Im ok with Sharing, but if you could not mention names or churches mentioned, because I go to a great Independent baptist church now, but had to leave some ridiculous fundy legalism. Good people I am still friends with, but the legalism was strong. The church I go to now is one of those churches you mention of “one of the good ones out there” but I do recognize there is a lot of legalism out there.
1.Who am I?
I am 30 years old. Married, and have the blessing of kids. A high level position in a company, that I am very thankful for. I love Jesus, he saved me at later teens. I did not grown up in IFB, but I was saved through bus ministry. I will forever be thankful for that, I was a popular kid lots of friends, partying typical teenage rebellion with no thought about pleasing God. (though I was respectful to religion because growing up in Latino household, its cultural), but when I heard about the gospel Jesus I was blown away that he died for the whole world. NO works required, He wants a relationship with me! Truthfully, I could have gone to any church, IFB, SBC , Methodist…whatever, if they would have preached the gospel, I was ready for it. My whole family, is now saved and going to heaven because my attitude changed, and I prayed and loved on my family. I have enjoyed the podcast and must say the Phil Kidd episodes were straight fire! he really challenged the IFB and even you guys. Before that I was not a fan of Phil, just from the few sermons I had sit through, but now knowing the kind of folks he feels led to reach, I get it. Not my cup of tea but hes there to reach the rougher crowd.
2. IFB – before college
As mentioned I was saved later in teens. I was only a few months from college. I was a popular teen, and made friends very quickly. (this is not always the case for bus kids as I would learn) Seeing the zeal that I had, it seemed though I was someone that would hear standards and comply because “thats what Christians do”. To a point that was true, I was such a baby Christian that I did not know the Bible inside out, so I trusted what others told me. To the defense the Holy Spirit was leading me in the same direction as “some” of these standards. ex: cussing, partying, stop rebelling against parents. But there were some things that the Holy Spirit wasn’t necessarily leading but the church pushed especially if I was on a teen activity. example: Contemporary music, it was just as bad as rock music. I didn’t think so, there were songs that really got a hold of my heart, and truthfully I didn’t go to the church for the music…it wasn’t good. (I mean traditional music can be good, but this church did not have the talent.)
The dress standards were a measure of ones spirituality. If you were in a suit, and sat in the front row you were right with God and on fire. If you wore a polo and Khakis… well you were trying. T shirts and jeans, what was wrong with you? do you not love God? I got a pass because I just had gotten saved, but I saw how people were ranked based on outside appearances, again me being a new Christian, I thought well maybe there is some validity to this?
The Pastor talked to all the Senior teens to give them “guidance” and “godly counsel”. Some of these teen went to the pastor for EVERYTHING! even about dating advice, which I thought was weird. But hey Im the new guy and maybe there is a verse for that 🙂 In my session he told me that I need to go to Hyles Anderson. I would fit in and this was in the late 2000s so the Schapp thing hadn’t happened. I had visited the school and I knew that I would not fit in there. I even said that to my pastor, that I don’t think Hyles is good for me especially how new I was, I was still struggling with not hugging females, becuase according to the church if I do thats a burning indication that I am a lustful perv. (cultural difference, Latinos hug and even Kiss on Check) He told me “sometimes Gods will is what your Pastor advises you”…….so I definitely did not go to HAC 🙂 but I did go to a different Bible College because I was in love with Jesus, and He saved my Family, so I wanted to serve him.
I went to this church between college breaks and some weekends, and I just saw more and more, its the Pastors way or the high way. There were many splits. I remember being asked how much I made in a year by a Pastor. SMH
3. Bible College
So At this point I thought some of the Legalistic folks I came across as radicals. Those who have taken their eyes off the real reason we live clean lives Jesus, BUT as I got to bible college I realized legalism is being pumped out by some of these colleges. NOT all but Hyles at this point (circa 2006-20010) was for sure and the school I went to was teaching people how to be a good baptist, not how to get close to God. I went to a school in a Northern State, and I heard a lot of the big time preachers in the area. I heard Phil Kidd, pre- leaving the IFB, John Hamlin, who would get upset if we did not “Amen” or “get excited” during his preaching. Hamblin…..my friends and I had a reoccurring joke because his messages were the same just alliterated differently. For example: his 3 points in a message would be 1. Alcohol 2. Amphetamine 3. Adultery …. his next message would be 3 points of 1. Booz 2. barbiturates 3. Babes…….. the next messege would be 1. Cuervo 2. cocaine 3. Cheating HAHAHA man thinking about makes me laugh Im sorry.
Any way the college was handing out honorary doctorates to folks left and right. The president had a home life that was less then an example. Here I started to see that I was paying to be ingrained with “standards” “IFB ways” not true Biblical teachings that got me closer to God. It was a competition who could win the most souls, and by win, have people say a prayer. I had to work during my time there because I was paying my way, so I took a job and it became full time. The president of the college, I remember distinctly made fun of my work, little did he know it would be the launch of my career, that I thank God for. It was like though if your not in full time service than you are lesser.
Also me being new, it hit me one day, is my degree accredited, so I asked one of the instructor…and HE WOULD NOT give me a straight answer. It was a yes or no question, but he said “Accredited with God and Gods people, but ceasar or the state wouldn’t recognize such honor” (I may be mis quoting a bit, but very close.
I ended up finishing there, and truthfully it was more out of spite. I wanted to show I could work a full time job, go to school and actually love God. The one thing that I heard repeated in Bible college though that still stays with me is… “oh you are gonna be a Spanish pastor”. I would say I would love to be a pastor, students and teachers would always comeback and say well you would be better served a Spanish pastor. Now I am not a race baiter, I have a successful career through hard work, but how would you like to be told what Gods will for your life is by a bunch of ego maniac students and teachers. Some didn’t mean it but would say things like “yeah bro when we are both in Ministry I can be the pastor and you the Spanish pastor” but some were more blatant “God gave you that background for a reason, and its to be a Spanish Pastor” (I do believe he gives us our backgrounds but these guys were not the Holy Spirit or prophets, if I were to be any sort of Pastor God would let me know)
Also I have never heard so many racist jokes in my life until i went to BIBLE COLLEGE. and yes even from the President of the College (college was pretty small so we had lots of interactions) I give people grace, and I understand people grow up in communities that are universally one race or people group, but be wise about what comes out of your mouth. Its like they get to a place in which they are above the rules.
I am thankful because I did make some life long friend at Bible College, but I also got to see the back stage of this ministry. Overall very unimpressive.
4. My Wife and Her Church
During college years met my wife (she did not go to the college, we had mutual friends) . who grew up in an IFB church, but she was different. I was just impressed that she did not go to Bible college just to get married. She was knowledgeable on scripture, not just surface IFB standards. Then I visited her church and they did not cram IFB standards down your throat. They preached the word, line by line! and did not try to run your home life. The didn’t tell their women that they were sinners and shameful for wearing pants! wow. (thats a big fundy thing)
This church showed me what Baptist can be when they aren’t power hungry, when Christ is being sought after, when there is no camp affiliation. Music program is top notch and I tell my wife all the time this is an Awesome Church.
Overall, I am thankful for being saved and God used an imperfect church to reach a sinner. I am thankful for my friends and the church we go to now, but I can not stress enough, someone else in my shoes may have just walked away from Christianity all together and I would see why. Im not saying I didn’t because im super spiritual, but I didn’t because God showed grace on me, and allowed me to see him through a thick cloud of religious nonsense.
I can get into the miss use of bible verses to justify many of these standards and terrible preferences, but you have done a good job of hitting on those, Here are some topics though that I would like to hear discussed that Fundys do push and need to be called out.
A. Racial Division
Im talking about Interracial Marriage. I have heard ridiculous prefrences, non with true bible backing of why a pastor wont marry folks of different races. Racist jokes among Bible College folks. I get community and if you dont understand other people groups is easy to poke fun…but your trying to reach them…making jokes about them and telling them to your friends tells me..you might not be serious about loving others. In my case I can elaborate more on what being told over and over “you are meant to be a Spanish Pastor” did for me. Reach out and I can go in more details, but Im sure its similar to girls being told they are meant to submissive wives, or Particular races they can only marry their own.
B. Bus Ministry
I am a very rare product of the bus ministry, and truthfully it was a lot to do with me. It was my zeal that kept me going to church, for Jesus, I would have sought Jesus even if no one invited me back. I honestly do think buses can be a great ministry, but what this church bus ministry is, its a number generator. Adding to the attendance record, the number of bus riders. At this point the church has the bus ministry just to say they are with the old stuff. They way to boost numbers also is to target poor minority neighborhoods…that was taught in bible college, and presented that way. Not that all people need Christ, not just how to get the biggest number by targeting poor kids.
C. Pressure to Go to Bible College to Marry and get and unaccredited degree
My Friends when I was in my senior year could not wait to get to Bible College, because…this was the place were they were going to find the one. Pastor would push that as well, “its a great place to find a like minded person”. With a philosophy like that, there are a lot of logical factors not mentioned, like… what happens if you don’t find the one? now your stuck with a unaccredited degree, which many churches wont hire because your single. OR what if you go to Bible college but your not called to ministry…? simple thought I know.
Reach out if you want more info, I do appreciate what you guys are going because its important to keep the people of God from looking unattractive to the lost world.