Not a Specific Statement to Specific “IFB Cult” Watchdogs–But a Caution for all of us as we Battle Sin in our Local Churches
However passionate, many voices in the Christian meta are not too edifying– just hurt, passionate and loud. I empathize with hurt, but loud, brutish, obnoxious, profane speech, etc., has little value in Christian discourse. What do I mean?
[This section is written with generalities, qualifiers, and attempts at not painting with a wide brush. Please note words like “some” “often” etc., versus “all” “everywhere” “everyone” “all the time” etc. ] There are a number of former fundamentalists throwing around a lot of bile and vitriol, painting fundamentalists with the same brush (their brush in particular). For some, their cries of “cult” are related to the actions of bullying fundamentalist pastors, leaders and boards. In some cases they are right–in some cases they simply have no clue what was truly going on. Sometimes, when trying to have any kind of meaningful discussion with them, unless you concur with their POV, it’s like… well…ummm… trying to discuss things with a bullying fundamentalist.
By that I mean that for many of those who I have run across who seek to root out the problems and sin in fundamentalism, there are no “buts, howevers, at leasts” etc. allowed. In discussions with them, there can be no attempt at making qualifying statements. Everything is general, everyone is infected, everyone is just like “____________” and if you say one thing in an attempt to narrow their brush, they go after you with sarcasm, cynicism, and a mean spirit. In one instance, I saw where someone portrayed other Christians (who they believed had wronged them) in rude, disgusting and sinful ways through photo-shopped pictures, and when someone else objected and said that it wasn’t Christlike or proper, they were shouted down. It was reminiscent of the same type of bullying behavior they were fighting against. However these ones were sinned against, it is never right to sin back–however righteous your cause.
For some former fundies, in like manner to some of the leaders they excoriate, they are judge and jury all in one. Their methods include making broad-brushing, seemingly omniscient generalizations about the abuses in fundamentalism. Clearly, they have been everywhere, and have the more full understanding of how leadership should act, how church discipline should go down, and for some, there is no other dogma but their dogma.
In the view of some former fundamentalists, if you are still part of a fundamentalist church, you and your church are part of the problem. The familiar drumbeat among such a mindset often is that they alone have found the sins of fundamentalism, they have experienced those sins firsthand, they alone are the experts on the scope of these sins, and they alone have the cure for it. However it is that the Spirit is going to work in those churches, some of these people seem to think they are the only means He will use. In some of their minds, if you graduated from _________ or ________, or were mentored by ____________ or _____________, then there is no hope for you–except of course unless you come out of your hole and approach church-life their way.
They seem to take no notice that perhaps there are pastors, boards and members in many, many places who are listening to the Spirit of God, re-examining the Scriptures, and working to promote Spirit-led, grace motivated obedience in the churches they pastor. I have found that no matter how I lead, or what our church does, someone is offended, someone thinks we were too harsh, someone thinks we were to lenient, someone thinks we were Pharisaical, someone thinks we were granting license to sin. If the matter were not so important (the local church does belong to Christ and is part of His body) it would be sadly comical.
There is great sin in doctrine and practice in fundamentalist churches. And when you consider the topics of the NT Epistles, this is not a new development. That is no excuse for abuse, bullying leadership, or for any sin. But it points to the fact that there is great work that needs to be done to retain what is biblical, find what is biblical, act on what is biblical, and strive to be pleasing to Christ. It is His church, He walks among the local churches (Rev 1), and He is quite capable of keeping His church in line. Perhaps He will do it through some horrible circumstance becoming public, or through other means. We trust in His capability when we work to “do” church in view of the Scriptures.
Anytime we set aside the Scriptures for our own purposes, while claiming to be Christians, we are acting cult-like. We can never condone evil in some pragmatic way–whatever the goal is: whether attempting to protect yourself and a church from an imbroglio, or working to right a legitimate wrong. We simply don’t get to do those things.