stoneshms.jpg - 54764 Bytes
Our Priority,
Our Philosophy,
Our Position,
Our Programs,
Our Physical LocationOutside Links-
Baptist Bastion,
Books and Bibles Online,
HomeSchool Sailor,
Fundamentally Basic,
Religions & Cults,
More Christian ResourcesSupported Missions,
Other Missions,
World Church DirectoryRecent Additions to Our Site
Home PageSermons in Type,
Sermons on Tape,
Doctrinal WritingsOur Pastor,
Our PeopleAsk the Pastor,
Pastors Pen Online,
Daily Devotions
  clear.gif - 808 Bytes
helm2a.gif - 1580 Bytes
in Type
on Tape
Doctrinal Writings
clear.gif - 808 BytesBy Author
clear.gif - 808 BytesBy Subject

clear.gif - 808 Bytes
Quick Links
clear.gif - 808 Bytes
clear.gif - 808 BytesOur Priorities
clear.gif - 808 BytesOur Constitution
clear.gif - 808 BytesOur Pastor
clear.gif - 808 BytesOur Programs
clear.gif - 808 BytesOur Location
clear.gif - 808 BytesOur Missionaries
clear.gif - 808 Bytes
clear.gif - 808 BytesGoogle Search
clear.gif - 808 BytesAsk the Pastor
clear.gif - 808 BytesDoctrinal Writings


Thank you for visiting. Please send spiritual comments to Pastor's Pen


Please e-mail all other comments to WindJammer

A Little Ocean Ambiance
clear.gif - 808 Bytes clear.gif - 808 Bytes
Doctrinal Writings
clear.gif - 808 Bytes

clear.gif - 808 Bytes

Will Independent Baptists "Develop A Center?"

clear.gif - 808 Bytes

Dr. Richard Flanders
Juniata Baptist Church
Vassar, Michigan
"Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD'S side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him." (Exodus 32:26)
 According to Dr. Bill Monroe, president of the Baptist Bible Fellowship International, several groups of independent Baptists have decided to cooperate on a somewhat permanent basis under title of "the International Baptist Network." Dr. Monroe is a pastor from South Carolina whose reputation as a man committed to evangelism and sound doctrine is unquestionable. Each of the fellowships that are coming together also has a history of contending for the Christian faith and a zeal for winning the lost. Certainly the news of the IBN ought to be glad tidings for the Christian world! However, in a sermon delivered to BBFI pastors in May of this year, Dr. Monroe expressed the desire of those forming the new network to "develop a center" among independents, which he said means to "move from the margins of extremism on either side." He referred to a statement made by a professor at a Baptist institution to the effect that if independent Baptists do not develop a center, "they will cease to exist in 10 to 20 years." Apparently the leaders of the new movement agree with this prophecy.

 Such pronouncements will cause fundamentalists to view the formation of the International Baptist Network in a different light than one might have expected. The fusing of the great bodies of Baptist fundamentalists must be considered part of the raging controversies that have disturbed those bodies in the past several years. As far as the BBFI is concerned, Dr. Monroe views their trouble as the product of right-wing extremists who make mountains out of molehills in the discussion of "music" and "methods." However, the disagreements have been broader and more serious than this good man sees them, and they have arisen in all of the IBN fellowships. The solution that is being proposed, developing a center, is not the right approach to these problems. As independent Baptist preachers move into what is certain to be a new era of their movement, they ought to be questioning the "move to the middle" for several reasons.

 Isn't this proposal based on politics rather than principle? The fundamentalist movement among Baptists has always taken the do-or-die approach to Biblical principles. The old-timers did not know much, nor care much, about political strategy in religious controversy. They just stated the truth according to the Scriptures, stood by that truth, and let the chips fall where they might. It can be a spiritually dangerous thing to look for the center instead of looking for the truth! Wouldn't developing a centrist position subject the movement to "every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive" (Ephesians 4:14)? If the spirit of the times moves left, doesn't the centrist move with it? We have noticed, for example, that the political conservative of our day sounds in many ways like the political liberal of forty years ago. Yet preachers are supposed to preach unchanging principles. When preachers begin to adopt political strategies, will their preaching not be corrupted? To adopt a viewpoint based upon its proximity to the extremes of the day is to guarantee that our views will change with the times. Is that what we should do?

 Cannot music and methods involve doctrine? The argument is that fellowship should be based upon "articles of faith" rather than upon singing "my kind of music" or using "my methods." Dr. Monroe gave the impression that the extremists want to break fellowship with certain pastors because of methods and music they use in their local churches. Perhaps some go that far, but many more are offended by certain music or methods being used on the fellowship platform! Certainly if preachers are to work together on any level, they must respect their differences. Deference must be given at the meetings to all the members if a fellowship expects them to continue cooperating. "But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably." (Romans 14:15a)

 Many are not so much concerned about the practices of their fellow-preachers as they are about where a fellowship might be leading everybody! Why would anybody want to support an organization that influences people against his firmly-held convictions? Fellowships require a deference that has not always been followed.

 And questions about music and methods often involve issues of doctrine! The fact is that the music is the method that is being debated among independent Baptists. Can the choice of church music have doctrinal implications? The truth is that it can, and it does. Without a doubt, the styles of popular music in America over the past century have reflected the moral and philosophical revolution the culture has been experiencing. Intelligent students of culture all affirm this to be true. From ragtime music to jazz, from boggie-woogie to rock 'n' roll, and then from soft rock to the chaos of hard-rock forms, the tastes of our people have moved. This movement has coincided with and was caused by society's descent from belief in moral absolutes to approval of moral degeneracy. The creators and performers of secular rock openly declare that it is the music of rebellion, fornication, and self-worship. When somebody in the 1970s proposed that rock music be used in church or at youth rallies, almost all the fundamental Baptists reacted in horror! The use of rock music for worship or evangelism is a contradiction.

 The singing of Christians must please the Lord and reflect His character. The chapter in Ephesians that speaks of "singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord" (5:18-19) also speaks of "proving what is acceptable to the Lord" (5:10). It tells us to "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness." Certainly music styles associated with and expressive of "fornication and all uncleanness" (5:3) are inappropriate for "children of light" (5:7-8) to enjoy or perform. But broad evangelicalism has embraced rock 'n' roll as a ministry medium, and has renamed it with a euphemism, "Contemporary Christian Music." Will fundamentalists use rock in their churches, too? Of course, many of them already do, and there is the problem. Will the Baptist fellowships, old or new, promote the method of using rock music? If they do, must those who see the doctrinal problem with it keep silence and keep the peace for the sake of unity? Can the use of music that exalts disorder, immorality, and rebellion be regarded as a harmless "method" by men who preach a God of order, holiness, and sovereignty? Is this a controversy about "preferences"? No, the issue is doctrinal, and must be taken seriously even if unity is disrupted. Will the Baptist fellowships stay true to their original principles?

 In seeking the center, Dr. Monroe said, independents should look to their "fundamental Baptist heritage" and focus on "standing true to the Word of God" as well as fulfilling the Lord's Great Commission. Of course, these things ought to have the undivided attention of every faithful servant of Jesus Christ. However, there are serious questions about the relationship of the fellowships to their fundamentalist heritage. Several of them (all the ones named in Dr. Monroe's sermon) are having Southern Baptist leaders speak in their national meetings. Now it is true that many of the members of these groups took the negative side in the debate over "secondary separation" in the 1960s and '70s. They rejected the idea that those who separate from the liberals must separate from Christians who do not separate from the liberals. Their position was that independents need not separate entirely from convention Baptists who believe the Bible. Dr. John Rice printed sermons by Criswell, and Dr. Lee Roberson had non-separatists speak at Tennessee Temple College. They were not "secondary separationists." However, the honoring of convention leaders at fundamentalist meetings is not strictly a matter of having fellowship with them.

 When a famous Southern Baptist preacher speaks to a fundamentalist meeting, the position of the sponsoring organization on primary separation is brought into question. No Southern Baptist practices primary separation (II Corinthians 6:14). He is organizationally yoked with unbelievers in the convention apparatus and on denominational college faculties. When he is honored by a fellowship of independent Baptists, anyone would wonder whether that fellowship thinks he is in the wrong.

"And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." (Ephesians 5:11)
 Dr. Rice plainly stated his disagreement with Dr. Criswell's membership in the Southern Baptist Convention, even as he used his sermons. He reproved him in order to disclaim his lack of primary separation. Dr. Roberson issued similar disclaimers in order to clarify his allegiance to primary separation when he used non-separatists in his pulpit. Certainly, the BBFI, the WBF, and the SBF need to issue some clarifying disclaimers right now. Whatever his view of secondary separation, the promotion of non-separatists will require public statements of disagreement for a separatist's position to be clear. Do the independents no longer disagree with the conventionists? Will they eventually join them? These questions are not unwarranted as long as the leaders of the fellowships create doubts about their position by honoring those on the wrong side. The trouble among independent Baptists has not been caused entirely by extremists on the right and the left. Certainly nit-pickers on one end and turn-coats on the other have created some interesting situations, but the real problem is the lack of resolve among leaders to steer a course consistent with Biblical Christianity. Those who hold to sound doctrine ought to practice methods consistent with a high view of God, Scripture, and morals. Those who separate from unbelievers ought to teach Biblical separation to the next generation both by their words and by their actions. The Great Commission ought to be obeyed, pursued, and fulfilled in the power of the Spirit, but also in absolute fidelity to the Lord we serve! This must be our balance, and here we will find our center.

Monthly Article
September 2003
by Dr. Rick Flanders
currently Pastor of
Juniata Baptist Church
Juniata Baptist Church
5656 Washburn Road
Vassar, MI 48768
(517) 823-7848

Dr. Rick Flanders Biographical Data

Converted in 1963 through a radio ministry.
Earned B.A. and M.A. degrees from Bob Jones University.
Honorary D.D. from Pensacola Christian College.
Pastor at Juniata Baptist Church since 1973.
On BCPM Board, (Baptist Church Planting Ministry)
and also MACS. (Michigan Association of Christian School)

Articles published in the;
Sword of the Lord
Baptist Preacher,
Christian View of the News,
Pulpit Helps,
Maranatha Watchman
Church Bus News,
and other national periodicals.

His Majesty's Service
In His Service,
Teaching the Word
To Glorify Our Lord
Return to
Doctrinal Writings

Please email your spiritual comments to Pastor's Pen
Please email all other comments to WindJammer