Why Many Are Not Leaving: The Bright Future of Independent Baptists

"... by far, the most asked question I have received over the last 5 years is…Why are you still an Independent Baptist?" - Tribune

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DLCreed's picture

I agree with many of his observations about the Independent Baptists -- my affiliation of choice for over 40 of my 50+ years.  However, if those are the best arguments he has for remaining in the fold and for his "optimism", then I can't imagine many being convinced to stay or return.  It's easier to give birth than raise the dead.

TylerR's picture


There are different flavors of fundamentalists. I'm a Regular Baptist. I went to a seminary aligned with the old "hard core" of fundamentalists which split from the Conservative Baptists (who, for want of a better term, I'll call the "FBFI guys"). IFB guys are different still.

All three of these groups are different. This means there are different reasons to stay, depending on which group you're in. Speaking for myself, there are many reasons to remain a Regular Baptist, few to be an FBFI guy, and none to be IFB. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Bert Perry's picture

Probably an error to talk about "IFB" as any kind of semi-monolithic movement, since that includes 4th (which I love) as well as innumerable KJVO churches which have me straining not to pray imprecatory prayers.  My take on why people stay with IFB, therefore, is that it's really about their church--with all its virtues and flaws, it's home for them. 

That noted, that only works for a generation or two, or in some cases until the flaws become so egregious that people show up as empty pews.  For my part, I value the GARBC and 4th in that they keep missions practices pretty much "on task" without becoming totally hidebound in one group's culture.  The down side is that I don't see some of the creativity that I've seen in many evangelical mission agencies--there's a lot less Bible translation, radio work, and the like with the GARBC.  (and the up side; not as much Mickey Mouse missions that ignores theology)

Big thing for any group to avoid is becoming so into the culture that you can't see anymore that you're not paying attention to what the Word says, and I've seen that everywhere to some extent, from the Methodists of my youth to GARBC pastors to IFB churches.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Ed Vasicek's picture

SI is heavily weighted with Baptists. I consider myself an incognito Baptist, a Non-denom Bible church guy. I found the article encouraging. However, many of these things needed to be addressed 40 years ago. Better late than never. At this point in our society, those changes will help make the movement more attractive to those who haven't seen its ugly side, but the change in our society is making any version of (attempted) Biblical Christianity undesirable. If you look at the polls about how younger people (many reared in Christian homes) feel about gay marriage or transgender, it paints an ominous picture for our future. We will have fewer professing fundamental/conservative evangelical believers, but the ones we will have will be likely to be more committed.

We are the new bigots, the new intolerant.  The Gospel will once again carry with it the scandal it was meant to carry.


"The Midrash Detective"

Aaron Blumer's picture


As some have already pointed out, there really isn't a monolithic entity that is "the IFB." But there are institutions, associations, fellowships, etc.

The best way to "leave" without altering in the least what makes a ministry independent and baptistic (which includes the Bible churches), is to (1) stop hanging around with the creepy/foolish types and (2) form new associations and fellowships. I do think a lot of that needs to happen ...to further marginalize the sicker ministries and leaders, if they aren't going to get serious about biblical ministry (which seems likely).

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Aaron said:

The best way to "leave" without altering in the least what makes a ministry independent and baptistic (which includes the Bible churches), is to (1) stop hanging around with the creepy/foolish types and (2) form new associations and fellowships.

Wise words and the best approach.  Don't know if anyone remembers the term "codependency" from the world of psychology.  Instead of trying to fix the dysfunctional, it is better to associate with the functional instead.  In a way, this was the original decision of separatist fundamentalists -- instead of trying to rescue lost denominations, form new ones. Same concept.

"The Midrash Detective"

Bert Perry's picture

...is pretty much along the lines of what Aaron said. In my case, the issues were KJVO, Trail of Blood, and a "pastor" who clearly did not understand the implications of his own sources.  I walked away with (IMO) a greater understanding for these movements, as well as a greater understanding of how to pick out KJVO/TOB/etc.. tendencies at a distance--and how to warn others of their dangers.

I did choose to call the "pastor" at that church to repentance, but suffice it to say that call was not picked up.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jay's picture

A while ago, in one of his Nick articles, Dr. Bauder identified some people caught in the modernist-fundamentalist controversies as a third group - the "indifferentist" group. 

Sometimes I wonder if they were really "indifferent" or if they were busy doing exactly what Aaron mentioned - cutting off ties to the old organizations and networking with people who didn't want to get caught in the crossfire between the two warring parties simply to keep their own focus and sanity.  The more I watch some of the sniping between organizations and people in Christian circles, the less I want to get entangled in turf wars and social media shelling.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

josh p's picture

I believe that Bauder would have been referencing Machen’s use of the term which would be those who failed to separate from apostasy or those who would not.