by: Mike Johnson The purpose for this article is to address the matter of “Staying Fundamental in a Liberal World.” It is interesting that Bro. Domelle would ask a California preacher who was born and raised in California to undertake this subject. While I am honored and humbled to be asked, I am also unashamedly an Independent, Fundamental Baptist.
I was called to preach as an Independent, Fundamental Baptist, sent out of an Independent, Fundamental Baptist church to an Independent, Fundamental Baptist church with an Independent Fundamental Baptist Bible college and then came back to California and started an Independent, Fundamental Baptist church which I have pastored now for over 28 years. It has been from its inception and has remained to this day an Independent, Fundamental Baptist church.
Preachers and lay people alike in Independent, Fundamental Baptist churches are under constant pressure to compromise and “take it down.” My prayer is that this article and publications like this will truly help us to stay with the old paths.
As I see it, there are just a few basic things we must know to “Stay Fundamental in a Liberal World.”
1. We must know who we are and why
The word “fundamental” is not in the Bible. That is because fundamental is a philosophical approach to what a person believes and practices. Basically, a Fundamentalist is someone who stays with and holds to the original and founding principles and beliefs of a certain group. That is why there are Fundamental Catholics, Muslims, etc. While fundamental is not in the Bible, the concept of what makes someone an Independent is found in the Bible. In fact, it is found in two words in 2 Timothy 2:2: “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”
Those two words are “the same.” Paul was admonishing young Timothy that he was a part of a five-fold generation of faith. Those five generations were the “many witnesses” before Paul, then Paul,“the things that thou hast heard of me”, then Timothy, “the same commit thou.” “To faithful men” is the fourth generation. “Who shall be able to lead others also” is the fifth generation.
Timothy must take “the same” and commit it to others. Not something different, not Timothy’s version, not something he heard from some other source or place, but “the same” as he had received it.
That is a simple, two-word explanation of what an independent, fundamental Baptist is. We have been entrusted with a certain set of beliefs and practices and if we are true to what we have received, we must keep them the same and pass them on the same way we received them.
Being a fundamental Baptist is attributed to having its beginning because of the stand and position of great men of the past: J. Frank Norris, W.B. Riley and later good men who took the same and continued it such as Lee Robinson, Tom Malone, Jack Hyles, etc.
In reality, the starting of Independent Fundamental Baptist churches began with the founding of the church by the Lord Jesus (Matthew 16:18). Obviously, the church Jesus founded was not always called an Independent Fundamental Baptist church. The tenants and basic practices of a modern day Independent Fundamental Baptist church can be traced through God’s Word back through the book of Acts to Christ and the founding of the church.
To stay fundamental in a liberal world we need to know who we are and why. As I see it in this day and age, an Independent Fundamental Baptist is identified by three basic beliefs and practices:
Aggressive house-to-house, door-to-door, bus ministry, reaching people anywhere and everywhere we can by taking the Gospel to them where they are, that would also include an aggressive missions program that fulfills the Great Commission for missions given in Acts 1:8. Start where you are and go to the uttermost parts of the earth.
Three areas are included here. Ecclesiastical separation – whereby we do God’s work with those who are in agreement by belief and practice with the Bible as an Independent Fundamental Baptist. Secondary separation – to separate from a brother who walks “disorderly” (2 Thessalonians 3:6-11) Not attacking the brother, but not in fellowship with him either. Personal separation – whereby I am separated from the world in which I live by my actions, attitude, associations, attire, affiliations, etc.
A fundamentalist used to be identified in this area by their stand for the verbal, plenary, inspiration of the Scripture and the six cardinal doctrines of Christ: Christ’s virgin birth, sinless life, vicarious death, bodily resurrection, visible second coming of Christ and the deity of Christ.
Those tenants are a part of what makes up a fundamentalist’s beliefs, but for Independent Fundamental Baptists in this day it is the Biblical position that the King James Bible is the inspired, preserved Word of God in the English language.
Many who call themselves Independent, Fundamental Baptists agree with some of those points but not all. I believe that these three tenants are a package and must be embraced by any who call themselves Independent, Fundamental Baptists.
2. What is a liberal?
The other area we need to know in order to stay fundamental in a liberal world is to know what constitutes a liberal? The word “liberal” is used in the Bible but not in the context of what a liberal is today. Liberal is also a philosophical belief that is dramatically the opposite of fundamental belief. A liberal holds to no constant belief and/or practice. Everything is open to interpretation. Acceptance of all beliefs is put forth under the guise of toleration and acceptance. Theological liberals will deny any final authority except what they think is acceptable. A theological liberal denies the Bible as God’s inspired Word and all the tenants of the six cardinal doctrines of Christ mentioned earlier.
Liberals have been used to take the torch of revival and the blessing of God away from all of the Protestant groups: Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc. (Baptists are not and have never been Protestants.)
Liberalism slowly enters Independent Fundamental Baptist churches and colleges via a desire of acceptance in the world and from the world. If we stay true to the tenant and belief and practice of separation from the world, liberalism should not ever get into any good independent fundamental Baptist church or college.
Be assured of this. Theological liberalism has never improved or advanced any group that has allowed it to enter their group. If we will remain with“the same” we have received from God’s Word and good people who have also done the same, we will be able to commit the same to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
Staying fundamental in a liberal world is not just rejecting liberalism. It is being loyal to what we were taught that came from God’s Word, and thereby we will fulfill our part in the five-fold generation of belief in 2 Timothy 2:2.
God help us to be the same, stay the same, and pass on the same to others.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://www.independentbaptist.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/johnson.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]by Pastor Mike Johnson
Shasta Baptist Church
Original article can be found at http://www.oldpathsjournal.com/component/content/article/48/1544-staying-fundamental-in-a-liberal-world.html?showall=1