Bitterness Deception

If you’ve been around the IFB long enough, you’ll quickly realize that the phrase “you’re just bitter” or anyone of it’s variations is typically the IFBer’s first line of defense against logic and reason.

I’ve noticed this more and more over the years that I’ve been away from the IFB and I’m not sure if it’s just because I’m more engaged in debate and discussions about the issues or if it is being preached more in the IFB culture. It was certainly taught in the churches I was in growing up. If you have any type of emotion other than happy you were at risk of being labeled as bitter.

It seems that “your just bitter” (citing Hebrews 12:15) has become the manipulation of choice for the IFBer who doesn’t’ like what a person has to say especially if it’s a commentary against the IFB or against it’s dogma. According to the IFB, all those who would oppose the IFB are deemed bitter and not worth their time. Just read through the comments by those who visit and try to oppose the messages of this site and it won’t take you long to read the “your bitter” argument.

Here’s a perfect example. Email received from Alan-Michael Dunn:

you sound very bitter and you couldnt be more wrong. Just get it right man…stop being so bitter. With all of the cults to talk about, you spend much time on God’s people serving in a local church (Independent Fundamental Bible-Believing Church) Please give much time to talk about the dangers of being a Mormon or JW…if you cant, or dont….then that proves youre not concerned with sharing truth…youre just a bitter guy who wants to make excuses as to why you dont serve in the church. Stop being bitter,

This is what philosophers call an ad hominem fallacy. It’s an argument directed at a person or a personal attack rather than a logical response to the idea itself. Instead of asking if I’m bitter, most will assume and judge in classic IFB style and end of story. Nothing more is said. I’m cast aside and my ideas and beliefs hand waved. Noses are turned up in snobbish holier-than-though attitude with no desire to continue the discussion or to expose themselves to such heresy.

People mistake what I and others like me are doing as bitterness when it really isn’t. I would say we are more like the Bereans of Acts 17 who are studying the scriptures to see if what they are being taught is true. Unfortunately we have discovered that much of what’s taught in IFB circles isn’t true. Luckily, unlike the Bereans, we have a much larger platform with which to voice our disgust and disagreement.

I will not lie, I am angry about what the IFB is doing, but I’m not bitter. Anger is a normal response to such injustice and danger. Even Jesus got angry at the money changers in the temple of his day (See Matthew 21, John 2). Just the same, I’m angry at the abuse and manipulation that happens in IFB churches around the world. I’m angry that people are being hurt and turned away from God and Christianity because of the teachings, beliefs and man made traditions of this cult like denomination. I’m angry, but I’m not bitter.

Even if I were bitter so what? Bitterness is a normal emotion and is not a sin. The IFB would like us to believe it is a sin. There’s even a website ( that teaches that women who are raped and have trouble healing and getting closure from the trauma have trouble because they have bitterness. This is pure emotional abuse. The site goes on to also say that boys who have been abused by men and have trouble with healing and trouble with sexual identity (homosexual thoughts) are that way because of bitterness and an inability to forgive. I’m appalled at what I read on this site. How ridiculous and harmful – and unscriptural!!!

There is not one verse in the Bible that calls bitterness a sin. Ephesians warns that bitterness can lead to devastating consequences if left unchecked (see Ephesians 4), but nowhere in the Bible does it call bitterness a sin. In fact, we read in Isaiah 38 that Hezekiah was thankful for his bitterness because it helped him recognize the good that came from his painful experience.

Bitterness can actually be a good thing if we let it motivate us to do things differently. Just like this site, I use the bitterness I once had to motivate me to study the scriptures and use logic and reason to deduce the errors of the IFB. Now, no longer bitter, I can thank God for the good that came of my situation. I am now truly saved and have a much closer relationship with God because it is founded on truth and not the teachings of the IFB.

Finally, we must remember that bitterness and forgiveness are not necessarily opposites. It is not necessarily true that one hasn’t forgiven if one is bitter. And forgiveness doesn’t mean that the bitterness will automatically end. These are two separate issues and the Bible doesn’t say that if you forgive you will not have bitterness and vise versa. The IFB teaches this, but it’s not in the bible – at least I can’t find it anywhere in the Bible.


  1. Interesting… One of the first sermons I heard in a church that identifies as fundamental and independent baptist was on bitterness. It tied in that the heart is deceitful. I remember thinking about how He will replace a stoney hardened heart with a heart of flesh. Regarding bitterness and forgiveness given that the IFB is a “real church” that means everyone would be a brother according to Luke 17:3 repentance is required for forgiveness. This whole bitterness thing reminds me of forgive and forget. It is nowhere in the Bible and is loved and cherished by abusers so that they can keep abusing without being held to account.

  2. I read the comments about the “root of bitterness” with interest, having had a brush with the IFB and their doctrines a few years back. (We are Reformed). We, too, heard this being preached on. So it will possibly help a lot of folk to realise that the Root of Bitterness in the Bible actually has NOTHING TO DO WITH BEING “BITTER”.
    Go on John Piper’s web-site (desiring and read his VERY helpful exegesis – the article is titled: What Is A “Root Of Bitterness”. Link:

    Hope that helps !

  3. Greg: I agree. Most of my church experiences since being saved have been in an EVFree church with a few pastors and a board of elders and then a group of deacons. Participating in my ex-boyfriend’s IFB church was quite different. Whenever he would talk about church things he would talk about discussing something with “pastor”. At the beginning I used to ask him about who was in charge of what there, as various thing would come up. I expected different men to oversee different areas of ministry. Not so, all came under “pastor”‘s authority. A few weeks ago we went to a Christmas concert there. The young man doing the main singing was dressed nice and neat, dress pants, dress shirt, with a pullover sweater over it. After the first song, “pastor” got up, took the microphone, and began to explain to all of us that this man was dressed the way he was because he was in the process of moving and had packed away all of his ties. He said, “I didn’t want you saying ‘uh oh, Pastor is getting progressive on us, allowing someone without a tie!'” That stunned me. Until then I thought the congregants got dressed up because they wanted to. I just recently read your discussion with Steve and Richard. I agree with you both (you and Steve-let’s not get into that agree vs disagree) about power and corruption. Very interesting.

    1. Laura-Oh yes, the dressing up for church thing! This used to be a huge issue for me, in my escaping the fundies (fundamentalism) I get a chuckle at these legalists that claim to strictly follow the Scriptures and then say the idiotic things like this pastor you mentioned, my old pastor was EXACTLY the same way. Jesus had little to say about clothing, but one of the times he did mention clothing was to criticize “dressing up” In Luke 20:45 “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in FLOWING ROBES and love to be greeted in the market place and have the most improtant seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets.” (sounds just like certain folks we know, huh? ….smiles)

      Do you realize if Jesus and the Apostles were walking down your street, you wouldn’t be able to recognize Jesus from his clothing!

  4. Laura – The mind control and manipulation in a spiritually abusive church environment is horrible, but having said that, I realize that “churches” are made up of people, and that we are ALL sinners! That is why the “one-man rule” of many Baptist churches (and not just baptist churches) is a dangerous concept! There are many places in the Scripture that seem to suggest multiple-elder rule, and I think that would be much safer and better for all involved, including the Pastor/elder! We simply put too much authority in the Man of God, and “absolute authority corrupts absolutely” but if that authority is spread out among a group of dedicated/seasoned Christian elders, there would be much less chance of abuse of any sort!

  5. Laura,

    You said something about Christians helping one another when going through a hard time. I completely agree. I also believe that “those times are when God expects brothers and sisters in Christ to come alongside one another to bear each others burdens.” I think we should have people who we know we can count on to help bear whatever burden we are bearing.

    1. Absolutely, Jamey. I think we should all have a circle of Godly same-sex believers for support. If we aren’t currently experiencing a crisis, we have just come through one, or we are soon entering into one. We need to be ready so we don’t fall into sin, but cling to Jesus during our trials. I say same-sex just to avoid too much intimacy in personal face to face relationships where lines can get blurred. I believe there is a place for all levels of support based on each individual circumstance, but as a general rule of thumb in meeting I think it’s best to stay same-sex or include spouses.

  6. Jamey: You state that IFB teaches to hold emotions in. Do they try to use any particular verses to teach that and are there any verses to refute it? Interestingly, my recently “ex”- boyfriend used to act like I was doing something wrong to cry about certain things. For instance when it looked like my dog was going to die I cried. When we discussed that, I said people cry about loss, using the example of when people’s houses burn down, they all stand out in front crying and I said I would do the same. He said that shows you’re putting too much importance on things and animals. I am learning so much from this site and other sources that some things I thought was either extreme spirituality that I should be trying to model or just quirkiness, had really been indoctrinated from IFB? Please clarify if you, or anyone else, can. Thank you all! I am praying that the Holy Spirit would free him and others from this dangerous system.

    1. Laura,

      Right off the top of my head, I’m not sure if there were any specific Scripture passages quoted as I was growing up. I’ll have to think about that and if I remember anything, I’ll certainly let you know. But I was definitely taught that it is more spiritual to “put on a happy face” and never talk about any type of problem I was having. So, that’s what I did. I learned how to stuff bad things down. It would have been so much better if I felt that I could talk to someone about any type of problem I was having. When I did talk to someone about an issue (like when I was 15 and went to my church leaders because I wasn’t sure I was saved), the problem was just minimized by whoever I went to. So, with that type of response, it was just easier to continue stuffing. But that’s a huge part of where I think bitterness comes from. If anger, confusion, frustration, etc are not allowed to have some kind of outlet, then it will fester and could lead to the bitterness that the IFB says is so wrong. They don’t seem to realize the type of cycle they create for themselves with this approach.

      1. Jamey – Your answer to Laura was dead-on. The verses they would use, would be any that talked about having faith, so in other words “you lacked faith” if you had a consistent problem, of course they would put the old “I can do all things through Christ” on you as though you weren’t allowing Christ to handle your problem!

        Yes one is compelled to put on that happy face at all times, yet we don’t see anything like that in the Scriptures, in fact we are compelled to “mourn with those that are mourning” Maybe Laura’s boyfriend could have cried with her over the loss of her dog, or at least been there for her in her grief, instead of pulling out the judment card, and telling her she cared too much for her dog!

        I rememeber an old pentecostal preacher that had a weelky show, and he would start off his show with this announcement “Something good is going to happen to you today” But that’s simply not so! Someone is getting a call telling them their loved one was killed in an accident, or someone’s Dr is telling them they have inoperable cancer, or a young wife just found out that her husband is cheating on her! No something good is not going to happen to everyone today, and that is precisely when the Body of Christ should band together in love and help their broters and sisters, instead of telling them to “fake it til they make it”

        1. Oh my goodness, Greg, “lack of faith” was a common accusation! And “lack of trust”! The judgment card was pulled all the time, even on himself. I never really heard any accusations of bitterness, but when he would catch himself feeling a little sorry for himself because of various circumstances (and he had been through a lot, there was plenty of bad stuff to feel bad about), he would immediately stop himself and refuse to have a “pity party”. Now, I’m not one to go moping around because I’ve had a bad day, but there are some things in life that can get one down for a bit. I think those times are when God expects brothers and sisters in Christ to come alongside one another to bear each others burdens. Of course bitterness needs to be guarded against, but one way to prevent that is to discuss issues of concern, especially with fellow believers, so they can help lead us back to the Word and God’s loving arms of comfort. When we don’t feel, we lose empathy for our fellow man. We are all in the process of sanctification. The Word should be used to edify, not tear down. My daughter was having a hard time accepting all the changes in our lives. She reacted sinfully. I addressed the sinfulness with her. He identified she had a “lack of trust” in me and trust in God. Perhaps she did, we all struggle with that at times, and she had been through a lot. I also addressed that with her, in a kind and loving way. But again with him, it was the judgment card, no empathy or understanding, just what the shortcomings were that he had identified. There were some red flags at the beginning of our relationship. When I learned of his escape from Jack Schaap at FBC, Hammond, that put my mind at ease. Now I realize the indoctrination and mind control is deep. Preferences and opinions are elevated to Scriptural levels, so believing anything different that what is taught is the same as sinning. What a sick system of control, preying on people who only want to please God with their whole heart, but get deceived. Talk about causing someone to stumble, what kind of a witness is that? I keep praying that eyes would be opened to these wicked regimes and hearts would be ready to live under the grace and mercy of the new testament.

  7. Ral,
    I will pray for you. I know how hard it is to leave any church, especially if it’s one that you’ve gone to for a while. I completely understand if you don’t go to church anywhere again. I also understand if you feel like you HAVE to go somewhere just to be in church. I’ve been in both categories. Hurts need time to heal and it’s risky to put yourself out there.

  8. I just re-read this article. Anyone who comes out of the IFB is going to feel the emotion of anger…especially as they begin to realize how duped they really were. Wouldn’t it be better when a person is angry to talk about it (or write about it) instead of holding all emotions in as the IFB teaches? Doesn’t it make sense that the IFB’s way of hiding things and making everything appear differently on the surface, would foster bitterness because whatever is making that person angry in the first place is just being allowed to fester? Eventually, a person can’t hold on anymore and they have to let it out.

    1. Thank you Jamey for that post. I just wrote the following email to the one deacon at the IFB church we’ve been members of for the past maybe 5 years (the other deacon quit this church a few months ago): I’ve been thinking about this for a long time and I think it’s the right action to take. I would like to be removed from membership at FBC. When I break free of FBC, I will not join another church, not ever but I will attend church services somewhere. I can very clearly see why some people quit attending church altogether. FBC has drilled that into my mind real good. I hate going to FBC. I see the leadership of FBC as having a form of godliness but denies the power, I’ve heard the power being denied multiple times (since I used to fully edit the recordings). I see FBC as being very close to cultic. I wrote about these things back in May of this year, not to anyone at FBC but rather, on a web site. I remain only because of two reasons and they are very strong to me. One being a promise I made to God and the other is related to that, as I wrote about, on that site. I’ve been getting some really bad feelings that I don’t like dealing with. I’ve not said a single thing about these feelings to anyone at FBC and I will not, as I don’t wish to sow discord amongst the brethren as it is an abomination to God. I’ve made up my mind, please remove me from membership at FBC. It would be a great help if you would kick me out of that church too.

  9. @me

    Careful buddy.

    It is not necessary for the IFB to have been infiltrated by “masons” or “jesuits” in order to be bad guys. The IFB have simply become legalistic and corrupt, like the Pharisees did.

    Satan didn’t invent all of the denominations. And there is nothing wrong with steeples.

    Find a loving, solid, conservative, nonlegalistic, Evangelical church, be it Baptist, Methodist, Prebyterian, Reformed, or Lutheran.

    Avoid the IFB, the Church of Christ (also known as the “Campbellites”), Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, and the liberal mainline denominations.

  10. Satan controls the Romish IFB church. This explains the splits, arguments, fights, anger, meanness and the control. I would not be surprised if most of the pastors and deacons were masons. Why do they make monuments to men? Why do they have those huge steeples? No not all do, but many do. It is just another racket. Come out of Babylon. Satan invented all of the denominations.

  11. @zack

    Yikes! and what about your judgmental attitude? I don’t recall Steve blame shifting. You might want to re-read the article. Bitterness isn’t any worse than judgmentalism. Matthew 7

  12. No bitterness here, Zack, just pity, grief and sorrow for all those still trapped. I am very humbled that the Lord would be so Gracious to lead and guide me and all His sheep as He does. He has taught me that I am a member of the True Church of Jesus Christ. There are no denominations within it. 1Peter 2:4-5

    1 Corinthians 1:10-17

  13. Wow. Blame a denomintion so you can rationalize bitterness. 1 Corinthians 5:4-5.

    1. Zack,

      I could not agree more. Somewhere on this site i just read that they indicated that bitterness was not sin and that it could not be found anywhere in the Bible that it is such. It’s not puzzling, but rather the person(s) explaining away the bitterness and trying to write it off.

      When they say that an IFB person rebuts statements about their IFB church being different than the broad brush IFB movement by saying that is a lame argument, it is no different than firing back, “I’m not bitter and even if so, bitterness is not a sin and can’t be found in the Bible to be a sin”. It’s like a he said, she said…no it’s not, yes it is verbal ping pong match going on here.

      I would dare say that most of those people in an IFB church never heard of this site, just like most people outside an IFB church don’t hardly know what an IFB church is. The Christian world is made up of a much larger group than the IFB movement, and those that have left the movement (some are led elsewhere besides the feelings and thoughts expressed here btw), constitute even a smaller number.

      My last comment (but what 1st came to mind after reading what you wrote) is the following…

      If we are to “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you” like it says in Ephesians 4, why would bitterness be lifted from the list as a “non” sin, but only agree to wrath, anger & clamour being sinful?

      It appears at first blush from this site, that yes…while there are people that have been hurt to different measures by being affiliated with an IFB church, let’s not take aim at other believers. You can’t say you’re angry or bitter against a “movement” or a “church” or “teachings”…those are inanimate objects. At the core, there is resentment (and whatever ill feelings that tag along) that is aimed at a person or persons.

      Please don’t mistake this position to be heartless. I’m out to start no fight. Don’t misconstrue any statements I make to be defending any particular teaching/position that an IFB pastor or person espouses. But after reading through a number of comments on this site, it does seem to be true that misery loves company.

      Some here seem to have not just find maybe a haven of rest on this site, but rather have come and taken up residence. I say, if you’ve moved on from what you believe to be a toxic movement, don’t camp out here…this can be just as toxic. Continue to move on to a brighter future & greener pastures.

      I’m moving on from this site, and should anyone care to reply to this, it will be for the benefit (?) of those that stumble upon the comments as I highly doubt I will entertain the thought of visiting again. Don’t reply to merely stroke your own ego. There will be some that disagree with what I’ve said, just as much as what others have said, that’s a given. I love the quote I heard someone said years ago but don’t know who to assign it to, but it seems so fitting as I close; “Our diversity is the key to our unity”.

      And for those who claim no bitterness (and another quote who I don’t know who stakes claim at it), “If the shoe fits, wear it”.

      See ya’ll in glory! 🙂

  14. I understand that what we are experiencing is “righteous” anger. This is godly as long as it is under control of the Spirit of God. Ephesians 4:26
    We should not be surprised at this new onslaught of attack by the IFBC. Of course, their response is much like the Pharisees of old. These tactics of the enemy are very useful in keeping the masses under their thumb.
    I am reminded of the Hegelian Dialectic. Those of us with His Spirit stand alone because we love Truth. The “religious” have a common unity. The True Church is comprised of those born of His Spirit and are scattered the world over. This is an unseen entity.
    Those who have the Holy Spirit of God are led by the True Shepherd. John 10:27. He is so very Gracious to have led us out of these wolf dens. Praise God! We pray for our brothers/sisters, that He would do the same for them soon, that they also may grow in the Lord Jesus Christ. 2Peter 3:18.
    It is only after allowing us to be involved in the IFBC can we understand why the Lord allowed us to be there. He was teaching us by revealing that we were hungry and were not being fed and nourished there. He knows our every need and led us out. We find comfort and pray that perhaps today He will remove us and take us to be with Him for all eternity. 1Thes 4:16-18

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