Friday, February 13, 2009

More on IFB and Ephesus

(This is part of my response to one of my commenters on my recent post concerning the letter to the church at Ephesus.)

Taken plainly, the letter to Ephesus is not a rebuke of doctrinal diligence. It is a rebuke of attitude.
Let me theorize for a moment. I think what has happened among IFBs, is the attitude became so overweening, that it supplanted true doctrinal diligence. In other words, I have been in IFB churches that knew what they "stood for" but their preaching was always topical, shallow, and/or philosophical, and when I dared air my opposing point of view they did not reason with me they ran me out.
IFBs, at least the ones I have been around, don’t fight the fight anymore. Sure, they often take brief swipes at evangelical leaders. But then it’s back to preaching to choir on versions, dress, and music. This has left them unequipped to formulate a reasoned offense to true threats such as postmodernism, the emergent church, open theism, new perspective-ism, and the like. The one message I have heard from an IFB on any of these topics in recent years (postmodernism) died when he identified examples of the effects of postmodern thought as evangelical churches. He proceeded to blast Jerry Falwell, "neo-evangelicals," and modern Bible versions. It always comes back to that, somehow.
(The message was by Dr. John Goetsch of Lancaster Baptist Church at Lighthouse Baptist Church, San Diego, CA, 12/5/04 PM)
Having the right attitude requires some openness of mind. Many IFBs pride themselves on having a closed mind, saying things like, "you don't want your mind so open your brains fall out!" But it's a part of humility.
We are fallible in our understanding of Scripture and of God. Did you know the Mormons prefer to use the KJV? Just using what some would say is the right Bible does not ensure that you have the truth. You have to allow a gray area for this very reason- not a personal gray area- you should know what you believe- but a collective gray area, where it is ok to disagree. That is what I mean about pencil and pen. Not everything in Scripture is worth starting a war over.

To me, the battleground is theology, not culture. IFBs today are fighting the fight of culture, not theology. This is a result of attitude trumping teaching and study. As a result, they are becoming weaker and losing their children. IFBs today, in my opinion, push a form of neo-monasticism in their teachings on personal separation. This is due to the Puritan roots of American Baptists which have dominated fundamentalism as it has spread throughout the world.
When people think of the Puritans they think good, if not austere, thoughts. I feel this sect is due additional scrutiny given its profound influence on American fundamentalism/evangelicalism and I plan to do some of that when I have the time & money for books.

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