Hey guys, I am here to thank you for your encouragement and candor about the things those of us who’ve left fundamentalism deal with. We’re not special. We need grace like anyone else. But not everyone can relate to us.
I grew up in fundamentalism. My grandpa was the pastor and my dad lead the music. My grandpa was kind and loving. He wasn’t the kind of IFB guy you hear the horror stories about. However, I soon came to know, sit under, and idolize those men. My grandpa connected with many fundies and very early in my life, I began attending camp meetings and revivals (dun, dun, duh!). As a teenager, I felt God calling me to ministry and my grandpa began taking me on a regular basis to these meetings where I heard crazy, crazy stuff. Calls to kill homosexuals in Jesus’ name. Legalism for days. But that camp meeting was fringe and funny in my mind. It wasn’t real. It was just for amens. That’s what I told myself. While there was some mind-warping that took place in those camp meetings, the greatest danger lurked in my own church.
I had two youth pastors, back to back, that I loved and respected. I realized later they were some of the most legalistic people I was around. They added burden after burden to my life. You guys know the drill. I was in secret sin for most of my teenage years, but as long as I looked good, I was good. I contemplated suicide because the burden of my sin and the burden of legalism was so great. I felt God was utterly disgusted with me during the week, but pleased with me on Sunday because I was there in my tie, KJV, and hymnal.
God pulled me away from the inner circle of the IFB when I went to college and placed me in a different circle. The nicer, kinder, IFB. I went to a college in OKC that was very fundamental, but not really mad about it. They preached the Bible expositionally and exalted Jesus, but those legalistic standards remained. I believe my zeal in college drove me deeper into legalism, but now it was some sort of twisted expositionally driven legalism. We still hated CCM, pants, shorts, long hair, tattoos, and the rest, we just didn’t preach much about them unless the Scripture made some mention on music, dress, or appearance. But the legalism WAS STILL THERE!
After my junior year, I interned with a church in IL pastored by a liberal (lol). He “crept in unawares” to my school and interviewed me. I praise God he did. That pastor exposed me to egg-sucking, lily-livered liberal pastors like J.D. Greear and Jared C. Wilson. You already know where this is going. After I graduated from college, I moved to IL, married a girl I met there who would take none of my legalistic crap, and challenged me to show her in the Bible where I was getting my standards. (Man, I love her!) Anyway, over the next few years, I came to understand the grace of Christ in the Gospel, but I still struggled with legalism.
In 2017 we moved to an SBC ministry in South Florida. Our part of South Florida is the recovery capital of the US, so this ministry works with many in recovery. AI had coffee with one of the pastors after a few months of living there. We talked about my past ministry and church experiences and he said to me, “You know what you’re in right now? Recovery. You’re recovering from years of legalism and learning how to live in the grace and mercy of Jesus.” Boys, that’s when I learned I am a recovering fundamentalist!
Thank you for your work. Thank you for your honesty. Keep it up! The only cure for the IFB is the gospel of Jesus!
Grace and Peace, K
PS: I really enjoyed the rebuttal to the higher grounds podcast. I struggled to take them seriously, not because of the fundy stuff, but because their name sounds like marijuana-infused coffee. Anyway…