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