Oct6TueWhy abandon now? October 6, 2020
Objection: “The IFB was good enough to get me saved and get me in church, so why should I abandon it now?”
This objection comes to us from a faithful believer in the Carolinas who raises an excellent question. The New Testament Baptist Confession does not contain any hasty means of exiting the Fundamental Baptist Movement. Reading the Confession thoroughly gives the sense that this must not be done unadvisedly, but cautiously and after much prayer. Numerous critics have misrepresented the confession and forwarded an idea that it advocates an abrupt and spontaneous exit of the Independent Baptist movement. This is not true.
The New Testament Baptist Confession clearly states that abandonment of the Independent Baptist movement is necessitated: “. . . we hereby declare Independent Fundamental Baptists to have deteriorated into a sectarian order that warrants abandonment.” However, the Confession offers legitimate citations of issues that exist among Fundamental Baptist churches that any reasonable person cannot ignore. In fact, I would ask how a responsible person can bear the error without protest and separation. Nevertheless, this cannot be done without patience.
In answer to the concerns of the current objection, I would point to the method of the Apostle Paul when he spoke authoritatively on the spiritual maturation that took place in the early church. In I Corinthians 13:11-12, Paul illustrated, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” The childish things that Paul was referring to here were the temporary sign gifts that were being showcased in the early church as a catalyst for rapid growth and the creation of interest in the church and its message. Those things would become obsolete after awhile and would fade into disuse.
It is needful at this point to emphasize the greater context of this incredible principle. It may seem elementary, but let’s locate these verses and survey them afterwards. First, they are in the New Testament. Second, they are in a church epistle. Third, they are a discussion offered as a remedy to the behaviors of one of the most carnal churches in the Bible; the church at Corinth. I am sure that these things are clearly known but indulge me for a moment. I don’t want anyone to use the old excuse that these verses don’t apply to us today. Placing them in their appropriate context offers an immediate ability to apply the principles directly to us.
So what principle are we looking at here? Apparently, you can grow by consuming nourishment that is only intended to be a temporary and provisional source. I am a much older adult now, but I still like milk. There was a time when I could only consume milk and did not have the ability to chew and digest meat. However, now that I am older, I have the capacity to eat and digest meat. Ideally, a milk/meat diet is now available to me. That is also true spiritually. Paul was suggesting to the Corinthians that there was something they had not known because of their spiritual immaturity. Their diet was not a balanced diet yet.
I think this is what many Fundamental Baptists struggle with. They think Independent Baptist Fundamentalism is “meat” when, in fact, that is uncommon. To get a table spread with a balanced diet among Fundamentalists, historically you would have to drive a long, long way. For me, that was forty-five miles, one way, service after service so that I could attend a church where I was being spiritually fed. As a new believer, I was stuck at a table that I could not change, but when I became a man I put away childish things.
Please don’t misunderstand. The church where God led me was an Independent Baptist Church, and I was trained there and strengthened. There is no end to my appreciation for that. Nevertheless, the church where God led me was an exceptional Fundamental Baptist Church. The pastor was seasoned and temperate. The church reflected that in their balance. It was a refreshing place, and I would add that it was radically different from the Independent Baptist Church where I was saved. What happened? As I grew, I saw the need to graduate from the milk to the meat, and I did. I was fortunate to have the church where I was saved and I was also fortunate to have another church where I grew stronger.
That growing has not stopped. I now want to offer a church to our county where people can be saved and grow spiritually without limitation. Unfortunately, that church cannot be bound by the fetters of the Fundamental Baptist moniker. This is why I love this question. Because it proves that what true children of God want most is growth and God will take them in that direction deliberately. Because of His leadership and direction, I can now humbly report that I put away childish things.
Please read carefully: one day we will all know more than we know now! Do not limit your capacity to learn and grow. You cannot grow an oak tree in a clay pot. It will need to be transplanted for it to grow. In a recent poll on the New Testament Baptist web site the question was asked: Have you grown using resources (music, literature, books, etc.) that were not Independent and Fundamental? By the time of this article 96 percent of those who have responded to the poll said they almost always have to go beyond Fundamental Baptist sources to find resources that edify! I kept foraging for food until I found nourishment that helped me grow and I would advise you to do the same.
Brad Bailey is a husband, father of four, grandfather, author, pastor-teacher and college president in Brandon, Florida.