Dr. Bob Gray, retired pastor of Longview Baptist Temple, Longview, Texas travels across America winning souls for Jesus. Every week he reports on his website his exploits for Jesus. Gray is the Über-Soul Winner of the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) Church movement. He is a consummate bean counter. I have no doubt he knows exactly how many souls he has won to Christ over his 40 years in the ministry.
Last Sunday, Gray was in Florida for two days to help Dr. Ken Pledger, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, Middleburg, Florida, celebrate his 26th anniversary pastoring the church. Pledger, I believe, attended Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan, the same IFB school I attended in the 1970’s.
Dr. (1) Gray preached at Calvary Baptist Church and of course while he was in the area he worked his soul winning magic. Gray tells an interesting and revealing story about going out to eat with Dr. Russell Anderson, (2) the Anderson in the college named Hyles Anderson.
Dr. Pledger, Dr. Anderson, and myself went to a Cracker Barrel to eat supper that Saturday night. Dr. Anderson started joking with the waiter who was 19 or 20. He told the young man that he carried his priest with him where ever he went so he could get his sins forgiven the minute he sinned. I was wearing a black pull over and Dr. Anderson pointed to me and said here is my priest. He told the young man, “By the way we are having a two for one sale on forgiveness of sins and you need to take advantage of this offer tonight!” The waiter took our order and went on his way.
He returned with our food and before he walked away he looked at me and said, “Please don’t forget to remind me of that offer to get my sins forgiven.” I said, “Ok!” He left and we ate. He came back and said it again. We thought he was going along with the joking. He returned to clear off the table and asked me again to not forget. I told him to clear the table and then I would show him how to have all of his sins forgiven.
In a few minutes he came back and I showed him Scriptures on how to have all of his sins whether past, present, or future completely paid for. He bowed his head and trusted Christ to pay for his sins. This young man was dead serious with something that started out as joking around.
Gray reports that 103 people were saved and 31 people were baptized while he was there.
Here is what I know. Of the 103 that were “saved” IFB style, most of them will not be in church a month or year from now. The reason is simple. Men like Gray, Russell Anderson, and Ken Pledger, and Bruce Gerencser (3) when he was an IFB pastor, reduce salvation to a sales pitch to be bought or rejected. It is a complete prostitution and corruption of what the Christian NT teaches about salvation.
1. Did you notice that Gray, Russell, and Pledger are all doctors? Except that they aren’t. IFB colleges love to crown their superstars with honorary doctorates. Almost all IFB pastors that have Dr. in front of their name have an honorary doctorate or a doctorate “earned” from a diploma mill. And believe me, most of them expect to be called Dr.
2. Russell Anderson came to Trinity Baptist Church in Findlay, Ohio to preach in the early 1970’s when I was a teenager. I was sitting in the far back of the auditorium while Anderson was preaching. I was doing what teens typically do in church….goofing around with my friends. Anderson noticed my inattentiveness and called me out publicly. He then instructed one of the deacons (Mr. Ashcroft I believe) to come sit with me. “One of you deacons go sit with Red there so he will behave!” Guess how many “Reds” there where in the church? You got it. Me. Boy was I embarrassed and my friends never let me hear the end of it.
3. I believed and practiced IFB soteriology (doctrine of salvation) until 1988. I came to see that IFB soteriology, the soteriology of Jack Hyles, Tom Malone, the Sword of the Lord to name a few, was a corruption of what the Bible taught about salvation. After my break with the IFB, I was labeled a preacher of works salvation or Lordship salvation. Dr. Curtis Hutson, then Editor of the Sword of the Lord, told me I was preaching a works gospel, a false gospel. He and I had tangled over his secret rewriting of a salvation tract written by Dr. John R. Rice. Rice. In rewriting Rice’s tract, What Must I do to be Saved?, Hutson totally changed what Rice believed about the doctrine of repentance.