I’m fine with churches being independent from a hierarchy, I’m staunchly a believer of the actual Fundamentals of the Faith, and I’m an active member of a Baptist church. That should make me an independent fundamental Baptist, but it doesn’t. Unfortunately, the pharisaical side of IFBism puts far more emphasis on standards, empire building, and the cultural traditions of the past than the real fundamentals of the faith. You know you are in that extreme group when a good sermon, from any passage of scripture, will cover, dress, music, liberalism, the evils of Calvinism and all the other new evangelical churches in town. You might even get some special music about the good ole KJB and a high pressure altar call in conclusion.
My wife and I have a combined 50 plus years in the IFB movement. We have traveled across the country, served overseas, and have been in hundreds of IFB churches. We have pretty much seen it all. If you want to hear cringe worthy stories, I could fill a small book with them.
Some may not realize it but there is a huge spectrum of variety within IFB churches. While most of them are not truly independent, due to their fellowships, college connections, mission boards, and good ole boy clubs, they are often very independent from other differing factions of IFB churches. IFB churches and schools are no different from other denominations in the wide variety you can find from one to another. They range from Ruckmanite to Reformed. There are some that nobody needs to recover from and some that the word cult is probably not strong enough. Some are led by godly humble men (even elders in some cases), and some are led by arrogant proud bullies. While I can’t stand the latter, I’d be no better than them if I broad-brushed the whole lot together and declared anathema to them. There are some truly terrible people in and leading IFB churches BUT there are also many of the nicest caring people in the movement that you could ever meet.
No doubt we saw and experienced a number of really awful things while in IFBism. In fairness, we experienced many good things too. We can choose to remain bitter about the wrongs we experienced or we can see how God used those experiences to bring us to where we are now. Without experiencing the bad (I’m not condoning it) we would still be drinking and passing out some of the same toxic Kool-Aid today. Sometimes you don’t know how good you have it if you haven’t tasted the bad first.
As my wife and I look back on our experiences in the IFB, we laugh about some of the goofiness, hurt for some that have yet to begin recovering, and never regret closing the IFB door behind us.
I love this line from the song He Has Always Been Faithful:
“I can’t remember a trial or a pain
He did not recycle to bring me gain
I can’t remember one single regret
In serving God only and trusting His hand…”