Faith Baptist Bible College has removed Saylorville [formerly Baptist] Church from its approved churches list

“Our clear intention was that employees and students would attend churches that openly identify themselves as Baptist churches, an intention made explicit in our
standing, published position, and policy statements…”

“…this Board action means that faculty and staff who currently attend Saylorville Church will have a grace period up to June 30, 2013, to decide whether they want to remain members at Saylorville or continue employment at Faith.”  Full statement

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Donn R Arms's picture

Why is a school approving churches in the first place? Churches should approve schools, not the other way around.

Donn R Arms

JVDM's picture

Should a fundamental Baptist school that trains pastors allow their students to be members of the local Catholic church? Assembly of God? Methodist? Would that make sense?

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

How disappointing of Faith. I have not seen anything yet that gives the impression Saylorville changed anything except the name. It seems to me they are still a Baptist church in doctrine and practice. Frankly, I have been convinced for sometime that, though I remain Baptistic in belief by biblical conviction, I no longer want to be identified with the label Baptist because of the ridiculous breadth of doctrine held by churches bearing the same. Would you rather be associated with Saylorville Church or Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe AZ or Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, KS - not to mention all of the Baptist churches who are more liberal than Faith? 

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Shaynus's picture

OK I'll say it. I agree with Alex for once, though JVDM has a point. There has to be a way that a school can protect its integrity, without giving the impression the school is the approver of churches. 

JVDM's picture

For what it's worth, the GARBC used to have an "approval system" of sorts, which meant that certain schools were indeed approved by the GARB churches. It was basically reciprical--GARB churches sent their kids to places like Faith or Cedarville and Faith and Cedarville in turn required that students attend a GARBC church near campus, or another Baptist church approved by the school. That all changed in the Cedarville brouhaha and the GARBC did away with the approval system.

In 2000...I think...the GARBC affirmed that a member church had to have "Baptist" in the name. So Faith left their handbook to say, students must attend a GARB church or another approved Baptist church. The GARBC just changed their policy on this, and Salorville jumped to remove Baptist from the name. Faith basically said, "nope, we're still the same as we were. The Baptist name is important." (Paraphrasing, of course.) 

In fact, the school was exercising its sovereignty over its own affairs as opposed to the policies of the national GARBC council of 18. Obviously, churches within the state GARBC approve of whatever institutions they want. Some lean towards BJU, some lean towards Hyles Anderson, most lean towards Faith and Central, a few towards Southern, and some lean towards a degree in Entertainment Design and Technology for their future ministers. 

But this "approval" we are talking is entirely different. This issue is simply about where the school would like their students to become members of and to minister in so that the doctrine and philosophy in their church is also shared by the doctrine and philosophy at the college. This is no different than any other school. 

Whether one disagrees with this or not, Faith is training Baptists to do the work of the ministry as Baptists do it. 

Chip - for what its worth, many within the state would say that Saylorville and some others are much more in line with the GARBC across the country than they are with the IARBC here at home. Saylorville folks would probably agree. For better or worse (depending on your perspective), the GARBC has always had one of the larger tents among the Fundamental Baptist associations. You can find a few KJV only types in parts, and you can find huge entertainment driven ministries all within the GARBC, as I say, for better or for worse.

Anyway, I'm eager to hear what folks have to say - folks that are familiar with the GARBC and are much smarter than I am. I'm interested to see where this is headed. It seems that certain states and institutions aren't in line with the GARBC decision to drop the word Baptist from their vocabulary.

Pastor Joe Roof's picture

I am part of a Fellowship where some churches would not have the word "Baptist" in their name even though they are Baptist in their theology s because of the American Baptist Churches in their area.

 

We have a Baptist church down the road from us that is pro-abortion, and pro-homosexual.  They even had a lesbian pastor for a while.  There is another Baptist church in our area that does have a lesbian pastor.

 

It is up to a church to determine their name, not a college.  What happens if you graduate from this college and become the Pastor of a Bible church - do they revoke your degree?

 

 

Greg Linscott's picture

@Shaynus- I think you meant Donn Arms, not Alex.

I applaud my alma mater for acting in a way that is consistent with their institutional position, which is clearly articulated in several position statements available for anyone to review here: http://www.faith.edu/about-faith/position-statements

I am sure this was not an easy decision to arrive at. Pat Nemmers, the Saylorville pastor, is a prominent figure in Iowa Regular Baptist circles, and during my time as a student there, was universally lauded and beloved, both for his ability as a communicator and his perseverance through personal trial. Saylorville has been, historically, one of the "default" congregations for students to attend, being, I believe, the second closest Regular Baptist church to the campus for most of the time since it relocated to Ankeny in the late 1960s. Pat's predecessor, Ralph Turk, was one of my profs at Faith, and Joe Hayes, the current State Representative for the Iowa Association of Regular Baptist Churches, once served as pastor there.

Pat has been progressive in his practice in the last 10-15 years compared to most of the other pastors and churches in the association (which is among the most conservative groups in the GARBC). It is to Faith's credit, I would argue, that a similar decision to this did not take place much sooner, simply due to competing philosophies of ministry. The differences in practice were certainly there, most prominently seen in music, but I would say not exclusively so.

As the document from Faith indicates, there is much to admire about Pat as well. He is fervent in his efforts to fuel evangelistic outreach. He has been a tremendous model as a father, and was an evident vessel of God's grace when his first wife died unexpectedly.

But Faith has been one to champion, among other practices, the importance of identifying as "Baptist." This Faith Pulpit article by George Houghton would articulate that position as well as anything. When I was a student circa 2000, a professor by the name of John Colyer was released mid-semester, because he left his pastoral role (ironically enough, at Saylorville) to take a similar position at a large Des Moines congregation known as Grace Church. So in many ways, this is nothing new or unprecedented.

Whether one agrees with Faith on the reasoning behind the principle, I believe you have to admire them for being consistent with their stated beliefs, even though it will have painful consequences. I think it would be fair to say that Saylorville under Pastor Nemmers is acting consistent with their philosophy and approach to ministry as well, and that they would have also anticipated these kind of consequences for members of their congregation before the decision was proposed.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Donn R Arms wrote:

Why is a school approving churches in the first place? Churches should approve schools, not the other way around.

I'd encourage everyone to read the full statement.

Approving churches in this case means churches that students and teachers are permitted to attend. It should be pretty easy to imagine reasons why a Bible college would want to do that.

I hope that it all works out well and Faith and IARBC and GARBC can amiably disagree on the point and otherwise work together as before.

I'm supportive of the idea that schools that have historically claimed a particular doctrinal tradition should maintain that tradition in both substance and name, whether it's Baptist, Presbyterian, Reformed or whatever. These labels have historical significance and if there's anything we need more of these days (especially in schools) its historical awareness. Not that there isn't a downside to the labels as well. I'm not sure what the bottom line is. But I have to respect institutions that honor their roots.

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.

Greg Linscott's picture

It is up to a church to determine their name, not a college.  What happens if you graduate from this college and become the Pastor of a Bible church - do they revoke your degree?

I guess I would expect that kind of a comment from a nondenominational institution grad...  ;-)

Faith interacts with people other than Baptists. They have had speak on campus, in my own recollection, Paul S. Jones (from Tenth Presbyterian, Philadelphia), Bob Jones III, John Whitcomb, Charles Ryrie... I am sure there are others, but that is just off the top of my head. They also have been a member of the ACCC since the 1940s, I believe.

At the same time, like Jesse said, they exist to train Baptist pastors. They will accept some students in the area from other churches (or did, as I recall) on a limited basis, but by and large, in order to attend, you have to give a credible testimony, not only of salvation, but that you are a member in good standing of a Baptist congregation. Therefore, you also must attend a Baptist congregation while a student.

It is up to a congregation to determine their name, sure. It is up to a church to determine a great many things. If said church elected to practice the baptism of infants, I doubt some of you would have anywhere as near as much a problem if Faith reacted similarly (Donn Arms might, since he works with Jay Adams and all... Smile ). I understand why this issue may not rank high with most of you. It does with Faith, though, and is clearly a part of what makes them the institution they are. I am glad they have made this consistent decision, and I am not ashamed to identify as an alumnus (even if our basketball team did get rung up for 138 points by one guy...).

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

JVDM's picture

Pastor Joe Roof wrote:

 What happens if you graduate from this college and become the Pastor of a Bible church - do they revoke your degree?

 

Not even close. Even though they may have wanted to, they didn't revoke Dr. Bauder's degree, or Dissidens' degree, or even Greg's, if you can believe that! Haha! (I refer possibly to degree's granted, perhaps, by institutions that may, or may not, have merged with Faith at a later date). 

Donn R Arms's picture

Greg Linscott wrote:

If said church elected to practice the baptism of infants, I doubt some of you would have anywhere as near as much a problem if Faith reacted similarly (Donn Arms might, since he works with Jay Adams and all... Smile ).

Hey, give me a little more time, Jay will come around.

Donn R Arms

Joel Tetreau's picture

So I have a few things I'd like to say but because I love FBBC and several of the leaders connected to it, I'll need to have some private correspondence before I would say anything in public. I would encourage pastors who have had students at FBBC and S to do the same. I understand that in one sense because this has been made public it would be OK to comment publicly - I still think private correspondence first is the better road. At least for me. I'm trying to be more consistent with this - especially when this is with friends.

Straight Ahead!

jt

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

dmyers's picture

I dissent from what seems to be the majority opinion here.  What's the old quote -- "a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds"?  I read the entire statement, including the attempt to rationalize that this has always been the school's position.  But the history recited establishes only that the school has always required its students and faculty to attend Baptist churches.  Nothing supports the claim that the policy has always been that the church has to not only be Baptist in its doctrine, incorporation, practice, and/or affiliation, but that it also has to have Baptist on the sign.  The various comments above that stress that Faith has always been Baptist are missing the point.  Saylorville Church is still Baptist, including in its GARBC affiliation and, apparently, in its legal name.  Nothing has changed except the signage.  (The statement makes no attempt to claim that Saylorville Church dropped Baptist from the name because it isn't or doesn't want to be Baptist anymore.)  And for that, students and faculty who are part of that body, and have been for any number of years, now have to choose between the college and the church?  C'mon, folks.  That's ridiculous.  Which degree of separation is it when you separate over nothing other than a name?

 

 

Greg Linscott's picture

The reality is that this situation has been brewing for a while. There are competing approaches to ministry (and have been for quite some time), and this is the place where it was brought to a head. Maybe it's like Al Capone getting nailed for tax evasion, but there you go. Everyone knew what was coming, on both sides.

 

Illustration:
 

Christmas at FBBC:

http://youtu.be/qXJTeCoK8-g

 

 

Christmas at Saylorville:

http://youtu.be/fEadG0LQcuE

 

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Joel Shaffer's picture

Greg, your are very right about the significant differences between Faith and Saylorville (as evidenced by their Christmas programs) But FBBC's main public argument for separating is not because of their differing ministry and music styles, but because Saylorville doesn't have Baptist on their church sign.  

 

Greg Linscott's picture

Yes, that is true- and as I observed, that has been an important issue to the school over its history. When I was a student (around 1999-2000), a popular professor by the name of John Colyer was removed from his classes mid-semester because he took a pastoral position in a church that had been founded as Des Moines Baptist, but was by that time known as Grace Church (and had been for quite some time)- and even previous to that, Grace was not on the list of approved churches for students to attend. So the action is not without some precedence.

Within the GARBC context itself, one can look at the history of the transition of Grand Rapids Baptist College to Cornerstone University to see why an issue like this is of concern if a school like Faith has a desire to maintain its institutional distinctives, measures like this seem prudent. A big issue with the Grand Rapids situation at the time of the transition (I lived in GR in those days and was in a GARBC church, though I never attended the school) was the push for students and faculty to be able to attend Calvary Church, pastored at the time by Ed Dobson, and quite literally almost adjacent to the school property.  

In this case, the name (and changing the name, especially when one has had it in the title) is often indicative of changing ideas. There are conservative churches that don't have "Baptist" in the tile and all that. I understand. At the same time, I also understand in their Iowa context, the name "Baptist" does still tend to mean something, and certainly would cause no more of a problem that would, say, "church." Other preferable labels (say, "Bible Church") tend to have a different significance in Iowa than they might elsewhere (example- http://www.openbible.org/about_history.aspx).

So, this is not necessarily a policy I would argue for universally for every church in every situation. But for the context of where Faith is-  in Iowa, in the GARBC, and so on, it makes sense.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

MShep2's picture

As it was said in an article linked on SI predicting the future of Churches in America [something like] "Baptist" will continue to be a meaningless term since almost any heretical doctrine and practice can be found in churches which call themselves "Baptist." [Full disclosure: my daughter attended Faith and the Saylorville church a few years ago.]

I especially find this statement to be disingenuous: 

We readily recognize Saylorville’s autonomous right to make their own choice to change their name. Our own Definition and Direction Statement celebrates the autonomy of the local church. We freely acknowledge that local churches are at liberty to make their own decisions and only ask that others acknowledge our own freedom to pursue intended consistency when we are faced with new events beyond our control. 

However, Faith only exists to serve and promote local churches. But, they are now asking Professors, staff and students who are members at a local church to make a decision: either look for a new job or stick with the church they have served in for many years. If they really believe in the "autonomy of the local church" (one of the Baptist distinctives) and that the Saylorville church has not begun teaching false doctrine they would not ask their staff to make this decision. At worst they should grandfather in anyone who is already a member there and not approve of new memberships in churches that do not have "Baptist" in their name. If all of the Faith people leave Saylorville they probably will gut the leadership of the church. If all of the Saylorville people resign, it will hurt the college. They should have just let sleeping dogs lie.

I don't know what this really will do to Faith. I am in total agreement with their "historic" position but using the name "baptist" in the name of a church is not a biblical requirement. I would think as long as a church clearly identifies itself as "baptistic" in its documents (and practice), they should accept it. If they don't reexamine this position they may end up going the way of Pillsbury which narrowed their constituency so much they separated themselves out of existence. I do think a school can require its students (and faculty) to go to certain churches (e.g. I don't think a prof at Faith should be free to join a RCC church or one of the liberal denominations) but the more tightly they regulate this issue the more they are meddling in the autonomy of the local church.

 

MS
--------------------------------
Luke 17:10

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Greg Linscott wrote:
Pat has been progressive in his practice in the last 10-15 years compared to most of the other pastors and churches in the association (which is among the most conservative groups in the GARBC). It is to Faith's credit, I would argue, that a similar decision to this did not take place much sooner, simply due to competing philosophies of ministry. The differences in practice were certainly there, most prominently seen in music, but I would say not exclusively so.

If there are doctrinal issues, then make the stand on doctrinal issues. They staked their position in this decision on a label. 

Greg Linscott wrote:
Whether one agrees with Faith on the reasoning behind the principle, I believe you have to admire them for being consistent with their stated beliefs, even though it will have painful consequences.
I don't have to admire them if I am convinced the principle they are choosing to uphold is faulty.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
I'm supportive of the idea that schools that have historically claimed a particular doctrinal tradition should maintain that tradition in both substance and name, whether it's Baptist, Presbyterian, Reformed or whatever. These labels have historical significance and if there's anything we need more of these days (especially in schools) its historical awareness. Not that there isn't a downside to the labels as well. I'm not sure what the bottom line is. But I have to respect institutions that honor their roots.
Aaron,

You are hitting on my point exactly. There is NO significance to the title Baptist any more. You have right wing nut cases like Westboro Baptist, First Baptist Hammond and Faithful Word Baptist on one side and pro-abortion, pro-homosexual Baptist nut cases on the left. Identifying as a Baptist on the street-side sign or church stationary literally communicates nothing, or next to nothing, about a church anymore.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Greg Linscott's picture

But FBBC's main public argument for separating is not because of their differing ministry and music styles, but because Saylorville doesn't have Baptist on their church sign.

I would argue, for the sake of this discussion, that the removal of "Baptist" from the church was an indicator of "differing ministry style."

Again, as I said elsewhere, I realize that isn't a universal principle (keeping "Baptist" in the name). I would even go so far as to say that there are issues that could have been addressed more clearly and directly other than the "Baptist" label. It strikes me as a process very similar to the way the Cedarville issues was handled in the GARBC. There were definite concerns with their position and practice amongst much of the GARBC constituency for years, but there were also concerns of preserving the unity that led to a moderating kind of effort, or what I called in conversing with a friend last night a sort of "non-confrontationalism." Eventually, they did say what needed to be said and do what needed to be done, but not before doing things like re-vamping the approval system for schools and institutions into a "Ministry Partnership," and eventually disposing of the system altogether in an effort to distance themselves with taking the issue head-on. It was, as I understand it, after all these steps were taken and Cedarville desired to keep advertising in the Baptist Bulletin and use the National Conferences as opportunities for promotion and alumni gatherings that the issue finally came to a head in 2006 (see here: http://sharperiron.org/2006/06/29/garbc-messengers-separate-from-cedarville-adopt-separation-statement).

At the same time, with Faith and the Baptist label, this isn't the only church to which this policy would apply in the Des Moines area. The outcome of the policy in the immediate vicinity, for them, has been an effective filter in helping them maintain their course, which has definite parameters that would include but not be limited to some of the issues discussed in this thread (they are committed to a pre-trib/pre-mil dispensationalism, for example).

I can also understand the remarks being made about local church autonomy. I would ask, though- what other solution would you propose for them to pursue that would allow for local church autonomy yet permit Faith to preserve the course they have committed to traveling? 

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Donn R Arms's picture

Greg Linscott wrote:

I would ask, though- what other solution would you propose for them to pursue that would allow for local church autonomy yet permit Faith to preserve the course they have committed to traveling? 

 

OK, I'll bite. I don't usually involve myself in these discussions but FBBC is where I first cut my teeth theologically. Solution? Christian liberty. Let any student who wants to take classes at FBBC do so--Catholic, Mormon, Charismatic, KJV only Fundamentalist. If they do the work, give them a degree. Let students become members of whatever church they please. It is the duty of the board and administration to assure doctrinal orthodoxy of what is taught, not the students. What does where a student attends church have anything to do with "preserving the course" Faith has "committed to traveling."

A diploma from FBBC does not certify anyone's fitness for ministry. FBBC does not ordain, churches do. Any church that treats an FBBC diploma as a Baptist union card does so at its own peril.

Donn R Arms

JVDM's picture

MShep2 wrote:

But, they are now asking Professors, staff and students who are members at a local church to make a decision: either look for a new job or stick with the church they have served in for many years. If they really believe in the "autonomy of the local church" (one of the Baptist distinctives) and that the Saylorville church has not begun teaching false doctrine they would not ask their staff to make this decision.

 

MShep2 - for honesty's sake, people need to stop setting this thing on its head. Faith didn't change its policy. The GARBC changed its policy a year ago. Faith had to think about how it would respond in clarifying their documents (handbooks, purposes statements, etc., were all written based on the assumption that a GARB church had "baptist" in the name, because that was the GARBC's policy until a year ago). But they did nothing hasty. Saylorville forced their hand in much the same way that Cedarville did to the GARBC several years ago. Saylorville was the one who stepped outside of the FBBC bubble. You really can't honestly blame FBBC for being who they have always been. You can't jump over the line and then play the victim card. Saylorville was fully aware that they were forcing some of their members into a terribly awkward position, but they went ahead with it anyway.

As Greg said, these are two different ministry philosophies. The connection was going to break at some point, this just happened to be the "efficient cause." The same can be (and has been) said of the Reformation (and no, I'm not saying this is that important). There were many causes at work. The name change was the straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak.

JVDM's picture

Donn- I actually agree with you, but that isn't Faith's policy. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending your perspective) you and I are not the policy makers at Faith!

 

It is interesting to the bullying FBBC is taking from the GARBC and Saylorville. Not that it is necessarily intentionally so. Matt Lapine said on facebook, and I agree with him, the real story here is probably bigger than FBBC and Saylorville. This speaks to the state of the GARBC that you are starting to see fissures form within the association. I don't know where it will lead, but the fellowship seems to be breaking. Even Elrond's and Gandalf's councils can go amiss. Or so it may seem for a time. 

Greg Linscott's picture

Let any student who wants to take classes at FBBC do so--Catholic, Mormon, Charismatic, KJV only Fundamentalist. If they do the work, give them a degree. Let students become members of whatever church they please.

Okay... what about faculty? Does church affiliation not matter, either? That is a major issue in this matter, I would say.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Donn R Arms wrote:

Greg Linscott wrote:

I would ask, though- what other solution would you propose for them to pursue that would allow for local church autonomy yet permit Faith to preserve the course they have committed to traveling?

OK, I'll bite. I don't usually involve myself in these discussions but FBBC is where I first cut my teeth theologically. Solution? Christian liberty. Let any student who wants to take classes at FBBC do so--Catholic, Mormon, Charismatic, KJV only Fundamentalist. If they do the work, give them a degree. Let students become members of whatever church they please. It is the duty of the board and administration to assure doctrinal orthodoxy of what is taught, not the students. What does where a student attends church have anything to do with "preserving the course" Faith has "committed to traveling."

A diploma from FBBC does not certify anyone's fitness for ministry. FBBC does not ordain, churches do. Any church that treats an FBBC diploma as a Baptist union card does so at its own peril.

This is an important point. Church DO take diplomas as a significant sign of qualifying for ministry. All the policies and diplomas in the world are not going to guarantee doctrinal fidelity. Motivations may be noble, but the execution is, IMO, defective. The role of the local church in preparing men for ministry has been supplanted instead of enhanced. Again, in my opinion.

Perhaps one reason these policies are in place is to ensure a place of moral purity for students (and parents). After all, if our doctrine is right, our conduct will be right. Right? <yes, I typed that with my sarcasm hand>

Is there evidence, by the way, that Saylorville is indeed devolving into false doctrine? Other than the name change? Have they revised their SoF or church constitution? Did I miss that?

Greg Linscott's picture

Is there evidence, by the way, that Saylorville is indeed devolving into false doctrine? Other than the name change? Have they revised their SoF or church constitution? Did I miss that?

No. Even now, though- has Cornerstone University changed doctrinally in their statement since they were Grand Rapids Baptist (Bible- dropped earlier)) College? I don't have one in front of me, so if they have, that would be interesting to know. But have they changed practically?

 

http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2009/11/cornerstone_uni...

 

http://www.rexmrogers.com/home/42-education/137-cornerstone-university-f...

 

This may not present a problem for some of you, and that is fine for the purposes of this discussion. I am observing that Faith desires to prevent the same thing from happening to them that happened to CU. This move is how they are going about it. If this isn't the best way to accomplish that, what would you suggest would be a better way?

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Preface:  I was a full-time student at FBTS from 1994 to 1998 and received two master's degrees there. I have been away from Iowa since 2000, though I attempt to keep in contact with my alma mater. I have no direct connection to Saylorville, other than that my beloved professor, the late Dr. Ralph Turk, was once the senior pastor there -- in part while he was my teacher. For the sake of full disclosure, I do part-time, freelance writing and editing for Regular Baptist Press.

Premise: This situation has to be understood in a very specific context. You may ultimately disagree with either this decision or the way it was executed, but please be careful about viewing it as part of some larger, unrelated issue.

Faith offers the student an intimate academic experience at a (relatively speaking) small school -- located in the major metro area of the state. More importantly, Faith promotes a very specific view of theology -- a balanced fundamentalism intertwined with traditional dispensationalism -- and traditional views of scholarship, ministry and excellent, conservative worship. In my view, they do all of this in a way that does not come off as being heavy-handed, legalistic, stuffy or ingrown.

In other words, it is an excellent school! I have said that it is the best-kept secret in fundamentalism -- since it seems I run into many people who are unaware of this historic institution.

While I was a student there, there were full-time seminary students who pastored churches that were not identified as "Baptist," including one IFCA and one United Brethren. Several more non-Baptist pastors attended seminary modules -- including those from Bible, Grace Brethren and EFCA churches. These men were fully welcomed as colleagues and fellow students. Many, if not all, of the faculty have also had significant interactions with the larger evangelical world. The school has also allowed non-Baptist groups to make use of its facilities. Hence, my suspicion is that this matter is not ultimately about the name, "Baptist."

As Greg noted, for whatever reason, "Bible Churches" seem somewhat hard to find in Iowa, so in the past the normal practice of the school was naturally to be involved with local "Baptist Churches." Historically, Faith has also carried out its mission against the backdrop of its ties to the GARBC and the IARBC, which has given it a slightly different culture than other Baptist Bible colleges. I would argue, in fact, that it has caused less of an appearance of the college standing in authority over the local churches.

Application: My purpose is not to attempt to settle this situation, as I am not in position to offer any authoritative statement on it. But, personally, I would be very surprised if this signals a radical new course for the school in terms of either doctrine or practice.

My specific prayer is that Faith, Saylorville, the GARBC and the IARBC will each continue to fulfill God's particular purposes for them under the Great Commission, until Christ returns, and this matter will cause each one to "sharpen" its theological and ecclesiastical "iron." I also hope that this will not signal any long-term, widening division between Faith and the GARBC. May God give us wisdom.

Church Ministries Representative, serving in the Midwest, for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry 

Joel Shaffer's picture

Within the GARBC context itself, one can look at the history of the transition of Grand Rapids Baptist College to Cornerstone University to see why an issue like this is of concern if a school like Faith has a desire to maintain its institutional distinctives, measures like this seem prudent. A big issue with the Grand Rapids situation at the time of the transition (I lived in GR in those days and was in a GARBC church, though I never attended the school) was the push for students and faculty to be able to attend Calvary Church, pastored at the time by Ed Dobson, and quite literally almost adjacent to the school property.  

I was a student at Grand Rapids Baptist College (now Cornerstone) from 1987-1991 and a very part-time seminary student at Grand Rapids Baptist  Seminary (now Grand Rapids Theological Seminary) from 1992 until I graduated in 2006.  Students were allowed to attend whatever fundamental or evangelical church that they desired.  However, it was later during the early 1990's that faculty and administration were allowed to attend conservative evangelical churches such as Calvary church.  

Greg Linscott's picture

... for the correction.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

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