Debate With Bill

It appears as though I’ve been challenged to a debate. This is exciting to me as I consider this a wonderful way to voice my opinions, beliefs and experiences in order to shed light on the IFB movement.

Many have offered objections to my site and I always respond with an explanation or defense, however, non have chosen to continue the discussion… until now.

Bill is a concerned advocate of the IFB movement and has responded to my defense of his critique. This was originally in the comments section of the “About This Site” page but has been moved here to facilitate our discussion and segregate it for your convenience.

This will be a discussion between Bill and I so other comments will be welcome, however, they will be reserved till the debate is over. Thanks for your interest and I encourage you to follow along.

Below is Bill’s original message. Following in the comments section will be our debate.

Thank you for allowing those of us who take umbrage with your viewpoint to have an opportunity to respond. One could spend every day from here to the Lord returns, debating each individual point that you raise on your website. You obviously feel very strongly about the negative experience that you have had with the IFB church that you grew up in. I have attended IFB churches all over the country and in Europe as well. There is no doubt in my mind that there are some very bad IFB churches out there. The church that Jesus Christ built has been allowed to apostatize in many areas, and in fact, the churches that contend for the faith once delivered to the saints, have become a remnant in a world that has turned its’ back on what Christ demands that His church be.

My remarks are not meant to be specific to any particular area of doctrine, but rather are intended to draw attention to the errors that you make through generalization of the IFB church. Let me first address the catalyst for your crusade against IFB churches, your own personal experience. I realize that it was real, traumatic, and life shaping in its effect on your spiritual. No one would go to such lengths to “expose” purported errors unless they were keenly felt. Let me add that this is the proper way to respond to perceived error which is allegedly being perpetrated under the name of Biblical Christianity. That said, you must remember that your experience was with one IFB church and as such gives you no legitimate right to use the qualifier “they” when referring to experiences that you had at one church. You know as well as I do that IFB is not a denomination in the truest definition of the term. IFB has no hierarchal structure, no headquarters, no committee on doctrinal purity, or virtually any other oversight organizations that so define today’s denominational institutions. This is however a two edged sword. The autonomy of the local IFB church frees the congregation from forced doctrinal stands, allows them to finance their own ministries, and gives each church the liberty of choosing their own Pastor and many other advantages. The other side of the sword is that it engenders a situation where the sins of one local congregation, Pastor, deacon, etc. invites every local IFB church to be painted with the same broad brush as is the case with real denominations. You cannot truthfully say that your individual experiences, or those of your fellow malcontents, can be said of any other IFB church. You seem to recognize this truth, but fail to correct it when you state that not all IFB churches are equally as bad. You are at best being disingenuous and at worst utterly deceitful. The only way to correctly portray your experiences would be to change the qualifier “they” to “the church that I attended”. If you were to do that, it would be much clearer to the casual reader. I liken the situation to an individual who decides to purchase a new car. He asks a friend for advice and the friend says with all earnestness, “Whatever you do don’t buy an Oldsmobile. I had one and they are terrible cars.” His error is making the assumption that ALL Oldsmobiles are terrible, based simply on his personal and very narrow experience. That same potential buyer could eliminate every single model of car that is produced and sold on today’s market if he talked to enough friends. If you have attended every IFB church in America today it may give you the credibility to make such generalized pronouncements.

As I stated above I have been a member of an IFB church for 12 years and have attended scores of them. I teach an adult Bible class, am the head of several IFB ministries, and have attended IFB schools. I am a teacher at an IFB High School and have preached and taught all over the country and in Europe. I have never been told what to wear or how to wear my hair. I have never heard it said that you cannot be saved unless you use the KJV only. I have taken numerous courses on Bibliology and the history of the Bible and have taught some as well. I am convinced that the KJV is as close as we have to the original autographs in the English language. It is not inspired, neither were the translators inspired. God has nonetheless promised to preserve His word for all generations. (Psalm 12:6,7)

My Pastor has absolutely no idea how much each member gives to the church and that is by design. I have one IFB Pastor Friend who was approached by a member who told him that if he didn’t do what this member wanted that he would discontinue his generous giving. The Pastor told him in no uncertain terms that he no longer wanted that member to donate any money to the church. This seems to be quite a difference from the conduct that your website accuses IFB Pastors of engaging in. I have never been told what type of music I must listen to nor have I ever told anyone the same. One of the Baptist distinctives that you failed to mention is “Individual Soul Liberty”. That is simply a restatement of Romans 14 that we all must give account for ourselves to God someday.

Are my experiences not as valid as yours or those of your readers? One area of great concern to me in the IFB church is in the area of soul winning. The New Evangelical practice of 1-2-3 pray after me has indeed permeated the IFB churches. Saying a prayer never saved anybody. A soul winner has never saved any body. The Holy Spirit does the convicting of the sinner through the word of God (whatever version a soul winner chooses to use.) It is not the enticing words of men that saves, but the word of God. I have been in services where the Pastor gave an emotion filled, dynamic message then tells people to raise their hand if they want to go to Heaven when they die. The raised hands are of course counted and entered as statistics or “souls saved”. I have also been in IFB churches, including where I currently attend, where this is frowned upon. My former statement that the “instant prayerism” methodology is beginning to permeate the IFB churches is as close to a generalization that I can legitimately make.
This letter is by no means comprehensive, nor could it ever be. I am simply trying to point out to you that you are doing a disservice to your readers by presenting your personal experience as being indicative of the whole. And may I add a whole that doesn’t even exist. Thank you for reading my letter. Should you answer it on the website, I am hoping to have an opportunity to respond.

William G. Radvansky
Pittsburgh, PA

Updated: October 9, 2011 — 8:49 pm


  1. Hello,
    I have attended an IFB church for the last 10 years. I’m an active tithing member, Sunday School teacher, youth worker and have recently questioned the actions and beliefs of the church. This site has helped me plenty, and in particular, this debate.

    I would like to add that having laboriously read through all the arguments, I have come to the same conclusion that has been convicting me for the past year. The IFB church is very much like the modern day Pharisee–close minded and heavily focused on works rather than the heart. Like the Pharisee, it is very prideful and always strives to be right rather than humble. Remember, the parable of the 2 praying men–one praying aloud and shining forth with all the good works he has done, while the other praying for forgiveness for all his sins? It’s funny how, whenever this parable was preached to me from the pulpit, I always saw my own church as the prideful praying man.

    Bill, you seem to be very well versed in your study of scriptures. However, all your answers are very cookie cutter and sound exactly like what has been preached to me from the pulpit (almost verbatim even) for the last 10 years. You mention that the IFB church does not tell you how to dress, how to act, etc…you are true. My church does not have a rule book for how we should dress. However, through very subtle manipulation we are very successfully able to create cookie cutter IFB church goers. Case in point, in the youth group I serve at, we don’t tell the youth how to dress. However, on Sunday mornings, those youth who are in t-shirts and jeans always feel “less of a christian”. They seem to always end up sitting in the back because, somehow, they feel ashamed. Most are saved, love God, and are genuine. However, they are made to feel they don’t love God enough because they are not in a suit and tie or long floral dress. These youth end up leaving the church and leaving God.

    I wanted to end with this. This debate has helped to assure me that my inclinations regarding the IFB church is correct. The site admin has made very good and valid points. Thank you!

  2. Well, I wish you wouldn’t give up so soon. I can’t say that I understand your anger, but I guess I don’t have much of a choice except to let the discussion speak for itself. It’s really difficult for me to take you seriously when you are still calling me Brandon. It validated my suspicion that you really aren’t paying attention since I’ve already told you that I’m not Brandon. You even apologized for “misidentifying” me. I can only surmise that you just aren’t paying much attention to what I write.

    You say you are developing thoughtful answers, but I just don’t see it. How can I believe that you are developing thoughtful answers when you aren’t paying attention to what I write or considering my point of view? You’re just repeating the same dogma promoted by the IFB. I know this because it was part of my life for over 25 years. I can spot it a mile away. I’m not as stupid as you think I am. Who are you trying to fool because you aren’t fooling me?

    Anyway, If you would like to point out where I’ve “feigned knowledge” of points you called me out on feel free. I’m not above making mistakes, but I would like to figure out if I’ve really been denying things I’ve said or you are just misunderstanding me (or refusing to consider my points, which is more likely). I would like the opportunity to make a defense. If you cool down and decide you want to pick up the discussion or start a new one let me know.

    For those of you following along, I hope this discussion will serve as a good example of why this website is so important. Since Bill has decided to abruptly end our discussion, I would now like to open this up for anyone to comment or share their insight. Looking forward to hearing from others and continuing the discussion that way.

  3. I am sick and tired of wasting my time in developing thoughtful answers that I think may help you to understand my point of view and have you continually dismiss them as taken out of context. You are constantly making points that I call you on, only to feign any knowledge of them. I suppose that since you are so much smarter than I am and it takes so much condescension on your part to even have a dialogue with me, that I will just bow out of this useless exercise. I will no longer validate your baseless claims by engaging in a discussion with someone who is content to offer accusations rather than informative answers. You win Brandon.

  4. I appreciate you validating my experiences, but I still think that you misunderstand where I’m coming from. Perhaps this will help you understand. I believe that IFB churches have similarities and fall along a continuum of peculiarities. While the churches I’ve experienced fall on the extreme side and yours fall on the not so extreme side of the continuum (I’m still not convinced of this but I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt), they both are still IFB churches and thus have similar beliefs and attitudes towards the Bible and the messages contained therein. Whether you realize it or not, the IFB church you attend has attributes of the IFB movement. How do I know this? Because it is an IFB church, simple as that. Not to mention other red flags that I see just in visiting the website. All the same red flags that were at the church I grew up in are at Harvest Baptist Church.

    Bill Radvansky :A look back through some of your posts to me will show that you have called me, or accused me of a skewed misinterpretation, being closed mindedly biased, sadly mistaken, having fallen prey to manipulation, using silly semantics, flexing my intellectual muscles, my argument being one big Ad Hominem fallacy, puffing myself up with a self righteous attitude, that I am so blinded by the teachings of the IFB that I simply can’t see the difference. You’ve said that my responses are a jumbled mess of disjointed topics, mere hand waving etc. Would you consider this as being a pattern of snide remarks? Truce?

    This simply isn’t fair and you know it! You’ve done to me exactly what you do with scripture. You have taken remarks I’ve made out of their context. Those comments were part of our discussion and I was pointing out your logical errors. They were in no way isolated or “derogatory in a nasty, insinuating manner” (which is the definition of snide by the way). Your comment about the “dog that yelps…” has nothing to do with our discussion, at least I don’t see how, and I still have no idea what it means or why you said it. It seemed like a derogatory, nasty and insinuating comment, that’s why I called it snide.

    Bill Radvansky :By saying that I can’t give an unbiased opinion of the issues because I am still in the IFB culture means that the only people who can have a legitimate perspective is those like yourself who have left! You have made being disgruntled the only ground of legitimate discourse! I know that you know that this is not acceptable grounds on which to base a debate.

    That’s not what I meant and you know it! Please do try to follow the discussion. I only said that YOU can’t have MY perspective since you are still in the IFB. When I was attending IFB churches and schools I thought that they were really great too. I would have defended them to the death. I wold have been happy to tell people that they were friendly and would never force their beliefs or rules on others. But that’s the subtle power of spiritual abuse. You don’t realize it’s happening while you’re involved in it. Since you are still involved in the IFB I doubt the clarity with which you see my perspective. That’s all I was saying.

    Bill Radvansky :No where in any of my postings have I even intimated that there is a certain way that you must dress, or a certain length your hair must be, or that you must wear a tie to go to an IFB.

    I don’t recall saying that you did.

    Bill Radvansky :Let me repeat, none of the IFB churches that I have been privileged to attend follow those alleged “guidelines” let alone force them on others.

    OK, now let ME repeat. I think they do and that you are simply blind to it. The very fact that you are fixated on “standards” tells me that you are following the “guidelines” of the IFB. You are repeating the IFB message on “standards” and you don’t even realize it. I know this because it’s the exact same message about “standards” I got in the churches I was in. I wrote about this in my previous post.

    Bill Radvansky :When you say that “we don’t have to do anything to be separated, God does that.” You are quite simply in error.

    That’s not something I said, that’s from the Bible. So if you think that I’m in error for saying that you are actually saying that the Bible is in error.

    1 Corinthians 8 is about Paul’s instructions on Christian freedoms. Helping a weaker Christian make the right decisions has nothing to do with the “standards” you are talking about or that the IFB promote.

  5. Let me try to address your concerns one by one. Let me start by answering your charge that I am making fun of your experiences with an IFB church. I do not doubt for one second that you experienced the things that you have shared with me and your readers. If I was in that church and some of the things that you detailed had happened to me I would have left that church as well. Better yet, if the IFB church that I currently attend would do those things, I would leave it. I have clearly stated numerous times that no church, Pastor, or church member has any Biblical basis for forcing his standards on someone else. (Please see my previous remarks on principals, convictions, and standards.) What I have been debating is your contention, stated or implied, that all IFB churches follow the same procedures, rules, etc. that you were subjected to. That is the motivation behind my involvement.

    A look back through some of your posts to me will show that you have called me, or accused me of a skewed misinterpretation, being closed mindedly biased, sadly mistaken, having fallen prey to manipulation, using silly semantics, flexing my intellectual muscles, my argument being one big Ad Hominem fallacy, puffing myself up with a self righteous attitude, that I am so blinded by the teachings of the IFB that I simply can’t see the difference. You’ve said that my responses are a jumbled mess of disjointed topics, mere hand waving etc. Would you consider this as being a pattern of snide remarks? Truce?

    By saying that I can’t give an unbiased opinion of the issues because I am still in the IFB culture means that the only people who can have a legitimate perspective is those like yourself who have left! You have made being disgruntled the only ground of legitimate discourse! I know that you know that this is not acceptable grounds on which to base a debate. No where in any of my postings have I even intimated that there is a certain way that you must dress, or a certain length your hair must be, or that you must wear a tie to go to an IFB. Let me repeat, none of the IFB churches that I have been privileged to attend follow those alleged “guidelines” let alone force them on others. Let me relate one instance where I was repulsed by an IFB church. While on vacation in central Florida my wife and I took the opportunity to attend a very large well known IFB church. On the door was a note to visitors which said,”Please honor our sanctuary by not entering if you are wearing shorts”. I found this reprehensible, especially in a resort area where vacationers are likely to come and are equally as likely to be wearing shorts. When I came back to my home church I told the Pastor about this and he was as equally disappointed that such an attitude is permitted to exist. I did not say that I will never attend an IFB church again though.

    When you say that “we don’t have to do anything to be separated, God does that.” You are quite simply in error. In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul is talking about the most simplest of appetites, food. What he is saying is that the paramount determining factor when deciding to eat something sacrificed to idols(worldly) or not, is not whether it is lawful, but whether it would adversely affect the spiritual condition of another “weaker” brother. Paul is telling us that we must make a conscious decision for ourselves to deny what we have liberty to do, because it may cause another brother to offend. This separating of ones self from what others may have no problem doing is the mark of a spiritually mature Christian. It is a decision that must be made by that Christian in obedience to scripture. There are also many people who get saved but do not have their sinful desires automatically removed. Yet they don’t “stop trying to obtain personal holiness on their own”. As they grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ they begin to skim the dross from their lives. The convicting power of the Holy Spirit brings the impure things in their life to their attention if they allow him to. Resisting him is called quenching the Spirit.

    I really am trying hard to communicate to you where you are in error over the topic of biblical separation. I think that your poignant questions make it easier for me to address the issue more precisely.

  6. OK, well I think there is still a lot we can learn from each other on this topic so I’m glad you’re deciding to continue this discussion.

    I’ll be honest, I have a difficult time accepting your experiences and point of view “with as much legitimacy as I expect you to accept mine”, as you request, because I have this idea in my head that since you are still within the IFB culture (for lack of a better term) you are unable to see things from my perspective, which is a perspective of looking from the outside in after having left the IFB. I can easily see your perspective since I’ve been in the IFB, but since you’ve never experienced my point of view, or at least you haven’t said that you have, I don’t think that you can appreciate what I’ve experienced and the perspective that I bring to the discussion. As a result I see your experiences and perspective as biased and tainted. I’m just being honest here, but I’m glad to change this should I find out something different.

    The most prevalent question on my mind at this point is why do you feel the need to voice your disagreement with this site if the messages contained within it don’t apply to you? You’ve stated on several occasions that the experiences you’ve had with the IFB are the exact opposite of mine. What is the motivation then behind your involvement here if what I write doesn’t apply to you?

    The very fact that you are focused on this separation issue lends credence to your biased view. You say that you’ve never been to an IFB church that forces it’s rules/standards/beliefs on people, yet you keep bringing up this separation issue which is a unique IFB stance. Can’t you see that you are defending the very thing that you deny? This subtle doctrine of separation is really what you’ve talked about the most. How is it that you can defend a doctrine that is promoted by the IFB and not admit that the IFB may be influencing your decisions and beliefs? Since I believe that the IFB’s doctrine of separation is bogus and unsupported by scripture, I feel that you may be more influenced by the teachings of the IFB than you realize.

    When a person comes to Christ, God changes his/her desires so that he/she wants to live a righteous and blameless life. We don’t have to do anything to be separated. God does that. As we grow and mature spiritually those good works and standards flow from our hearts because we want to do them not because we have to. See Galatians 5:16-26. The fruit of the Spirit is the spontaneous work of the Holy Spirit in us. The Spirit produces these character traits. They are the by-products of Christ’s control, we can’t obtain them by trying on our own without his help. We must know him, love him, remember him, and imitate him. As a result, we will fulfill the intended purpose of the law – to love God and our neighbors. This is how we are separated from the unbelievers. There is no mention of dressing a certain way, listening to a certain kind of music or any other way of keeping ourselves from “identifying with the ungodly”.

    Jesus’ ministry was all about identifying with the ungodly. He ate dinner with tax collectors, allowed prostitutes to clean his feat, broke many cultural boundaries in order to identify himself with the ungodly. That’s what the Pharisees were so upset about, but that was his ministry. Jesus didn’t erect an IFB church and make people come in and change their appearances and behaviors so that they could be separated from the ungodly.

    I don’t know how to answer your question about how I practice personal holiness except to say that I try to develop my relationship with the Lord and know him intimately. I’ve stopped trying to obtain personal holiness on my own by following a dress code or “standards” a long time ago. Personal holiness comes as I learn more about who Christ is and what he has done for me, but it is the Holy Spirit that produces the fruit not me.

    Finally, can you please explain the “dog that yelps…” comment? That smacks of sarcasm. I’m happy to discuss things with you, but I will not tolerate you making fun of my abuse or continuing that pattern of abuse with snide remarks. But before I jump to conclusions I would like to hear your explanation.

  7. I would be very happy to continue on this topic until either I have answered your questions sufficiently or you run out of questions that I simply “Hand Wave” at. I guess it was a bit presumptuous of me to cut off discussion without making sure that all areas of your concern have been dealt with. Perhaps by dealing directly with each of your concerns we can make some progress.

    You wrote,”In my experience the IFB (has) detailed standards of belief and living that are very rigid, are not based on or at least loosely based on Scriptures and they expect a high degree of conformity based on the Bible.”

    I am glad that you prefaced your remarks by saying that it is “In my experience.” If you still agree that you have not been to near as many IFB churches as I have then you have to accept what I have experienced with as much legitimacy as you want me to accept yours. On any given Sunday a visitor to Harvest Baptist church in New Kensington, PA. is just as likely to see men with long hair and an earring, ladies wearing pants, and men with beards wearing T shirts, as they are to see men in suits and ties and ladies in modest dresses. That has been my experience at just about every IFB church that I have been in. Secondly, the Bible expects a high degree of conformity to itself. It is not a smorgasbord where we pick and choose what we agree with and what we don’t. My daily life is striving to be more Christ like. Paul wrote that he died daily for the cause of the gospel.

    You also stated, “What really confuses me is how the IFB goes from “4 or 5″ instances of where we are commanded to be separate, to come out from among them, to not receive the spirit of the world, that we are delivered from this present evil world, etc.”, as you state, to the “standards” it has set up. In other words, how does the IFB, or the individual for that matter, get their SPECIFIC standards of Christian living?

    In my last submission I clearly stated that the only person who can come up with standards for you is you. The IFB does not have a list of specific standards. Bible principals are preached, the Holy Spirit does the convicting, and the believer uses standards as safeguards in his life to prevent him from falling into sin. My church has not set up one single standard that I have to follow. I can listen to what I want, I can watch whatever I want, etc. Through my studying and praying and hearing the word of God preached, I have changed what I watch and what I listen to. I have come to realize that the deciding factor in my making choices on whether or not I should do something is, “Will this identify me with Christ or will it identify me with the world.?” I want my whole life to be about living for Christ, attracting people to Him, and becoming more Christ-like every day. Yes,Standards that I have put in place for myself sometime lead to deleterious consequences, but a Christian should expect persecution for what he believes is right. When I was an undercover cop, I went and got my ear pierced and let my hair grow very long. Why? Because I wanted the world to think that I was one of them. Outside of that milieu, I don’t want to identify with the ungodly, because I have been called out from among them.

    My question to you is, “If I am misusing the scriptures that tell God’s people to be different (separate) from the world, please tell me how you live up to those “5 or 6” scriptures that I quoted. How do you practice personal Holiness? Since you reject “the list” what scriptures govern your daily walk? Finally, The dog that yelps is usually the one that’s been hit.

  8. That’s fine, if you wish to discontinue this discussion. I’ve already addressed the issues you talk about and I’ve already expressed my thoughts on the scripture you use to support your beliefs. I’ve also already talked about how I agree with your view on biblical principles just not the methods that the IFB goes about “enforcing” them. I don’t know how to say more clearly what I’ve already said so we can move on if you wish.

    I will say this, though. You asked me to present scriptural support for my point of view, but when I did, you counter with what amount to nothing more than mere hand waving. You also continue to downplay my experiences and point of view. For example: You state: “IFB churches do not have a list of standards that one must adhere too in order to be considered spiritual and holy.” yet I’ve told you multiple times that the IFB churches I experienced do. I’ve given you evidence from my own life about the IFB’s tendency to use standards to manipulate people, facilitate a “holier-than-thou” attitude and promote a works based righteousness. There are also many people who have shared their similar experiences on this very site, yet you continue to deny it or at least resist it. Also, I’ve said repeatedly that I don’t believe “that the IFB churches make standards a prerequisite to salvation…” yet you continue to accuse me of that.

    To answer your final question… Yes I do have “standards” although I don’t call them that. (I hate that word by the way – “standards”. That word was shoved down my throat for over 25 years and was used to abuse me so I hope you can understand my disdain for that word.) Anyway, to answer your question, Yes, I do have standards but not in the way that you think of them. I have standards of Christian conduct, but I’m not preoccupied with them nor do they take a priority in my life. My relationship with Christ, learning more about who he is and my spiritual maturity, takes a priority. I have standards of Christian living because I’m a Christian and the Lord has place within me a moral compass. I have standards of Christian living because they help me make good decisions and avoid deleterious consequences. It’s probably easier, however, to tell you why not than why. I don’t have standards so that I can please God or make God like me more. I don’t have standards to keep God’s wrath from me or to bring God’s blessing upon me. I don’t have standards to feel or somehow be closer to God. I don’t have standards to appease the IFB. I don’t have standards to be or at least appear to be a better Christian than others. I don’t have standards to increase my holiness. I don’t have standards to assist in the sanctification process. I don’t have standards to aid in the spiritual maturity process.

    Someone once told me that “most Christian groups have standards of belief. Members are expected to accept the standards of their community. Groups differ both in the way their standards are ordered, and in the degree of conformity that they expect. Some have detailed formal standards of belief while others use only the Bible and allow variation in interpretation”. In my experience the IFB falls among the former. They have detailed standards of belief and living that are very rigid, are not based on or at least loosely based on Scriptures and they expect a high degree of conformity. I fall among the latter. I do not have a formal set of standards, the ones I do have are open and flexible and they are based on the Bible. I simply can’t find scripture to support the standards most IFB churches have.

    Well, I wish you wouldn’t be so hasty to move on to a different topic because I enjoy this topic and still have many questions that I wish you would answer. What really confuses me is how the IFB goes from “4 or 5 instances of where we are commanded to be separate, to come out from among them, to not receive the spirit of the world, that we are delivered from this present evil world, etc.”, as you state, to the “standards” it has set up. In other words, how does the IFB, or the individual for that matter, get their SPECIFIC standards of Christian living? Where does one draw the line? How does the IFB decide what is part of “the spirit of the world” and what isn’t? The IFB churches I’ve experienced were the ones to set the specifics. For example, I’ve visited IFB churches that wouldn’t let me in because I didn’t have a tie on. How does that church get the standard that men must wear a tie to church from the passages you reference in your posts?

    To be truly separate like the generalities you speak of would be to live as the Monks in a monastery or in an abbey like the Nuns. How do you decide what it means to “be separate, to come out from among them, to not receive the spirit of the world, etc.”? Where in the Bible do you get the SPECIFICS of your beliefs on how to dress, what music to listen to, what to eat, where to go, etc.? Are they based on scripture because so far I’m not convinced? Are they based on personal preferences and convictions? If so, how then can you say they are commandments for all Christians to follow? Do you see what I’m getting at? Just because I don’t have the standards YOU think Christians should have doesn’t mean that I don’t have standards.

    Anyway, I could go on writing about this for hours, but I simply don’t have the time. I hope that I’m being clear although I don’t feel like I’m getting through. Perhaps it’s my fault for not being more precise so I will try to be more precise in future posts.

    So what’s the next topic you wish to debate?

  9. Because you and I are so far apart on this issue I suggest that we each make a closing statement and move on to another topic. Though I have quoted verses that directly contradict your assertions about standards, you continue to accuse me of taking them out of context. I have cited multiple verses in support of the biblical position and you accuse me of being blinded by IFB interpretation. IFB churches do not have a list of standards that one must adhere too in order to be considered spiritual and holy. Just because your parents or Pastor have attempted to apply their standards to your life in the past does not destroy the whole idea of Christians having Godly standards. Matthew Henry includes in his commentary on 1 Peter:14-16, “Be sober, be vigilant against all your spiritual dangers and enemies, and be temperate and modest in eating, drinking, apparel, recreation, business, and in the whole of your behaviour. Be sober-minded also in opinion, as well as in practice, and humble in your judgment of yourselves. 2. As obedient children, etc., v. 14. These words may be taken as a rule of holy living, which is both positive—”You ought to live as obedient children, as those whom God hath adopted into his family, and regenerated by his grace;’’ and negative—”You must not fashion yourselves according to the former lusts, in your ignorance.’’ Or the words may be taken as an argument to press them to holiness from the consideration of what they now are, children of obedience, and what they were when they lived in lust and ignorance. Learn, (1.) The children of God ought to prove themselves to be such by their obedience to God, by their present, constant, universal obedience. (2.) Persons, when converted, differ exceedingly from what they were formerly. They are people of another fashion and manner from what they were before; their inward frame, behaviour, speech, and conversation, are much altered from what they were in times past.

    Be you holy, for I am holy. Learn, (1.) The grace of God in calling a sinner is a powerful engagement to holiness. (2)Complete holiness is the desire and duty of every Christian. Here is a two-fold rule of holiness: [1.] It must, for the extent of it, be universal. We must be holy, and be so in all manner of conversation; in all civil and religious affairs, in every condition, prosperous or reverse; towards all people, friends and enemies; in all our intercourse and business still we must be holy. [2.] For the pattern of it. We must be holy, as God is holy: we must imitate him, though we can never equal him. He is perfectly, unchangeably, and eternally holy; and we should aspire after such a state. The consideration of the holiness of God should oblige as to the highest degree of holiness we can attain unto. (3.) In the New Testament; the apostle, by virtue of a command delivered several times by Moses, requires holiness in all Christians.

    This passage is indeed a command to live holy lives and by doing so we become more Christ like. You stated that “The IFB in my experience has taken personal standards, based on personal convictions of the principles in scripture, made them commandments for living and then expect everyone else to abide by them.” “Personal” standards are just that, “personal” As I explained, NO ONE OR NO CHURCH CAN DEVELOP STANDARDS FOR IT’S MEMBERS. Standards are checkpoints that each of us place in our own lives to help us to follow Biblical principals. I cannot explain that any clearer. There is nothing wrong with a Pastor preaching from Proverbs 31 or any other applicable chapter concerning the Biblical principle of modesty in dress or a woman not being known more for beauty than the working of her hands.

    The word that the translators used in 2 Corinthians 7:1 is a perfectly acceptable translation and means 1) to bring to an end, accomplish, perfect, execute, complete a) to take upon one’s self b) to make an end for one’s self. It is translated elsewhere as accomplished, will perform, have performed and made perfect. If you want to split a hair, that’s up to you, it doesn’t change the oft repeated Biblical idea that we are to strive to be more Christ like, for he was the epitome of Holiness.

    The term Ekklesia is only used as a political term once in the entire New Testament. This is in Acts 19 where the local worshippers of Diana who made their living selling trinkets to the devotees of the false goddess were threatened by Paul’s preaching of the gospel. As a called out assembly we are commanded by scripture to be different from the world. Romans 2:12 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” It is only by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that we can hope to follow this command. We are not puppets with the Holy Spirit pulling our strings. We can quench the Spirit and grieve the Spirit by failing to act on his promptings.

    Being separated is not a works based righteousness, it is following the commands of the New Testament in obedience. I gave you 4 or 5 instances of where we are commanded to be separate, to come out from among them, to not receive the spirit of the world, that we are delivered from this present evil world, etc. One definitely IS more sanctified by holy living. Demas forsook the Apostle Paul, because he loved this present world. Paul tells Titus, “Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; (Titus 2:12) Don’t you see that we must make a choice to live righteously and Godly? That is sanctification.
    Finally, I see nothing in Galatians that suggests that Paul felt that Biblical standards were causing the Galatian believers to not enjoy life. I am sure you know that Paul is addressing the fact that a group of people known as the Judaizers had crept into the church and were preaching the false doctrine that believers in Christ had to first become Jews and keep the law in addition to belief in Christ. Paul tells them that by again putting themselves in bondage to the law they were being foolish. (3:2) When he refers to the law in that book he is strictly referring to the Old Testament law, and not to any standards that an individual believer will or should come up with for themselves. I find it hard to believe that you would equate the two!

    As I stated, this is my final critique of your mistaken notion that the IFB churches make standards a prerequisite to salvation or admittance into fellowship. Let me ask one question of you. Do you have personal standards of Christian conduct that you live by, and if so, why?

  10. I never said I don’t agree with Ephesians 5:11. Where did you get that from? I love that verse, it’s one of my favorites. I think we just disagree what “worthless deeds of darkness” are. I see murder, envy, greed, coveting, stealing, adultery, etc as “worthless deeds of darkness” while the IFB sees women wearing pants to church, men having long hair, Christian contemporary music, not praying before a meal, etc. as “worthless deeds of darkness”.

    I agree with most of what you are saying, however, there seems to be some contradictions so I have to address some things that I disagree with. The church IS ALREADY a called out assembly. We don’t have to work at being called out. We are already called out, not because of our behaviors or standards but because we are children of Christ. We can’t become more called out or separated by having higher standards. That’s a work based righteousness and isn’t supported by scripture. The sanctification process is a process that is done by the Holy Spirit NOT by living with standards. Again, holy living follows the process of sanctification, not the other way around. One isn’t more sanctified by holy living.

    The term Ekklesia is actually a political term rather than a religious term. It was an organization of people who gathered to stand up against an oppressive government. It was a way for people to make a peaceful break from a corrupt government (something that we desperately need at present in the US, but that’s for another blog 🙂 ) You have to remember that Jesus was not only recognized as a religious figure, but also a political figure. He was of royal descent, the line of King David. Jesus stood up against the oppressive government of the time and His followers were considered “ekklesia” or “called out” and were persecuted by the apostate church of that day who abandoned the house of David proclaiming they had no king but Caesar. R. Scott, and H.G. Liddell, A Greek-English Lexicon. When this term is translated into the word “church” in our modern bibles it is referring to the universal church or body of believers who are “called out” and set apart. It has nothing to do with the process of sanctification or trying to be more “called out” by performance or good works.

    By the way, in Proverbs 25, the analogy is that WE (Christians) are the silver. The sliver can’t remove it’s own “dross”. It has to be removed by the refiner, or Christ, through the refiner’s fire. The Lord is the one that removes the “dross” NOT the silver/Christian.

    I agree with what you are saying about principles, but it is hear that you seem to contradict yourself. You talk about principles being guides for us to live by and then go right into the misconception about Paul making commandments in 1 Peter 1:14-16 and making oneself more holy by keeping a set of rules and standards again. I just don’t understand the disconnect you seem to have here except to say that you are so blinded by the teachings of the IFB that you simply can’t see the difference.

    First of all, God did not “command” anything in 1 Peter 1:14-16. That passage is about living moral lives. The “standards” set by the IFB have nothing to do with morality. This I think is the major difference between our views. The IFB in my experience has taken personal standards, based on personal convictions of the principles in scripture, made them commandments for living and then expect everyone else to abide by them. For example, I remember a girl I went to church with was asked to leave one Sunday because she came to church after having her hair died blond. The next week the Pastor preached an entire sermon on women’s appearances and proper, “godly” dress for women. Another example is a Paster of another IFB church I was in refused to let the women speak in church based on 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. These are nothing more than suppressive rules based on misinterpretation of scripture.

    Secondly, in the same way, 2 Corinthians 7:1 is a continuation of chapter 6 in which Paul was telling the church at Corinth to not bring pagan idols into the temple of God. Paul was teaching the Corinthians that they were to have nothing to do with paganism, which was a rich and thriving sect in their culture. There is little doubt that, in principle, we are to resist the sin around us and try to live lives that reflect the character of Christ, but that’s all there is to it. To idea that 2 Corinthians 7 supports the IFB’s idea that one should dress a certain way, listen to only certain kind of music, not go to movies, (I’m using examples from my experience here), etc. is nothing short of adding to the scriptures and manipulating people into thinking that there is a message that doesn’t exist.

    By the way 2 Corinthians 7:1 is a good example of misinterpretation by the KJV. The KJV makes a serious error in interpreting the Greek word “epiteleo” as “perfect” giving the flavor of trying hard to live a perfect holiness in our lives. The word properly translated should read “complete”. This changes the entire message of that verse. We are never called to be “perfect” and striving for perfection will only lead to frustration and failure this side of heaven.

    Proper exegesis takes into account the cultural, thematic, historical, and textual context of a particular passage. It is important to examine the historical and cultural backgrounds for the author, the text, AND the original audience. There is way more to biblical interpretation of scripture then simply pulling a verse out of context and interpreting it ONLY based on what that one verse says. If you only look at one verse and fail to consider the context, which includes ALL of what I stated above, you will get many errors. This is what the Bereans did when they “searched the scriptures daily”. They didn’t just search the scriptures like an easter egg hunt. They tore it apart, considered the context and made sure that what was being preached to them was correct.

    Christ’s message to the Pharisees one one of a heart issue (see Matthew 15:1-20). He was focused on the heart NOT on rules, traditions or standards of living. He quotes Isaiah 29:13 in vs. 8-9 “These people [Pharisees] honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far away. Their worship is a farce, for they replace God’s commands with their own man-made teachings.” If a person’s heart is right with God then the good actions and behaviors will follow. But you can’t make a person’s heart right with God by following a set of standards. The IFB reverses this process and makes the outward appearance and actions more important than the heart. This is a large part of what makes the IFB the modern day Pharisees.

    For more information consider the following: The Bible teaches us not to turn God’s laws into a set of rules and to be careful not to miss the true intent of God’s laws – Matthew 5:1-22. We are taught that love is more important than rules in Matthew 12. Paul teaches the Corinthians and the Galatians that rules and standards keep us from enjoying life. Colossians 2:6-23 is all about freedom from rules and our new life in Christ.

    Ronald Enroth in Churches that Abuse states: “The discerning Christian must also beware of the trap of legalism. We have seen numerous examples…of how life-style rigidity and the keeping of a set of rules can stifle spiritual liberty and encourage abuse. Preoccupation (emphasis mine) with keeping Christian rules enhances guilt feelings in members, and it acts as an effective control mechanism for power abusers.”

    I think he’s right.

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  12. Holiness as defined in scripture is simply, being set apart from that which is not holy. God designed his church, or Ekklesia to be a called out assembly. We are called out from the world to be set apart unto him. The tie that binds those who name the name of Christ is Christ himself. The entire process of sanctification is a life long refining of the believer typified in scripture as taking away the dross. Proverbs 25:4 “Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer”. We are continuously told to be ye separate, come out from among them, touch not the unclean thing, be not conformed to this world, etc. The Lord has taught me just in the last few years that all believers are not at the same place in the process of sanctification. The Holy Spirit deals with each individual believer, bringing to light the things in his or her life that need purging. No preacher can force a believer to be further along that path nor can he expect someone to be at the same point of sanctification as he, the preacher is.

    When we talk about standards in a Christian’s life, we have to be careful to understand just what that means. It all starts with a Biblical principles. Preachers are commanded by God to preach the principles of God’s word. Biblical principles are beyond controversy. For instance, David said under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in Psalm 101:3 “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes” This is a Biblical principle that is often repeated in scripture. We are told not to look at things that are evil (Job 31:1). Jesus stressed the importance of guarding the eye gate in Matthew 6:22. Once a believer is presented with a Biblical principle, it is up to him to make a decision regarding acting on that principle. If he chooses to ignore it, no one else has the right to try and convict him of it. That is the Holy Spirit’s job. If the believer agrees with the principle, it becomes a conviction for him. It is then and only then that the individual who has seen the Biblical principle and has been convicted of the need to institute that conviction, to establish “standards” in his life that will help him to live his convictions.

    In our example, a man may be convicted that he has allowed lustful thoughts to enter his mind and has not been taking precautions to prevent that. He may institute standards in his life that will help him to live the principles that he has been convicted of. He may stop reading certain kinds of magazines due to the advertisements that are frequently found in them. He may stop “flipping” through the channels on his television set to assure that no wicked images enter his mind via his eyes. I myself will not walk down the magazine aisle of the grocery store because of the images that can be seen on the cover of many magazines. This does not mean that any man who walks down the magazine aisle is less spiritual than I am. It does not suggest that because you flip through the channels of your TV set, that you must not care about what you see. It is simply my personal standard that allows me to avoid seeing any wicked thing. Do you see the difference in this explanation and a church or preacher trying to force standards on someone else? It cannot be done. Just because someone does everything “right” by the church doesn’t mean that he has higher standards than you or I, or that he has any standards at all!

    You stated that “our behaviors and actions do not make us more or less Holy”. In light of what I have just explained I would answer yes and no. If my behaviors are changed to allow me to live a more godly life then those actions do make me more Holy (set apart). They do not make me a legalist because I am following the commands of the Bible to “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
    And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” (1 John 2) If I change my behavior with the sole motive of “appearing” to be more Holy then I am being deceptive and am acting in a true legalistic manner. Understanding this distinction then, you were absolutely correct in stating that “Paul was never focused on obtaining holiness from his behaviors.”

    You further stated that “We needn’t do anything to gain holiness or righteousness”. If we could do nothing to gain Holiness then God would not have commanded us in 1 Peter 1:14-16 (to be) “As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. Also in 2 Corinthians 7,“Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

    By the way, You stated that you do not agree with Ephesians 5:11 “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them”. Are we now judging scriptural truth by whether we agree with it or not?

  13. In response to Bill R,

    With all due respect, sir, I do not wish to engage any type of ongoing debate. I would, however, like to make a point or two, and ask that you might prayerfully consider them. You have commented to the Site Admin that they were generalizing all the IFB in one basket. Well, I believe I live in a totally different part of the country, and yet the “sterotype” proves very acurrate. There is a spiritual reason for this, and that is each denomination draws a certain distinctive mindset. I know you have stated that the IFB is not a denomination, but, sorry, that is pure pride. There is a very strong, and dangerous self-appointed hierarchal system within, that has no Biblical affiliation, yet is deceptive, and subtle. Let me make just ONE example of legalism, and if this is not part of your mindset, then I am completly mistaken. Do you wear a coat & tie everytime you walk in the “building”? (it is not a church, God’s elect are the church) and frown on those who do not? What Scripture would this be? Is this the way the apostles dressed, or is this American culture? Thank you for your honesty.

  14. Thanks for understanding and I appreciate your willingness to narrow the topic. It will be much easier for me and the readers to follow if we stick to one topic at a time. Thank you also for clarifying our roles in this debate. It will be good for people to read that.

    I think that this method of debate is much more potent and effective. Sure it has it’s drawbacks just like most things in life, but many people are visual learners and have a difficult time following a spoken debate. A debater has the skill to think quickly on his/her feet, as you describe, but that would be the only thing lacking in this context. We can still “analyze, distinguish between the vital and the unimportant and support statements with valid evidence and sound reasoning”, as you suggest, in the context of this written debate. This way also, people can print the debate and read it over and over again for clarity purposes.

    Although it isn’t necessary to know my identity in order to have a debate with me I can understand your desire to “know who you are debating” and understand your opponent. I’m remaining anonymous for reasons already stated on this site – see the “About Me” page. I’m not trying to be deceptive or sneaky. Also, I can understand why you are interested in my credibility, thanks for clarifying, but I don’t think that it’s necessary for you to know who I am in order for us to present our cases and evidence. If I present a good sound argument supported by scripture then please allow that to serve as my credibility. There is no reason that I can think of, other than pride and a chance to deface my credibility, to know what other credentials I bring to the table.

    You say you are looking for me to “defend [my] beliefs and experiences with the IFB” but I’m still not sure that I can provide what you want. I don’t know how one “defends” ones experiences. They are my experiences nothing more. And my beliefs stem from my experiences. Most of my beliefs and experiences are “defended” on this site already, but I’m more than happy to clarify my beliefs and experiences which is what I think you are looking for. To do that, however, you have to be more specific on what you want me to clarify.

    I’m glad you chose legalism as a topic to focus on. Its one of my favorites. I’ve found in my experience that IFBs have a strong tendency to think in black and white. There are no gray areas. This was certainly a principle that, was not directly taught, but strongly influenced the beliefs and practices of the people I know. It’s an all or nothing kind of thinking and in the psychology field it’s called a cognitive distortion. You point out that the Pharisees of the OT are “true legalists” and deny that anything else can be called legalism. This is classic black and white thinking and it’s a way of thinking that puts God in a box.

    You have found the definition of legalism that supports your point of view, but why do you ignore the others? Webster’s dictionary goes on to define legalism as simply “strictness, or the doctrine of strictness, in conforming to law.” This is exactly with the IFB promotes, in my experience. Perhaps not directly or overtly, but the underlying message is still there. It’s a message that says if you want to be a good Christian then you have to be strict, have “high standards”, conform to the letter of the law, etc. This is legalism in it’s purist form.

    Allow me to clarify that the legalism I talk about on this site has nothing to do with salvation. My parents essentially told me the same thing you are when I tried to talk to them about legalism. They told me that they believe in salvation “by grace through faith” (Ephesians 2:8-9) so they couldn’t be legalistic because legalists believe in salvation by works. This is the same message you bring to me. Salvation through works is clearly not God’s plan for salvation. I don’t think we disagree on that. There is also, however, a legalism that is a works based righteousness and that is what this site speaks out against.

    Before I continue, I need more clarity on what you are trying to communicate so that I make sure I understand your line of thinking. I only say that because when I hear certain words like “standards”, “principles” etc. the ideas about these things that I was taught comes to my mind. I want to make sure I understand what YOU consider “standards” and “principles” so that I’m able to separate what you are communicating from what I was taught as a child.

    Also, do you acknowledge the difference between convictions and commandments? You talk about standards in one breath and then in the next you state “these commandments…” when referencing the standard you were just talking about. Do you really see standards as commandments because I see standards as simply guidelines for living based on principles in the Bible?

    Don’t get me wrong. I understand what you are saying because I was taught the same thing. In fact the message that I had to have high standards in order to be a good Christian and in order for God to be pleased with me was shoved down my throat from the time I was born. I just don’t get how you support calling standards commands with scripture.

    You quote Ephesians 5:11 and I don’t disagree with the message of that passage, but I don’t follow how not having standards, or having different standards from what the IFB teaches is an “unfruitful work of darkness”. That passage is talking about sin not standards. Do you view not having the standards that the IFB teaches a sin?

    You also cite Titus 2:11-15 but that doesn’t seem to follow what you are saying either. Paul is telling Titus that the Christian has the power to have self control, devotion to God and to conduct ourselves in a way that shows our commitment to doing what’s right. I don’t follow where you get the message that that passage supports your idea of “standards” (perhaps when you provide your definition of standards this will be more clear to me).

    Finally, to answer your question “how can a Christian who desires to follow Gods Word and live a holy and separated life possibly do it to excess?” I’m not sure how you get the idea that I would think that, but it depends on what you mean by “excess”. If by excess you mean “more than or above what is necessary”* then no. If, however, you mean “an extreme or excessive amount or degree; superabundance”* then absolutely! The Christian life is a lot more than the “pursuit of holiness”. There’s worship, relationships, ministry, preaching, teaching, family, sanctification, parenting, etc. I think that a person can be so concerned with (1) living in such a perfect/holy way (2) forcing or telling others that they have to follow these “standards” and (3) looking down on others that aren’t living as “holy and separated” as they are that they miss out on other areas of Christian living and appear to the unchurched as an unattainable example of what they think Christianity is. The thought of which makes me sad. I’ve spoken with hundreds of former IFBers who gave up on the IFB denomination because they got too frustrated with not being able to measure up. I’m one of them.

    And to answer your final question “What verses of scripture tells the believer to be careful that he does not ‘overdo’ holiness”?. Again I’m not sure how you got the message from my writings that I would think such a thing. I don’t remember every writing that a Christian can “overdo holiness”. But since you brought it up, what I am confused about is what you consider holiness. Do you consider your standards holiness? When we center our efforts on obtaining holiness by our actions we miss the relationship with God. God is the one who gives us holiness and righteousness. Our behaviors and actions do not make us more or less holy. See Philippians 3. Paul, probably the greatest evangelist the world has ever knows, considered everything he had accomplished in his life “worthless” when compared with the privilege of knowing Christ. Paul was never focused on obtaining holiness from his behaviors. No amount of law keeping, self-improvement, discipline or religious effort can make us right with God. Righteousness comes only from God. We are made righteous (receive right standing with Him) by faith and trust in Christ. See also 2 Corinthians 5. Christ’s righteousness was given to us at our conversion. We needn’t do anything to gain holiness or righteousness. See also Colossians 2

    Do you believe that having high standards make a person more holy than someone with lower or different standards? If so how do you support that with scripture?

    *The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company

  15. I wanted to thank you for setting aside this forum so that the two of us can have an intelligent and rational debate. Let me also apologize to you if anything that I said previously came across as being condescending or heavy handed. It is not my goal to show you up nor is it my goal to change your mind. Like Elijah on Mt. Carmel, there are 3 groups represented in this debate. Elijah represented Jehovah. His very name means “Jehovah is my God”. There were the prophets of Baal whose minds were not going to be changed by anything that Elijah did, and there was a third group who I identify as “The unconvinced majority”. In 1 Kings 18 it was to this third group that Elijah asked, “How long halt ye between two opinions”? In our debate, I represent the Independent Fundamental Baptist church members. That is simply because I called you out to defend your beliefs and experiences with the IFB. You represent those who were very turned off by their experience with IFB churches, and most likely, rightfully so. These would be the readers and contributors to your website. The third group is similarly, the unconvinced readers of this website. It is to this group that I say, look at the evidence that we present, in the context of the word of God and make an informed choice. Fair enough?

    I also owe you an apology for misidentifying you. I’m sorry. Please however, consider the situation from my point of view. I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what church you now attend. I don’t know your background, your occupation, or even a first name! A critical component of a debate is the credibility of the participants. I have given you my full name and provided you with an opportunity to “Google” me and substantiate everything that I have shared with you about myself. I have no reason to want to protect my identity. If you do, then I can respect that. Just look at it from my point of view. I am opening myself up to be made a fool of, if it turns out that you are not what I am accepting that you are. But if that is the only way that you are able to continue, then so be it.

    I am glad that you suggested that we narrow our focus in each exchange. In spoken debates that I have participated in, the subject matter within the stated topic is all fair game. I however realize that this type of debate would not lend itself to that, so your request is a good one. A debate is defined as: to engage in formal argumentation or disputation with (another person, group, etc.): Jones will debate Smith. Harvard will debate Princeton. There is a classic book on debating in which the author states, “He [the debater] learns to use a library, and to find the exact information he needs in the shortest possible time. He learns to be thorough and accurate. He learns to analyze; to distinguish between the vital and the unimportant. He learns the need of proving his statements; of supporting every statement with valid evidence and sound reasoning—and he learns to demand the same sort of proof for the statements of others. He learns to present ideas in a clear and effective manner, and in a way which wins others to his way of thinking. He learns to think under pressure, to “use his head” in a time of need, to make decisions quickly and accurately. In a word, the essential point in any debating situation is that of convincing the listener that your side of the proposition is desirable.” (from How to Debate by Harrison Boyd Summers) May I suggest that we use this as a good “rule of thumb” for our presentation of contrary ideas?

    The first point on your website that I vehemently disagree with you is the idea that the IFB churches are all about “Legalism (AKA Phariseeism.)”The Pharisees of old, in committing their errors, were true legalists. They rejected the grace of Jesus Christ and taught that the way of salvation was by the keeping of the law and they made their own tradition authoritative over people’s lives without a biblical basis. In a nutshell, for a Bible preacher to urge God’s people to obey the details of God’s Word by the grace of Christ cannot be legalism, because this is precisely what God requires. Consider the following Scriptures very carefully. To argue whether someone is a Pharisee or Legalist is an argument once removed. The true test of a standard of conduct, dress, language, etc. is, “What does the Bible say?” Everyone and every church has standards. Unless a church allows a member to attend services naked, there is a standard in place. Standards are not the issue, it is how high the Biblical principle that governs standards is esteemed. It is with this idea in mind that I state, A legalist is a person who has higher standards than you do.

    Consider this one: “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph. 5:11). This is a far-reaching requirement. The believer must guard every area of his life, every activity, to make sure that he is not having fellowship with the works of darkness. That is a Biblical principle. It is not wrenched out of any other context besides living a life that is holy and pleasing to God. Not to myself, not to you, and not to any preacher. Not only so, but he is to “reprove” the works of darkness.

    Alcoholism is certainly an unfruitful work of darkness, but the requirement does not stop there. It involves every part of the Christian life, dress, companionship, music, entertainment, literature, relationships with churches and professing believers, you name it. To take such commandments of the New Testament faith seriously and to apply them, cannot, therefore, be “legalism.” “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee” (Titus 2:11-15). And notice in Titus 2:15, that the Spirit of God concludes this passage about avoiding ungodliness with the following exhortation to preachers: “These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.” The preacher has a solemn obligation before God to speak, exhort, and rebuke on the basis of these passages. It cannot, therefore, be any sort of “legalism” if a preacher takes this obligation seriously and applies this teaching to every area of life, speaking, exhorting, and rebuking about ungodliness and worldly lusts in the area of music and dress, companionship, entertainment, etc. This, in essence, fulfills the Pastor’s God-given responsibility to preach the whole counsel of God. The believer does not keep the Word of God in his own power and strength or to his own glory. He keeps it by the power of the indwelling Christ and to His glory. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

    Webster’s defines legalism as, 1 : strict, literal, or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code. My question to you would be, How can a Christian who desires to follow God’s word and live a holy and separated life possibly do it to excess? Also, What verses of scripture tell the believer to be careful that he does not “overdo” holiness? I await your response. Bill

  16. Well, once again you’ve succeeded in a jumbled mess of disjointed topics, manipulation of scripture by pulling verses out of context to support ideals, assumptions and accusations that are unwarranted and unfair. For example, I’m not Brandon. I don’t know where you got that idea. You also provide more evidence that you haven’t yet read the site by asking me to explain what an institutionalized Christian is. I talk about it and define it in the About Me page. Do our discussion a favor… Please pick a topic and stick with it. This generic “your wrong and I’m right” message is quite annoying. If you want to have a healthy discussion please find specifics that you would like to argue and present them.

    I don’t know why you insist on simply flexing your intellectual muscles. I’m not impressed with your knowledge and I regret that you keep comparing me to you. You don’t know me – you won’t even read the site – and you have no idea what my experiences are or what kind of research I’ve done or education I’ve obtained. You speak down to me about “Logic 101” yet your message amounts to not much more than one big Ad Hominem fallacy. You continue to try and destroy my credibility with assumptions and false accusations all the while boosting yourself with a “look at my knowledge and how much I know” attitude.

    For example, you say that you “have studied the Bible translation issue for years” but that means nothing to me. What did you study? Where did you get your information? Who did you sit under to learn about these things? What are your sources? These are the questions I have (don’t answer them by the way unless you plan on sticking with the KJV discussion). You say that the KJV is the closest translation we have to the original manuscripts. Even if you are right, which you aren’t, what difference does it make, in the context of this discussion, except to allow you to puff yourself up with a self righteous attitude? Aren’t you making the assumption that I haven’t done the same or similar research? Just because you’ve studied the Bible translation issue doesn’t mean you are correct. Many others have done similar studies and have reached opposite conclusions, including myself.

    You keep saying that you look to the Bible or search the scriptures for your answers, guidance and direction and seem to be implying that I don’t. Just because I have a different view than you doesn’t mean that I don’t use the Bible as my source. I’m not sure why you quoted the 1 Peter 2:7-9 passage. It doesn’t seem to fit with what you are saying. Are you saying that I’m rejecting Christ because of this site? I also fail to understand your use of John 16:13 because pulled out of context sure it can be used to support your point of view, but kept in context it is talking about the guidance of the Holy Spirit not searching scriptures for guidance and answers to faith and practice.

    Furthermore, I know what a denomination is. Stop being dramatic. One doesn’t need to study church history to know what a denomination is. Denominations aren’t limited to what you speak of. Like I said in my previous post, you’re arguing semantics here. What difference does it make if we call it a denomination, a group or a movement. I happen to think that the term denomination fits the best especially given the modern definitions. Here again, I’m not sure what Mark 7:8 has to do with the topic. That verse fits more with my point of view than yours. Jesus was addressing the Pharisees in that passage admonishing them to stop being so tied to their traditions and focus on the truth of the Word. The IFB movement – or denomination or group or whatever you want to call it – does exactly that. They focus on what version of the Bible to use, what is the best way for a Christian to dress, what music is most appropriate, etc. rather than the truth of the Word.

    In the same manner you’ve pulled 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 2 Corinthians 6:17 and Romans 16:17 out of context and twisted them around to support your point. That hardly lends credence your claim to “searching the scriptures” for the truth. Anyone could take a verse out of context to support their point of view.

    Next, you’ve made some false accusations that need to be addressed. You say that I “suggest that IFB churches ‘persecute’ their members…” yet I’ve said no such thing. You accuse me of taking on “the mantle of authority on IFB churches all over America” yet I’ve never made that claim. It was actually you who originally gave me that title and yet again you try to force that title on me. You tell me to “establish some credibility” and call my site “anecdotal” yet you refuse to hold yourself to the same standard.

    Essentially, I think you’ve missed the entire point of this site – probably because you haven’t yet read it. This site is about the IFB and the hurtful ways it “does religion”. There is much evidence to support this – most of which is on this site – and your denial of it doesn’t make it less true. My credibility is my experience. This isn’t science and there is no way to empirically validate these things except for one to share his/her experiences. There is no other way but to present anecdotal evidence. This site is based on personal observation and investigation. Why do you insist on holding me such unattainable standards? I think it is so you can focus on attacking my credibility rather than address specific issues.

    If you want to continue this discussion stop trying to attacking my credibility and stop making assumptions. Pick a topic and stick with it. Once we’ve exhausted that topic then we can move on to something else.

  17. Brandon,

    Thank you for your prompt and thorough response to my letter, albeit an incorrect and inconsistent one. Let me first make it clear that your website does not “affect me” in any way. Regardless of which church you, I, or anyone else attends, it is the Bible that we look to for our answers to all matters of faith and practice. It is the truth of God’s word that is an offense. 1 Peter 2:7-9 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.

    There is not one single doctrine that I believe in, simply because an IFB church , preacher, or member espouses it. I must admit that you made a very clever attempt to turn the scripture concerning the Berean Christians around on me! Once again you overlook the fact that the Bereans searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Verse 2 of that same chapter tells us that, Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures. What you fail to grasp is that the lesson here for all Christians is, all teaching on spiritual matters must come from the scriptures, and the only way to be sure of that is to search the scriptures yourself. I am 53 years old and spent the majority of my Christian life since being saved at age 22, in several other churches that were also nondenominational. The reason that I left them was because the teaching and practice of those churches began to drift away from the word of God, as I studied it and understood it through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. John 16:13

    Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. My diligence in doing what the scriptures adjure me to do, precludes any chance of brainwashing. I assume that whatever Baptist church you attend now is blessed with your continuing attendance due to your own diligence in studying the Bible and “keeping an eye” on what they are teaching and preaching. You are to be commended for leaving a church that you did not find to be Biblical and finding one that is, in your own mind. Members of churches who fail to do that are indeed opening themselves up to being manipulated and the mature student of God’s word understands that. We are commanded by scripture to discern the spirits. Hebrews 5:14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

    I don’t know what you mean when you say that I am an “Institutionalized Christian”. My response will be withheld until you clarify your terminology. You must have absolutely no concept of what a denomination is to think that IFB churches constitute one. If you have ever studied church history, Ecclesiology, or the Historical Baptist faith you would understand the concept of a sacral society or Sacerdotalism. While many denominations have exaggerated sacerdotal systems, and while the Aaronic priesthood of the Old Testament was sacerdotal in structure, the Bible knows no such system in the Church Age. One religion, the Roman Catholic, starts with acolytes (altar boys), who stand beneath the lowly brothers and nuns. Above the brothers and nuns, the chain of command then moves up to priests, monsignors, bishops, cardinals, and reaching even unto the Pope. Somewhere in the dim depths beneath the lowly brother lies the unsuspecting, trusting layperson, looking upward toward heaven but seeing only the great hierarchy of the church (so-called) standing between himself and God. Historically, Catholicism has discouraged the church member from reading the scriptures for themselves. Church leaders have convinced the lay person that they can’t possibly understand the written word of God. No IFB church that I have been associated with has ever taught such a diabolical thing. And somewhere beyond the unreachable distance between the Pope and heaven stands a stern and unforgiving God who will exact a precise payment for every offense, a penance equal to the offense. This is what a church hierarchy imposes upon its lay congregation. God does indeed exact a precise penalty for every sin, but that penalty was executed upon Christ, not upon the believing sinner. This system is easily recognized in today’s denominationalism and it is easy to see that it is not present in IFB churches. Just between you and I, “Do you really see no difference between Lutheran, Assembly of God, Episcopalian, Catholic, etc and the Independent Fundamental Baptist churches where denominationalism is concerned?”

    The tragic fact is that the first fall of the”Church” was when it became the State Church during the reign of Constantine. It was a State Church which persecuted many genuine followers of Christ. It was a precursor to the birth of two false churches, namely the Roman Catholic Church and the Byzantine Orthodox Church. The sacral thinking became the dominant mind-set of the Western world, which dominated religion for almost 1500 years. There is no wonder that Luther, Calvin and many leaders of the Reformation were blinded by this mind-set. Denominational Protestant churches today no longer render to God the things that are Gods by failing to preach the gospel of Christ. Mark 7:8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.

    Historic Baptists have always insisted on complete political, ecclesiastical, and worldly separation. This is abundantly spelled out in scripture as you must know.

    2 Thessalonians 3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. Romans 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 2 Corinthians 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.

    It has been estimated that more than 50 million Baptists have been martyred for remaining true to their beliefs. It is also an historical fact that Baptists have never persecuted those of different beliefs. To suggest that IFB churches “persecute” their members is a disgrace and a slap in the face to believers all over the world who are still martyred today for simply naming the name of Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. Calling the IFB churches a “denomination” is much more than stating the common characteristics of a duck! You ask “What would you call it if not a denomination?” For that answer please refer to the “I” in IFB. I personally consider myself to be a “Biblicist”. I am sure that you know that it was the enemies of early churches of like faith and practice to IFB churches that coined the term “Anabaptists” or “Rebaptizers” because of their Biblical stance against infant Baptism.
    Your analogy concerning McDonalds either shows that you are desperate to come up with a counter argument, and/or you have no concept of what “franchising” is all about. McDonalds has gained tremendous success in the fast food business because of one word, “Uniformity”. People know that they can order a Big Mac in Peoria, Pittsburgh, or Chattanooga and they will get exactly what they want. I did not tell you how many IFB churches I have attended in order to be categorized as an authority, but rather to personally verify to you and your readers that what you are saying is incorrect and is, in fact, the exact opposite of what you are stating! In your limited exposure to a few churches you apparently did not find what you were looking for. While that gives you the right to look elsewhere, it certainly does not confer on you the mantle of authority on IFB churches all over America. If you can’t understand that basic principle of Logic 101 we might as well end that exercise.

    Finally, you again show your biased predisposition towards anything IFB by responding to my statement that I believe that the King James Bible is the closest thing that we have to the original autographs in the English language by telling me that you are writing a column about King James Onlyism. I have studied the Bible translation issue for years and am fully convinced, based on my own convictions from scripture, that this is the case. I have held this conviction since 1976 when I first got saved even though I never attended an IFB church until 1997. Must you put a label on everyone and everything?

    The bottom line is, I suggest that you establish some credibility before you relay anecdotal stories to those who are seriously searching for the truth. Thanks so much for engaging in such an instructive exchange, all in the spirit of Christian love!

    Your Brother in Christ,
    William Radvansky

  18. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Bill. My response to your accusations of “generalizing” will be minimal since I address that multiple times through out the site and even above in a comment made on this very page. Since you are making that accusation I’m assuming that you didn’t actually read the site completely. I would encourage you to read the site before making such accusations. It will give your argument a little more credibility. If you want me to take you seriously I suggest that you point out errors you believe I’ve made rather than simply offering a generic “your wrong and I’m right” argument.

    Your objection to my site based on the analogy about buying cars seems to support your point of view, but since you started with a skewed misinterpretation of the message of this site, I’m afraid that it doesn’t really fit. As I’ve already stated, I’ve addressed the issue of generalizing multiple times elsewhere on this site.

    Even if your analogy did fit, I’m not sure that it makes much sense. My questions would be what exactly is it about the car my friend didn’t like? Are those things she didn’t like the same things that I find important in a car? Are those things “deal breakers” for me when I consider buying that car? Now I’m no expert on cars, but if the objections to the car were as generic and non-specific as you make in your message, “they are terrible cars” (since it’s possible that bad cars are pushed through the assembly line) and it was just a freak, one time error, I wouldn’t put much weight on her critique. THAT would be a sweeping generalization fallacy. If, however, my friend’s objections were that it guzzles gas, the breaking system isn’t safe and the shocks go bad and need replacing every other month, more than likely those issues will be specific to that brand of car and I would definitely think twice about buying one. (By the way, analogies are a poor form of argumentation because they cannot prove anything; they only serve to illustrate.)

    With church and spiritual issues we should be that much more astute about what’s happening among God’s children don’t you think? The issues I present in this site are far from a generic “they are terrible [churches]” as you illustrate in your analogy. They are specific errors of doctrine, teaching and exegesis that are toxic to the Christian and to Christianity. I am, to stick with your analogy, telling people the specific things that are wrong in the IFB church which are things that most, if not all, IFB churches teach/preach. I am warning folks about the errors that are specific to that “brand” of church. See the difference?

    Allow me, now, to illustrate with what I think is a better analogy. Lets pretend for a moment that this site is about McDonald’s. I give specific errors that McDonald’s makes and I caution people to be careful about the food McDonald’s serves because it is high in saturated fats and salt content and eating at McDonald’s has been shown to increase obesity. I share my experience and educate people on how McDonald’s gets their food, processes their meat and preserves their vegetables. Did I have to experience EVERY McDonald’s in the world to know this? Of course not, that would be near impossible. Since almost every McDonald’s does business and cooks their food the same way, after all it is a franchise, what I’ve discovered about them can be easily “generalized” to almost all other McDonald’s. That doesn’t mean I’m making the fallacy of sweeping generalizations. That just means that caution is warranted since most McDonald’s perform their food preparation/service in much the same way. If those things don’t concern you then by all means feel free to eat at McDonald’s. However, to hundreds of thousands of people world wide, those things are “deal breakers” for eating at McDonald’s.

    The same is true for the IFB. If you can read the information contained in this site – the site isn’t complete yet by the way – and honestly say that those things aren’t “deal breakers” for you then you are either closed mindedly biased in your opinions or you truly believe that is the way Christians should worship and “perform” Christianity. If it’s the latter than this site shouldn’t affect you in any way. Simply continue to “eat at McDonald’s” and ignore the warnings presented to you.

    To thousands of people – so far – this site has provided wonderful insight (no brag, just fact) into their relationship with Christ and other Christians and opened their eyes to what they’ve already known but couldn’t quite figure out. For them the dangerous errors presented on this site ARE “deal breakers” and they want to make changes in their spiritual diet.

    Now I’d like to address your assumption that I’m drawing conclusions from an experience with only “one IFB church”. I’m not sure where you read that or if you just made it up to support your argument, but you are sadly mistaken and that assumption serves to boost my skepticism of your point of view. I will admit that I certainly haven’t experienced as wide a range of churches that you have if what you say is true, but that is only because I’ve decided to leave the IFB. Had I stayed in the IFB church I would probably have just as much experience in the IFB as you, if not more.

    That leads me to another point. The reason I stayed in the IFB church as long as I did are the very reasons I talk about on this site. It’s not because the IFB somehow has the patent on the truth, as some believe, but it was because I was brainwashed/manipulated into thinking that the IFB is the best option for modern day Christians. My assumption is that you have fallen prey to that same manipulation and are now defending the IFB based on that ideal rather than stepping outside the IFB traditions and teachings to see a different perspective. You say that you follow the Berean’s in their study of scripture and their valuable trait of searching the scriptures to make sure what is being taught to them is the truth. My question for you would be, have you really taken time and effort to look outside your own “12 year” experience in the IFB to search for real answers? You can’t say that you’ve searched for answers if you do not look anywhere but where you currently are.

    You seem to think that since you have a broader experience in IFB churches than I do you are somehow more of an authority on this topic. That couldn’t be more wrong, but I refuse to enter an “arm wrestle” with you to see who actually has more experience, education, knowledge, or whatever. That is nothing if not counterproductive.

    The very fact that you are writing to defend the IFB lends credence to the idea that you are an “instutionalized” Christian. In your haste to defend the IFB you’ve missed the broader theme of this site. The very thought of someone defending an institution that man has set up and ignoring/denying the implication of hurt and damage is enough to support a site like this. Even if I am the only person in the world who has been hurt by the IFB, isn’t that enough to stop and evaluate the message that the IFB is saying? The fact is that thousands upon thousands of people have experienced hurt by the IFB. Denying that doesn’t make it go away.

    I would like to address your idea that the IFB isn’t a denomination. It may not be a denomination on paper, but really what difference does it make. As someone once told me, if it walks like a duck, sounds like a duck and acts like a duck, it’s probably a duck. Logic dictates that a group of churches that call themselves Independent Fundamental Baptist and follow a set of distinctive that aren’t found in any other group is a denomination despite having “no hierarchal structure, no headquarters, no committee on doctrinal purity, or virtually any other oversight organizations that so define today’s denominational institutions” as you point out. What else would you call it? There is no other term for it unless you wish to make up one. The leaders in the IFB churches want you to think that the IFB isn’t part of a denomination because of their doctrine of separation. Denying that the IFB is a denomination with your logic is just a silly semantics argument.

    Finally, as I’ve said before, I’m writing a section about the KJV Onlyism of the IFB and will make comments about that topic there. Please check back to read more about the KJV.

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