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Friday, March 14, 2014

CHAPTER 1 of 33 Chapters of TRIAL BY FIRE - Order today!

TRIAL BY FIRE
Satan’s Attack On Independent Baptists


CHAPTER 1


(Chapter 1 of 33 chapters-Go to SOLVECHURCHPROBLEMS.COM to order-Thought provoking chapters)


UNITY: A WORD THAT CONCERNS ME

Franklin D. Roosevelt was a great leader, but he caused America to become more of a centralized government by starting various co-op programs. The Bible says that God will supply all our need according to His riches. So, why do we need a denomination? I will tell you exactly why we do not need a denomination. We lose some of our faith in God. What more could we want than, Lo, I am with you alway, or, For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them, or, upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.


My heart aches for what has happened to churches across this nation. Many churches that call themselves Independent Baptists are not really Independent Baptists.

When Dr. H. A. Ironside was the pastor of the Moody Church in Chicago, he decided to form a group of men to run the business of the church. He basically turned the leadership of the church over to that group of men and decided that he would just do the preaching. 

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Satan’s Attack On Independent Baptists


It worked beautifully because these men loved him, and wanted to please him, but when he died, he had created the machinery for the destruction of their soul-winning program. What happened? A good pastor and some good men set up some bad machinery that worked as long as they were alive, but self-destructed when they died.

I must make a confession. There are certain words that, when I hear them, send up red flags in my mind. They are words that are usually misused or used in a self-serving manner. One such word is “legalism”. When I hear it, I usually can predict what is coming next. The person is making their case against “standards” or, more often, defending their lesser ones. They have them, but they are usually not as strong as the person they are judging in motive or heart. The word “preferences” is another. I always find it interesting that people can decide what my preferences are versus my convictions; however, none of these words are what I want to address in this chapter.

“Unity” is the word I would like to discuss which absolutely sets off sirens in my mind. It is especially disconcerting when I read an article by a stalwart in the Independent Baptist world lauding it. Recently such an article was sent to me and upon completion of reading it, I found myself very concerned. I read the article very slowly, carefully, and prayerfully to make certain I was not reacting. I waited a few days before responding wondering ... hoping that I had read it wrong. Then another man I respect sheepishly asked me if I had read the article. I confirmed I had. All he said was, "It concerns me."

The author is a good man. He is in no danger of being a heretic or falling off the fundamental ledge.
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He is sincere and a man I greatly love and admire. I would not separate with him over this article for he has stood faithful for too long for me to doubt him. I do not write this even as a rebuke towards him. This is more of a mild warning ... a nudge, so to speak. I will not call him out and I will not attack him. Allow me to speak in principled terms.

1. Unity is almost always a misunderstood concept


Satan loves the world "unity," but that does not make it a bad word. Unity appeals to the flesh of people. If you want loud choruses of “AMENS” just speak of unity. The weak will love you for it. The women will praise you when you speak of it. Unfortunately, the word is far too often a cry for compromise rather than a plea for oneness.

Unity comes from the word union. It is a sister word to unify. Therefore, I must be careful with whom I want to have unity with. Satan loves unions. If he can get us to form unions, he has a better chance to pervade us. He takes independent men, brings them into unity, and destroys the very thing that made them strong. We don't need his kind of unity, but he is great at making it look and sound so appealing.

2. Unity is most often a word used to describe an ordained relationship. 


We should be in unity with God. We should have unity in the home as well as in the local church. However, that is where most unity should end. To have unity anywhere else means I must be in a union with you. Forgive me, but outside my relationship with God, my family, and my church, I am not much interested in forming unions or having unity.

3. Unity necessitates sameness. 


If I unite, I am typically agreeing to accept you and your beliefs, or you mine. Unions are typically political and require some control.

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TRIAL BY FIRE
Satan’s Attack On Independent Baptists


That is not what God wants for me. My independence requires that I avoid unity. My beliefs and principles do as well.

4. Satan loves to make us think we have lost something we once had. 


One statement that greatly concerned me in the article I read was that we were once unified more than we are today. Now, I don't know what history book that man has been reading, but in my study I have seldom seen much unity between independents. Don't buy into that! Study the unity between the great Christian leaders of the past and you will find that they fought over many issues and some of them were even minor. They were not unified. Paul and Barnabas were not. Paul and Peter were not. I could follow that all the way throughout church history.

5. I think this man mistook unity for harmony. 


I love to be in harmony because then I can be what I am and you can be what you are and we can be harmonious about it. I do not want unity in the Republican Party because that means compromise; nor do I want it in fundamentalism.

We can have harmony, however. We can be in harmony over doctrines of the faith. Harmony allows me to write this article. Unity would not. I seek to be in harmony with fellow fundamentalists, but that does not mean we will not separate over certain things. I can separate with you and still be in harmony with you. Dr. Jack Hyles used to call it "agreeing to disagree." Dr. Hyles stopped preaching with a certain man who he still supported financially, for he could not be in unity, but he could be in harmony.

6. Who are you to say what my preferences are? 


Dr. Hyles strongly believed in women not wearing pants. That was a belief or a conviction. You can call it a preference if it is not your belief, but it was his belief. He did not separate over it, but he did try to be consistent about it.

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One year, Dr. Hyles invited a couple to Pastors' School to teach. Later he discovered that she openly wore pants. He explained his position to them in a sweet and loving letter. There was no condemnation in his letter and, in fact, later spoke highly of their ministry.He included a more than generous love offering check that was far more than he would have given normally. These dear folks were gracious and understanding because of the kind way Brother Hyles handled the situation.

Now, you can say it was a preference, but who are you to tell him what his "preference" was? That is prideful and arrogant.

Some men call things preferences because they changed. What you call preferences I call a conviction. You are certainly not practicing what you preach when you attempt to define my beliefs. That said, not all of my convictions are based upon what I expect you to believe. Therefore, I want harmony, but not unity.

I would not have some people speak for me who I would support. A conviction is something I have been convinced or convicted of for my life and my ministry. It is wrong to call another’s convictions preferences and high time we threw out the word.

7. Unity requires me to accept friends I would not otherwise accept because of where I think they may lead. 


Let me give you an example. I have strong feelings against calling the Sunday morning preaching service a "worship service." I think it is unscriptural and I believe it is going the wrong direction. I am not a proponent of one who uses a "worship team" to replace the old-fashioned adult church choir. 

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TRIAL BY FIRE
Satan’s Attack On Independent Baptists


I will not condemn you for it, I will not call you out personally, but rest assured I would not form a union with you.

Some make fun of positions like this because they do not see the bigness I see and the dangerousdestination I see. We are following a hazardous trend. Unity says some of it really doesn't matter. I beg to differ. It does matter because of where the trend started and to where it will lead.

Do not miss this statement. I will not have unity with someone who has unity with someone I deem to be spiritually menacing. If you are getting your ideas from someone I think is unpredictable spiritually, then I do not want to even get close to you. If you are willing to be influenced by someone I do not want to be influenced by, then it may be best for me to stay away. I do not hate you and I do not want to fight you, but I do not want to catch the ideals to which you are exposing yourself.

8. Do not talk to me about fellowship. 


Some will tell you that we need unity so we can fellowship. Why? I don't get it! There are certain good men with whom I do not intend to fellowship. Frankly, I am scared of them. They hang out with and read from the wrong people and I do not want to like them too much or I may be attracted to them and follow them off the cliff. Dr. Hyles often said, I do not fellowship with a man based upon where he is, but rather upon which direction he is going.

For example, I do not plan on fellowshipping with a man who attends Rick Warren's conferences or has his staff meet with the staff of the Crystal Cathedral in order to glean something useful. I refuse to allow Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, or Robert Schuller to influence me either directly or indirectly. 
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Therefore, I plan to have no unity with those who allow these men to influence them even in the slightest manner. Admiration leads to influence and influence leads to compromise in direction. I will be in harmony, but not unity. I will be kind to them, but I am not going to fellowship with them. As Dr. Hyles used to say, "I may like them too much and I don't want to like them too much because they may affect me."

9. Individual camps. 


We have always been in camps and should remain in camps for the sake of independence. My friend's article criticized camps. However, camps are good not bad.

Fundamentalism has many camps, all of which have their own unique personality and flavor. It has always been that way. These camps are all doing good and trying to reach souls and take a stand as they see it. Stop attempting to unify them because once you do, we will sink to the lowest common denominator.

Splitting is what preserves us. We are all part of a split, not a union. We divide and then multiply. We divide and conquer not unite and conquer!

10. Real movements have no headquarters.

They may have many outposts, but no Vatican. Some establish their outpost in various places around our nation.

Are we supposed to unite and hope we do not all lose the distinctiveness God has given each of us? Certainly this is an antithesis of all God had in mind.

Now, lest I am accused of missing the point of the article, may I humbly submit that I did not! I get it loud and clear and it was not accurate. In fact, it was important enough that I knew I had to address it. I love my dear brother very much, yet in truth, he has chosen to distance himself from me and he knows it. 

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TRIAL BY FIRE
Satan’s Attack On Independent Baptists


He would not preach with me, endorse me, or agree with my last book, When Principle Was King, about Dr. Hyles. His refusal to cooperate with me is perfectly fine, yet his writing is an appeal for unity. Amazing! I cannot help but wonder if what he is asking is for all of us to unify with him and his group. I must say, I sense some serious hypocrisy here.

That said, I have chosen never to react to his rejections of me. Nonetheless, I cannot let this article go without a loving warning of its flawed content. This is not about personality; this is about principle. I welcome his call and would do anything within my power to show him my friendship. He is a good man and his opinion of me does not negate the good he has done. Yet, I cannot allow the misrepresentation of this word to go unchallenged.

Unity, in the right context is wonderful, but apart from it is dangerous and potentially lethal to what we are and what we believe.

11. Direction determines destination. 


Unity means we are walking together and I may not want to go where you are going. Amos 3:3 says, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Sometimes secondary separation is necessary to protect me from the influence of who is influencing you.

I must protect the integrity of my influence; therefore, I cannot unite with those whose influences may hurt the ones I influence. I cannot go to Rick Warren's conference because, while I may be able to discern between the good and the bad, those I influence may not.

Some methods come from flawed ideology. Accept the method and eventually you will accept the ideology. A goodexample is "worship" talk. The words "worship service" may not be bad, but they are attached to flawed ideology as well as flawed theology.
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Just because there is good food in the dumpster does not mean I am going to feed my family from the dumpster. Good ideas may come out of the dumpster of the liberals, but do I really want to build my church on dumpster ideas? No!

The hottest guy out there may not be the guy with whom I want to be joined. I may sense troubling trends that make me keep my distance. I am not going to fight him, but I am not going to be told I should unite with him.

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