Over on http://www.stufffundieslike.com forum a question was asked:
Why Did You Leave? Would You Go Back?
For those of you who have left Fundamentalism, and I think that’s probably most of you who post here, why did you leave? Was it the theology, or was it the culture? If it was the theology, what specifically about the theology drove you away? If it was the culture, what specifically about the culture drove you away?
Why did I leave?
Most of you know my story and the history of deception and lies I encountered in the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement.
Why did I leave? Why didn’t I stay and fight?
I believe that there is nothing worth salvaging in the IFB movement. I believe it is a religious cult movement that should die a very public, and very convincing death. The heart and core of IFB error is Theological Error. The error lies in how the IFB presents and views God in relation to both the individual and the “Ministry” of the Local, sanctified, separated, sold-out, sanctimonious sect of believing believers. According to IFB dogma the “Local church” is superior to all other things Christian. In theory and in words they say they worship a sovereign God… but in practice God’s sovereignty ends with the
preeminence of the individual’s free-will. In a nutshell, God is viewed as a reactive deity who frets around his heaven wringing his hands hoping that there will be someone to stand in the gap, make up the hedge, and come up with a masterful formula for winning souls to Christ. Because we know that Church in the IFB is all about the numbers.
Numbers and power actually.
I am more convinced than ever that, Most churches today have a “pastor” who oversees the entire operation, and there may be a deacon board that is either working with the pastor or against him… either way it is doubtful that either “office” is operating biblically. With the advent of the Professional Clergy there has been a rise in the cult of personality as well. The Professional is seen in a light that is clearly not biblical and we see that whether by “influence” or by acquired “authority” these men rise to prominence. Even the small rural churches are patterned after this and the pastor is looked on as a man of authority over the congregation. And there is the rub.
Even the meanest paid rural “pastor” would not willingly give up “his power” over even the smallest group of people. It is not about the money, heaven knows many, if not most, small congregations pay at or below the poverty level. No, it is about power to influence and control a group of people and mold their worldviews.(This is the danger of the passive approach to worship where a one-way conversation takes place. The only view allowed in these meetings is the pastor’s. This affords almost total control by the speaker to inject his own views as ‘god breathed’. Whatever the “anointed”, “man of god” says while behind the “sacred desk” will be seen as, and accepted as, the “word of God”.) That is an especially strong allure for men of lesser character who are drawn to such positions. I have no doubt that there are good men who are trying to do what is right in these positions and I commend them and pray for them but the position itself is the enabler, the seductress; and even the best of men will, sooner or later, succumb to the temptation of power. We see a picture of this in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings Trillogy”. As a Ring Bearer, Frodo Baggins had an awful burden to carry yet, even he failed in the end and succumbed to the power of the ring; unable to destroy it he claimed it for himself. The thread through-out the tale is about power, the use and the abuse of it. Many who would have taken the ring would have done so out of a noble purpose but would have been corrupted by it’s power and their corruption would (like Sauron) only be limited by the (unlimited) power of the ring.
Would I go back?
No, not even if my life depended on it.
I truly do not believe that the IFB movement is worth saving, and I truly believe that it is a cult. A very seductive powerful cult that relies more on the abilities of man and less on the power of the god it claims to serve. That may sound harsh and it may be. I know that God does work in the midst of even the very worst of these bunkers. But I do believe that the error and the man made traditionalism and the King James only idolatry that is practiced in these dens of sanctimonious piety is deadly poison to sanctam ecclesiam catholicam; sanctorum communionem. (the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints)
Where am I at spiritually now?
That is the hardest thing about leaving the IFB bassinet, one has to start thinking for oneself. I was fortunate in that about the time I left the enfolding tentacles of the IFB, I broke my ankle. How was that fortunate? I was able to spend almost 6 months examining my worldview. I was able to take a long hard look at who I was in Christ, what I actually believed, why I believed it and I wrestled with several items that I had to abandon because there was no reason other than man-made traditionalism that I was holding to them. It’s much tougher than having someone spoon-feed you how you should act and think. But the realization that you are no longer performing according to someone else’s standards is very spiritually refreshing! Yes, there are often doubts and you find you might be out on a limb that you would not have climbed before… but the learning experience is so worth it.
In conclusion, I know that there are brothers and sisters in Christ who have a death grip on their comfortable religion and practices in the IFB bunkers which they live and breathe. But I have found so much fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ outside the bunker system that I could never go back into the cave to stay.