Kent Brandenburg's Assessment of Independent Baptists

On those in "orbit"

The Bob Jones wing of independent Baptists probably wants to be known as historic fundamentalists, instead of the Bob Jones wing.  This group has several splinters mainly associated with colleges and seminaries.  For instance, you have the actual Bob Jones University graduates and then you have those who graduated from what I call orbiting schools, like Maranatha, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, the former Calvary Baptist in Lansdale, International Baptist College, Clearwater Christian College, Virginia Beach Theological Seminary, and Central Baptist Theological Seminary. 

I personally have never regarded Central or Detroit in orbit of BJ

On the GARBC

Kent:

Among those who might claim to be independent Baptist, you've got the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (GARBC), who are a part of an organized association that says each member retains independency.  Most of the other independent Baptists don't think the GARBC is independent.  I've never thought of GARBC churches as being independent. They joined an association and those two terms -- independent and association -- contradict each other in my mind. You can't be both, so I will leave the GARBC out of the discussion.

Having pastored in 2 GARBC churches, we regarded ourselves as independent. The association is so loose and there was (and I doubt today) NO association involvement in our local church. My 2 cents

Comment on part 2

Kent:

Even if independent Baptist churches are not in good shape overall, it still is the only place to be, if you want to be obedient to God.  True churches were and are independent. 

Observation: There are many fine churches that are independent and "basically baptist" ... but not fundamentalist.

A certain amount of irony here:

 

From Part One:

"In my mind, there are two general types of independent Baptist churches:  the revivalist and Bob Jones.  Almost all independent Baptist churches are either revivalist or Bob Jones.  I know that there is overlap or blurred edges sometimes between the two groups.  Some churches are both revivalist and Bob Jones.  Maybe those could make up a whole other third category, but still you can slot into the two general categories as to what primarily characterizes those independent Baptist churches.

The Bob Jones wing of independent Baptists probably wants to be known as historic fundamentalists, instead of the Bob Jones wing.  This group has several splinters mainly associated with colleges and seminaries.  For instance, you have the actual Bob Jones University graduates and then you have those who graduated from what I call orbiting schools, like Maranatha, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, the former Calvary Baptist in Lansdale, International Baptist College, Clearwater Christian College, Virginia Beach Theological Seminary, and Central Baptist Theological Seminary.  Parallel to the aforementioned institutions is the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship (FBF), which declares itself to be only a fellowship of pastors and not churches."

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I think it's ironic that one of the umbrellas/orbits that Brandenburg places many IFB churches under is "Bob Jones," since BJU is not technically a Baptist institution, and has (at least to my observation or knowledge) never purported or represented itself to be.  Fundamentalist: yes.  Baptist: no.  Do recall that it was founded by a Methodist.  It is certainly "Baptistic."  But yet it has always had strong ties to fundamental Presbyterianism (among others) too.     
 

Is this credible?

I was intrigued by the first part, but the second seemed to fall to the level of rambling with no substance. Since I don't know the author, his background, or presuppositions, I don't really know where he is coming from. "Fundamentalism" has so many stripes anymore, I'm not sure how one can even wrap his mind around it (similar to "conservative evangelicalism"). I can see his basic point of "revivalist" vs BJU, but isn't that even a little oversimplified? Revivalist/Hyles-Anderson/Sword/PCC I can see as a major category. But on the other side...BJU and "orbiting schools"? That seems like an oversimplification. I have a lot of Southern Baptist friends, and they would (rightly) insist that they are independent and autonomous. They agree to a doctrinal statement as part of the SBC convention, and the convention drafts motions that member churches are encouraged to adopt, but there is no requirement, and no oversight of the local church outside of the church itself. Do things like this open us up to the accusation of drawing lines that don't really exist?

Brian Dempsey
Pastor, WBC
I Cor. 10:31

 

One certainty

One thing is for certain:  As soon as someone attempts to make any sort of categorization, there will be immediate disagreement.  Remember "3 Lines in the Sand?"  Even if a categorization is helpful, there will still be too many things that don't fit.

Dave Barnhart

I think it is clear Brian Dempsey

that one of the meanings of the definition of "independent" in independent Baptist is "not a member of the SBC", or one of the other Baptist denominations for that matter. That is the whole point.

In my neck of the woods there are many independent Baptist churches, but none would call themselves fundamentalist. They just mean they are not SBC, or American Baptist, etc.

What about.....

....actual historic Fundamentalism based on, say, "The Fundamentals"?  Honestly, Brandenburg's commentary is some of the most depressing stuff I've read,  Can't we take a look at the doctrines of inerrancy of Scripture, virgin birth, substitutionary atonement, bodily resurrection, and second coming and have fellowship with others who also are baptistic in doctrine like the evangelical free churches?  What are we really separating about here?

Today's fundamentalism is a far cry from "The Fundamentals"

Bert Perry wrote:

....actual historic Fundamentalism based on, say, "The Fundamentals"?  Honestly, Brandenburg's commentary is some of the most depressing stuff I've read,  Can't we take a look at the doctrines of inerrancy of Scripture, virgin birth, substitutionary atonement, bodily resurrection, and second coming and have fellowship with others who also are baptistic in doctrine like the evangelical free churches?  What are we really separating about here?

Today's fundamentalism is a far cry from  "The Fundamentals"

  • It has morphed and grown like an ugly wart. 
  • Cases to point: Churches in the MBA are "in fellowship" ... yet there is an element of KJVO in the MBA (the Rockford church for example). Yet just several miles away from my own church is the Oak Grove Church. The doctrinal statements are virtually identical but there is no fellowship between the two (there is history there ... Oak Grove split off from Clearwater and formed their own assembly)

I'm with Bert...

There are a lot of churches within "fundamentalism" that I really want nothing to do with (KJV-only, Hyles-Anderson, Sword, I guess most of the "revivalist" churches), but there are a lot of SBC and conservative evangelical churches that we have a great deal in common with. What does it even mean to "have fellowship with" another church anyway? We play Flag Football every Thanksgiving with a local SBC church and host a softball league with church teams from churches that I would technically be "separated" from (charismatic, baptismal regeneration). Does softball count as fellowship? There are some guys in the FBF who I respect, and others who I wouldn't pay money to listen to (say at the annual FBF conference), so I go to T4G and actually watch guys open the Bible and exposit the text. I may not agree with every conclusion they come to, but what defines a "disobedient brother"? Ligon Duncan preaches the Old Testament like few fundamentalists I've ever seen (even on texts that don't overtly involve his Presbyterianism). I spoke with a teacher at Maranatha recently who commented that he's gotten asked if he has "separated" from John Piper. His response echoed my question, "what does that even mean...he is in Minnesota, I am in Wisconsin...I've never even met the guy." So....I am slightly confused about this culture that I've wandered into...
 

Brian Dempsey
Pastor, WBC
I Cor. 10:31

 

Independent Associations?

Isn't it ironic that in an article in which the author beats the drum for completely independent churches, he would feel a need to classify all the different independent churches into circles?

VBTS

I am not sure why the author would call Virginia Beach Theological Seminary a school in orbit around BJU. This is nowhere near the truth. VBTS is it's own entity-without any strong affiliation to any other ministry. If I had to describe it to someone, I would say its a baptist (small b) version of Masters Seminary. Not an exact comparison, but the closest I can think of. Certainly not BJU.

Someone misspelled "autopsy"

This isn't an "assessment" as much as it is an autopsy.  Brandenburg and his attitude and posturing is one of the reasons why I finally threw in the towel on what was left of the Independent Baptist "movement" and am now just "Independent".  Between people like him, Anderson of Arizona, Schaap, Phelps, the reputation of the "BJU Orbit" (whatever THAT is) and the like, why would anyone still WANT to identified with this?  When you have to spend more time explaining who or what you aren't than what you are, it's really not worth it.  The freedom with "moving on" has been immense for this 50+ year ex-IFB.

Paul's Assessment

I love Paul's assessment of Christians.  Very applicable and absolutely reliable for the present time.

1 Corinthians 3:18–23  —  21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

He forgets

that the label "association" is a historic one.  IIRC, it's been used in the States since mid-1800s.  The Primitive and Old Regular Baptist groups are probably the ones who have used it the longest.  Not to mention its usage by the founders of the Conservative Baptist Association.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Question posed by Brandenburg in Part 4:

 

"Is the Bible the basis for this separation teaching, or is it independent Baptist politics?"

The fact that one even has to ask such a question alludes to the all-too truthful answer.  Separation, as practiced in Baptist circles, is often a sham.  Loyalties & allegiances as determined by the good ole' boy network entrenched in fundamentalism have led to some odd partnerships & alliances (just a few of which Brandenburg mentions).

What we typically wind up with is that such non-essentials  (disputable matters) as dress codes, alcohol, music preferences, and the like lead to strife, rifts, and divisions; while things such as easy-believism, KJV-onlyism, and the like (which strike at the core of essential  fundamentals of the faith like Salvation and Inerrancy) are dismissed with a wink and a shrug.

Thoughts?

He mentions a repentance-less Gospel plague among independent Baptists:

I believe most independent Baptist churches now preach a false gospel, and when I say most, I mean over 50%.  Almost all of these are the revivalist churches, which I believe outnumber all other independent Baptist churches, and these pervert the gospel mainly in their false teaching and belief about repentance.  To do this, they have twisted numbers of salvation passages, turning those biblical texts that teach the gospel into something post-salvation, Christian living, or practical sanctification.

He criticizes opposition to the Lordship of Christ:

All of the above are about a perversion of repentance, but that is one side of the equation.  Those wrong about repentance are wrong on the other side of the equation too.  They minimize Who Jesus is.  They believe He is Savior.  They believe that He is God, the Second Person of the Trinity, to a certain extent.  I think they diminish Deity of Christ with their exclusion of the Lordship of Christ.  You can't stay in rebellion against Jesus and actually believe in Him.  I'm saying they don't believe in Him either, minus His reign.  Jesus said, "Repent for the kingdom is at hand," and the kingdom was at hand, because the King, Jesus was there.  The above leave that out to various degrees.

And finally, this coup de grace:

How did the above happen?  The purpose again of this post and series isn't about how or why so much, but I will give a small summary of my assessment here.  Quite a few factors came together into a poisonous elixir.   Some relate to the distortion of Keswick Theology, Finney, Moody, Torrey, Scofield, Scofield's Reference Bible, early ecumenical evangelism, Dallas Theological Seminary, then Rice, the Sword of the Lord, and then Hyles.  These influences spread to independent Baptists through their colleges and conferences.   An undermining theological problem mixed with bad church growth methodology.   They lowered the bar of salvation until it wasn't salvation.  More got "saved," but they were receiving the placebo.  The distortion multiplied and continues to this day with numerous false teachers.

Of course, out of all the above has come very emotional altar calls and manipulation and then other very strange perversions, like 1-2-3 pray with me, easy prayerism, and "soul winning" where the winners come back with 50 to 100 saved.  After that, whole strategies were developed to get them into the tank.  Evangelicals have had their own offshoot of this and I see them all as dovetailing in all sorts of corruption in evangelicalism and fundamentalism.

Sounds excellent to me. 
 

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.

Full and hidden revivalism.....

it strikes me that there is official, Hyles-style revivalism, and then there are more subtle forms of "peer pressure" that end up at the same point--lots of false conversions.  And to be blunt--my writing a while back about how I'd never seen a church that had members derived from VBS--I'm guessing that Pr. Brandenburg is being a little bit nice about that 50% figure, if you catch my drift.

Larry Nelson wrote:

Larry Nelson wrote:

 

 

Jim wrote:

 

What is the big Arizona conference next March? (mentioned in parts 3 and 4)

Any link?

 

 

 

This has to be what he's referring to:

http://www.tricityministries.org/gp/

 

Interesting to see Dave Doran and Clarence Sexton listed as speakers. I wonder if a certain friend of mine will show up at this one. Kind of funny in a hilariously ironic kind of way.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Part # 5 : SUSCEPTIBILITY TOWARD A SUCCESS SYNDROME

http://kentbrandenburg.blogspot.com/2015/05/an-honest-basic-assessment-o...

Should spark some discussion:

Independents lose their independency through voluntary association.  I'm not talking about fellowship with another church, but the deference to the group larger than the church, that hasn't been given the instruction or the promises of the church.  I'm calling this a success syndrome, because it is pragmatic at root, imagining advantages beyond God's plan.  It is akin to Israel's regular alliances with pagan nations, intermarriages with heathen princesses, and other endeavors superior to divine design.

The coalition comes in a few different forms for independent Baptists:  colleges, boards, camps, publishers, fellowships, conferences, and networks.  I'm not talking about people who aren't independent.  I'm talking about the coalitions of independents, which seems like an oxymoron.

Rather than looking to conserve independency, independents search for coalition, further ties and attachments.  We see new mergers and alignments on a fairly regular basis, forming around a new leader or cause.  With each, the idea is that 'we're better together than we are separate.'  'We can do better missions, publish more and better books, see more saved, and be more encouraged with a large group.'  'If we don't do this, we will be worse off, etc. etc.'  Each individual church begins to forfeit its distinctions, lost within the group.  Those distinctions often represent separate biblical teachings that obey and honor God.

Part # 6: The Great Commission is being perverted ....

http://kentbrandenburg.blogspot.com/2015/06/an-honest-basic-assessment-o...

I've written a lot about this, but people have made their commission, "invite," instead of "go."  They think that the commission is inviting unsaved people to church.  It isn't.  It is going and preaching.  If you make the commission, "invite," you change the nature of the commission, and your church will change in nature too.

A part of the problem in fulfilling the Great Commission also relates to "church planting."  The Bible teaches evangelizing.  When you have a gathering of disciples, you get a church.  So-called mission has gotten this out of order.  They start with church planting.  Their goal is to launch a church.  You don't know if a church is there.  You evangelize and if a church starts, it starts.  Sometimes churches are started and the area still never is evangelized.  Never.  The church launchers reached their goal, which was to get a church.  What I'm saying is that they never reach the goal, fulfilling the command, in order to fulfill their goal, which sounds like a good goal, starting a church.  I would doubt in many cases if it is even New Testament church-like, because of this change in the nature of the goal.

...

I do think it is pathetic, disturbing, and maybe nauseating what superficial stuff passes as important to independent Baptist churches, while they are basically disobedient in getting done what they are supposed to do.  Their beloved programs are more important.  Getting the right name, ya know, Mercy Church, and the platform set-up and the band and the team and all of that.  Meanwhile people go their sweet way without getting preached to.  That is a point A to point B problem.  They are busy sitting at home all day reading theology and then not obeying it.  Come on!

If people who called themselves Christians were fulfilling the Great Commission, the gospel would have already been preached everywhere.  It hasn't, and things are getting worse.  In most cases, I believe it is because of a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the Great Commission.  Not only is the gospel being perverted by independent Baptists, but so is the Great Commission.

Getting stronger.....

.....but it strikes me that one thing I'm still not seeing in brother Brandenburg's writing is a clear summary of what is important to be independent for.  I'd submit the Fundamentals and the Solas, which of course will come  as a surprise to no one that knows me.  :^)

Jim,

Jim,
Would you agree that the great commission is not less than church planting?
Paul


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