What follows is a sermon clip by Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) pastor, Ralph Wingate Jr. Wingate is the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Normal, Illinois. Wingate attended the same IFB college I did, Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan, a decade before me. He attended college with my wife’s uncle, James Dennis, pastor of Newark Baptist Temple, Heath, Ohio.
I heard Ralph Wingate Jr. preach a few times over the years. For a time, he was one of the darlings of the Midwestern Baptist College big-name preacher pool. Prior to accepting the pastorate at Calvary Baptist Church in Normal, Wingate pastored Emmanuel Baptist Church in Newington, Connecticut.
In this sermon clip, Wingate is preaching a sermon on legalism. Wingate gives two illustrations of the danger of legalism, Jack Schaap and Bruce Gerencser. Yes sir, I have spies all over America listening to sermons looking for incidents of me being used as an illustration or a warning. I have known for some time that I am being used as a cautionary tale, a warning to the faithful. One church, several years ago, even held a special prayer meeting for me, hoping that God would get ahold of me and bring me back to the fold. (their prayers failed)
http://brucegerencser.net/ralph_wingate.mp3 (right-click to download)
Note how the pastor connects me to Jack Schaap. The same rotten fruit produced the same rotten result. The key difference between Schaap and I? I have never had sexual relations with a sixteen year old girl in a church I was pastoring. (or any other time) And, if Wingate has read my blog for any amount of time at all, he should know that I left the IFB church movement long before I left the ministry. Wingate makes the mistake of judging me and my theology at a particular point in time and does not account for the fact that my theology dramatically changed over the last twelve years in the ministry. (hey, why ruin a good sermon illustration with context)
Note how the pastor stumbles over his theology at the end of the clip. The big dilemma for pastors like Wingate is what to do with me. Wingate, the good Baptist he is, believes a person cannot fall from grace. So here is telling his congregation I was a preacher for twenty-five years, won people to Christ, and, oh wait, I can’t let them know he was a “real” Christian, so, if he was really saved, well, that’s between him and God. I remain a real problem for IFB preachers. They can’t deny my fruit over twenty-five years in the ministry, so they must find some other way to invalidate my conversion and devotion to Jesus.
The easiest way is to say that I never was a Christian. Of course this presents a whole other set of problems, problems like how in the world did I deceive thousands of parishioners, dozens of pastors, and even one of his fellow classmates, James Dennis? How did I deceive Dr. Tom Malone, the president of the Midwestern Baptist College? How did I deceive my father-in-law, a graduate of Midwestern, a IFB pastor himself? How did I deceive numerous preachers, evangelists, and missionaries who preached for me?
Not one person, not ONE person, ever said of Pastor Bruce Gerencser, I have questions about whether he is a Christian. Either this is a conspiracy of grand proportions and I am a master deceiver, or the truth is, doctrine be damned, I once was a Christian and now I am not. (and my wife can verify how lousy I am at lying and deception)
Keep in mind Wingate’s use of the word legalism is subterfuge. I have seen this method used time and time again. Legalism is defined as works added to salvation or a system by which works gain a person salvation. No IFB Baptist church is legalistic by this standard. Oh, they all have rules and standards, BUT they ALL believe their rules and standards are derived from the Bible and that Christian people, people saved by the grace of God, should willingly WANT to live by these rules and standards, not to be saved but because they ARE saved. (I am of the opinion almost ALL Christian sects, except the most antinomian of them, preach a works salvation gospel)
I bear Ralph Wingate Jr. no ill will. I know his theology inside and out. I know why he must preach what he does. But, here I am, defying all attempts to be “explained.”
I know some of you are dying to know how I got this clip. Can’t tell. When people send me things confidentially, I treat their correspondence with me like a priest does the confessional. I appreciate being made aware of this sermon and I am so glad to see Christians like Ralph Wingate Jr. care.
reposted, revised, updated