The following news quotes and articles reveal the truth about mission boards, associations, conventions, organized fellowships, and other unScriptural organizations, The latest news is at the top. Man-designed and man-created organizations will always divide God's churches and end up in apostasy. This web page would be several yards long if I had time to record all the news relating to this issue.
FBFI Continues to Manifest Its Unscriptural Nature; by Dr. Thomas M. Strouse; March 2005
The 84th meeting of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International (FBFI) passed Resolution 04-07: Concerning unity in the essentials. The resolution in part states: "Historic Fundamentalism exercised great latitude among the brethren regarding convictions over which good men disagree. Therefore we must not so restrict this latitude in our day by narrowing our fellowship exclusively to those brethren with whom we agree on all points and thereby hinder the greater cause of Christ. We must continue to study, know, and defend the essentials and to agree to disagree, if necessary, on those which are not (such as philosophy of youth work, pastoral authority, political involvement, versions, certain aspects of Calvinism, dating, divorce, evangelism/discipleship methodology, etc.)...we must prioritize an active love for our brethren, so that we demonstrate a Biblically-based tolerance towards those with whom we disagree" ("2004 FBFI Resolutions," FrontLine, July/August 2004: 23).
The Practice of the FBFI
The FBFI is unscriptural in its practice, influence and nature. The Bible does not teach at all the practice of arbitrarily dividing the Bible into essential and non-essential teachings. Paul claimed that he had "not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27). The counsel of God includes "the baptism of John" (cf. Lk. 7:29-30), which is only a "non-essential" to the denominationalists. Since Paul taught the same thing in all of the churches (I Cor. 4:17), and what he taught ultimately ended up as his canonical epistles, then the Pauline Epistles are his contribution to "the essentials." A brief sampling of his Epistles shows what essentials he taught about the Biblical "philosophy" and "methodology" of youth work (I Tim. 4:12; 6:11-14), of pastoral authority (I Tim. 3:1-7; 5:17-22), of political involvement (I Tim. 2:1-4; cf. Rom. 13:1 ff.), of versions (I Tim. 1:4; 6:3-5), of Calvinism (II Tim. 2:10), of dating (I Thess. 4:3; I Cor. 7:39b), of divorce (I Cor. 7:10-11), and of evangelism/discipleship (II Tim. 2:24-26). Furthermore, Jude originally was going to deal with the common salvation but was led to write on "earnestly contending for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 1:3). This "faith" of course was the objective body of Christian truth known as the inscripturated words of the Lord (cf. Acts 2:42; 6:7; Rom. 6:17; Gal. 1:23; 3:23). Finally, the Lord Jesus Christ commanded the church at Jerusalem to "observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Mt. 28:20). This no doubt refers to all of the Old and New Testament text and canon.
The non-biblical practice of dividing the Bible into essential and non-essential teachings is exacerbated by the attempt to comprehend who has been given this authority to make such divisions. Although the Lord's churches are "the pillar and ground of the truth" (I Tim. 3:15), no one has the authority to pick and choose his way through the truth seeking supposed essentials while selectively ignoring supposed non-essentials. Paul told Timothy to "preach the word" (II Tim. 4:2). The Bible gives no lists and no "office of list-makers." How does one become a member on a committee to determine the lists of essential and non-essential teachings of Scripture, and what parameters are used to make such determinations? These questions about and this practice of "selective theology" undermine church authority, and, therefore, Christ's authority, essentially replacing the Lord with a humanly originated committee (Nicolaitanism?). The Lord's candlesticks do not need this Protestant approach to church control which is really " neo-catholic" hierarchicalism.
The Influence of the FBFI
The FBFI is unscriptural in its influence as well. Dare anyone who is officially associated with the FBFI challenge the contents of the lists or those who make up the lists of essential and non-essential teachings? Would censure fall upon those who are not officially associated with the FBFI, but want the countenance of the official committee members and/or their respective churches, and would dare challenge the lists and the list-makers? The fear of pseudo-authorities outside of the autonomous church is the first step toward neo-catholicism (cf. I Pet. 5:3). Solomon's wise caveat should be heeded by the Lord's churches: "The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe" (Prov. 29:25). These list-makers design their lists of essentials and non-essentials to engender the fear of man. Indeed, many faithful servants of Christ in His churches have experienced censure from these man-made institutions.
The Nature of the FBFI
Most significantly, however, is the unscriptural nature of the FBFI. Its practice, although popular, and its influence, although widespread, are based upon the faulty premise that "the greater cause of Christ" is to unite Christians in a non-biblical para-church organization which attempts to supersede the Lord's candlesticks. This self-proclaimed movement of "Historic Fundamentalism" is another name for fundamentalist ecumenicalism, which exists because of the erroneous "mystical body," Protestant church mentality. The Bible neither speaks of an invisible body or a territorial church (the invisible universal entity in Scripture is the Kingdom of God [Jn. 3:3; Lk. 17:20] and Paul addressed the Corinthian Church as "the body of Christ" [I Cor. 12:27]). Baptists do not need an organized movement beyond the local church to tell them what teachings are essential and what teachings are non-essential. When the Apostle Paul left the Ephesian elders, he did not commend them to a religious organization of Fundamentalists or to a list of fundamentals, but he commended them "to God, and to the word of his grace" (Acts 20:32). Since there is no biblically sanctioned Christian organization beyond the local church, there is no need to "demonstrate a Biblically-based tolerance towards those with whom we disagree." Paul gave warnings to churches on how to handle heresy (admonish twice then reject [Tit. 3:10]) and what to do with those whose practice and doctrine did not agree with his plain teaching, even his teaching about the Pre-Tribulation Rapture (withdraw from and make ashamed [II Thess. 3:6; 14]).
The FBFI is a man-made religious organization that exists over and beyond the local church and which purpose is to unite Baptists around lists of essential and non-essential doctrines, thus producing a false unity around minimal doctrine, all for the supposed greater cause of Christ. The FBFI is non-biblical because it has no Scriptural authority for its nature, its practice and its influence. The Lord's institution of the local church is sufficient in and of itself, because it has Him as its Head (Rev. 2-3; Eph. 1:22-23), and the Holy Spirit as its Teacher (Jn. 16:13-15). May the Lord's churches have rest from this type of humanistic religious enslavement (cf. Acts 9:31; Jn. 8:31-32). Any critic of this expose with the charge of lack of brotherly love, should consider the Apostle Paul's teaching, declaring that "charity...rejoiceth in the truth" ( I Cor. 13:4, 6; cf. Gal. 2:11).
Dr. Thomas M. Strouse is the Dean of Emmanuel Baptist Theological Seminary, Newington, CT 06111
International Baptist Network (IBN)
Three major independent Baptist fellowships (Baptist Bible, Southwide, and World Baptist), fulfilling a "vision" of Dr. John Rawlings, came together at Highland Park Baptist Church (Chattanooga). Each Fellowship met and voted in late September. The SBF voted 215 to 58 to accept the officers presented, and to continue to be a part of the IBN. We were able to attend some of the services and most of the business meeting. These disparate Fellowships are divided on many issues: KJV, CCM, and New Evangelicalism (Ecclesiastical separation, Promise Keepers, Falwell and other conservative Southern Baptist leaders, e.g.). Adding to the confusion and weak stance is the fact that Falwell is a member of both the BBF and SBC. And Rawlings is Falwell's mentor, and veteran BBF leader who was unable to speak at the meeting. Apparently two of Dr. Rice's sons-in-laws, spoke from the floor in favor of the 215 majority. The SBF is now entangled with, and routinely fellowships with, new evangelicals, and compromising Southern Baptist leaders. [Much more could be said if space permitted, CCM rock music, etc.]
Will there now be a faithful remnant in the SBF who will "come out from among them and be separate?" We pray to that end. We grieve at the lack of discernment being evidenced by "fundamentalist" leaders of our day. [2 Cor. 6:17; Zech. 4:50]