Joe Lusk Deception – ‘Independent’ Deception Revisited

Joe Lusk (AKA JJ Lusk), associate pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church, recently came to the site to comment and attack us for speaking out against the Independent nature of the Independent Fundamental Baptists. Attempts to engage him in discussions failed so the next step is to reply publicly in this format. I don’t really care at this point if he returns to have a discussion. I’m writing this because I want to make it known that those who come here to voice their disagreement and then run off and hide, refusing to engage in dialogue will be called out. These types of intimidation tactics will not go unanswered.

Below you will find Joe’s comments and my rebuttals broken down into an easier to follow format.

Just for the record, Joe seems to be minimizing his association with the IFB in an apparent attempt to appear less attached to the IFB dogma. Upon further investigation, however, it was found on his website that he received a degree in biblical studies from Heartland Baptist Bible College which, although not overtly advertised, is distinctly IFB in their doctrinal positions and beliefs.

Joe wrote:

Let’s consider that these teachings [that the IFB believes] regarding local New Testament bodies are biblical. Because the authority for all faith and practice prescribes these principles then it would make sense for several churches basing their practices on the same authority to arrive at the same conclusions regarding them even if the churches never had any association whatsoever… That is perfectly logical, which seems to be a favorite word of yours.

My Reply:

If you make that conclusion regarding the IFB then you must also come to the same conclusion for other groups/denominations. The same could be said for Presbyterians, Methodists, Catholics and so on. The Body of Christ is split (i.e., denominations) because of that very reason – because “several churches basing their practices on the same authority to arrive at the same conclusions regarding them…” Yes, you’re correct and you’ve just described a denomination. That brings us right back to using the term denominations then. No matter how you try and work it out it always comes back to denomination.

The Presbyterians claim to base their beliefs on the authority of the Word. So do the Catholics. Just because “several churches basing their practices on the same authority to arrive at the same conclusions” doesn’t make them correct nor does it mean that they aren’t working in concert for a singular goal apart from scripture. The IFB does NOT follow scripture. They follow their interpretation of NT local church (the same with other likeminded groups). The IFB does things the IFB way not the biblical way.

I speak out against the IFB just as an IFB would speak out against other denominations/religions they disagree with. The only difference is that the IFB teaches people to not listen to their critics so IFBers never experience anything but IFB doctrine. This is nothing short of brainwashing. If the IFB is so sure they have the truth then there shouldn’t be any fear in experiencing other opinions and beliefs since they would be easily refuted with scripture. That doesn’t happen though so the IFB has to keep a tight leash on its congregations to keep people from being free to think for themselves.

Joe wrote:

About the starting a church issue, you can no longer be the one to claim that IFB churches are the only ones hiding the facts. The sending church in this starting process does maintain a level of authority over the starting church until the new church is organized and becomes indigenous. At that point all authority is relinquished and it too becomes independent. Before that point, most often, the case is that the sending church is bearing the vast majority of the financial burden.

My Reply:

I don’t think so. There may be a relinquishment of authority of the sending church, release of financial burden of the sending church and establishment of autonomy of the church plant, but they are still associated and in order to stay in the good graces of the sending church the church plant is obligated to remain true to the IFB core doctrines/beliefs.

Even if the church plant were to be total autonomy and independent of the sending church as you claim, the church plant is already established with like minded staff, leaders, volunteers and congregation. It’s highly unlikely that the church plant would ever change their IFB stance for fear of losing the autonomy and status they worked so hard to obtain. Your assertion that the church plant’s independence as a result of the sending church’s release of responsibility of the church plant is nothing more than a play on words. There’s nothing independent about the church plant, the way you describe it, at the point of autonomy except that they don’t need the support of the sending church anymore. That’s not what I’m talking about in the Independent Deception article.

Joe wrote:

The label on a can only represents the content of the can if the content of the can accurately reflects the label. The only way to find out is to open the can. I can assume all day long that can only contains green beans because the label says so, but I can also be real surprised when I bite down on a stem. I know real quick that while a lot of the content lined up with the label, not all of it did. The fact is green beans aren’t wrong; therefore I don’t change the label claiming the can contains green beans. The content is wrong. So I either need to change the content to match the label or I need to change the label if I have no intention of working to keep foreign objects out of the can, like stems. The fact also is that the Grace of God needs to be considered because my best efforts to keep out stems, from time to time, are going to fail. Does that make sense?

My Reply:

No, that doesn’t make sense. That analogy seems to fit my argument more than yours. Canned green beans are all green beans. They may all be “independent” cans, but guess what? They are all green beans. There may be a stem or two in a few of the cans, but guess what? They are all green beans. The same is true of the IFB. Each church (can) is “independent” of one another, but guess what? They are all IFB and all contain IFB doctrine (green beans).

Joe wrote:

Has it occurred to you that the association isn’t with a group of churches? Is it not possible for the association to be with a group of beliefs? Again if those beliefs are Scriptural and several churches are based on the Bible then it isn’t illogical for them to have the same associations even though those associations aren’t directly with each other.

My Reply:

I don’t see the difference. If a group of churches has the same set of beliefs what difference does it make if the association is with the group or the beliefs? They are one in the same. To stick with your canned green beans analogy… there may be some IFB churches (cans) with some differences in their beliefs (some cans with a stem or two), but ultimately they all contain the same doctrines and beliefs (green beans). Just because the IFB as a whole refuses to consider itself a denomination doesn’t mean it isn’t a denomination.

Joe wrote:

You go out of your way to show your ignorance here. I mean this not as a slander, but the fact is you really know next to nothing about your topic. This makes you appear to be nothing more than a bitter and disgruntled scorner. Whether that is indeed the case or not, I do not know. That is simply how you make yourself seem.

My Reply:

This is your opinion (and an ad hominem). I don’t think I’m above making mistakes so if you’d like to prove me wrong you’re welcome to. I’d much prefer open dialogue to castigation.

Joe wrote:

The idea of fellowship from a biblical perspective (look the word up) is to labor together. This is a biblical principle. Paul the apostle started churches all over the then known world. His support came from several churches at different times. The idea of a fellowship is a group of pastors (not churches) that get together based on a set of agreed beliefs to consider missionary and church planting or advanced training endeavors. The pastors typically go back to the churches they pastor and present the works to the church or a particular church planting or missionary family will be scheduled to appear at the church to present their work. The church will then vote based on its own constitution and by-laws to determine whether or not they are going to support the proposed work. Each church is free to make its own choices and to support or not support who and what it likes. Many pastors are a part of many different fellowships. The fact is they can do what they like with who they like because of their independence.

My Reply:

Wow, there are so many things wrong with this I don’t know where to begin. Let me try to break it down.

This is a semantics fallacy. You’re focus on one narrow definition of “fellowship” only serves to distract from the discussion and doesn’t support your conclusion that IFBs are Independent. In fact it only serves to support my argument that “fellowship” in the sense of “to labor together” is the exact opposite of “independent”. You’re trying to get me to think of these “fellowships” in the sense of simply encouraging one another, but (1) that’s not what happens and (2) you contradict yourself in your very next sentence.

“…based on a set of agreed beliefs…” is the operative phrase there (and your contradiction). You argue that each is independent yet you admit that the “fellowships” are based on a set of agreed beliefs. They are either independent to believe what they want or they have the same beliefs – it can’t be both.

If these fellowships are simply for support and encouragement and to collaborate on missionary work, schedules advice etc. then why the need for membership dues, seclusion, restrictions, constitutions, by-laws, statements of faith, etc.? Fellowship being a “biblical perspective” has no bearing on how these organizations operate. If it did then the “laboring together” would be open to any and all pastors/churches, but it’s not. You should read the membership requirements of these “fellowships” and their policies and positions. To be a member you have to agree to their constitution, doctrinal statement and statement of faith – all of which are (care to guess?) distinctly IFB in nature.

You may be fooled into thinking that these “fellowships” operate a certain way, but I’m not so naïve, sorry.

Also, Paul was a missionary. He wasn’t a convention/fellowship. Paul was counting on churches and congregations to support him. He wasn’t requiring membership fees in order for the churches to benefit from his ministry. I’m afraid that you’ve got that analogy backwards.

Joe wrote:

You and I support the same government with our tax dollars, but we maintain our personal freedom and personal independence. We obviously don’t agree on some things and possibly that would be the same in a political forum, and yet we are co-laboring to support the same government. My decisions are made without regard for you and yours without regard for me. We are independent of one another and yet we ‘fellowship’ in that way.

My Reply:

This analogy simply doesn’t work either. The government isn’t a “fellowship” or convention and we aren’t paying our “dues” (taxes) voluntarily (It’s supposed to be voluntary but it’s not – that’s for a different blog though). We must pay our taxes whether we agree with the government or not. An IFB fellowship, by contrast, can restrict who it allows as members and it’s highly unlikely that an “independent” IFB pastor/church would join a “fellowship” that’s not aligned with the IFB. It is in this sense that “independence” is a misnomer.

Besides, while we both maintain our individual independence within our governed political realm, we are both subject to the same laws. As such our “independence” has limits. You and I are forced into “fellowship” by the laws that govern the land. This isn’t our choice. By contrast an IFB pastor/church has a choice with what doctrines, fellowships, conventions, beliefs, ideologies, doctrines, etc. to align with. If there were true “independence” then we would see IFB pastors and churches aligning with doctrines, fellowships, contentions, beliefs, ideologies, etc. other than distinct IFB doctrines, fellowships, contentions, beliefs, ideologies, etc. This is yet another sense that “independence” is a misnomer.

This is all spelled out in the article. I’m trying not to repeat myself.

Joe wrote:


I have no problem with a person that disagrees with me as long as he has sound reasoning. You do not. That makes me sad for you because I believe that you are a part of a group of people that have made decisions because you have been hurt. I will be the first to admit that there are many churches that claim to be “IFB” that are not. If someone does things differently than they do they call them out for it and disassociate with them over it and talk bad about them and things of that nature. This betrays their claim to believe in independence. I have no problem with disassociation. That is up to a church to do as they please there, but beyond that the affairs of another church are simply not our business. Make your decisions and move on.

My Reply:

I’m not calling out anyone for “being different” and I’m not “disassociating” myself from the IFB because of a petty disagreement. This is about abuse, manipulation, coercion, and blatant scriptural/doctrinal errors (all of which I provide ample proof of on the site). I’m fighting for the spiritual lives of countless victims of IFB indoctrination. If you can’t see the value in that then I’m afraid that your sadness for me is being misdirected.

You can deny my reasoning (would be nice to hear why – a generic “your wrong” isn’t a very strong argument), make accusations and believe what you want about me. All I ask is that you open your mind just a smidge. Take some time and read the thousands of comments from people who have been hurt by the IFB and, just for a moment, set your preconceived ideas about me aside. Maybe then you will be able to see past your own defenses.

Joe wrote:

That being said, because a principle is poorly represented does not mean that the principle is to be done away with. Principles are based on objective truth. So regardless of the misrepresentation of a principle the principle must stand even still.

My Reply:

If you think that I’m arguing that we should do away with a particular principle simply because it’s poorly represented, then I’m afraid that you don’t really understand what I’m saying (let alone my reasoning) nor do you understand what’s happening among the IFB.

Ultimately I think you have principle and objective truth mixed up. It’s OK to base principle on objective truth, but not OK to base objective truth on principle. When we reverse the two we infuse our interpretation of principle and we come up with a skewed view of objective truth. This is what the IFB does and it’s very dangerous.

Our society used (and in some instances still uses) scriptural principles to justify many things that aren’t “objective truths” such as slave ownership, interracial marriages, hair style, young earth creationism, submission of wives, etc. In actuality those “objective truths” are based on one’s interpretation of principle rather than real principle.

The Bible isn’t wrong in these instances. It’s our perceived “objective truth” and interpretation of Biblical principle that’s wrong. Both principle as well as “objective truth” are subject to change and do so often largely based on experiential truth. This is the thrust of special revelation (one might think that an associate pastor with a seminary degree would know that).

Joe wrote:

The worst example of this is a crazy church in Kansas (I believe) with Baptist on the name. It breaks my heart, some of the things they say and do, not because I care about them and what they are doing. This may be wrong of me, but when I think of them and what they do and say it makes me angry at them, but it makes me sad because of what people will say about something that is good being misrepresented.

My Reply:

Now you know how I feel about the IFB. We aren’t so different after all. You speak out against a church you believe is wrong yet you condemn me for doing the same thing. Are you being a bit hypocritical?

Joe wrote:

The church I am a part of is a wonderful loving church that believes the Truth of the Word of God and is serious about the work of the commission Christ gave to churches. Though it has Baptist on the sign and we hold to the distinctive principles that distinguished groups of people throughout history from other religious groups we are nothing at all like that church in Kansas, nor do we believe the same on anything that I know of. So because of that let us all maintain our independence.

My Reply:

If you have “Baptist on the sign and hold to the distinctive principles that distinguished groups of people throughout history form other religious groups” then you are associating with those people/groups from history and as such are NOT entirely independent. To think otherwise is delusional.

You say “let us all maintain our independence” as if I’m stopping you. I’m afraid that I’m not that powerful. If you want to be truly independent then you shouldn’t associate with another group. It’s that simple. The association is yours and that of your church, not mine.

Joe wrote:

You find a church that teaches the truth according to what you can follow, but please be encouraged to know that there are some good churches out there that are indeed independent in the way they are governed, they are fundamental in their approach to truth and stand firm on the fundamentals of the faith, and they are Baptist.

My Reply:

No one’s arguing that there aren’t “good churches out there”. One must be careful, however, how one defines a “good church” as that is highly subjective. The IFB is not a good choice for the title of “good church” because the IFB follows what the IFB believes and NOT what the Bible says. My definition of a good church is one that follows scripture. The IFB doesn’t.

Joe wrote:

They are also, to steal a term from another fabulous Fundamental Independent Baptist church, interested in Honoring God and helping people. These are just some things to consider. I am sure you probably have.

My Reply:

The IFB may be “interested” in honoring God and helping people, but they aren’t doing that. They think they are, and their leaders deceive the congregations into thinking they are, but they aren’t. If the IFB were interested in honoring God and helping people then there would not need to be a site like this. There’s a vast difference in being interested in doing something and actually doing it.


  1. Ok, so I just read the entire post. This is going to take a while, and I don’t feel that it is going to be productive, but I am willing for the sake of keeping my word, to proceed. I do enjoy discussion, but I feel this may not be as helpful as I would hope.

    I also don’t think that it is going to do any good for us to both go on with long posts answering and refuting each other piece meal. I do ask that you be patient with me as I am unable to come back as often and quickly as I like.

    Also for the sake of having an end in site I would like to, but am willing to do whatever, simply work off of the post here with topics presented in each quote from me and response by you.

    What I mean is let’s simply take the outline you have presented here and deal with it one point at a time. I will be at your mercy here. Let’s begin at the beginning. You present your arguments and I will be glad to respond. I feel though that we will get no where is I simply respond the same way I did originally and the way you did here.

    If this is acceptable then Please begin and let us truly discuss. If not then I am fine being the point of your attack and have really little choice in the matter. Please though let us not attack each other in this discussion. I would appreciate civility. Thanks.

  2. Well… I actually did respond and I meant what I said about being willing to discuss the topics rationally. My reference to Google was simply to say that the information is readily accessible. I wasn’t claiming that as my source. I thought this was going to be a rational discussion, not a professional debate. The fact is I come back to this site once a month or so. I stumbled upon it when I made my first post. I am not hiding. I just am not able to come back as frequently as you like. I came back and apologized for the fierceness of my post, but I felt that the tone of the original post was the same…an attack. I don’t desire to make enemies. I work full time in ministry in a busy church. I am working on my masters. I teach a number of classes. I don’t even post on my own blog as often as I like any more. I enjoy discussion, but I am not interested in fighting or attacking. Perhaps I misread the tone of your original post. If so I again apologize. I am also familiar with other sites similar to this one and not expecting a warm reception, but I am willing to discuss the issues with any. Please just give me time to respond. As I get a chance I will read the post with my name in the title and answer. Thanks.

  3. Thank you for this post. For a long time, I’ve been bothered by the IFB’s claim to independence without knowing why. This was helpful.

    And this sort of thing only proves your point:

  4. @ John B

    Hey John,

    Yes you did miss something. I provided a link to his comment in the article for everyone to view.

    There was no “dialogue” or back and forth discussion at all. Joe just came to the site, made a comment (more of an attack than a comment) and then was never heard from again. I responded twice to his comment, but never got a reply, so I decided to make a post out of it and respond that way.

    I do appreciate your support though.

    1. I see it now.
      It looked like a dialog because I didn’t realize it was one comment; he just copied and pasted other comments.
      My bad

  5. I do not understand how this is considered “refusing to engage in dialogue”. However I did read this at like 3 in the morning, so I may have missed something. But what I gathered from the conversation was in fact a discussion that went back and forth quite well, and aside from Joe being incorrect in his view of independence, I do feel that the discussion did not go sour or result to name calling and disrespect. The only thing that was said that could have been left out was Joe’s Conclusion, which may have been more of a comment to personally attack you rather than discuss the topic that was at hand. But all in all I thought it was one of the better dialogs I have seen on this site.

    How long would the dialogue have to continue for one not to be considered to “run off and hide, refusing to engage in dialogue”?

    This is a great site and recommended for anyone questioning the IFB and looking for an outside biblical source to research their doctrine.

    1. I apologize, I did not mean an outside biblical source, I meant a biblical source independant of the IFB.
      Please forgive my poor grammar.

  6. The question of whether the I FB is truly independent or should be considered as just another denomination is what first drew me away from them. All my life, I had only done church activities with other like-minded churches. But I was fed the lie that we were still independent. It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s and the church I was going to had a Fellowship of Baptists conference, that I really began to question things. If we were independent, then why was my church part of a church fellowship? How was that any different than the Southern Baptists and their conventions? No one could answer my questions in a satisfactory way.

  7. I appreciate your support Wayne. Here are some thoughts.

    I honestly don’t think it’s confusion. I think it’s manipulation. Its a covert psychological manipulative strategy to make people think they are better than other religious groups and denominations. A tactic to trick people into thinking that they are “independent” – set apart, pure and untainted by “worldly” and liberal influences. It’s an integral part of their separatist doctrine and if they couldn’t be “independent”, the way they’ve deluded themselves into thinking what that means, then their doctrine of separation wouldn’t work. To me that’s the bigger issue.

    I’m aware that that all sounds somewhat paranoid and conspiratorial, but I don’t think it’s done on purpose. It’s simply a delusion that’s been handed down for generations. It’s a lie that’s perpetuated and has become a perception of truth.

    The idea that “IFB churches [aren’t] using the same literature, or Sunday School lessons, created by a central body” isn’t entirely accurate. The IFB may not get their Sunday school curriculum from a central governing body that dictates what and how they are to teach, but there are organizations that are distinctly IFB in doctrinal position that supply Sunday school lessons, tracts, literature, training material, school curriculum, etc. and other learning materials. Regular Baptist Press in an organization that produces IFB sunday school lessons and youth group learning materials. Fundamental Baptist Institute is another one. There is yet another that is affiliated with Bob Jones University (the name escapes me at the moment). The IFB uses A Beka Books which is a publishing company affiliated with Pensacola Christian College that produces learning curriculum and other materials that many of the IFB schools and home schoolers use (this was the curriculum used at the IFB school I attended K-12). It’s distinctly IFB in nature.

    IFB churches may not be a part of anything like the Southern Baptist Convention but there are other organizations that supply distinctly IFB materials and no church that calls itself IFB is going to get learning materials from a source that isn’t also IFB in doctrinal position.

    “Independent” is a misnomer, nothing more than a play on words.

  8. I have a difficult time understanding why there is so much confusion on this subject. I have been around IFB pretty much all of my life, that being several decades, and I have always considered it a denomination, even though each church is independently governed. Another church, or group, can’t tell a specific church what to do, but they hold to pretty much the same beliefs and procedures. I consider it a denomination because I can go from one IFB to another and I know what to expect. However, I do not expect to see many IFB churches using the same literature, or Sunday School lessons, created by a central body, so in that respect each is independent. Anyway, Steve, I agree with you, and I probably rambled way too much. –wayne

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