My story is a familiar one. I was raised at Franklin Road Baptist Church. I grew up playing with friends at the Sword of the Lord. I was dyed in the wool fundamentalists my whole life. I was a preacher boy, a youth leader, and even preached for my church. The only problem was that my mother taught me early on to ask questions. I always considered my mom to be a little bit of a liberal, but she did a great job raising me and teaching me to use critical thinking skills. When I went to college at Shawnee Baptist college they got a new pastor and a new teacher. This new teacher was Matt Lyons, who you may or may not know. But he taught me to start asking questions about some of the things I always believed were absolutes like KJVO, eschatology, aka an actual theological education as opposed to a paper mill. Then in my sophomore year of college, I was challenged by a good friend who was an atheist. I almost was astonished by how much I didn’t know. So I began to study apologetics and strengthen my faith. But as I grew in orthodox theology and I realize that everything I held near and dear my whole life was incorrect. The final nail in the coffin was when I read John our rice and his book specifically dedicated to God breathed Word the Bible. Finding out that Dr. Rice was against KJVO was huge. However I had a problem. I was graduating from him and accredited independent Baptist seminary and no ministry connections other than independent Baptist. I had just spent $30,000 on a piece of paper that had little to no value. I felt hoodwinked.
so I thought, I can keep my views to myself, keep my head low, and when these old guys die my generation can change this mess. I was sorely mistaken. I interned at my home church and taught juniors and seniors and Sunday school. My dear friend and youth pastor brought me in to his office because there was a concern with parents. I was doing the absolute unthinkable. I had just finished a series with my seniors on what do you believe and why do you believe it. The whole series was focused on just asking questions and asking the seniors to define their beliefs and explain to me what they meant and why they believe they were true. Parents are upset, because now their teens were asking questions from the first time and they didn’t have an answer for asking questions was a bad thing ! When I began to ask you these questions myself I was told I was too intellectual and prideful I needed to listen to those have been a ministry much longer than I. In other words sit down shut up and don’t question me.
I took a ministry role at a church in Cleveland Tennessee, I met much of the same. I was only allowed to teach their juniors and seniors ones in Sunday school but then I was never allowed to again because I had unfortunately asked difficult questions. I was brought in and almost fired because I had asked my direct superior if he could explain to me a discrepancy in the king James translation of first John 5:7 through nine when the Greek text didn’t support those versus being in there, and if you look at his Scofield reference Bible Schofield didn’t think that should be in there either. I was told I was really close to denying the inspirational scriptures by denying the king James and I had to immediately tell my pastor I wouldn’t ask these questions anymore or else I would be fired. Needless to say after the pastors marriage fell apart in adultery we left the church and went back home to Murfreesboro.
I took a job at a small church in town as the student pastor. I began to hear my pastor from FRBC was upset. I scheduled a meeting and asked him if we were ok. He then took an hour of his time to explain how disrespectful it was to come home and work at another church. His exact quote (as best as I can remember to be fair) was “I mean it when I say this is the best church in town and I think everyone should come here. For you to come back and work at another church is really disappointing.” I was told that they didn’t hire anyone from their youth program to work there. But the previous year they hired five people from the class before me including the pastors son! The truth was I asked to many questions and spoke my mind. The pastor at the small church was also concerned that I was too intellectual because I taught the kids the phrase “synoptic gospels” and insisted on expository preaching. I was tired and I was done. So we left the church and I took a sales job thinking my ministry was over.
fast forward two years to good news ! I was mentored by a pastor at a southern baptist church and was ordained this year. I took a job as a full time corporate chaplain and I’m back in the gospel ministry. We are in a Bible church in Murfreesboro and love our community and just got a leadership position with the college students ministry. God wasn’t done with me! So happy to serve Him! But as for reforming the fundamentalist, I’ve come to the conclusion it’s better to let them fade away (as they already are.) I still count myself a fundamentalist but more of a J Gresham Machen then a Jack Hyles !
thanks for all you do !