kingdom of heaven will be, but rather examples of how human righteous never had and never would be sufficient for a man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus Christ was informing all men for all time that committing a sin in one's heart causes one to be guilty of that sin in God's eyes regardless of whether or not the sin is ever committed physically. It seems that people have always had the ability to sin in their hearts without actually committing the sin outwardly and physically; that is the essence of Christ's discourse: that the scribes and Pharisees were sinning in their hearts and were just as guilty before God as though they had been performing those acts of iniquity openly and physically.
The reason for the insufficiency of their righteousness was not because of what they were or were not doing or whether they were committing sin outwardly or inwardly. The reason their righteousness fell short was because it was their own righteousness.
That is why the key phrase in that portion of the sermon on the mount is when Jesus says, "... except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven."
Our righteousness must be Christ's righteousness. That is the only way it can ever exceed that of the Pharisees and the only way we could ever hope to gain entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
Until then, we have an advocate with the Father for all sins, be they inward or outward, known or hidden.
Those are great verses from James on the tongue. They demonstrate that great damage can be done with the tongue whether it is on purpose or by accident. That is why it must be crucified with all of our other members daily and given over to the use of Godly purposes and not for our own purposes.
(I may be missing something: what do you mean by, "why did God put it in a pool of water?" )
I occasionally listen to Wretched Radio with Todd Friel. I enjoy a lot of things about the radio program and I especially like "Witness Wednesdays" because he spends time evangelizing the lost. I do not listen to the entire program, but I listen to their podcast which is just one segment of the program called "Segment of the Day." Todd Friel uses the Way of the Master's popular "good person test" when witnessing, which is fine, but one thing he has done several times concerns me and I wanted to get some input from the forums on it.
If you can, find their podcast from Dec. 22, 2010 and listen to the first few minutes of it. You will hear Mr. Friel tell a young man that if he has ever called someone a "moron" or "idiot" he is a "murderer at heart." I have heard him do this several times.
The most well known New Testament teachings on the subject can be found in Matthew 5:21-26 and 1 John 3:15 although the Bible as a whole has much to say about murder.
The whole thing seems to have been recently popularized by the Way of the Master's "Good Person Test." However, I have never heard any of WOTM's witnessing tools or resources make the claim that calling someone an "idiot" or "moron" constitutes murder. They tend to stick with the biblical phrasing of "angry with his brother without a cause" or "whosoever hateth his brother" as being prerequisites to being condemned in any way as a "murderer at heart."
What do you think? Is Todd Friel stretching it a bit, or is my understanding of what constitutes a "murderer at heart" too limited?
Matthew 7:7-11 says "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?"
The first thing to note as we read this passage is the command to ask. God does not assume our willingness to ask him for things. He knows that we are prideful beings and that our human inclination is away from asking for something from someone else. Asking for something has many implications. If we ask for something it implies first of all, and most obviously, that we don't have that thing. It may also imply that we have something, but that it is inferior to the desired object. It could also imply that we are unable to provide the desired object on our own. With most good gifts from God, all of these implications would be true. It takes humility to come before God. It takes humility to admit that he knows our need and he desires to meet that need. It requires that we view ourselves as children who can't help ourselves and that we view our God as all powerful.
Another thing to take note of is that we are told that God will give "good things" when we ask him for "good things." That is the crux of this very practical passage: as a family, and especially as leaders in our homes, we should be asking our Heavenly Father for "good things". In order to be obedient to the command to ask our Father for good things, we must know what "good things" are.
In this very passage, God uses the earthly family as an example of how he gives good things to us, his children. If my son asks for a piece of bread, I absolutely would not give him a stone to chew on. If he asks for bread, it means he is hungry and needs sustenance for growth. It would be an abuse of my God-given ability and responsibility to give him anything other than what he needed. The same thing goes with the example of the desire for a fish. To give him a snake would be most unlike the action of our Father.
Notice a few characteristics of the things that were asked for by the son.
First, they were needful things. Food is necessary for growth.
Second, they were satisfying things. The hunger of a young child is satisfied when he is fed.
Third, they were specific things. The child in the example asked for specific food items, not just something to eat.
Are the things you ask God for standing up to these criteria?
The Holy Spirit, mentioned in place of "good things" in the parallel passage of Luke 11:9, certainly meets all of these criteria.
How does this practically apply to the family? If God will give good things to his children, then we should give good things to our children. Not just the physical things that aren't needful, satisfying, or specific, but the things that will last for eternity, like God's Word, or things that will effect their eternity, like a good example of a relationship with Christ.
In Matthew 6, we are given a list of temporal things that we are told not to worry about. We are also told that our Father in Heaven knows that we have need of those things already. Those things should not be the limit of our requests to our Father. In fact, there is good evidence here that suggests that we shouldn't find ourselves asking for these things at all. They are not the "good things" he alludes to in chapter 7. So then the "good things" must be the things that will promote the kingdom of God and his righteousness, because those are the things we should seek first.
Is the desire and most requested thing in your home the kingdom of God and his righteousness?
PRACTICE: Talk with your family about what your collective desires are in light of Matthew 6 and 7. Are they good desires? Do they concern the things of God, or are they limited to merely physical and temporal things?
Experiment: Make a list of 10 good things that we should desire from our Heavenly Father. Post the list in your home and make them the objects of your prayers during the day.
[quote="qwerty guy"]Do video game guns count? if so I just became 2nd in the world at big buck hunter pro.... won over 2 grand so far.... Couple magazines interviewed me... it's been.... weird.[/quote]
That's interesting news. How much more competition is there before you become number 1?
A Brasilian friend at church told us that they are taught in their schools down there that the U.S.A. didn't send men to the moon and that the whole thing was a fake. She tends to believe that version of history. :coffee
Panicking serves no one - not yourself, not the people who are suffering, and not the planet. Allow yourself to trust that there is a larger purpose and that it may not be necessary for you to know that purpose at this time. Allow yourself to have faith that ultimately, all will be well.
Really thankful for our family traditions right now! Our Christmas Eve tradition is to have a pizza any way we want, which happens ONLY at Christmas. This year it was simple, but really good... Little Caesar's large with extra cheese and extra bacon.
Last day of my 20's! Had a successful time at the gun show and a good time doing some Christmas shopping after that. Now, I'm being tempted by the chicken enchiladas Heather is preparing for lunch tomorrow. It smells so good in the house now!